Thursday, December 8, 2016

"I'm here..."

Last night, I ran across an interesting essay written by Charlotte Thornton, a woman who recently married.  She struggles with depression and anxiety.  Her essay was basically a love letter to her husband, who stays with her even when she "falls out of love with life".  I tagged Bill in the essay because I related somewhat to it.

There are a lot of days when I wonder why I exist.  Somedays I don't want to do anything or go anywhere.  I fret over things that probably won't happen.  I get upset about things I can't control.  I don't let go of things I should stop thinking about.  I feel like a loser who hasn't done anything worthwhile or meant anything to anyone... even though I know deep down that I mean a lot to Bill.

Based on Thornton's essay, I wouldn't say I'm as bad off as she is, at least not anymore.  There was a time in my life when I literally felt like I was going crazy.  Every day was a struggle and I truly feared for the future.  There were many days when I fantasized about suicide.

I didn't have enough faith in a higher power to "let go and let God", so I sought the assistance of medications and a therapist.  I eventually got over the depression hump.  I rarely have problems with debilitating depression these days, although I do suffer a lot from anxiety.  I think the depression was mainly caused by the situation I was in at the time.  I am probably naturally more anxious than depressed.

Most of the time, all it takes is for me to talk myself out of it or distract myself with something.  Music often works.  Sometimes reading or watching TV will snap me out of it, as long as whatever I'm reading and watching doesn't cause more anxiety.  The news is generally not a good thing to turn to when I'm feeling revved up with fear.

This morning, Bill said to me as he was about to leave for work, "I read that post you tagged me in.  I'm here.  I'm not going anywhere."

Sometimes, I think the key to overcoming the mental spew, at least in my situation, is to focus more on positive things.  I have been so focused on one or two things that went wrong.  I have not focused on what's gone right.  Take, for instance, my sweet dog Zane.  I've been so worried and upset about him having a cancerous tumor.  I've pictured him being sick and debilitated, and fixated having to make that horrible last decision.

I have not focused on the fact that he actually seems to feel better than he did two months ago.  I've not been thinking about how we've been making changes that seem to agree with him.  I haven't thought about how the tumor he had was operable and was apparently removed.  He's here now and doing fine.  I shouldn't borrow trouble.  Trouble will find us no matter what.

I know I should focus on how fortunate I am on so many levels.  I have a wonderful partner who is here for me and loves me no matter what.  He sees the good in me and supports me.  He listens to me, even when I'm upset and angry.  We have a very good life, despite the problems.  And he's so patient and decent when I'm feeling crazy with anxiety or mowed down by depression.

As I was writing this, sweet Zane walked into the room and looked at me adoringly.  I went over and petted him, unable to stop myself from searching for new bumps.  I didn't find any and the ones he has already aren't any bigger.  He wagged his tail at me as if to say, "I'm okay.  Good morning.  And I want to go back to bed."

Sure enough, when Arran jumped off the bed to see what was going on, Zane took a flying leap back into my bed and tucked himself in.  Arran is now lying on the floor near me, looking at the twinkling Christmas lights.

I need to relax and enjoy these days with my dogs and my husband.  They're here now and they're fine.  There will be time for sorrow when sorrow is actually warranted.  For now, I need to take a deep breath and enjoy what I have.


Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Barrel bottoms...

I have fantasies about going to Baden-Baden and hitting a nude spa.  But I won't do it because the time isn't right for it.

Zane was perky this morning.  He got up, ate his breakfast, and took a walk.  He seemed a little slow on the walk, but it might be because we went a different route and there were new things to sniff.  He was really happy when I asked him if he wanted to take a walk.  He picked up his favorite stuffed rabbit and carried it down to the living room, then got on his back and rolled around on the rug.

I'm still worried about him, even though he's not really sick.  Last night, he woke me up at 3:00am for a pee break.  He went out, did his business, and then scooted his butt on the floor.  That made me wonder if he had anal tumors.  But then this morning, he took a perfectly normal dump.  So it's probably just my overactive anxiety surging again.

This time of year is tough for me for many reasons.  Four years ago, our beloved MacGregor was dying of spinal cancer.  For about two weeks, we were led to believe he didn't actually have cancer.  But then it turned out he did; the cancer was devastating and inoperable and we had to let him go a week before Christmas.  I don't think Zane is anywhere close to that situation right now, but I still dread it, even though I know logically that most dogs eventually get sick and die.  It's part of having pets.

