communication, complaints, controversies, modern problems, social media, true crime

Sometimes it’s okay to complain…

Yesterday, I wrote a couple of posts that were kind of on the same theme. I wrote the first one for this blog. It was about how surprisingly hateful some people are about Brittney Griner being released from a Russian prison, while Paul Whelan stays in custody. Griner, who endured ten months of incarceration in Russia, was sent to San Antonio for medical treatment before she goes home to her wife in Phoenix, Arizona. Many, many people are apparently pissed off about this. They’d rather Brittney rot in a freezing cold Russian prison, where she’s too tall for a regular bed and her hands are too big for the usual labor of sewing. Most of these folks who are so salty toward Griner, and to Joe Biden for helping her, also claim to be Christians.

If you ask these people why they’re angry about Brittney Griner’s release, they’ll tell you it’s because she disrespected the flag by taking a knee during the playing of “The Star Spangled Banner”. They think she hates her country, and for that reason, she should endure years of inhumane conditions in a prison behind the borders of our biggest enemy. I suspect they also don’t like Brittney because she’s not like they are. She’s 6’9″ tall. She’s Black and queer, and has a deep speaking voice. She uses marijuana. Deep down, people who espouse that much hatred are terrified by people who are different. They see Brittney as an immoral freak, and they want her banished for it. They also seem to think that she has no right to complain about racism. They tell her, “America– love it or leave it.” If something is wrong, you have no right to gripe. Because in their eyes, she’s less than they are.

Of course, Brittney has already shown us that she’s definitely NOT like the the people who want her to suffer. That’s a good thing. We need fewer people in our country who can’t embrace diversity. And we need fewer people who want to silence those who have legitimate concerns about the way things are going in the United States for anyone who isn’t a Christian, white, conservative male with a gun.

The other post I wrote yesterday was about how Bill and I complained about bad service we got at a wine shop in France. That entry was inspired by the reactions I got in a Facebook wine group I run. I posted about that experience because it was about wine shopping. The reactions I got initially blamed Bill and me for our bad experience. No one said it outright, but I got the sense that some people thought maybe I was being a “karen” (for lack of a better word). Somehow, ever since the term “karen” became popular, people seem to think that anytime someone complains, particularly if it’s a middle-aged, white woman of means, they’re acting like an entitled whiner.

In response to my post, I got some not so subtle chastising about my so-called lack of cultural sensitivity, lack of language skills (because I took Spanish instead of French when I was in school), and overall bad attitude. Another person assumed I had somehow “misunderstood” what had happened. They wanted to excuse the salesperson for serving straight up bad service, with generous side orders of disdain and disrespect. All we were trying to do was spend some money on local wines. For our efforts, we got the wrong wines, and egregiously rude treatment.

Then, when we complained, we got even more rude treatment, dismissing, discounting, and blame. I guess we shouldn’t have said anything? What really astonished me, though, was that the American people who were blaming ME for my bad experience were people who have never met me and don’t know the first thing about me. Why would they assume it was my fault that I had the misfortune of doing business with someone with a very obvious STANK attitude? All I did was go into a wine shop for a few minutes because I wanted to buy wine. Isn’t that what the wine shop is for?

I think it’s because in America, we’re quite fond of pushing toxic positivity. We discourage people from being negative, even if they have every right to complain. We like to blame the victim, even in situations that are egregiously unjust or horrific. Brittney Griner was arrested at the airport for having a small amount of hashish oil and vape cartridges in her luggage. Yes, it was against Russian law to have those items in her luggage, but it’s not like anyone was killed. I also highly doubt that the people who felt the nine years in prison was a just sentence would say the same thing if it was them or a loved one who got such a sentence, even in the United States. Mention harsh penalties, though, and you’re no doubt going to hear “If you can’t do the time, don’t do the crime.” Some people seem to think that if you do something wrong, no punishment is too harsh… especially if you’re different and dare to speak up about things.

This morning over breakfast, I was reading about the world’s most “welcoming” countries, in terms of which countries will allow visa free visitors from the most nations. Singapore was mentioned as a very “welcoming” country. I’m sure Singapore is a beautiful place with kind and interesting citizens. But when I think of Singapore, I can’t help but remember the 1994 case of Michael P. Fay, and how he wound up getting four strikes with a rattan cane for vandalizing cars and stealing road signs. When he committed his crimes, Michael Fay was 18 years old and had moved to Singapore to live with his mother and stepfather.

