Friday, October 29, 2010

Why stepmoms shouldn't have to "suck it up" and go on vacation with the ex

Sometimes stepparents, especially stepmothers, find themselves in very awkward situations through no fault of their own.  Since my husband's children disowned him, I've been spared a lot of these situations, though even I did get stuck in one at the beginning of my marriage.  Of course I'll dish about it later in this blog post.

What got me to thinking about this was a post I came across on Babycenter's online community.  A stepmother was lamenting because she and her husband wanted to go on a vacation.  Her husband's two teenaged kids were also supposed to come along.  The problem was, the kids refused to have a good time whenever they were with their father.  Their mother had made them feel too guilty about leaving her at home.  So this poor stepmom was on Babycenter asking the other ladies how they felt about inviting biomom to come along with them for their vacation, even though stepmom didn't like biomom.

Something tells me that poor stepmother was put in a bind by her husband, who naturally wants to have a relationship with his kids.  He probably told her to "suck it up" for the kids' sake and put on a happy face.  Or maybe it was biomom who came up with this lame idea...  What it all boils down to is that stepmom was being asked to play second fiddle... put her desire for a nice vacation aside for the sake of two kids who are almost adults.

I'm sure like most nice people, this lady just wanted to "get along" and make people happy.  But the very fact that she was asking other mothers for their opinion tells me that she didn't actually want her husband's first wife to tag along on their vacation.  And who can blame her?

Well... reading about this woman's issue reminded me of a tricky situation that developed in my world back in 2004.  My husband and I had barely been married for two years.  He was still trying hard to maintain a relationship with his daughters.  His ex wife was being a real pain in the ass about visitation.  Every time he suggested a time in which he could see his kids, the ex shot it down.  And then one day, as the holidays approached, she came up with this beaut of an idea...

She said the girls wanted to see their grandparents-- that is, my husband's dad and his wife.  She had cut my husband's mother out of the kids' lives long ago.  So she suggested that my husband and I journey to my husband's dad's house for Christmas and she and her husband would bring the kids there.  That way, we could all spend Christmas together as one big happy family...

Now, I was not too thrilled with this idea, since I already knew by this point that the ex wife apparently had a lot of preconceived notions about me.  She as much as told my husband in emails that she expected me to be wicked and inappropriate (which I'm really not, but whatever).  I had only met my stepkids once and hadn't had much time to spend around the inlaws.  It was going to be an enormously uncomfortable situation for me and, most likely, for just about everyone else.  The ex also added that she expected my husband and me to get a hotel room, since she and her husband would be staying with my husband's dad and his wife.

My first inclination was to suck it up and go to the inlaws' house, grinning and bearing it.  But the more I thought about this situation, the more angry it made me.  We were pretty poor at the time, mainly owing to the huge amount of child support my husband was paying for his two kids, plus the ex's older son.  We really couldn't afford to travel for Christmas, stay in a hotel, and board our dogs.  And besides, I didn't want to spend Christmas with my husband's ex wife.  Christmas is stressful enough under the best of circumstances.  It's hard for me to spend it with people I love.  Why would I want to spend it with someone I despise?

It occurred to me that the ex probably thought she could control everything if we all went to the inlaws' house.  I would presumably be "kept in check" because I would want to fit in with my husband's family and his kids.  Meanwhile, the ex, who knew these people much better than I did, would be running the show as if the divorce had never happened.  She would gain valuable information about what kind of person I am, all the while showing me who the "real" daughter-in-law was in the family.  She was under the delusion that my husband's parents loved her more as a daughter than they did my husband as their son.  Actually... thinking about this situation makes me feel very sorry for the ex's current husband.  What a shitty and uncomfortable situation for him to be in.

Anyway, I knew it would be an absolute misery for me to spend Christmas with that woman.  I also knew that as incredibly hostile as I felt toward her, it was unlikely that I would be able to restrain myself from getting very upset and possibly losing my temper publicly.  I knew my husband would worry about me while he was trying to maintain his relationship with his kids.  I also knew that my poor inlaws were hosting this little shindig and just wanted everyone to get along.  In my heart, I knew it was unlikely I'd be able to grin and bear it and, even if I could do that and things were civil, it would only encourage the ex to arrange a similar gathering at a later date.

One day, when I got especially annoyed with the whole situation, I told my husband that I wanted to stay home.  I encouraged him to go see his kids and I would remain at our home and look after the dogs. That way, we would only have to pay for one plane ticket and there would be no boarding expenses for the dogs.  I wouldn't have to subject myself to my husband's hostile ex wife and I wouldn't be exposing innocent people to my own hostility.  I knew Christmas would suck anyway, but it would suck less if I weren't around to add to the tension.  My husband resolved to come home before Christmas Eve, so we could at least spend Christmas Day together.  We didn't tell anyone I wasn't coming because we suspected that if we did, Ex would throw a wrench in the plans and my husband wouldn't be able to see his kids.

So off my husband went to this ridiculous soiree while I stayed home with the beagles and drank copious amounts of wine... something I knew I would be discouraged from doing at the inlaws' house, since Ex and her brood are all devout Mormons.  The days passed fairly peacefully, though I did get daily phone calls about the ordeal.  It sucked as much as I thought it would, but my husband did get to see his daughters.  Sadly, that was the last time he's seen them.  Shortly after that fiasco, the girls pretty much decided to disown him.