Anyway... enough about that.  I need to try to relax and not be so upset about the dog.  What's going to happen will happen when it's time.  Such is the way of the world.

Here's a funny story I just read on RfM.  Some guy was sitting at home watching TV when his kids told him he was wanted on the phone.  He answers, and it's the stake president wanting to know if he'd share his testimony at stake conference this weekend.  The guy started laughing and the stake president wanted to know what was so funny.

It turned out the RfM poster had been excommunicated years ago!  And he told the president that he was quite sure people wouldn't want to hear what he had to say about the Mormon church.  The stake president said, "Quite so." and hung up.  Sounds to me like the church is having to scrape the bottom of the barrel for testimonies these days.

The thread continues with another person writing about how she was disfellowshipped from the Jehovah's Witnesses and how they reacted when she told a pair of them about it.  JWs are forbidden to associate with people who have left the faith or been disfellowshipped.  So when she told the JWs she was disfellowshipped, their reaction was immediate and visceral.  This lady later became a Mormon, but left that religion, too.  Now she's a nurse who works for the Red Cross... where blood is collected for transfusions!  How is that for a change in perspective?

Bill's mom had been attending a church in San Antonio that was led by a friend of mine.  I met this guy in 1994, when we both worked at a church summer camp.  He's now an Episcopalian vicar.  My mother-in-law was thinking of joining the church officially, until she heard my friend say that it was great they had so many new members.  That way, his numbers would be good when he got a visit from his boss.  That statement immediately turned off mother-in-law, who hadn't really enjoyed the contemporary style of the services anyway.  She quit attending.

Sometimes I think I would like to go back to church and meet some people.  I sometimes miss the music, especially.  But then I realize I could easily listen to hymns any time I want to.  And sometimes church people aren't the way they appear.  My old friend, the vicar, has always kind of struck me as not being as holy as he could be.  I like him very much, but I can tell he's got an eye fixed on the business side of his church.  And he wants to live comfortably, too.

Anyway, I doubt Bill wants to go back to church, so I doubt we will.  I do think it's funny that sometimes church comes to you, even after they've kicked you out!

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

What do you make of this?

I may be inviting bad karma by writing about this, but what the hell.  It's either this or another post about my near panic level anxiety, which I'm sure most regular readers are sick of reading about by now.  So here goes.

Three years ago, I found out my one time best friend had done some very hurtful things that caused me to disassociate with her.  I was very upset about what I learned, since I had known this woman since we were both eight years old.  I spent whole weeks at her house when we were growing up.  I met her grandparents and her great grandmother.  I also knew her father, who died in 1997.  She was the maid of honor at my wedding.

Anyway... I wrote about what happened back when it happened and don't want to rehash it now.  Those who are interested in the backstory can click here for the old posts.

I wouldn't be writing about this ex friend of mine except her name came up the other day when I was looking through old Facebook posts.  She had left a comment on a post I wrote maybe five or so years ago.  For some reason, when you block someone on Facebook, it doesn't erase their old posts.  It also shows them updated.  So I noticed that she had changed her profile picture to one displaying her daughter's face.  I also noticed that she was no longer hyphenating her last name.  That made me think perhaps there might be some trouble in paradise.

Now... this former friend of mine should have been celebrating her ninth wedding anniversary on the first of December.  For all I know, she did celebrate with her husband.  But the name change is a bit curious.  She had previously had a picture of her husband in her profile picture.

I decided to do a little sleuthing.  I went looking for her husband on Facebook and found him.  He has many public pictures of their daughter posted and plenty of selfies.  But there is not one photo of my ex friend, nor does he list her as his spouse.  Naturally, I wouldn't see posts from her, because I have her blocked.  But I am left with the impression that perhaps something's up.

Well... it's not my business.  I don't go looking for information about her as a general rule.  I don't care enough about her to keep track of what she's doing.  But I did notice she's no longer hyphenating... and I find that observation rather intriguing.

I'm sure it'll come up eventually from someone who knows us both.  I learned the hard way that news has a way of making the rounds, even if you don't want to hear it.

Jacquie Lawson makes everything Christmasy...

Some years ago, Bill's Aunt Betsy used to send us e-cards by Jacquie Lawson.  Jacquie Lawson is a British lady who apparently has a fantastic imagination.  Her e-cards are always festive and creative and they've brought me a lot of joy over the years.

