Friday, May 22, 2015

Josh Duggar has skeletons in the prayer closet...

Last night, just as I was about to drift off to sleep, I did a final Facebook check.  God forbid I miss any news or gossip from 488 of my closest friends, right?  Someone had posted an article about Josh Duggar and his sexual proclivities toward girls.  I will warn that the link I posted is definitely not highbrow journalism; but then, if you are reading my blog on a regular basis, you may already be used to that!  It was just the first report I read of Josh Duggar's sordid past and, indeed, it does include a link to the verified police report that confirms that Josh has skeletons in the prayer closet.

Apparently, what happened occurred when Josh was fourteen years old.  The year was 2002 and Josh was apparently indulging in urges by "forcibly fondling" five minor girls.  Some of the girls in question were his sisters.  Some of the alleged offenses were felonies.  Some took place when the girls were sleeping while others happened when they sat on his lap as he read them stories (eeew).

I woke up this morning to find more news stories about Josh Duggar, including some from more established sources.  The Duggars have been quick to respond to the allegations.  There's even a statement on  Naturally, Josh is being very contrite and has even resigned from his position as an executive at the Family Research Council.  I don't know if this means he and his family will be moving back to Arkansas.  If I were in his shoes, I think I'd break away from the Duggar family business entirely and strike out somewhere new.

Many people are publicly lambasting Josh Duggar.  He's even being called a pedophile and being compared to people like Woody Allen and Roman Polanski.   Of course, I have already written about what I think of Woody Allen.  I don't think Josh Duggar's situation is even remotely comparable to Allen's situation.

Here's what I do think.  Based on the police reports, Josh Duggar was committing his pervy acts as a fourteen year old, which would make him a child himself.  Some folks have wondered if maybe Josh was himself the victim of a child molester.  I don't know about that.  He was fourteen, which is adolescence.  That's when people start to discover sexuality and explore.  Given the Duggars' repressive lifestyle, Josh wouldn't have been able to explore those feelings with people other than his sisters or friends close to the family.  Sex is forbidden fruit to them.  While I don't know for certain, my guess is that masturbation and fantasizing is off limits.  They don't even listen to music with a beat or dance because Boob is afraid dicks will harden.  Is it any wonder Josh acted out inappropriately?

Josh's sexual acts were never reported when they happened, but about four years later, when Josh was 18.  The only reason this stuff ever got out was because the Duggars were going to be on Oprah Winfrey's show and someone sent an email about Josh's alleged assaults.  Staff members on Oprah sent the email to the appropriate authorities and suddenly the skeletons started to fall out of the closet.

Somehow despite the Duggars' notoriety, this stuff was still covered up until yesterday... over eight years later.  The Duggars are more popular than ever and Josh has been making a name for himself in Washington, DC.  I guess someone out there decided they needed to be brought down a peg or two.  Josh has issued a statement calling his actions as a teenager "inexcusable".  Of course, Ma and Pa Duggar are doing damage control, as is Josh's wife, Anna, who has said she knew about what he did and praises him for his humility (surprising to me, since Josh isn't exactly known for that quality, hence his nickname "Smuggar").

In my mind, the cover up is usually worse than the original offense.  What makes this revelation so shocking and upsetting to so many people is that the Duggars are very outspoken about their family oriented Christian views.  Last summer, Michelle Duggar got involved in a phone campaign to prevent transgendered people from having the right to use the public restrooms for the gender with which they identify.  Michelle Duggar was apparently concerned that allowing transgendered people to use public restrooms might open the door to perverts and pedophiles.  How surprising it is that her eldest son was sexually inappropriate with his sisters and no one stopped him.  She apparently had a pervert living in her own home that she and her husband did little about.  Even the "counseling" Josh supposedly got was pretty bogus.  He ended up being sent to live with a friend of the family's who owned a home detailing business.  I wonder if Josh's victims got any "counseling" after they were forcibly fondled?  Somehow, I doubt it.

JimBoob and Michelle Duggar speak incessantly about political issues like abortion and welfare and seem intent on taking the moral high ground.  They speak of the importance of dating with a purpose,  courtships, and chaperones for their adult children in romantic relationships.  And yet, here they are with a son who has committed a grievous sexual sin.  Instead of repenting and asking forgiveness, and perhaps losing out on their big career, they covered it up.  Now, more than ever, they look like massive hypocrites.

Of course, there is a lot of wisdom in the saying, "Let him without sin cast the first stone."  The Duggar family has had no problem casting stones at people they think are sinners; yet they haven't cleaned up their own backyard.  Apparently, no one was chaperoning Josh Duggar closely enough when he was a teen.