I remember, during Fay’s fifteen minutes of fame, a lot of people were saying that Fay had asked for the caning, which was originally set to six strokes. He also got four months in jail and had to pay about S$3500 (Singapore dollars). The United States government intervened in that case, too, and Fay wound up getting only four strikes of the cane, which caused bleeding and scarring on his buttocks. Then he was deported, and when he got home, he promptly got into more legal trouble.

I don’t think Brittney Griner is going to do what Michael P. Fay did, once she’s been released from the hospital. Moreover, I don’t think Brittney’s initial crime was of the same magnitude as Fay’s was. What Griner did ultimately didn’t harm anyone. Fay and his friends actually did significant harm to other people’s property, costing them money and inconveniencing them. Personally, I thought the caning was barbaric, and it obviously didn’t teach Fay anything. But Griner’s punishment was much worse, and not only did she endure inhumane conditions, but her own countrymen are hurling abuse at her. I wonder if they’d be this vicious if Brittney Griner was a straight, white woman with conservative proclivities.

Besides being male and Caucasian, Michael Fay had something going for him that Brittney didn’t. He committed his crimes at a time when social media didn’t exist, and the Internet was only just getting started. He also became infamous at a time when our country was less polarized and weird. Or maybe it just seemed that way to me. I do remember though, at the time of Michael P. Fay’s crime, some people were calling him a spoiled brat. But they weren’t gleeful about the prospect of his ass being literally shredded by the caustic strikes of a rattan cane. They weren’t calling for him to rot in a foreign hellhole. They weren’t telling him he had no right to complain.

Sometimes, things are just plain wrong. Sometimes, they’re flat out terrible. People should always have the right to point out the bad things, because that’s how things get better. Keeping silent when there’s been an injustice sends a message that everything’s okay. Sometimes a complaint might seem “silly”. I’m sure some people in my wine group thought I was posting about a first world problem. I’ll admit that getting the wrong wine isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things… although I mainly wrote that post because my wine group is pretty dead lately. Brittney Griner’s situation is, of course, much more serious. Before she went to Russia to play basketball, she had the gall to “take a knee” against racism. She had the nerve to speak up and be noticed, and point out that America isn’t all that great and needs improvement. For that, there are people who literally think she should be suffer for years. I’ll bet that a lot of those folks, fine upstanding Christians that they are, also secretly hope she dies. That’s how warm and tender these supposed “Christ loving” people are…

Anyway… I suppose I’ve gone on long enough. I feel inspired to do a little music today, so I think I’ll sign off and get to work on that. Have a great Saturday… and embrace your inner “karen” if you are so inclined and a situation merits it.

LDS, mental health, travel

Home again, and ready to write up our trip to Antwerp… but first, more on the wild world of Ex.

I’m sure I could write one of my usual testy manifestos right now, but the travel blog beckons. I had a great time in Belgium. and am looking forward to sharing what I learned about Antwerp. But rest assured, I’ll be back to complaining on this blog very soon. 😉

At the very least, I can add some more complaints about Ex, who now claims that she’s a “senior dog rescuer”… but she NEEDS a puppy to train for her “severely autistic son”. And she begs for money to put up a fence, but also lacks the $12,000 she says she needs to train a dog. What will she do when the dog needs to go to the vet? How will she afford to feed it?

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, yes, she did used to have an elderly poodle named Fifi… but Fifi was definitely not better off for the experience, since #3 kicked her so hard that she lost an eye. What’s even scarier is that #3 works as a CNA. Maybe he’s better now, after twenty years. I’d still be leery of him as a healthy person, let alone as someone who needs nursing care. I hope he’s gotten better about controlling his temper.

But anyway, this is what she says…

I wish I could adopt a senior dog; I’ve always been a pound puppy mama. I cant this time. I have to find a puppy for my autistic child that will be trainable to take care of his emotional needs.


I am going to put a fundraiser on PayPal!! I tried once to get help but no replies

Um no, Ex, you’ve not always been a “pound puppy mama”. And your “child” will be a grown man in three short years. You have also unsuccessfully tried to raise funds on PayPal at least twice, not just once. Give it up.

Yes, I know I sound really bitchy, but I think I’m owed. My husband is still trying to mend the relationship he and his younger daughter missed because of Ex’s selfishness and stupidity. We’re losing hope for older daughter, who is still the caregiver of Ex’s “severely autistic child”.

And she’s still stuck on Star Wars, which hardly makes her unique, but maybe if she spent less time tweeting about celebrities and more time earning money, she might not need to crowdfund.

Personally, I am LOVING the attention to detail and the explanations of the backstory of not just Obi-Wan, but Leia and Anakin… just gives us more depth the Vader’s character, don’t you think?

