Thursday, August 28, 2014

An update on my mom...

She had her breast cancer surgery and according to preliminary tests, her lymph nodes were not involved.  The tissue that was removed will be examined and biopsied.  At this point, she may be advised to undergo radiation.

I expect to hear more from my sister later today.  She wrote last night that Mom should be up and around today and will be at home.

Conditional love...

As I write today's post, it occurs to me that I have never tagged any other post with the term "conditional love".  When I snuggle with my dogs, I have a sense of unconditional love-- or as much as a dog can "love" a human being.  They accept me for who I am, what I look like, what my beliefs are, what kind of work I do, how much money I have...  My dogs, if they are capable of love, love me unconditionally.

I think few human beings are truly capable of unconditional love.  There are only a few rare people out there who are able to be wholly accepting and not judgmental of another person.  I think when it does happen, it happens between parents and children.  But I think even the most loving parent has limits as to what is and what is not acceptable in their offspring.

This morning, I ran across the following letter that was written to a young man who decided he didn't want to be Mormon anymore.

Original source... (or at least where I found it)

The person who wrote this letter to their son obviously loves him very conditionally.  If he doesn't fall into their beliefs and do exactly what they tell him to do, he is cast out and treated like a pariah.  They are obviously threatened by their son's decision not to be Mormon anymore and fear that his apostasy will spread to his sisters.  So instead of trying to understand where he's coming from and why he no longer believes, they cut him out as if he were a cancerous tumor on the family.

Obviously, my husband Bill can relate, since his own kids did the same thing to him.  Part of his situation was caused by Mormonism.  A larger part was caused by his ex wife being terrified of losing control of her own little mini cult within her own family.  If you aren't "with her", you are against her and have to be exiled.  Fall back into line, though, and she's glad to have you... where she can control and exploit you and treat you like a minion.

I'm not sure what I would have done if my parents had presented a letter like this to me when I quit going to church years ago.  Fortunately, I wasn't raised in a family where church was that important.  Yes, I had to go every Sunday.  I didn't enjoy it much.  Church bored me and I thought it was a waste of time going every week.  But when I got older, I realized that it wasn't all bad.  I was exposed to good people in my church, a few of whom are still in my life.  I'm old enough to be interested in a sermon now and I can see why many people enjoy being part of a church family.  More importantly, the church I grew up in wasn't nearly as controlling or intrusive as the LDS church is.

The man who posted this letter is presumably still pretty young and may or may have not needed his parents to help him launch.  Their threats and demands may very well have forced his hand, though according to a thread on RfM, they are now on speaking terms and the parents have relaxed their stance a bit.  They would have when I was 19 or 20 years old.  But, the thing is, that kind of heavy-handedness is likely to backfire.  A person can go through the motions and pretend... but at some point, they will be able to make their own decisions and they may decide to say "sayonara" to their parents who think it's okay to make threats over religious beliefs.  I have to wonder if this man's parents are really willing to just shitcan one of their offspring because he doesn't want to be a Mormon anymore.  But then, reading this letter, it's obvious that they are; just like my husband's former daughters were willing to ditch their father over religion and lies their mother told them.  They lack the curiosity to find out for themselves what made their father leave the LDS church and their mother, just like this man's parents are not curious or interested in what caused their son to have a change of heart about Mormonism.

This video is of an irate Catholic mother who is upset because her son says he's an atheist.  Clearly, this phenomenon happens in a lot of religions.  The letter writer above just happened to be an ex Mormon.

In the above video, this supposedly religious mom uses a lot of profanity when her son says he doesn't believe in God.  She takes a threatening and controlling stance in an attempt to get him to fall back into line with her rigid beliefs.  She's not at all prepared to listen to her son, nor does she seem very loving.  At the same time, as I watch this, I almost wonder if it was staged.  Then I read the letter above and think maybe it wasn't.  At least this mom doesn't seem ready to throw her son out of the house.

I don't think very many people are capable of unconditional love.  When someone does something egregiously wrong and they do it often enough, I think most people with a shred of self-respect get to the point at which they fall out of love.  This should happen less often with parents and children, but as I've seen firsthand and read in letters like the one I posted above, people can and do love conditionally, even when it's their son or daughter.  I think it must be pretty miserable to have to live with parents who use religion, money, health insurance, and access to other family members to exact so much control.  Hell, I know it is... because Bill's ex wife did the same thing to him.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mom is having her surgery today...