It suddenly makes perfect sense why Josh was married so young.  He married Anna Keller when he was just 20 years old.  Surely, JimBoob wanted to keep him around the compound, which he did.  But with a wife, he'd have somewhere to appropriately direct his sexual urges, right?  Son Josiah Duggar, who has always seemed a bit high strung, emotional, and perhaps a little "swishy" is only 18, yet he is now courting.  My guess is that JimBoob hopes Josiah will get involved with being a husband and father and settle into the rigid Christian role Boob has in mind for his children.  The Duggars have also sent some of their boys to the ALERT Academy in Texas, a place that teaches military style basic training with a Christian bent.

It must be very difficult and exhausting for the Duggars to exert so much control over their enormous brood, especially when they are in the public eye as they are.  Boob's influence seems to be slipping.  I predict this is just the tip of the iceberg as to what will come out about this family.  Every family has skeletons in the closet.  The ones that end up on TV often have more than your garden variety family living a private life.  If this kind of thing keeps up, no number of cute Duggar babies being born or Duggar weddings will save that family from the harsh and often unforgiving court of public opinion.    

In other news...

The landlords came over last night to talk to us about our sewer blockage.  Bill felt so bad about this happening, the he's offered to pay for this plumbing call.  My husband is such a mensch.  I have a feeling the issue could be our toilet paper.  We use Charmin, which is supposed to be guaranteed against causing clogs.  However, this is the third time this has happened and according to our landlords, they have never had issues like this before.  Maybe we'll switch to a less comfortable toilet paper in the name of keeping the water flowing.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

#problems... or, here comes the flood...

Today has gotten off to a shitty start.  Earlier this week, I noticed some water on the floor in the basement.  I told Bill about it and he was immediately upset because it means having to call the landlords about yet another problem.  He is very sensitive about costing them money and causing them problems.  I yelled at him about it because I thought they needed to know.  He said he'd talk to them.

Yesterday, I noticed a little more water on the floor.  It seemed to be coming from the wall.  I told Bill about it.  He said he'd tell the landlords.

This morning, I went down to the basement because I had a feeling it was going to be flooded.  Sure enough, it was...  I went into the basement and found my washing machine full of water which had spilled out all over the floor.  I emptied the grey water out of my washing machine... it was still warm from Bill's shower.  I sent Bill an email about the flood.  Still haven't heard from him.  He must be in a meeting.

This weekend is a holiday, so I have a bad feeling that we could end up dealing with this mess until next week.  I can't take a normal shower when we're dealing with this flooding problem.  If I do, the water backs up into the washing machine.  So that means using the downstairs shower with the drain plugged and then baling the water out.  What a huge pain in the ass!  Click here for photos...

Then Zane didn't want to eat his breakfast.  Sometimes, he wakes up with an upset stomach and wants to fart and eat grass.  Sometimes, he's just very picky and doesn't want to eat dog food.  It took about three tries to get him to eat.  He finally started when I told him he was annoying me.  I don't know if dogs know the word "annoyed", but it seemed to work.  Of course, I was also annoyed by the large pile of shit Arran left in the hall.

Bill finally got my phone unlocked and working, so that's a good thing.  And he also got my car an appointment at the Mini dealer for services and possibly a new clutch.  Unfortunately, it won't go in for services until June 3, so I'm not going to drive it.  Then, when it does get fixed, there will be a big bill to pay.  As of now, the car works, but the clutch is giving me problems and the last thing I want to do is have the damn thing go out on me and leave me stranded on the side of the road.  I have had a clutch go out before and it's not a fun problem to have.  

The next problem that needs addressing is my tooth, which has been in need of addressing since last fall.  Enough said about that...

At least someone shared this very funny video with me.  It made me laugh on an otherwise shitty morning.  Needless to say, it's NSFW.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

He's still workin' on me...

I get a kick out of corny Christian songs.  One song that's in my head this morning is a song called "He's Still Working on Me".  The first time I ever heard it was when I was watching a documentary about a child beauty pageant contestant named Swan Brooner.  The film is called Living Dolls and it is available on YouTube.  At one point in the film, Swan visits her pageant coaches, two very southern gay men in Dallas, Texas.  One of them plays piano as he sings "He's Still Working on Me."  It's a surreal look into the weirdness that is kiddie beauty pageants.

3:30 is where the guy starts singing...