I never got into Star Wars myself. I know it’s very popular. Of course, I grew up with people talking about it all the time, so I am basically familiar. But if I had big goals like building a fence or getting a service dog for my “autistic child” (teenager), I would hope I’d be more focused on that.

One last thing before I move on to happier topics on my travel blog…

Aww Chris, you’re so cute. Ok, you can marry my daughter. There… it’s between you and #keanureeves . Oh wait… there is one more,. His name is on the tip of my tongue. (Will edit when I recall.)

Oh!!! Och aye!!! The third is

@SamHeughan zzzzzzzzz I’m falling asleep!!! Good grief !!

Which daughter does she mean? Her 19 year old pansexual daughter who just started college? Or her almost 31 year old daughter who has basically been working as Ex’s scullery maid? I’d be interested to know… ETA: Not that there’s ANYTHING at all wrong with being pansexual… it’s just that the daughter might have something to say about it, right? Maybe she’d rather date someone without a dick.

Meanwhile, younger daughter still feels alienated because she’s a devout Mormon, a belief system that Ex forced on the family and later abandoned. Ex now ridicules younger daughter for being a believer, even though she’s the one who made her go to church in the first fucking place! And she did that only so she could control/alienate Bill.

Yep… it’s a hell of a world Ex lives in… and I wouldn’t want to visit it. But I would like to visit Antwerp again, so I’m going to head over to the travel blog to explain why. And yes, on Monday, we did enjoy plenty of wine. In other words, it was an ordinary day, save for the flaming torch I got when I had dessert last night. 😉


Wine and roses…

It’s Valentine’s Day, and it’s also the Friday before a legal holiday. When Bill was still in the Army, it wasn’t unusual for him to get off work the Friday before a legal holiday. This was especially true when he was posted in Stuttgart. We ended up taking a lot of awesome four day mini breaks during those two years.

This year, he’s taking today off from work because we’re finally going to Strasbourg, France for the annual wine expo. It’s a huge event and I’ve been hearing about how great it is for several years now, but for some reason, we’ve never managed to make it until this year. We’ve always gone to other places for President’s Day weekend. Last year, we went to France, but the area we went to was what one would consider the “real” France. We were on the edge of Champagne country, though not in a well-known or heavily touristed area.

I kind of didn’t want to go to France again this President’s Day weekend, mainly because this will be the third time we’ve visited in less than three months. There’s much to love about France, but there’s also much to love about the Netherlands, Belgium, and the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, Bill has to leave town again Monday, so we need to be somewhat close so we can get back and do all the stuff that needs to be done before he takes off on his latest TDY. Since I run a community wine and food Facebook group, it seems natural that I’d want to go to the expo, once and for all. It’ll probably wear me out and overwhelm me, but I think we’ll also spend some time touring Strasbourg. The last time we stopped and looked around the city was in 2008, and that was only for a few hours. This time, we’ll stay the weekend and explore.

It’s funny how life evolves in a year’s time… A year ago, we had a lovely Valentine’s Day dinner in Wiesbaden, then went to France. Our trip last year was somewhat spoiled by some pretty rotten events. This year, it looks like the tide is about to turn for the better on many levels. We’re feeling fairly optimistic about the future, even if it means another move this year. I’m not saying we’re definitely going to move, only that it’s more possible this year than it has been in previous years. On the other hand, chances are very good that we’ll be staying put. We’ll see what happens. I’d like to get some answers so we can make some plans… but then, this has pretty much been my life ever since I married a military man.

I used to hate Valentine’s Day, mainly because I was terminally dateless. In high school, I remember at the end of the school day on Valentine’s Day, there would be a long list of students read off over the loudspeaker who needed to stop by the office to pick up flowers. Looking back on it, I’m surprised that the school officials allowed flowers to be delivered to the school for students. Seems like it would be disruptive to their work, but what do I know about such things? Life can be quaint in small town Virginia, even though years after I graduated from Gloucester High School, it became embroiled in national controversy thanks to the efforts of a transgendered student who wanted to be allowed to use the boys room, even though he did not possess boy parts. People in Gloucester were outraged about it, but personally, I think it was much ado about nothing.

What I do remember that the list was kind of soul crushing for those of us who didn’t have a Valentine. I did have a boyfriend during my senior year. He brought me six roses on Valentine’s Day in 1990, as well as a big Valentine’s Day card that he’d made himself. He was an artist, and he said I reminded him on an elf, so he drew this elfin character with blonde hair and blue eyes. I’m not sure what I thought of it at the time, since our relationship was doomed even at that point. Now, I think I’d be very touched that he’d taken the time to make such a work of art for me. Maturity and perspective are good things.