My husband's dad and stepmother were very pissed that I didn't show.  And I was pissed that I had been put in the situation in the first place.  There were a lot of hard feelings about that gathering, but I bet feelings would have been much harder had I gone.  So many things could have gone wrong...  Ex could have tried to turn all the women against me, only to find me cozying up to my father in law (which I would probably do anyway).  Shit, I could have really been inappropriate and pulled her husband aside for a little chat, asking him if it bothered him that he'd been pussywhipped into hanging out with my husband's family for Christmas.  No... I think I was the only one who was thinking clearly about that get-together and how much worse it could have gotten.  I decided to spare myself and innocent bystanders from the potential bloodbath and I don't apologize for it.  

A couple of years later, when Ex and my husband's daughters sent hateful letters to him, apparently kissing him off for good, she included a rant about the fact that I didn't show up to celebrate Christmas with her in 2004.  She also asked my husband not to share her letter with me.  He did, of course... just the parts about me.  That was when I sent my one and only communication to her and pretty much spelled out that I knew damn well that she had no desire to be friends or family with me.  After all, she had never invited me to that gathering...  she simply disrespectfully informed my husband that she expected me to be there-- and stay in a hotel, mind you.  Everyone else had simply parroted her command without even so much as giving me the chance to politely accept or decline.  I doubt anyone really cared about seeing or talking to me, since they really just wanted to see the kids.  The only reason my presence was needed was so that the situation would look normal and acceptable... and my dear husband's stay in a hotel wouldn't make anyone feel guilty for choosing to host the ex over him.  

My not showing up for holidays with the ex exposed the situation for what it was... extremely fucked up.  And it also sent a clear message that I would not tolerate this kind of abusive crap from my husband's ex wife.  The only reason she wanted me to be at that family gathering was so that she could learn more about me while simultaneously showing me that I would never really be a member of my husband's family or part of his children's lives.

I know my letter made her very angry because not long after that, we got a phone call from my husband's stepmother who basically told my husband to keep me in check.  Evidently, the Ex had called her complaining about what I'd said and got my husband's stepmom worried that she'd keep the kids from their grandparents.  I thought it was very telling that Ex never once confronted me about her issues with me and, in fact, asked my husband to keep her letter a secret from me.  Instead, she got other people to do her dirty work and pressure me to stay in line.  Thankfully, by that point, my husband was developing a spine, so he set his stepmom straight.  And not long after that, Ex and the girls disowned their grandfather and his wife, too.  So much for the inlaws being rewarded for taking Ex's side...  The upside is, at least that bitch leaves all of us alone now.

I don't know the Babycenter poster's situation.  It's probably not as dramatic as mine was.  But I always feel sort of sorry for stepparents who find themselves placed in awkward family situations, trying to make a good impression on the kids, the ex, and the blended families.  No wonder so many remarriages end up failing!

So... to any put upon stepparents who may read this blog, just know that I feel for you...  And I encourage you to resist any bullshit requests for you to hang out with the exes on vacation or whatever.  Unless, of course, you actually happen to be friends with the ex, which I know sometimes happens.  I envy those who do have an amicable relationship with their ex spouse(s).  If you can comfortably spend the holidays with your wife's or husband's ex spouse and actually want to, then more power to you.  But if you're in a situation like mine was, I'd encourage you to politely tell the ex to fuck off.  There's very likely a good reason why your spouse is divorced from that person.  You shouldn't be expected to hang out together if you don't want to... and certainly NOT on  a vacation.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Put parents in jail for skipping parent-teacher conferences?

The other day, I happened to run across a news report about a legislator/prosecutor in Michigan who wants to make a law that would put parents in jail for missing parent-teacher conferences.  This lawmaker, name of Kym Worthy, contends that children whose parents aren't involved with their schoolwork don't tend to do as well in school... When they don't do well in school, they go on to become criminals.  So her solution, in part, is to make a law that would force parents to interact with their children's teachers and hold them accountable for their kids' success in school.

I'm not a parent myself and I don't live in Michigan, so this is doesn't affect me.  However, I have done some thinking about this proposal and I think it's bullshit.  Here's why.

1.  Worthy says that this plan would only affect kids who aren't doing well...

Parents whose kids are getting good grades wouldn't be hassled about talking to the teacher.  However, I know from experience that good grades aren't necessarily the number one indicator as to which kids are going to get in trouble.  Case in point.  I knew a guy in high school who was super smart.  He was in all honors classes and made excellent grades.  His parents were involved, too.  Dad was the director of instruction for our county, mom was a nurse, and big brother was quarterback of the high school football team.  By Worthy's logic, this guy should be living a perfectly respectable life with a good job, a family, and a white picket fence.  But he's not.  He's in prison.  Five years ago, he and eight other guys got busted for dealing and distributing massive amounts of marijuana and cocaine from California to Virginia.  He should have a legitimate career or something, but he's a jailbird instead.

The fact is, people get involved with criminal activity for all sorts of reasons.  Sometimes it's because their parents didn't care about them or they couldn't get a decent job.  Sometimes it's because they get a rush from being a criminal.  Sometimes it's because of the easy money.  And kids with poor grades or poor attendance may very well end up getting in trouble with the law, but that's certainly not always the case.  Sometimes those kids who don't do well in school end up making a perfectly respectable living despite their poor school records.