Living Dolls is a very poignant film and if you haven't seen it, I highly recommend it.  I never understood the appeal of kiddie beauty pageants.  Sadly, both Swan Brooner's parents have died.  By now, she's a young woman.  I hope she's doing well.  

The next time I heard it, it was being sung by Lil' Markie...  

I stumbled across this a couple of months ago and blogged about it...     

Lil' Markie is supposedly a rip off of Howie Mandel's "Bobby" character.  I probably ought to be familiar with that, but I'm not.  I am, however, familiar with Lil' Markie thanks to YouTube.  

Here's a more sedate adult version of this song done by a southern gospel quartet called The Cathedrals.  This is from 1986, so obviously this is a pretty old song...  The song's composer probably could have had a nice career in jingle writing.  It's a catchy song with relatable lyrics.  I can see why evangelicals like it.


This sounds like a big hit on the evangelical circuit...

Upon further investigation, I have discovered that the author of this song is Joel Hemphill, father of Candy Hemphill.  I wrote about her a couple of months ago, too.

Joel and his wife sing his song together...

I don't know if it's a coincidence or not, but it seems like contemporary Christians who are on television have a kinship with kiddie pageants.  It's all a big show with lots of glitz.  People find the music uplifting and the songs usually have lyrics that people can relate to, not like hymns written with old fashioned melodies and archaic words.  

My guess is that a lot of people get involved in Christian shows because they are frustrated performers.  They can find an audience in evangelical Christians and make a living.  So that's where a lot of talented musicians with faces for radio go, although if you happen to be good looking, that's also a plus.  If you've ever seen the 1992 film, Leap of Faith, you might understand what I mean.

The soundtrack for this film is, not surprisingly, pretty damn good.  

How in the world could a guy like Ernest Angley end up on television for decades on end?  He's got charisma and a talent for speaking.  It's certainly not because of his looks.  And he's managed to build an empire with his talents for speaking and charisma... all because he can relate to a certain group people and give them what they want.  He doesn't mind asking for money, either, which is also a big part of his success.  People think they are getting free entertainment.  They don't realize there is a price tag until they are already invested emotionally.  That's when they are asked to take out their wallets and make a love gift offering.

In Lil' Markie's case, I think his decision to start a ministry had a lot to do with a bad homelife.  He happens to have musical talent and doesn't mind speaking to large groups.  So he gets up on stage, plays piano, sings, and spreads a message that on the surface sounds wholesome and good.  But deep down, it seems to come from a dark place of pain...  and it ignores the realities of life.  He wants divorce to be illegal, probably because he was hurt by the (apparent) divorce of his parents.  But making divorce illegal won't make childhood idyllic.  Neither will getting more daddies to "date" their daughters.

Anyway, enough delving into religious stuff for me this morning.  It's cloudy and kind of cool... and I feel like making some music myself.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Growing up...

Piggybacking on yesterday's post about my lack of class, it occurs to me that I'm almost 43 years old. You know what that means, right?  I am an adult.  I've been one for over half my lifetime.  That means I have the right to get upset about things.

That may seem like a ridiculous statement.  Children have the right to get upset about things too, right?  Actually, I wouldn't know.  It seems like things have changed so much since I was a child that I don't really know what the consensus is on how kids should behave.  Back in my day, a lot of people seemed to think that children should be seen and not heard.  Adults were to be respected, even if they were behaving like jerks or were just plain assholes.

Yesterday's incident may have affected me the way it did because when I was in college, I still felt like a kid.  My old accompanist turned music professor is only seven years older than I am, but when I was 20 or 21 years old and she was 27 or 28, it seemed like we were worlds apart in age.  I felt this way, even though she had asked us to call her by her first name.  I think she now goes by her professional doctoral title.  I notice that her students call her "Dr." instead of by her first name.

But, you see, now I am almost 43 and that seven year difference is no longer as significant as it once was.  That woman who used to seem so much older and wiser than I am is now no longer that far apart in wisdom or life experiences.  So why did I feel like I had been sent to the principal's office when she left me a negative comment on Facebook yesterday?  I'm not a child.  I wasn't a child in the early 90s, either.  I guess this incident just goes to show you that growing up goes on beyond one's 20s.

I am reminded of an old episode of The Golden Girls.  Dorothy's old English teacher, Mr. Gordon, comes into town and reconnects with her.  She'd had a crush on him when she was his student; he wasn't much older than she was.  Even as a "golden girl", she still respected and looked up to him as if he was still her teacher.  But then she finds out he has a serious character flaw and it becomes very obvious that teachers are regular people too.  They aren't perfect and sometimes they can behave in a disappointing way.  Sometimes they aren't worthy of the respect they are given, although my guess is that nowadays, most teachers don't get the respect they deserve.