I also remember junior year, our school newspaper ran a fundraiser that allowed people to pay for personal ads. Some of them were pretty “funny”… including a mean spirited prank someone played on me and another kid. A person took out an ad, posing as a guy in my class. It read: “To Jenny, our love would fill an ocean. Wanna go to the prom?” I rolled my eyes when I read it, since I knew it was intended to be a nasty joke to embarrass and humiliate me and the guy in question. Kids can be cruel, but time has a tendency to rectify things. That’s true on many levels this year.

Better dead than spread… Gosh, I miss this show.

Bill often gets me roses and candy on Valentine’s Day, but since we’re leaving town today, I’m sure he won’t bother. We’re going to be enjoying a lot of wine, though, and probably bringing a fair amount home. Maybe we’ll have a chance to have some interesting food, although I have a feeling we could be eating pizza tonight. No restaurant reservations on Valentine’s Day can lead to disaster. I will give my body a break from wine next week while he’s gone… give my liver a chance to regenerate and work on my latest jigsaw puzzle as I dream up political screeds for my blog.

Well… I suppose it’s time I packed a bag and got ready for our latest French adventure. I hope everyone enjoys their V.D. I know I will.


20 years ago today…

I started graduate school at the University of South Carolina. It seems like yesterday I was just 27 years old, looking toward the future. I remember thinking those three years in school would take forever.

Graduate school led me to a better place, but not to where I expected to go. I met Bill online just weeks after I started school… weeks after I bought my very first computer and started exploring the Internet. In November, I will have known him for twenty years, but we will also celebrate 17 years as husband and wife.

This morning, someone in my wine group contacted me about a job prospect. It wouldn’t pay much, nor would I work a lot of hours. But it would be the first paid employment I’ve had outside the home since 2002. Every penny I’ve made since I finished graduate school has been made from writing. This job would not require writing skills. Instead, I’d be pitching wine, hosting tastings on our local installation.

I’m kind of inclined to learn more about this opportunity, not because I need a job or the money, but because it would get me out into the world. I could possibly give up this shut in existence I have. It could be good for me. At the very least, my car would get more miles put on it.

I’m giving it some thought. I definitely didn’t know this is where I would be twenty years ago. I thought I was going to stay single and, perhaps, launch some kind of career. I definitely didn’t want to wait tables anymore. Now, I’m finding myself possibly going back into that world.

The funny thing is, last night we were talking about things Bill’s daughter can do to survive her present situation, trying to get established. Bill brought up his mom, who worked for some, frankly, criminal types for about fifteen years. They didn’t treat her well and stiffed her on some money. And, when she was about to turn seventy, they basically fired her. She answered an ad on Craig’s List for a part time job and wound up being hired. She stayed for about four years, earning several promotions until she had to quit for health reasons. She’s now healthy again and has gone back to do some temporary part time work.

Bill said, “You just never know where these opportunities can lead.” I wasn’t thinking of my own situation when he said it, but I guess it applies to me, too. I do get bored sometimes, spending so much time alone. And it wouldn’t be a bad thing to pay taxes again on my own merits. It’s nice to know I still have something to contribute, too.

memories, musings, silliness

Underoos are fun to wear…

Something funny happened last night. I discovered yet again how my thinking is extremely tangental. I went from wine, to old movies, to old TV shows, to underwear in the course of a few minutes. Here’s how it happened.

I posted in my food and wine group about some Italian wine we were enjoying and a group member shared a picture of the white wine she was drinking. We were marveling about how easy it is to find good, inexpensive wines in Germany… well, really, in Europe. She finished her comment with a “Zum Wohle!”, to which I responded:

“Atta girl…” Drinkers unite!

I noted that you have to be a certain age to get the above reference, a clip from the 1980 film, 9 to 5. I was eight years old in 1980, and I saw 9 to 5 in the movie theater. The other lady was 6 in 1980, and also saw this movie in the theater. Incidentally, this was the second incident yesterday in which I commented that you have to be a certain age to get the cultural reference. Another friend made an oblique reference to an 80s era Army recruiting ad when she posted about her bagel making business. I told her I hoped she was “being all she could be”.

“Hey First Sergeant! Good morning!” Bill says that would never happen… First Sergeant would probably make that guy do 50 push ups, then bitch out the guy’s superiors. I wouldn’t know, of course. The Army isn’t my vocation. I’m just a “dependa”.