After receiving a few of Ms. Lawson's magical cards, I decided to subscribe to her service.  For $20 every two years (or $14 for one year), I can send all the awesome e-cards I want to deserving friends and family.  One of my sisters loves it when I send her an e-card.  She's an artist and they're right up her alley.

Yesterday, I paid for another two year subscription and got a Victorian Advent Calendar as a gift.  I must admit, though I'm not the biggest fan of the holidays, I love the calendar.  Every day, there's a new surprise.  The calendar includes beautiful music, lovely Victorian scenes, games, and even history about Christmas.

Because I've been writing about some stressful stuff lately, I decided today, I would introduce my readers to the magic of Jacquie Lawson and her wonderful, fertile, imagination.  I hope you'll check her out.

An Advent calendar!

And a card...

I have to admit, Lawson's cards and calendars are healthier than the booze calendar I bought from

Monday, December 5, 2016

Trump supporters are annoying, part 2...

Yesterday, I became aware of Donald Trump's latest hissy fit.  Like many people, I found it both ridiculous and embarrassing that Trump took to Twitter to complain about how he was roasted on Saturday Night Live.  Aside from the fact that every president and president-elect has been lampooned on SNL in the many years the show has run, I had to wonder why Trump was spending time kvetching about it on Twitter.  He's about to become one of the most powerful people on Earth and has clearly not been using his time wisely in preparation for the monumental job he's about to undertake.

I shared the news post on Facebook and was taken to task by someone who thinks I'm too hard on Trump.  His first comment was "He can't say what he thinks about something?"

My response was, "He should be focused on things other than SNL.  If he's this upset about SNL now, he's in for a world of hurt once he takes office.  Aside from that... I can't say what I think about something?"

The guy came back at me a couple of times, accusing me of not giving Donald Trump a chance and criticizing every little thing he does.  Let me just say this.  If Donald Trump surprises us and ends up being a good president, I promise to eat my words.  I am able to apologize when I'm wrong.  I may not enjoy apologizing, but in this case, I would really like to be wrong.  I hope Trump is a great president.  But my observations of his recent behavior, especially on Twitter, leads me to believe that we're in for a long four years.  My opinions are based on my observations of Trump's very public infantile behavior.  He is a public figure and, therefore, is fair game.  Moreover, he can take the criticism.  He's got no problem dishing it out, right?

As this discussion was progressing last night, something suddenly dawned on me.  The person who took me to task over my comments about Trump is a member of the military.  I have written more than once about how Facebook has many pages devoted to making fun of oversensitive, whiney, military spouses.  I know this friend enjoys the humor on those pages.

Let's say SNL did a sketch about military spouses who complain about trivial things.  What is the likelihood that people in the military community would make fun of the people who were "butthurt" over such a sketch?  Having been in the military community for most of my life, my guess is that the likelihood would be very high.  There would be snarky Facebook posts aplenty about the whiney dependas complaining about jokes directed at them.

While I don't condone griping from anyone, it does seem to me, the president-elect should be held to a much higher standard than the average military spouse.  Trump will soon have enormous power over the rank and file citizens of the United States.  He certainly doesn't need my Facebook friends sticking up for him.  He probably wouldn't even appreciate the effort.  Moreover, why is it okay to bash military spouses who act entitled and complain about silly things, but it's not okay to call out the president-elect for the same asinine behavior?

I commented that Trump's complaints about being roasted on SNL are not so different than an Army wife's complaint about not being saluted at the front gate by the MPs.  It's trivial and ridiculous and makes him look like a big baby.  That's not the image I want to see reflected in my president and I'm going to continue to criticize that behavior as I see fit.  It makes me feel better.

Donald Trump needs to take being the U.S. president seriously and stop acting like a petulant child.  He's 70 years old and should have been potty trained long ago.  

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Review of The Dog Lived (and So Will I)...

For the past few weeks, I've been processing the news that my sweet beagle, Zane, has mast cell cancer.  My other dog, Arran, also had a mast cell tumor removed and there's been no recurrence so far.  I'm not sure we'll be as lucky with Zane.  I have a lot of anxiety about my dogs and life in general.  When I'm faced with a problem like this, I usually go hunting for information.  In my quest for information, I ran across a book called The Dog Lived (and So Will I).

Written by twice divorced California lawyer Teresa Rhyne, this is a book about a dog named Seamus who had an aggressive mast cell tumor.  The dog eventually recovered from the tumor.  Then Teresa found a lump in her breast that was cancerous.  Rhyne turned her odyssey into a successful blog and then wrote her book, which was originally published in 2012.  I will admit that I decided to download the book because I was looking for a hopeful story.  In Rhyne's book, I did find some hope.  