"Goodbye, Mr. Gordon"

The situation I was in yesterday isn't quite the same as Dorothy's situation is.  My situation was a lot less serious and doesn't involve romantic feelings or plagiarism.  All that happened is that I caused offense to someone who was once someone I considered my "better" and I felt weird about it.  But, like the character of Dorothy, I have come to realize that former authority figures are now more like my peers.  I am now a middle aged adult rather than a college kid.  Perhaps to some people, I could even be considered an authority figure myself.  

It's just weird to feel this way, though... because if she were any other person seven years older than me, I probably would not have hesitated to fire back.  The fact that I once considered her an authority figure made me less inclined to respond to her in a way that seemed disrespectful.  Instead of feeling indignant at being publicly chastised as I might be if one of Bill's co-workers called me out, I felt embarrassed and ashamed.  And she's not the only one I hesitate to "talk back" to.  Old professors, teachers, family friends, aunts, uncles, older cousins, and even my old riding coach make me feel like a kid, even though I'm definitely not one anymore.  I have as much right to express myself as they do.  But I still feel weird cussing on Facebook, though it doesn't stop me from doing it.

Ah well... Zane the needy beagle is acting like a seatbelt chime and is incessantly whining at me for something, so I better close this post and take care of him.  Happy Tuesday, everybody.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Sometimes, I wish I were more of a lady... or, everybody's a critic!

I'm feeling a little sad and ashamed right now.  I probably shouldn't feel that way, but I do.  I shared something with a woman who used to be my accompanist in college and is now a music professor.  I thought what I shared was kind of funny, if not a bit irreverent.  She didn't appreciate it and told me so publicly.  I chose not to respond to her comment.  At first, I thought maybe I should apologize, but that seemed wrong since I would basically be apologizing for how she feels.  I can't help how she feels and had no way of knowing she would be offended.  And then, after thinking about it, I also realized that I'm also a little pissed off, so an apology from me right now would not be very sincere.

I have to admit, the public rebuke stings a bit because it's embarrassing and she is generally someone I like and respect.  On the other hand, it wasn't my intention to upset her and I didn't know this would be her reaction.  This is also not the first time she's shamed me for something I've said or done that she's found offensive.  I remember once when I was in college, I used the term "brain fart" in her presence.  She said she thought that was a disgusting thing to say.  Of course, I felt humiliated by her shaming comment, although I could see her point.  At least it was in a private studio, though, and only my voice professor had heard what she said.    

I have to admit to feeling chastened right now.  There is something about being shamed by an authority figure that has a way of making me feel like crap.  Twenty years ago, this situation might have even had me in tears.  Today, I can look at it a little more objectively and realize that I really can't help how other people feel.  Besides, when I knew this person offline, she wasn't even actually an authority figure to me, although her husband was one of my professors.  And today, she is definitely not an authority figure because I am twenty years past college.  If she weren't someone I knew from a teacher/student relationship (though she wasn't actually my teacher), I might have even fired back.  

Sometimes I wish I had a more ladylike and less irreverent sense of humor.  I wish I swore less and behaved in a way that was less potentially upsetting to other people.  My personality sometimes causes me pain because I just can't seem to help myself.  I say things that cause offense to others, yet I am so sensitive that their offense upsets me.  On the other hand, I also say things that make many people laugh.  They tell me so.

I suppose I could look at this in another way.  At least this person is authentic and isn't fake about how she feels.  After living in Germany for a year, I suppose I should be used to that.  At least she is comfortable enough with me to speak up, although oddly, I guess I can't really say the same thing.  I mean, I don't feel comfortable leaving a comment that I don't appreciate public shaming.  But then, it now occurs to me that we don't really have that kind of relationship and never did.  And that also makes me sad.  I miss having real friends.  Not that I don't have them, mind you.  It's just that they're not around me.  Like I have written before, sometimes Facebook can be disastrous because incompatible people end up mixing.  My liberal friends mix with my Christian friends.  I say something to someone that offends them, but wouldn't offend 90% of my other friends.

The Internet makes it very easy to connect with people, yet it makes it hard to connect with them in a way that is personal.  And so, at a time like this, when I'd like to talk through my feelings with someone, there's no one here.  I could talk about it online, but that seems wrong too.  So I'm blogging about it online, which maybe I shouldn't do... Or I could sit here and stew and let Bill deal with it when he comes home... which I definitely shouldn't do.