2.  Worthy says there are many ways of getting around the conferences if something comes up.  

Watch the video and you'll hear Worthy talk about the many ways parents can get around going to jail if they can't make the conferences for whatever reason.  She insists that it's only the egregious offenders who will go to jail under this proposal and only after multiple attempts at intervention.  Well, if that's the case, why the hell bother with it?  It's just more red tape.  It doesn't sound like this plan has teeth, nor can it be enforced, ergo, it's a colossal waste of time.

3.  This plan is really just a threat to hold over parents' heads to force them to get involved...

First off, it sounds to me like Worthy thinks any parent who doesn't make it their mission to talk to their kids' teacher(s) is just an irresponsible, apathetic deadbeat.  But there are any number of reasons why parents don't come in for conferences.  Maybe they have to work.  Maybe they don't have a phone or a computer or even a home...  And, of course, maybe they're apathetic.  My point is, threatening these people to get them to care is not likely to be effective.  Holding the threat of jail over their heads will only work with people who care... and those who are really apathetic about their kids probably won't give a shit.  Many of those who really do care probably can't make the meetings because of other obligations.

4.  Police have better things to do and taxpayers have more important things to fund...

We live in a complicated world.  People are struggling to get by.  Police officers have better things to do than arresting parents who miss a parent-teacher conference one too many times.  And those parents who get arrested are going to cost taxpayers money in terms of food, housing, and court costs.  Taxpayer dollars should go to dealing with real criminals.

5.  Criminalizing parents is not the way to avoid keeping kids out of jail...

First off, most kids depend on their parents for financial support.  So putting their parent(s) in jail for not attending parent-teacher conferences could very well jeopardize that source of support.  A parent could lose their job for being incarcerated.  He or she could then have a hard time finding a new job.  In this economy, it's tough enough for people with clean records to get hired.

Secondly, what do the authorities plan to do with the child whose parent has gone to jail?  What if there's not another parent to look after them?  What if there are no friends or relatives to take care of them?  Are they going to put the child in the "system".  Again, more taxpayer dollars and more potential for neglect and abuse... and perhaps people who might not be the best influence.

Finally, I wonder which parent will go to jail?  What if the child comes from a two-parent household?  Do you send the mom to jail or the dad?  Who is ultimately responsible?

I agree that people who have children should do their best to raise them right.  But it should be the parents' responsibility to do that, not the school's.  This plan of Kym Worthy's makes homeschooling look even more attractive to those who might have been so inclined... and it really forces schools to take on a role that shouldn't be theirs.  I hope this proposed legislation dies because I think it's very misguided and may set a nasty precedent for other states.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Debt collections... must be the shittiest job, ever!

Lately, I've been getting a lot of phone calls for a woman named Wanda Knight.  I don't know a Wanda Knight, but apparently she's pissed off a bunch of creditors and given them my phone number.  I've had this number for over a year and the calls just recently started.  But boy, are those bill collectors persistent... and they flat out REFUSE to believe that I don't know Wanda or some guy named Richard (?)

The calls started a few weeks ago.  I'd get an automated message on my machine from some credit card company.  The funny thing is, the message would advise me that if I wasn't Wanda, I should find her and get her to answer the phone.  And if I was Wanda, I should pick up the phone and listen to the message, since it concerned a private and potentially embarrassing matter.  If they'd called the wrong number, I had to call them back and leave a message.

I finally called the number and left a message, asking these people to take my number out of their database, since I'm not who they're looking for.  Those phone calls stopped.

But then I started getting calls from some woman in Spearfish, South Dakota.  One day, she called and left an exasperated message on my machine for "Wendy".  She said she was "running out of time and options to help Wendy" and Wendy needed to call her back so they could straighten this matter out.

The next time she called, I answered the phone.  The same lady asked for Wanda Knight.  I told her she had the wrong number and explained that I had gotten a lot of calls for Wanda, but Wanda must have given the wrong number.  The lady asked me if I knew Wanda.  I said no.  She asked me if I knew a guy named Richard Stevens.  I said no.  Then she said she'd talked to Wanda at this number on October 5th.  I explained that I'd had this number for over a year and if she'd talked to Wanda, it couldn't have been through my phone number.

So then the lady recited the number.  I told her she had the number right, but that there was no Wanda or Richard here.  She had the wrong number and I didn't want to hear from her again.  She apologized and hung up.

So today, I saw the telltale Spearfish, South Dakota number on my caller ID.  I picked up.  The lady on the other end of the phone asked for Wanda Knight.  I told her Wanda didn't live here.  She asked me again if I knew Wanda or Richard.  I said no.  We went through the whole spiel again and she apologized and hung up.

I'm sure this particular debt collector is just trying to make a living.  She's not been totally rude or offensive, except for the fact that she keeps calling me.  I'm sure it sucks to have to do collections calls.  But it also sucks to be on the receiving end of them, especially when you're not the one who owes.

I hope this chick finds Wanda soon and leaves me alone...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Voting and religious beliefs...

Election day is rapidly approaching.  And pretty soon, it'll be time for the new presidential candidates to start campaigning in earnest.  Seems like whenever it's time to start voting, people start asking personal questions about religion and politics.

A couple of years ago, I actually lost a friend over this issue.  Back in 2008, we had a couple of very religious candidates bucking for the White House.  I had decided I wasn't going to vote for either of them.  When my ex-friend asked me why, I told him that I didn't want someone in the White House whose actions were going to be influenced by a church.  I don't have a problem with all religious candidates, just the ones whom I perceived would be expected to kowtow to members of their faith.