She's scheduled to go in at 10:30am.  There are two small cancerous masses and at this point, they are only planning to do a lumpectomy, though that could change once they see what they're dealing with. My eldest sister is there right now and Mom supposedly has only asked her to cook for her.

I took the dogs out for a walk this morning.  It's raining and chilly.  They rain into a cute little pug who was very quietly doing his business with his German owner.  Fortunately, his mom wasn't too upset about my very noisy but friendly hounds.  They sniffed and wagged tails, though, which was a good thing.  I always worry how my dogs will be received.

Zane still has the big lump on his hip from his rabies shot.  I'm a bit worried about it because he's had it so long.  I'm about 90% sure it's nothing, but I still hate to see it because it doesn't seem to be getting smaller.  Fortunately, our household goods are due in a few days, which means we can get set up in the house and start making things more livable.  Once we're settled, we can pay a visit to the vet.  It'll probably be the same one who took care of Flea and MacGregor when we were here last time.  Actually, I think the German vet only saw Flea because MacGregor didn't have any health issues.  But as we are now no longer military, it's probably best to just have the German vet do everything for us.  Getting in to the Army vet in Germany is a major pain in the ass.

We're still hunting for the boxes of stuff we sent here general delivery, which apparently got sent back to Texas...  It's pretty sad when your furniture is faster than the US mail.  I'm kind of annoyed that the post office folks here would just send stuff back rather than hanging on to it for awhile.  I hope that stuff isn't lost forever, although most of what was sent wasn't particularly valuable.

I guess the next step is to get ourselves a washer, dryer, and decent sized fridge.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Not paying it forward at Starbucks...

You've heard of the concept of of "paying it forward", right?  Basically, it means a person does something unexpectedly kind for another person.  It could mean mowing someone's lawn for them without being asked, or anonymously paying their check at a restaurant, or removing the snow and ice from their sidewalk in the winter.  When a person "pays it forward", they do it hoping their kindness will catch on and inspire others to do the same.

A Florida blogger named Peter Schorsch recently made the news for "deliberately scuttling" a Starbucks "pay it forward streak".   Mr. Schorsch went to Starbucks and was advised that one of the two cups of coffee he purchased had already been paid for by the person who had come before him.  The barista then asked him if he, too, wanted to pay it forward for the person who came after him.

Schorsch accepted the free cup of coffee, but declined to pay it forward.  Instead, he tipped the barista $100.  Now he's coming under fire for not playing along with the pay it forward scheme and deliberately ending it.

A lot of my friends think Peter Schorsch was an asshole to do what he did.  In fact, even Bill thinks the man was wrong to rain on Starbucks' parade.  I happen to see this situation in a different light.

One of the reasons Schorsch didn't participate is because it didn't seem like a genuine "pay it forward" act.  He maintains that a lot of people participated because they felt guilty or were influenced by peer pressure.  Schorsch explains that it's not "paying it forward" if you're not doing your favor anonymously or spontaneously.  I happen to agree with him on this.  He came into the store wanting to buy two cups of coffee.  Had he participated in the pay it forward scheme, he would have spent the same amount of money because he would have paid for the one cup that wasn't paid for and the one he would be buying for the next person.  At some point, someone would have gotten a free cup of coffee.  What shouldn't it have been him?

While I think the "pay it forward" idea at Starbucks is a good one for making people smile, to me, Mr. Schorsch did pay it forward when he gave the barista $100.  My guess is that a lot of people working for Starbucks need tip money more than their customers need a $4 cup of coffee.  Likewise, had Mr. Schorsch gone to the grocery store and anonymously paid $100 on someone's grocery order, that would have seemed more like a random act of kindness.  People need groceries.  While they may think they need Starbucks, they probably really don't need it as much as a struggling parent needs help paying for diapers.

Of course, if you pay for a random stranger's coffee without expecting anything in return, that could possibly be considered paying it forward.  But paying for coffee because the barista suggests it and you don't want to look like a selfish asshole is not really paying it forward in my opinion.

A couple of my friends have blasted Mr. Schorsch for hearing about the activity and deliberately messing it up, then writing an article about it.  He's a writer, though, and that's what writers do.  And if he hadn't written about it, I wouldn't be writing about it because I almost never go to Starbucks.