Oh hell... I'm almost 43 years old.  Why should I give a fuck about what other people think?  Most of them don't care what I think, right?  People feel free to tell me how they feel.  Why shouldn't I respond in kind?  So with that... it's 5:23pm.  Prost!




Meet Brian and Shannon Gore... the parents from hell

My old friend and I used to ride horses together in Gloucester, Virginia, a pretty county not far from the historic triangle of Yorktown, Williamsburg, and Jamestown, Virginia.  I didn't like Gloucester that much when I was growing up, but I grew to appreciate it as I came of age.  It was a place where serious crimes didn't seem to happen too often.  Of course, with the advent of the Internet and the growing population of Gloucester, true crime became more common.  Now I keep up with this friend on Facebook.  This morning, she posted a news article about a notorious crime that happened in our hometown.

On April 28, 2011, a Gloucester County deputy visited Brian and Shannon Gore's home to investigate a burglary.  While he was in the couple's single wide trailer home, the deputy discovered a filthy, emaciated, naked little girl kept in a makeshift cage created by an upturned crib.  She was covered in feces and unable to extend her legs owing to long term incarceration in the cage.  The child didn't speak and was observed eating her own skin.  

Although she was about six years old, by the time she was found, the girl weighed only 15 pounds.  When she was later examined by doctors, it was determined that she likely would have died of malnutrition within a week.  The now ten year old has been adopted by loving parents.  I don't know how she's doing physically and emotionally, but I do remember when this case was first brought to light, it was said that the child would never completely recover from the horrific abuse and malnutrition she had endured in her short life.

It was horrible enough to discover the starving little girl, who had apparently been malnourished for most of her short life.  But police made an even more grisly discovery when they found the little girl's brother, the extremely decomposed remains of an infant boy who was about seven months old when he perished.  He, too, had been starved to death.  Brian and Shannon Gore also had a third child, a relatively healthy baby boy who was about a month old when the police found him.  

I am particularly interested in the circumstances that led the deputy to the Gores' home.  In April 2011, I was living in Sanford, North Carolina.  In fact, we had just moved there on April 1.  Tornados ripped through North Carolina and Virginia on April 16, 2011.  I happened to be living about a quarter of a mile from one of the twisters that tore through Sanford, destroyed many homes, and decimated the local Lowe's hardware store.  Later that day, the same storms destroyed the school I attended in Gloucester, Virginia for 7th and 8th grades.  They also ruined quite a few homes in Gloucester.  Apparently, the Gores took advantage of the gaping holes left in some of the homes in Gloucester and decided to loot.  One of the items stolen was a gold bullion, which Shannon Gore had sold at a local pawn shop.  That was the event that led the police to her door and shattered the secret she and her husband had kept for seven years.  In a weird way, those tornados on April 16, 2011 that devastated so many homes actually saved that little girl's life.

Two years ago, the Gores were tried and convicted of starving their daughter when they abruptly entered guilty pleas.  They are both serving thirty year sentences for malicious wounding and child abuse.  Now, they are going to be tried for killing their infant son.  Originally, they were not charged with his death because his remains were so decomposed that a cause of death could not immediately be determined.  It took a special examination at the Smithsonian for investigators to conclude that the baby died of malnutrition.  Experts at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History did a full anthropological analysis of the baby's remains and could not find another reason for the baby's death. 

Like many people from my hometown and the surrounding areas, I was horrified by this case of extreme child abuse and neglect.  While I never got the chance to really use my social work training the way I thought I would, I have done home visits in the role of a social worker.  This is the kind of scene I could have stumbled on in my career.  I am sure the police who were involved in this case are still haunted by it.  Hell, just looking at the couple's mug shots in the paper is traumatizing to me.  Shannon Gore appears completely out of it-- very tired or drugged or something.  Brian Gore's eyes look almost dead.  

I still follow Gloucester's news by reading The Daily Press, which is the regional newspaper that covered Gloucester and the surrounding areas.  When this story was fresh news, it seemed like Brian and Shannon Gore's mug shots showed up on my news feed every day.  It got to the point at which those faces were kind of etched on my brain.  I am particularly haunted by the tired, defeated look on Shannon Gore's face.  She looks like she's so far removed from life... like she's a walking dead person.       