Mitt Romney, as a devout Mormon, would absolutely be expected to follow his prophet, because that's what all Mormons are expected to do.  Mike Huckabee, as a devout Baptist, would be expected to follow his church leader's edicts as well.  They would be expected to support laws that their churches support.  And that could have far-reaching consequences in matters that I care about, like gay rights, women's rights, capital punishment and medical research.

Very religious candidates would also be expected to help other people in their faith to move ahead politically.  You can't tell me that Romney or Huckabee wouldn't have considered the religious beliefs of any of their appointees to cabinet positions.  Like anyone else, they would choose those who would be on their side.  And people who embrace the same religious beliefs are more likely to agree politically, as well.  Once you band a bunch of powerful representatives together that agree on the same things, they start voting to make their views public policy.  It's only natural that they'd do so, so why is it unnatural for me to choose to vote for people with whom I agree?

Now... when I tried to explain these concerns to my ex-friend, he immediately accused me of being a bigot, a term that initially really offended me.  But, in retrospect, maybe I shouldn't have been offended.  Because I think we're all bigots, really, and people should have the right to vote for whomever they want for whatever reason they please.

In 2008, we had a woman, a black man, a white man, a Mormon, and an evangelical Christian all trying to win the White House.  They all had the indisputable right to run for office.  And I do agree that anyone who is eligible to run and wants to should have that right.  But I should also have the right to decide how I want to vote without having someone accuse me of bigotry because I happen to consider a person's religious background when I make my choice.  The simple fact of the matter is, everybody discriminates.  It's part of life.  It's part of survival.

Incidentally... I think a lot of people pay lip service to the idea of being "blind" when it comes to religion or any other aspect of a candidate.  Some say they would vote for an atheist or a Muslim if that candidate's values matched theirs.  But religion is so tied to politics these days that I think it would be difficult for a conservative Christian to consider voting for a Muslim or an atheist, because that person's views would probably not align with those of an atheist or a Muslim.  My personal views do not align with those of an evangelical Christian's or a Mormon's.  I support gay rights.  I support a woman's right to have a safe abortion.  I don't support the death penalty.  I could simply say I'm not voting for devoutly religious candidates because I don't agree with their stance on those issues, but the major reason I don't agree likely has a lot to do with their beliefs.  What's wrong with simply saying so and not being a hypocrite?

Back in 2008, you better believe some people voted for Obama simply because he was a Democrat.  Some people voted for him simply because he was a black man.  Some wanted Hillary Clinton because she's a woman and Bill's Clinton's wife.  Some folks would no doubt vote for Mitt Romney because he's LDS and for Huckabee because he's a Baptist.  And some would vote for McCain because he's white and Republican.  Other people voted based solely on the candidates' platforms.  And others chose not to vote at all.

So, maybe religious beliefs, or lack thereof, shouldn't matter... but I think they do.  And for a job as important as the the U.S. President's, I don't think it's out of line to consider a candidates' religious beliefs, because that value system is sure to influence how they make decisions and what their decisions will be.

What it all comes down to, is that I'm going to vote for the person I think will best represent my interests.  And I support anyone else's right to do the same.  If you prefer a devout Christian for a president, by all means, vote your conscience.  I would never tell you not to.  And I would hope you wouldn't presume to tell me how to vote, either.  Let the chips fall where they may.  It's the American way, isn't it?

Friday, October 15, 2010

An open letter to angry adult stepchildren...

Before I start with today's post, I want to explain that my thoughts today are not necessarily directed to my stepchildren. After all, in eight years I have only met my stepchildren once and, since then, have had absolutely no contact with them. No... today's post is for angry stepchildren who still talk to both of their parents and, for whatever reason, hate one or both of their stepparents.

Yesterday, I was hanging out at one of my favorite online communities when I noticed a post written by a guy who was very upset with his father. This fellow, who is very open about being a homosexual, had recently written a heart-felt letter to his dad about his homosexuality. He was asking his dad for understanding and support. His father, apparently, didn't respond to the letter the way the writer had hoped he would.

So my online friend was understandably devastated about this turn of events and, in the course of describing his pain, happened to refer to his father's wife as a "heinous harpy". He did not explain why he thought of his stepmother that way. In fact, most of his posts were about his relationship with his father. But I couldn't help but notice that, for some reason, he seemed to hate his stepmother and felt the need to express his hatred in a post that, at least on the surface, had nothing to do with her.

Here's what I'd like to say to that guy, along with anyone else who hates their stepparent(s), yet still loves their parent(s). You may have a very good reason for hating your mother's or father's spouse. Or you may not have a good reason for hating them. But have you considered the reasons why your parent married that person? Put aside your personal feelings for a moment and think about it. Just spend a few minutes looking at life through your parent's eyes.

Divorce sucks. It sucks for almost everybody, including many stepparents. Yes, if you are a child of divorce, you absolutely have a right to be hurt, confused, angry, etc. But chances are, your parent is hurting too, and would like the chance to try to be happy with someone else. Do you really expect your parent to go through life alone, just because their first try at marriage didn't work out? Would you actually want them to be alone as they get older and less independent?

Like it or not, your parent made a choice to invite another person into his or her life. Your parent had his or her own reasons for doing so. Maybe you don't agree with your parent's reasons or taste. Maybe your stepmother or stepfather is cruel or hateful to you. Maybe you feel like he or she takes your parent's attention away from you or tries to shut you out of your parent's life. Perhaps your parent's remarriage has destroyed any hopes that your parents might reconcile.