I will say that this incident did spark an interesting political debate among my Facebook friends.  I have friends from every political stripe and the ones arguing over this had a lot to say about Schorsch because he's apparently a Republican.  I usually try to stay out of political debates, but I have to admit that sometimes they are entertaining.  

Overwhelmed with shit...

Good to know...

I had a little fight with Bill last night.  Actually, it was a moderate fight.  Fights a very rare thing for us, so for what would be a minor fight between some couples is a much bigger one for us.  We just very rarely argue or have conflicts because neither of us enjoys it much and we have little to argue over.  But there was a tiff last night.

I was feeling irritated with Bill because I felt like some of the things I was communicating to him were going through one ear and out the other.  For instance, he needed to set up a local bank account so he can pay our new landlords.  I told him I'd heard it was better to set one up in the local economy.  He basically said that was "nice" and set one up on the installation.  When I pointed out that the rates are better off post according to anecdotal evidence, he told me he didn't have time to go to a German bank.  I understand that... so I told him that I'm not going to offer more suggestions.

Then one of the people who was supposed to come see this apartment on Sunday had an appointment yesterday for 5:30.  I hadn't really wanted to have to deal with them and it turned out I didn't, since they cancelled less than two hours before they were supposed to be here.  I was irritated about that, since I've about had my fill of dealing with people looking for housing and just want to be left in peace.  I had told Bill about that too, but he pretty much ignored me and set up the appointment anyway, which was then cancelled.

I got an email from my overachieving sister, who is with my mom as she prepares for breast cancer surgery.  I guess I should be happy that she is so eager and able to deal with our mom (and previously our dad) as she starts dealing with serious health problems.  At the same time, our mother is my mom too...  And sometimes, it seems like my eldest sister is the "golden child" and the rest of us are ladies in waiting or something.  It kind of makes me a little sad that my eldest sister is automatically the "go to" child when there's a problem.  She's the oldest and probably the most accomplished of all of us... and she can certainly handle everything.  But then, after she's voluntarily taken on all this stuff, we get guilt emails from another sister who complains that she's doing too much and we should all "pitch in".  This isn't making sense right now, but I haven't yet had enough of this shitty weak coffee and my brain is fogged.  Anyway, I guess you could say I feel disconnected and disenfranchised from my family.  As usual, they kind of treat me like the unwanted baby.

Bill made dinner, but he basically made some crap that came from the tiny local German supermarket-- minute steaks, which were akin to shoe leather, and greasy potato pancake things, along with some not so fresh asparagus.  It wasn't a bad meal, per se-- but it wasn't a particularly good meal, either.  And I'm just ready to be in my own place with familiar food and my own bed.  I'm tired of being in transit and am ready for things to settle down and be somewhat normal again.

Being in this apartment with dogs all day, not having anyone to really talk to, not being able to do the things that usually distract me from being annoyed, just caused me to reach a limit last night and I got very angry.  Bill tried to argue with me, but I told him to leave me alone.  Then I took a walk by myself for about half an hour or so, which helped me clear my head.  It was really liberating to walk outside alone without the dogs or even Bill and burn off some steam.  I was still pissed off when I came back inside, though, and we had a very quiet night while Bill studied and I felt more and more hostile and upset, not so much with him, but with the fact that I let my life get so far out of my control.

I was planning to sleep on the floor in the living room area, such as it is, because I was pissed off and didn't want to be crowded into the too small queen sized bed (with two medium dogs that move around a lot, it does get crowded).  I got up to take out my contact lenses and brush my teeth and slammed the bathroom door pretty hard.  When I came out, Bill was standing there in what I call a "thug" pose.  His arms were folded and he looked stern.  He tried to grab my shoulders, which made me warn him not to touch me.  That was what my dad used to do when we fought.  He'd grab me, shake me, and sometimes hit me.  I have no tolerance for that anymore, although I know Bill would never lay a finger on me in a violent way.

But then we sat down and talked.  He was under the impression that I was mad at him.  I explained that I wasn't so much mad at him as I was overwhelmed and stir crazy.  I know a lot of people have endured more than I have this summer and a lot of my problems are "first world problems".  And I will probably feel better when we have our cars, our home, our stuff, and I'm not constantly worried about my dogs upsetting other people (not that that will completely go away after we move into our home).