I wonder what led this couple to do what they did to their children.  What caused them to have so little regard for the lives of their son and daughter?  I can only imagine that had their third child spent much more time with them, he too would have died.  Based on news reports, the girl was apparently fairly healthy for the first two years of her life, though no one knew she existed.  What happened in 2006 that caused her parents to neglect and abuse her to the point at which she almost died of starvation while in their care?  Brian Gore says he quit feeding her because he "got tired of it".  Why?  He also claimed that she had cerebral palsy and Down Syndrome.  Doctors did not find evidence of either of these disorders.  But then, it's not as if the girl was ever taken to a real doctor.  Indeed, she was apparently never even allowed out of the confines of that single wide trailer home.  No one knew she or her brother existed, though the birth of the third child was apparently celebrated openly among neighbors.

At this writing, Shannon Gore hasn't even reached her thirtieth birthday.  She will almost surely never leave prison.  I wonder if she's still as cold and dead looking as she appears to be in her mug shot.

Another blogger has written a far more detailed post about this couple.  I have written about all I can stomach for right now.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Reposted review of Kathryn Casey's She Wanted It All...

I originally posted this book review of Kathryn Casey's She Wanted It All on Epinions in May 2007.  I have decided to repost it on my blog so it doesn't disappear into Internet oblivion.  This is one of my favorite books by Kathryn Casey, mainly because I related so much to it.

Pros: Fascinating true crime account of a money hungry woman with personality disorders.

Cons: A few minor editing glitches. May cause nightmares.
Not long ago, I was watching the true crime show Snapped on the Oxygen network. Snapped is a half hour program that showcases murders committed by women who have "snapped". It was while I was watching that show that first heard the name Celeste Beard Johnson, a woman who seemed to have everything and threw it away because of her greed. Needless to say, I was intrigued by her case and that's what prompted me to purchase Kathryn Casey's 2005 book, She Wanted It All: A True Story of Sex, Murder, and a Texas Millionaire. It took me the better part of a week to read this fascinating book. I don't mind sharing that I had a nightmare the first night I started reading.

She Wanted It All is the complicated story of Celeste Beard Johnson, a sexy, money hungry, mentally ill mother of twin girls who changed husbands like she (hopefully) changed her underwear. Celeste grew up in California, one of four adopted children. Although Celeste's adoptive mother claimed that her children enjoyed an idyllic life, the children claimed that their parents were weird and unhappy. Nevertheless, Celeste seemed to be a happy, precocious child who was the type of person who could sell ice to Eskimos. She could be so sweet, then suddenly turn psycho.

At age seventeen, Celeste married her first husband, Craig Bratcher. She was very pregnant with twins on her first wedding day. Three months after her wedding day, Celeste gave birth to twin daughters, Jennifer and Kristina Bratcher. Less than a year later, the marriage was on the skids. Celeste didn't take to motherhood very well and was frequently distracted by other men. Eighteen months after their wedding day, Celeste and Craig got a divorce. Although Celeste was initially granted custody of her babies, she frequently dumped them with other people. At one point, the girls were in foster care. Craig and Celeste reconciled for awhile and Celeste became pregnant again. When she had a third baby girl in November 1986, she gave her up for adoption. That was probably the kindest thing she ever did in her life.

As the years passed, Celeste found herself with a series of different men. In December 1988, she married her second husband, Air Force mechanic Harald Wolf, who was wary of Celeste from the beginning. Like others in Celeste's life, Harald described her as wonderful at times. Then, her behavior would become erratic and hateful. Harald wanted to get away from her, yet he missed her when they weren't together. An overseas transfer to Iceland without Celeste turned out to be a lifesaver, but not before Celeste financially ruined him.

In August 1991, twenty-eight year old Celeste married for the third time, this time to Jimmy Martinez. Again, the marriage was not destined to last. Celeste continued living a wild life, leaving her twin daughters home alone. Her third husband had moved to Austin, Texas for a job and their apartment needed to be packed. Celeste ordered her eleven year old girls to finish packing while Celeste went out and partied.

Celeste made up wild stories about her past and even claimed to have suffered from cancer. She accused her father of molesting her. She alienated her daughters from their biological father, prompting them to tell him that they hated him. And when first ex husband Craig Bratcher took Celeste to court in a bid to take custody of their daughters, Celeste painted herself as a victim. It wasn't long before her third husband, Jimmy Martinez, noticed that his credit was in the toilet. Soon, they were divorced and Celeste was courting husband number four, Steve Beard, an elderly, wealthy, lonely Austin television mogul whose beloved wife had just died. Though Steve was 38 years older than Celeste was, they married in February 1995. Craig Bratcher eventually became so broken that he committed suicide. At Celeste's insistence, Steven Beard adopted the twin girls.