At the beginning of the book, Rhyne is coming back from a trip to Ireland, where she'd gone to see relatives.  She had just been through her second divorce and lost her two dogs within months of each other.  She's overwhelmed and depressed, but looks amazing.  Rhyne explains that when the chips are down, she ups her personal grooming.  It's like an armor she wears to help her bring her "A game".

Rhyne has an irreverent sense of humor and writes about how much she enjoyed her Irish relatives tendency to use the f word liberally.  When she met Seamus, a dog who seemed to need her as much as she needed him, she was reminded of her irreverent relatives.  Although Seamus proves to be a challenge to train, they become a pair.  And then Rhyne starts a new relationship with a man named Chris, twelve years her junior.

This book is part dog story and part love story, with a healthy sprinkling of medical and veterinary drama thrown in.  Rhyne adds her interesting sense of humor and the compelling stories of how she and her dog both battled cancer and annoying doctors, and both survived.  It's probably just the kind of book I should be reading right now.  Thanks to Rhyne's way with words, I managed to get through this book quickly and effortlessly.  I related to her story and admire how she's turned her experiences into a new career.  After the success of her first book, Rhyne wrote another.  She now does public speaking and continues to rescue dogs.

As for us and our situation with Zane, I'm not really sure what's going to happen.  His tumor was not as aggressive as Seamus's was.  We live in a different country and Zane is a bit older and grayer.  At this point, I'm more inclined to work hard to give him a great quality of life rather than put him through multiple surgeries and chemotherapy.

I have to admit, though, that reading about Seamus was inspiring.  Rhyne's story about her breast cancer was also interesting, even if it left me checking my boobs.  I was impressed the most by Rhyne's loyal and long suffering boyfriend, Chris, who was apparently Teresa's rock.  To be honest, Rhyne comes across as somewhat self-absorbed, although I figure she's also pretty genuine.  I'd much rather deal with someone genuine but somewhat unlikable over someone who's fake.

Anyway... I would recommend The Dog Lived (and So Will I) to interested readers.  I give it four stars out of five.


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Reposted review of the film Men In The Nude...

Here's an interesting review I wrote about a Hungarian drama called Men In The Nude.  If I recall correctly, when I posted this review on Facebook, I lost at least one Facebook friend.  Fortunately, he wasn't actually a friend.  I guess the guy was offended by the words "homosexual experimentation".  I should watch more foreign films.  They are interesting, even if I do have to read the subtitles.  By the way, this wasn't a porn film.

  • Writer's block plus mid life crisis equals homosexual experimentation

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      December, 03 2011
  • Pros: Somewhat interesting.  Good performance by Dávid Szabó.
    Cons: I lost interest about halfway through. Subtitles. Terrible soundtrack.
    I'm not quite sure how I ended up with the 2006 Hungarian art film Men in the Nude in my Netflix queue.  I think I might have added it because I watched a few interesting Romanian films last year and wondered if I'd like Hungarian cinema as much.  In any case, having had this DVD in my possession for the past couple of weeks, I finally sat down to watch it.  It's entirely in Hungarian, so actually watching the film is a must to get the gist of what's going on.  There are subtitles at the bottom of the screen.

    The story

    The film starts off promising enough, with a shot of the iconic Budapest train station.  Having walked around there with my husband Bill, I immediately felt oriented.  Then, once the setting shifts to a Hungarian restaurant where our protagonist, Tibor (László Gálffi), is on the phone with his wife (Éva Kerekes), things are less familiar.

    Tibor is a writer and has been on the road promoting his book.  He's suffering from writer's block and appears to be pretty bored with his life.  After ringing off his cell phone and paying the check at the restaurant, he goes to a large bookstore where his book is being sold.  He listens to a Schubert CD and gazes at a table filled with copies of his latest book.  Suddenly, he is confronted by a young, blond, charismatic looking man who asks him to inscribe a copy of the book.  After Tibor writes a dedication, the man goes to pay for the book, but "conveniently" has no money.  Tibor offers to pay for it as the young man runs out of the store, setting off alarms.  He has stolen the Schubert disc as "repayment" for Tibor's generosity.