All of these issues are valid reasons for you to feel the way you do. But I'm asking you to stop and consider your parent's feelings. Think about why he or she made the choice to invite this new person into their life. Then, if you're able, take an objective look at your stepparent. Is he or she really worthy of your hatred? Does your parent genuinely love his or her spouse? Have you taken a moment to see what your parent sees in their wife or husband?

Then, think about this... Did you decide to hate your stepparent? Or did your other parent make that decision for you? Consider this. I have met my husband's daughters just once. During our one meeting, which barely lasted 48 hours, my husband's daughters and I seemed to get along just fine. One of them went as far as to give me a big hug and refer to me as her other mother. But not long after that meeting, my husband's daughters mysteriously started distancing themselves from their dad until finally, in 2004, they stopped talking to him altogether and, in 2006, actually sent him letters demanding that he let their current stepfather adopt them.

 Since I haven't seen or talked to my husband's kids since that one meeting which had seemed to go so well, I can't help but think their mother was somehow threatened by me and told them they should hate me, as well as their dad for choosing to marry me. In other words, the girls didn't decide to dislike me until their mother decided for them that I was a bad person. Incidentally, I have never met their mother, and she has very limited knowledge of me, so I'm not sure how she determined I was so evil. I try not to take it personally, since I have a feeling she would have hated anyone my husband had chosen to marry.

Here's something else to consider. Relationships are always a two-way street. You may hate your stepparent and that may be all very well and good. But your stepparent may also reserve the right to feel the same way about you, especially if you're an adult. You might not care about how they feel, but if you want to have a good relationship with your parent, you might be wise to reconsider the way you treat his or her spouse. There may come a time when you'll wish you were on better terms with them.

Marriage is a dicey business at best. Statistics show that about half of all married couples eventually divorce. Many of those people will have children, so there are lots of people in the child-of-divorce boat. Moreover, a lot of those children-of-divorce will eventually grow up and be divorced themselves. If that ever happens to you, would you want to spend the rest of your life alone just to spare your child's feelings? Would you want your child to have the right to choose your mate for you, especially since most kids eventually grow up and have lives of their own?

In our society, most people reject the idea of arranged marriages decided by their parents or anyone else. Do you really think you should have the right to reject your parent's choice for a spouse? Would you want your kids to overrule your choice of whom to marry? And would you be happy if your parent eventually divorced and remarried a third or fourth time? Remember, divorce sucks... and it's very expensive. I think the only people who could possibly enjoy the process of divorce are those who get a paycheck from it. Chances are, if your parent divorces several times, he or she might not be as financially well-prepared to handle growing older. If he or she wants to remarry, it makes good sense to let them (hopefully) choose the right spouse, once and for all.

I know for a fact that my husband is less lonely and a lot happier with me than he ever was with his ex-wife. We are very compatible with each other. Certainly, things would have been less complicated had he and I met first. But that didn't happen. We make each other happy and belong together. Most parents want the best for their children and hope they will be happy. I'd like to think that a loving child would want the same for their parent(s). I know my husband's happiness has led to his being healthier and wealthier... perhaps giving his kids more time to reconsider whether or not they really do want to throw away their real dad for good.

Life is pretty short and there may come a time when you'll wish you had more time to spend with your mother or father. If you love your parent(s), I would expect you'd want for them what they, hopefully, want for you... health and happiness and freedom from loneliness.

It's true that you may have all the legitimate reasons in the world to hate your stepparent(s). All I'm asking you to do is to take a minute to understand where your hatred is coming from and determine whether or not it's truly valid. Maybe your stepmom is a harpy or your stepfather is a selfish bastard. But your parent chose them to be a part of their lives. They must have had a reason... And maybe you should try to have some respect for their reasons. I'm sure you'd wish for and expect the very same if you're ever in their shoes.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I'm surprised...

by the learning curve of getting used to a Mac after years of using a PC.  I'm catching on, though, and I'm sure it'll be second nature within a couple of weeks.

One thing I don't like about having new computers is the sometimes lengthy process of breaking them in.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

While I'm ranting, how about a few comments on entitled people?

I know this is a subject that has come up on my blog before, but since no one reads the damn thing anyway, I might as well vent. 

I have a hard time dealing with entitled people, especially when they're family members.  Now, I do realize that I was once one of those entitled people.  It seems to be a rite of passage when you're growing up.  Sometime in my 30s, I guess I started to realize the error of my ways and changed my attitude somewhat.

But seriously, I have noticed a startling attitude of entitlement in certain age groups.  I guess that's a sign that I'm turning into a crotchety old fart.

Take, for instance, my husband's kids.  Of course, I guess we can barely call them his kids, since they haven't spoken to him since 2004.  But he has faithfully paid child support for them anyway, at least until the older one turned 18.  Originally, my husband was supposed to pay until each kid was 22.  And, in fact, he did pay child support to his former stepson until the lad was 21 years old.  It's a long story as to why my husband paid support for a kid that wasn't his.  Suffice it to say that my husband has a huge heart and thought of the boy as his son.  Bio dad was out of the picture.

Anyway, this kid's name was legally changed to my husband's name when he was a young lad.  My husband, stupidly, had nothing to do with this name change business.  His former wife had handled the whole thing and convinced my husband that it was all for the best.  The boy was calling him "daddy" and all...