It's just that moving to an international location is very stressful and we had a stressful move prior to coming here.  I'm limited as to what I can accomplish right now and that frustrates me.  I'm worried about my mother and still having a hard time believing my dad is gone.  I'm worried about our finances, the dogs' health, and my own health.  I'm 42 years old and sometimes feel like I'm a child in a middle-aged body.  And even though that's my complaint, I was still thinking of all the childish things I'd like to do, like hop on a plane back to the United States.  But once I got back to the States, then what?  Especially since I don't really like the United States that much.  Walking around the neighborhood, I was reminded of how beautiful Germany is and how much it suits me, even if I don't yet speak the language.

Anyway, I'm happy to report that Bill and I made up.  I quipped that we don't fight very often and I feel entitled to fight once every ten years or so, which made him laugh.  He just wants me to be happy and hates to see me get angry.  Zane hates it when I'm angry, too.  When our voices rose last night, he had to come out, get between us, and whine.  He's very sensitive and worries a lot.  That's one very special characteristic of our dog.  Arran, on the other hand, couldn't care less when we argue.    

Just a few more days... and then we can move into bigger digs with no furniture.

Monday, August 25, 2014


In October 2007, Bill and I moved into our first German home.  While he was working, I was unpacking our stuff.  Somehow, I lost my footing and landed hard on my ass on the wooden floor.  It was a very hard fall and I actually saw stars because it really hurt, despite all the cushioning my love of junk food and beer has left me on that part of my body.  After recovering from the fall, I took a look at my ass and was horrified to see a huge black and blue bruise forming there.  Within a couple of hours, a large swath of my right butt cheek sported hues of purple, black, blue, and a touch of yellow.

It took a few weeks for that bruise to completely heal.  Once it did, I was left with a big knot under the skin where the impact was the worst.  I had that knot the whole time we were in Germany last time and for a long while afterwards.  It's finally gone now, but it literally took years for that knot to go away.  I'm pretty sure it was a hematoma, but I never had a doctor check it out.

Well, our dear Zane has a big knot on his right hind leg, right in the area where he got a rabies vaccine back in early July.  I'm a little concerned about it, since these knots, while common, usually subside within a week or two.  He's had his for about eight weeks now.  I have been doing some research and I see that while some dogs have them for a lot longer than a couple of weeks and they eventually go away, some other dogs end up developing a type of canine cancer linked to rabies vaccines.

While it's unlikely that Zane has cancer, I still worry about it.  We lost our last two adorable hounds to cancer and I'm not ready to go through it again just yet.  Zane does have a tendency toward allergies and is allergic to at least one vaccine.

I can't get him in to the vet right now because we don't have transportation yet.  But Zane and Arran are due for checkups anyway, so I'll keep an eye on that lump and hope it goes down or away soon.  It doesn't seem to hurt him much, though I do think it could be a little bit sore.  He's still eating, drinking, and playing... and being his usual goofy, loving, adorable, and annoying self.  I hope that's the way he stays.        

Sunday, August 24, 2014

All I want is a room somewhere...

far away from the landlord's glare.  With no home showings there!  Oh, wouldn't it be loverly!

Lots of quiet and peace for me.  Calm and private as it can be!  How happy that'd make me!  Oh wouldn't it be loverly...

Oh, so, loverly with no one to interrupt my day...
I would never bitch again-- if my home wasn't on display!

No one's car sitting in my drive.  No one calling at half past five.  No tours, no shows, no jive oh wouldn't it be loverly... loverly... loverly... loverly... loverly...

Sung to "Wouldn't It Be Loverly" from My Fair Lady...

The lady who owns this apartment wanted to show it to new people this evening.  There were supposed to be two couples.  Neither of them showed.  I was not too happy about them asking to show the place since it's Sunday, we have a week to go, and we just spent the last month dealing with this same shit from our Texas landlord.

But as of September 1st, we'll be in our new home, so I just have to hang in there.  I have to admit being rather bitchy.  Sorry lady.  I know you want new temporary tenants, but we're your tenants now and we're actually paying you.

Ye olde Fecalgram... one shitty revenge!