From the very beginning, Celeste wanted Steven Beard for just one thing-- his money. While Steve Beard was looking for a loving companion and partner, Celeste was looking for someone to bankroll her extremely extravagant lifestyle. She would be loving to him in person, but in private she referred to him as an old fat f*ck. At night, she'd spike his food with sleeping pills and his vodka cocktails with Everclear, wait for him to pass out, then go out and party. She spent his money recklessly and lamented to friends that she was just waiting for him to die. At one point, Steve Beard grew tired of Celeste's antics and suggested divorce, threatening Celeste's source of cash. Celeste became so despondent over her plight that she threatened suicide. She ended up in a psychiatric hospital, where she would be diagnosed as having both Borderline and Narcissistic Personality Disorders.

The hospital is also where Celeste Beard met her lesbian lover, Tracey Tarlton. Tracey Tarlton fell head over heels for Celeste Beard and believed her when she claimed to be married to a monster. Like so many people before her, Tarlton fell into Celeste Beard's trap, becoming so entangled that at Celeste's behest, she ended up shooting Steven Beard while he slept, after the two women tried to poison him by growing botulism. The poor man lingered on the brink of death before he finally succumbed to a massive infection brought on by the gunshot wound and Celeste Beard's deliberate attempts to cause the infection. She dressed his wounds with dirty bandages and didn't wash her hands when she touched her husband; she also visited him when she was sick in an attempt to pass her germs to him.

And yes, once Steve was dead, Celeste Beard did eventually marry a fifth time. Husband number five was a young man named Spencer Cole Johnson; they wed right before Celeste went to prison for murdering her fourth husband. Oddly enough, the woman married five times and her last names came full circle (Celeste Johnson Bratcher Wolf Martinez Beard Johnson)

Does this story seem complicated? It is. I've just scratched the surface with the summary above. There's a whole lot more to the story and Kathryn Casey has done a masterful job of keeping the details straight. She includes a photo section that shows several incarnations of Celeste. Like her contemporary, Ann Rule, Casey keeps her writing dignified and classy. There's a minimum of gore, although the story is very scandalous and almost unbelievable. But unfortunately, I can believe this story. I mentioned at the beginning of this review that this book gave me nightmares. That's because my husband's first wife is in many ways a lot like a less money hungry version of Celeste Beard. As I read this book, I was blown away by the uncanny similarities between my husband's plight and those of Celeste's ex husbands. I can only hope that I don't someday read a book about my husband's ex.

This book hit really close to home for me, mainly because I've seen firsthand the lingering damage that can come from having a relationship with someone like Celeste Beard. My husband bears battle scars similar to those of Celeste's ex husbands. He went through a period of financial ruin and his kids no longer speak to him. But I'd say despite that, my husband is a very lucky man. He still has his health, most of his family, and he's recovering financially. Best of all, he's alive and married to me. I am appreciated like I've never been appreciated by anyone; in turn, he is also appreciated for the wonderful man he is.

Obviously, as much as this book fascinated me, I will issue a caveat that it may cause nightmares. On the other hand, this book also inspires hope because it offers a glimpse of what it was like for Celeste's children. My husband once enjoyed a close relationship with his children and now they apparently hate him. Celeste's kids acted the same way with their bio father, but it later came out that they behaved that way because they were terrified of their mother and knew what she was capable of doing. It gives me hope that maybe someday, my husband's kids will come around. I just hope no one has to die for that to happen.

For the most part, I think She Wanted It All is a very well-written, compelling book. While it is a true crime account, it's also a fascinating case study of personality disorders, which may especially appeal to those with an interest in psychology. 

Depression can be deadly...

The other day, I got a comment on this blog from true crime author Kathryn Casey.  She had read my positive review of her latest book and asked me to "friend" her on Facebook.  I was happy to oblige, only she has reached the limit of friends allowable on Facebook.  So I "follow" her instead.  ETA: I guess she's cleared out her friends list, because today I was allowed to send a request.

This morning, Kathryn Casey posted about the sad case of the woman who was flying on Southwest Airlines and got a text from her husband indicating that he intended to kill himself.  She wanted to call for help, but a flight attendant told her she had to put away her cell phone and supposedly refused to ask the captain to call the police.  There she sat on the plane, helpless to try to save her husband's life.  By the time police got to him, he was dead.

I read some of the comments people had about this case.  One woman wrote about how she is unsympathetic to suicidal people and thinks it's a selfish act.  I know many people have this viewpoint.  On the surface, I can understand why many people think suicide is selfish.  However, as someone who has been suicidal before and has suffered from clinical depression, I usually have to add a rebuttal.