Well, when things went south with my husband's first marriage, the ex decided he needed to pay.  And so she set up a divorce decree that awarded her a sizable amount of child support that would be paid for many years, even beyond each kid's 18th birthday and even for the boy who wasn't his (hubby never adopted him).  Again, stupidly, my husband agreed to it.  On the other hand, maybe he wasn't so stupid, since their decree was not drafted by a lawyer.

Because my husband is a decent guy, he fully intended to keep paying support for these kids, even as they became more and more alienated.  The day came when his daughters disowned him and refused to call him "daddy" anymore.  I suspect most of their problems stemmed from half baked bullshit they were hearing from their mother, their own anger and abandonment issues, and the fact that their father had married me.  Now, before anyone tells me I'm to blame for this, understand that I have only met these kids once over the almost eight years I've been married to their dad.  I haven't had the ability to fuck up their lives in any way.  And their dad has not missed a child support payment, at least not until the older daughter turned 18 and continued to refuse to communicate (not even to give her dear old dad a bank account number so he could send her the money he'd promised to pay).

So... last year, we discovered that the former stepson, who was 21 years old and itching to take a trip abroad, had finally gotten back in touch with his biological father.  And he found out that bio dad wasn't such a bad guy after all.  My husband was actually happy about this because, aside from bio dad not paying any child support for all those years, he never had any real proof the guy was as bad as his ex had made him out to be.  And since ex's third victim was now being called "daddy" by my husband's kids and victim's own two kids with ex, my husband could see how the first victim must have felt to be outcast all those years.

Sometime in 2008, then 20 year old ex stepson told my husband that come June of 2009, he could stop paying him child support because "he wouldn't need it anymore".  My husband was impressed by what looked like an act of maturity until a few months later.  I happened to be looking around on the Internet and ran across some information that indicated that the lad was planning to change his name.  This wasn't such a big deal... again... the name never should have been changed in the first place.  But that boy didn't mention a word about his plans to my husband, the man he had been calling "daddy" for so many years.  Hubby gave him plenty of opportunities to tell him, but the lad must not have gotten the hint.

So... my husband decided to cut the boy off, since he wasn't coming clean.  Kid confronted him.  Husband confronted him right back and busted him for what he was trying to do.  The first thing out of that kid's mouth was not "I'm sorry" but, "How did you find out about that?"

My husband told the young man that he had until Easter to get his shit together and he wanted to know when the name change was final.  The kid agreed, sending the following crappy email.

April sounds fine dad. I am leaving for China in May and I was planning on having one last installment while I am there, but that is fine. I have given it alot of thought, and even though I use the money. I should start living on my own. I do have some debt, but i will be able to take care of it. I don't want this relationship to be solely monetary. I don't always have time to write and email, and I do not have a phone number for you. Do not be upset that we rarely speak. I have not replaced you with [bio dad]. You are both my dads in different ways. I love you Dad, and I always know you are there. Give me some insight as to why the installments were not automatic as you said they were. I do not understand the reasoning for that. I mean everytime you are out of town, they get set back. Like this month I understand Feb. ended early, but I am trying to get my car fixed and I am dependent onthose funds for the time being. It is just a curiosity factor. After April.I will have diff!!erent plans for money, but as of now. I am depending on timelyness dad. I want more than just this keeping us in contact, but how am I supposed to contact you. Please Write back and know that I love you and look up to you as a father. because you are my father.

Love, A.

Aside from atrocious writing skills, the kid seems to think that I'm behind my husband's decision to cut off his money.  While I certainly supported my husband's actions, I am not the one who cut off the boy's funds.  That was entirely my husband's doing and his decision.

And then we found out the name change had gone through and we didn't hear a word from the boy... who, incidentally, was also driving a car that my husband had given him free and clear.

So my husband cut the kid off again, sending him this note.

I'm sorry to hear about your car. That's just how life is sometimes.

I was clear when I told you that I needed to know when you changed your name. After not hearing from you for nearly eight weeks I surmised that your name change was final and you no longer wanted my help. Your bank account and email address haven't been changed, so I stopped the allotment to protect myself.

I'm glad you don't want our relationship to be about money and that you are ready to be on your own. Good luck in China. As always, I'd love to hear from you when you aren't so busy.

Best Regards,


Now, when my husband is kind and forgiving, it takes the boy weeks to write.  When he's a little impersonal, it takes hours.  Next thing we get is this...

I was too shocked and hurt during that time to reply to your emails Dad. My name change is final and for your record my name Is [...] I am still your next of kin, so im sure you need that information. until my legal proceeding I am in quite alot of debt. There is no more money I would ask for, but I have maxed my credit card. As one last installment, would it be possible just to receive 500 dollars. that is all i ask from here on out dad. I love you and will always stay in contact with you.
Love, A
Needless to say, this email really pissed off my husband.  Nevertheless, he did try to help the boy, not by sending him money, but by giving him some information and advice.  "A" didn't want to hear it, though, and refused to answer phone calls or emails.  To this day, we haven't heard a peep out of him.  Actually, I'm kind of glad about that.  Even though "A" and his sisters probably think I am the world's biggest bitch and, I'm sure, think I'm behind what they perceive as my husband's "meanness" (though it's actually just a sudden growth of a spine plus a set of balls), I'm actually kind of enjoying the silence.  Sometimes it's not a bad thing to embrace one's inner bitch anyway.