    Tibor later learns that his admirer is a 19 year old male prostitute named Zsolt (Dávid Szabó).  Though Tibor is married to a woman and lives a straight life, he is drawn in by Zsolt's charisma.  The two begin a relationship and suddenly Tibor is able to write again.  Tibor becomes alive through his fling with Zsolt, who excites him and inspires his creativity.  Things become complicated when his wife, a blonde, narcissistic, has-been actress discovers their affair.

    My thoughts

    Initially, I was kind of interested in this film.  The story is certainly intriguing, especially for a straight, American woman like me who has little experience with films involving homosexual relationships.  I thought Dávid Szabó was very watchable and seductive in his portrayal of Zsolt.  I could see why Tibor, a man who had always considered himself heterosexual, would be lured by his charms.  Szabó seems to have mastered "come hither" looks.  He has a beautiful, androgynous look to him and expertly flirts with the camera and Tibor.

    About halfway through the film, my attention began to wane.  I started to notice how cheesy the soundtrack was, aside from the classical pieces that were included.  I lost interest in the story.  The sex scenes were not as fascinating and I started wondering when the film was going to end, even though it runs for a respectably brief 90 minutes or so.


    Though there is some nudity in this film, it's mostly very tasteful.  I don't remember seeing any full frontal nudity, though there are plenty of naked bum shots and at least one shot of a topless woman.  There are both heterosexual and homosexual sex scenes as well.  I looked up this film on and noticed that the suggestive sell efforts seemed to point toward gay skin flicks.  I would say this movie is more like an indie art film than a skin flick.  Don't be fooled by the cover art on the DVD.  It's definitely not pornography.


    I'm glad I watched this film because I like to broaden my experiences with foreign films.  Even a badly done foreign film can be more intriguing than a lot of American films.  That being said, this movie did not hold my attention like the Romanian films I watched last year that inspired me to broaden my movie repertoire.  I'm sure some viewers will get caught up in the story and get more out of Men in the Nude than I did.  For me, this film was just "eh".

    Men in the Nude is not rated.  It was directed and written by Károly Esztergályos.

Bare shoulders are a no no!

Sorry about the clickbait title.  My titles usually suck anyway.  I promised that I'd find something else to rant about, though, and I just did.

Waverly Giles, a freshman at Brigham Young University-Idaho recently vented on social media about a "zero" she got on an art project.  Ms. Giles had submitted photographs for an assignment that showed a woman with bare shoulders.  Evidently, the humanities professor took exception to the partial nudity and refused to give her a grade for her work.

The professor allegedly said that the photos were creative, but it was "so inappropriate [she] would photograph a 'naked' girl."  Interviewed by KUTV, Giles explained that nudity was "implied", but there was not an actual naked girl in the pictures.  All that was visible was collarbone.  Moreover, the subject of the project wore a tube top.

Giles decided to take her complaint to Twitter, where it went viral.  Apparently, the photos didn't comply with BYU-Idaho's strict dress code, though Giles was not told that the dress code would apply to the art project.  However, she did apparently intend to shock the professor.  She had tweeted that the professor had very low expectations of the students and she intended to send him into "cardiac arrest" with her photos.

Wow...  if pictures of a woman with bare shoulders and face paint are enough to give a man a cardiac event, I can't imagine what a good racy novel by D.H. Lawrence would do.  Or a trip to Florence, Italy, where naked art is all over the place.

BYU-Idaho is supposedly where Bill's younger ex daughter went to school.  I'm not sure if she was a student on campus or an online student.  We found out last year that her major was "University Studies", which can be done online.  I wouldn't be surprised if that's what she did.  On the other hand, she'd probably love a place like BYU-Idaho, where there's a shitload of rules.  I bet she'd never turn in an art project showing a woman with bare shoulders.  On the other hand, she had bare shoulders in her wedding gown.

This isn't the first time I've written about Mormons and their shock at so-called "dirty art".  A couple of years ago, I wrote about a community in Utah where a few Mormon teens took it upon themselves to clothe a naked sculpture.  While the artist who made the sculpture wasn't offended and was actually happy people were talking about his art, I thought it was pretty shitty for people to alter the man's creation due to their modesty issues.  I also wrote about the Mormon mother who got upset about t-shirts being sold at the mall.  She took it upon herself to buy all of the t-shirts with the intention of returning them.

Sometimes I think religious people take their commitment to modesty a bit too far.  At least Giles is getting another chance to do her project, though.  And the university has responded that dress code rules aren't specifically required to be adhered to in art projects.  That would be up to the individual professor.  Alright then.  Sounds reasonable enough to me.