I suffered a rather significant bout of clinical depression in the late 1990s.  It took time and effort to work up the courage to see a doctor.  I was fortunate in that a friend recommended a good therapist for me.  I made an appointment with my therapist and took steps toward finally getting over the depression that had plagued me for years and gotten to a fever pitch.  Had he not done that, I might not have been as successful as I was in getting my depression treated.  Therapists can be excellent and competent, or they can be quacks.  When you are depressed, you may not have the will to look for a therapist.  You may not have the energy to get to the doctor's office.  Your thinking may be so warped that you don't think you're worth the effort of trying to get well.

People who are suicidal usually suffer from clinical depression.  Part of the clinical depression experience is feeling worthless, tired, apathetic, and sad.  But it also screws up your thinking.  You can end up in a spiral where you feel paranoid.  You may resort to self-medicating with alcohol, illegal drugs, or food.  These substances can also alter your thinking and skew your thoughts to the point at which you might think you'd be better off dead.  You might think your loved ones would prefer you to be dead.  You might feel like a burden to them.

Clinical depression can be merely debilitating or it can be downright deadly.  It's an illness often caused by biochemical issues in the body.  That's why antidepressant and anti anxiety medications usually work to make people with depression feel better.  Medications prescribed for depression aren't "happy pills"; they don't make a person feel happy or high.  All they are intended to do is make a person feel more normal and even keeled.

But antidepressants can be expensive.  They require a prescription, which requires a trip to see a doctor.  Depression can sap a person's energy to the point at which they don't have the will to get to a doctor.  They may not have the money for the visit or the medications.  Sometimes, it takes awhile to find the right one at the right dosage.  Doctors who treat the illness competently will need to monitor the patient closely, which requires more trips to the doctor, more money, extra time to see the doctor and wait in the pharmacy for the drug(s), and access to transportation.  This may not seem like a big deal to a person who isn't depressed.  I can tell you from personal experience that depression can make all of these needs seem insurmountable.  It messes up your thinking and steals your energy.  It saps your will to keep going and sense of self-worth.  Just picking up the phone to call for my first appointment was very difficult.  Going to see the therapist and then the psychiatrist, talking about the issues that had led to my depression, taking Prozac and suffering the side effects, then finally reaching suicidal tendencies when the drug didn't work for me...  that was all very difficult and caused significant anxiety and stress.  I can see why so many people who are depressed never get treated.  Treatment is tough.

Now, having written all of this, I want to make it clear that I have empathy for those left behind after someone commits suicide.  I can understand the anger and sadness that comes from the grief resulting from a person who decides to end it all.  Suicide can seem like a selfish, manipulative, self-centered act.  The person or people left behind after a suicide are often left feeling guilty, asking why, and wondering if there is something they could have said or done to prevent the suicide.  I just want to tell these folks that the suicide is not about them.  Depression is a legitimate illness and sometimes it kills, just as surely as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease can kill.  When a person dies of a heart attack or a stroke, there is often sadness, shock, and grief, but most of the time, people don't get really pissed off about it the way they do when someone commits suicide.  Sure, they might be angry that the person didn't adhere to a healthy diet or take steps to control their blood pressure.  But you usually don't hear people who died of what is considered an organic physical illness being accused of "selfishness".

Here's another thought I'd like to toss out there for those who think suicide is "selfish".  Okay, maybe it really is a selfish thing to do.  But before you lambast the person who killed themselves, ask yourself if you did anything to help them.  Did you offer to help them find and get to a doctor?  Did you listen to them if and when they wanted or needed to talk?  Did you reach out to them in support and express concern for their welfare?  If you didn't do any of those things, then in my mind, you were probably part of the problem.  Moreover, you can't know what that person was dealing with.  You don't know the pain they were living with.  And if you didn't offer them support or try to help them get well, you really have no right to call them selfish.  I would submit that expecting someone who is living with depression to keep living so you won't feel guilty is also pretty selfish.  You wouldn't tell someone with a broken arm to buck up and get over it, would you?  People with clinical depression often need competent medical help and compassion, not judgment and ridicule.

When I hear of someone committing suicide and I know it's because they were clinically depressed, I try to remember the days when I felt overwhelmed by life.  I recall how hopeless and helpless I felt.  I remember how hard it was to get help and how long it took to feel better.  Then, I have empathy for the person who died.  I realize that what they did was not about selfishness.  It was about losing the fight against depression.  And instead of feeling angry, guilty, and cheated toward the suicide victim, I feel compassion for them.  Unfortunately, sometimes depression wins.