I still can't believe that a 21 year old man would expect child support, especially after pulling the stunt he did and especially when it was coming from his former stepfather, who at this point, legally can't be anything more than a good friend to him.  Clearly, my husband's relationship with his former stepson was entirely about money. 

And as for victim #3, I hope he's been taking notes.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Overly helpful people... who asked you?

There's a woman in my online life who seems to make it her mission to be "helpful", and it drives me nuts.  I know this woman through a messageboard I frequent... I "met" her several years ago when we were members of a Web site for second wives.  We ended up splintering off as part of another site for second wives, and remain there to this day.  This woman is quite a bit older than I am and, I think, fancies herself a motherly type.  That would be cool if she were a "cool" motherly type.  But actually, she's the type of person who seems to get off on being superior to other people and offering them unsolicited advice.

Here's one example of what I mean.  Last year, my husband and I decided to buy a new car.  We were living abroad and able to get a discount on said car.  I was going to have it custom made for me and was very excited about it.  I shared the news with my online friends, most of whom congratulated me.  Ms. Overly Helpful chimes in with "Have you considered purchasing a used car?  They're so much cheaper."

No shit.

As if it never occurred to me that a new car would be much more expensive than an older car would be.  Jesus Christ.

The other day, I mentioned buying a new computer to replace the one I've been using for the past couple of years.  Now, I'm no computer expert, but I do know the basics of computer use.  I know that I have to do maintenance of the computer to keep it running.  I've just gotten to the point at which it's time to change machines.  I have already made the decision to switch and have already purchased the new machine...

But that doesn't stop the overly helpful lady.  She chimes in, asking if I've been properly maintaining my current computer, defragging it, running scans for malware, cleaning the fans, etc.

Yes... I have been doing those things, I explain to her.  But I am a power user and my computer gets a good pounding everyday.  I need a new machine.

So then she tells me I should buy an external hard drive...  which I did a couple of years ago.

And it seems like she's always got "helpful advice" or a contrary opinion whenever something comes up and I happen to post about it.  It's as if she doesn't think I ever think about the opposing side of an issue.  When I got the creeps about some guy hanging around at the end of our yard and was suspicious that he might be a dognapper, she helpfully told me that he could be perfectly innocent.  As if I hadn't thought of that myself... 

When I got the creeps about a guy on our road, leaving stuff in our mailbox threatening to report us for trespassing if we set foot on his land, she told me I was overreacting.  This was someone I didn't know and I didn't even know which property his was, let alone trespassed on it.  I felt like I had been singled out.  I later found out that the guy had been illegally leaving the same notice in every mailbox on the street.  That made me feel much better, but I was still irked about it.  Ms. Overly Helpful felt the need to tell me I should just let it go...  Maybe she was right, but who the hell asked her?  I know I didn't.

I know this is probably as much my issue as it is hers.  I have a tendency to react violently to people who treat me like I need special help.  I think it comes from my upbringing.  But, the fact is, I am a perfectly competent person and when I need advice, I will damn sure ask for it.  Sometimes a little advice is appreciated, but oftentimes, it's not.  Most people are going to do what they're going to do... and I think people who offer unsolicited advice are, more often than not, not doing it to be helpful, but to make themselves feel better.

Maybe it's time I found a new place to hang out.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

MacGregor got a check up...

MacGregor is my seven year old bagel rescue...  that is, he's beagle and bassett hound.  Last year, he lost his good buddy Flea to prostate cancer.  This year, MacGregor is himself considered a senior citizen and had to get a senior check up.  So I took him and his little beagle buddy Zane to the vet, since they both needed Bordetella vaccines...  Seems like it's getting to the point now at which dogs are almost as complicated to take care of as kids are, but I digress.

Anyway, MacGregor is mostly fine.  Just has a little stiffness in his shoulders and needs a dental.  The vet found a small mass in his hind leg, actually close to his butt.  She wants to remove it, so when he has his dental done, we'll get the mass removed.  I don't really want to deal with canine cancer again... at least not so soon after losing Flea.  I doubt MacG has cancer, but you can never be too careful.  So I guess later this month, we'll take him in and get this taken care of.  Thankfully, we don't live near our nation's capital anymore, where these kinds of things are so much more expensive to take care of.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Inane comments left by strangers in cyberspace...

I write reviews on Epinions and other Web sites.  I do it mostly for fun, but also for money.  My writing has earned me some recognition and I enjoy doing it, especially when I get positive reinforcement in the form of a nice comment.  However, there is a flip side to positive reinforcement... and that comes in the form of nasty comments by random, anonymous readers. 

About a year ago, my husband and I stayed in a government run hotel in Germany.  We didn't stay there because we wanted to.  We stayed there because we were on government business in the form of a move.  I wasn't too happy about the move because it was coming a year early.  I also wasn't very happy about having to stay in that particular hotel, because it was way out in BFE and very inconvenient.  Nevertheless, we stayed for four nights, along with our two pooches, one of whom was dying of prostate cancer.

Granted, I wasn't in the best frame of mind regarding this particular hotel stay, but I did end up having some of what I thought were legitimate complaints.  And, well, I like to have fun with my reviews if I can.  It's not too often that I write negative reviews, but I'm not shy about leaving them if I think a product deserves it.  So I proceeded to write a negative review of this government run hotel.  For about a year, all was well.  Below is my review...