Have you ever been so pissed off at someone that you literally wanted to be shitty to them?  Did you ever sit in a corner and think of ways you could get back at your foe?

The flaming bag of shit is one way... though it's kinda been played out.

About ten years ago, there was a company that sold fake turds which they would then pack into a beautifully gift wrapped box.  For about $40, you could have them send one of these beautifully wrapped boxes of fake shit to someone who had earned this "special treat".  The company would send it completely anonymously, though they would include a note if you wanted one.

One guy made the news in 2005 because someone sent him a Fecalgram.  Kenneth Nailleux's neighbors were pissed off that he shot their cat for killing the birds using Nailleux's bird feeders.  So they sent him a Fecalgram, which caused him to call the police.  Apparently, aside from receiving the Fecalgram, Nailleux got a threatening note.  According to The Smoking Gun:

The box delivered to Nailleux also included a 12-character password that, when keyed into the web site, delivered the anonymous sender's message: "It's time for you to move out of our neighborhood. No one likes having you live among us and this 'gift' is a reflection of what we think of you. Remember this feeling every time you leave your house and have to drive through the neighborhood. We do not want you here."

Fecalgrams were available until around 2006 or so, when the company that made them apparently went out of business.  I have no doubt that there are plenty of people out there who wanted to send one as a gag gift-- emphasis on *gag*-- for those who either like shitty pranks or those on whom they wanted to exact revenge.  On the other hand, sending one of these could be fodder for legal action, or it could make a bad situation much worse.

I started thinking about the Fecalgram this morning while chatting with an old friend who thinks I should write a novel.  He said it should be based on something from my life.  My life hasn't been that exciting, really; though I do have the distinct displeasure of having experienced my husband's ex wife's toxic bullshit.  While I may not have gotten around much in my 42 years, I can say that she is one of the most fucked up people I have ever encountered.  And even in saying that, I realize that she could have been much worse than she is.

All she did was poison Bill's daughters against him, try to ruin his relationships with his family of origin, ruin him financially, and extort money from him for over twenty years.  He was eventually able to recover from his years with her, though; and he's still alive and well.  He never has to see her or her kids again.  Some people who have had bad relationships with toxic people have not been so fortunate.

I will admit that back around 2005, when my husband's ex wife was at her shittiest, I was really tempted to send her a Fecalgram.  I jokingly floated the idea past Bill's mom, who also hates his ex wife, and she said she'd even split the cost with me.  But I determined it would be a waste of money because I wouldn't get to see her reaction; and at that time in our marriage, we didn't really have $40 to spend on fake shit.

Also, it would be one more thing the ex could say I "did" to her, even if someone else had sent it to her.  I am, of course, assuming no one else ever did gift the ex with fake poo; but I'm just as certain she has plenty of other enemies besides me, Bill, and Bill's mom.  I'm also sure she would immediately suspect me if she ever did receive such a "gift".  Besides, it was almost as much fun for me to imagine her reaction to receiving a Fecalgram in the mail and the raging paranoia I knew would quickly ensue following receipt of that beautifully gift wrapped package.

This person apparently received a Fecalgram and thought it was funny.  Warning, there's a lot of filthy language in this video.

I know just thinking about doing something like this is immature and horrible... but then, so is trash talking about your children's father and making them believe he's an awful person just because your marriage to him didn't work out.  And so is telling your ex husband's mother that her only son hates women and is a sick pervert.  And so is telling people at your church that your husband, who doesn't have a mean bone in his body, abuses you and threatens you with a Bowie knife that you know is part of his military uniform.  And so is deliberately ruining your husband's credit by telling him you'll take care of the bills and then failing to do so.  And so is staging a bunch of hurtful dramas involving your dying marriage in your children's grandparents' home over major holidays...

These are all things my husband's first wife did to him during and after their relationship which has led me to hate her with a flaming hot passion.  She is one of the very few people on this earth for whom I have these feelings.

People tell me I should move on; and intellectually, I know I should.  In fact, I mostly have moved on... because now, when I think about this stuff, I can sort of laugh about it ruefully.  At the time it was going on, though, it was very distressing and hurtful.  It takes awhile to heal from such treatment... and sometimes it's fun to fantasize about revenge.

As for my potential "novel", I'm not sure if one based on this aspect of my life will ever materialize.  Maybe someday I'll write it once my laughing is less rueful.