After a few comments about 9 to 5, I remarked that Mr. Hart’s mansion in 9 to 5 was also used in the old 1970s TV show, Wonder Woman. (and it was also used in Murder, She Wrote and a bunch of other shows and movies)

I wasn’t living in America, nor was I old enough to enjoy the original version of the show, which aired on ABC for a couple of years starting in 1975. The first version of the show was set in the 1940s and had Wonder Woman fighting the Nazis. In one episode, Wonder Woman ends up being “detained” (read tied up) in a mansion. It was the same one Mr. Hart “lived in” and, in fact, was also tied up in on 9 to 5. I happened to notice it last year, when for some inexplicable reason, I binge watched all the episodes of Wonder Woman, then watched 9 to 5. Gee… what a kinky mansion that was back in the day!

I didn’t get hooked on Wonder Woman until the late 70s, when the show became The New Adventures of Wonder Woman and was moved to CBS. It aired every Friday night at 8:00pm and was set in the “present day”, circa 1979. Wonder Woman’s costume changed. She traded her silver bracelets for gold ones and wore slightly different star spangled bottoms. Now that I’m older, I think I like the World War II version of the show better.

I was 6 or 7 years old and I thought Wonder Woman was the absolute shit! I liked her so much that I had a used Wonder Woman doll– it was actually pretty lame. I think I got it at a yard sale. The one pictured at the top of this post is the kind I had and, in fact, looks about as well loved as mine was. I also had a pair of Wonder Woman Underoos. I hope to God we bought those brand new. Actually, I’m pretty certain we did, since I remember the cheesy plastic packaging they came in, complete with cardboard backing.

This commercial is burned on the brain.

I remember being so excited about my Wonder Woman Underoos. Then I opened the package… and they were kind of yucky. They were made of cheap polyester and only the front was decorated, at least on the girls’ version. The back of the Underoos were white, which really kind of ruined the fantasy. I also didn’t like wearing camisoles/undershirts, especially polyester ones that were clingy and hot. I probably should have gone for the Supergirl or Batgirl versions.

Looks like the boys’ version was better. At least the backs of their t-shirts weren’t white. I bet Wonder Woman’s Underoos were the best selling of all of them. Everybody loved Wonder Woman back in the day.

While I didn’t really like the Underoos to wear under my clothes, I did like the idea of wearing a costume. I had a very fertile imagination when I was growing up, and while I did have a few neighborhood friends, my best friend was a boy. It’s funny… that’s been a recurrent theme in my life. Most of my best friends have been males! In any case, since my best friend back then was a boy, I was left to play Wonder Woman in my Underoos by myself. I’m pretty sure he had Incredible Hulk Underoos. He was a fan of the Hulk.

Anyway, one Saturday evening in 1979, I was up in my bedroom in Fairfax, Virginia. I was alone and, I guess, really bored. My parents were throwing a cocktail party for their friends and I had been relegated to my room to play. I started playing Wonder Woman and put on my Underoos, which didn’t quite transform me into the superhero. Besides being short and kind of petite as a little girl, I also had short, golden blonde hair. But I did have red knee socks, which I figured could substitute for the knee high boots I didn’t have. I also had a florescent yellow hair ribbon that I figured I could use as a “golden lasso”. I had no golden tiara or magic bracelets, so I imagined those… and I pretended the back of my Underoos were like the front.

My favorite version was season 3’s, even if the plots had really jumped the shark.

I guess I must have felt like the neighborhood could benefit from my crime stopping efforts, because for some very strange reason, I decided to run downstairs in my Underoos and introduce myself to my parents’ friends. I leapt from the stairs and twirled around. I remember my mom was mortified as I paraded in front of her guests in my polyester Underoos, pretending to be Wonder Woman.

“JENNIFER!” my mom bellowed, absolutely horrified, “For God’s sake!”

I suddenly realized I was in big trouble and instead of retreating to my room, I ran outside. I’m sure the neighbors were amused to see me practically streaking across our suburban lawn, my parents yelling at me the whole time. I don’t remember how their guests took my little interruption. They probably thought it was hilarious, especially if they were drinking… which they most assuredly were. Aw hell, it was just innocent, clean fun… Remember, I was maybe 6 or 7 years old! Maybe this incident is why I don’t have issues at German spas.

Cathy Lee Crosby’s 1974 version of Wonder Woman can’t hold a candle to Lynda Carter’s T & A version.

I don’t remember exactly what happened after I flashed everyone at my parents’ party. I have a feeling I couldn’t sit down comfortably for awhile afterwards. I look back on it now and realize it was probably quite funny to those who weren’t my parents. I don’t know why I never got involved in drama. I probably missed my calling in yet another area. That’s me… embarrassing and annoying people since 1972.