Pros: Lots of family friendly amenities... I guess. Pet friendly. Free laundry.
Cons: Horrible bed. Annoying toilet and shower. Tacky furnishings. Indifferent customer service.
God willing, my husband Bill and I, along with our two beagles, Flea and MacGregor, will be checking into a hotel in or near Atlanta, Georgia tomorrow afternoon. After spending the past few days at the Hilltop Hotel at Robinson Barracks near Stuttgart, Germany, I can't say I'm sorry to be switching venues. In fact, I think I would have been happy to switch venues within Germany, if we'd only had a choice in the matter.

A captive audience

Hilltop Hotel is a hotel specifically for people who have business with the U.S. government within the Stuttgart area. It's located on Robinson Barracks, which is a U.S. government installation; therefore, the general public can't access this hotel. On the other hand, military and government employees must use the Hilltop Hotel and other government run facilities if there is space available. The Stuttgart area currently has three such facilities; a fourth one is under construction. When Bill and I first came to Germany two years ago, the three government run hotels in Stuttgart were booked solid, so we spent six weeks living in a German hotel very close to where Bill worked.

When it came time for us to leave, there was space available on the "pet floor" at Hilltop Hotel. I was not too pleased about this development, mainly because Robinson Barracks is located quite a distance away from the other three military posts in the Stuttgart area. Robinson Barracks is a pretty area, but it mostly consists of housing, an elementary and middle school, a post office, and a small "CX", which is a combined commissary and post exchange. There is a bus that runs to the other installations, all of which are at least 30 minutes away. Unfortunately, I have two dogs, and they're not allowed to ride the bus.  Our cars are currently on different ships bound for the USA.

Our room

Bill and I checked into the Hilltop Hotel on Tuesday, September 8th. I was in a foul mood because we'd been working all day to clean up our German house. I was tired, sore, and hungry. We took the elevator to the fourth floor, where all the other pet owners are assigned, and took a stroll to room 404. My mood worsened when we opened the door and I got a look at the bed we'd all be sharing. Covered with a cheap floral spread, the bed looked pretty small. It's supposedly a queen, but really felt more like a full... especially with our two beagles on board.

I looked around the room and took everything else in. There was a wall unit with a microwave, coffee maker, small refrigerator, television, DVD/VCR player, and a telephone (which didn't seem to work very well). The television carried local German channels, as well as Armed Forces Network (AFN) satellite channels, a couple of BBC channels, and a few other British stations. Curiously, there was one channel that appeared to be Polish and aired Polish commercials, yet broadcasted programming in English. There was also a DSL connection located near the TV. A cord reached the small, beat up desk located next to the door.  A small clock radio sat on the desk, while a safe, iron, and ironing board were located in the closet. A ceiling fan capably circulated the air and made the tight bed space a little more bearable.

The rooms at the Hilltop Hotel have a lot of storage space, probably because a lot of people end up spending weeks at this hotel as they do temporary work in the Stuttgart area or wait for housing.  Because we were in a "pet room", our room was not carpeted. Instead, it had a faux wood-like floor covering. Actually, I liked that, since the lack of carpeting was easier on my allergies.  The decor is strictly early 80s "country" style... cheap, tacky, and kind of depressing.

The bathroom

The bathroom had a shower, sink, a hairdryer, and a toilet. Housekeeping had thoughtfully left us a little basket of cheap toiletries with soap, shampoo, and lotion. A small mending kit came in handy when I found a splinter in my finger. When we first checked in, there was only one full sized towel in the bathroom.

I found using the shower and the toilet rather annoying for different reasons. Though the shower had excellent water pressure, it also had a small seat in it that cut down on the space available for standing up. Every time I took a shower, my elbow hit the tap, inadvertently knocking it either to an unacceptably hotter or colder temperature. I found the toilet annoying because of the way the bowl was shaped. Unlike the usual "shelf-style" toilets one finds in Europe, this toilet seemed to be rather shallow and narrow. Consequently, every time I took a dump, I had to use the toilet brush to scrub the residue from the side of the bowl where it would invariably end up sticking in a disgusting splatter.


Bill and I found the bed in our room very uncomfortable. We are used to sleeping in a king sized bed, so the bed felt very small to us. But even if it had been a king sized bed, the mattress felt too hard. Consequently, my back was killing me for the duration of our stay.  I think this problem was also exacerbated by the horrible chair at the desk, which was very uncomfortable and not particularly functional.


There is no restaurant on-site, though there is one next to the hotel that is open five days a week. Breakfast is included with the room and is served in the lobby. It's typical continental fare-- bagels, muffins, hard boiled eggs, yogurt, juice, coffee, and hot chocolate. Be careful to look before you eat. Bill opened one carton of yogurt and found a couple of spots of penicillin growing on the lid.

The restaurant next to the Hilltop Hotel serves edible food to go. The best meal we had from there was the roasted half chicken with fries. However, we had a couple of less tasty meals from there, too. One night, Bill brought me what appeared to be a "fish and chips" inspired meal. The fish looked like it had been baked to the point of almost being burnt on the bottom, then frozen. It was still pretty cold in the middle when it was served.

Other facilities

One nice thing about the Hilltop Hotel is that there's a laundry room on the ground floor. There are five or six washers and dryers and they can be used free of charge. A vending machine dispenses laundry detergent, fabric softener, snacks, and drinks, as well.  In the lobby, there are books, videos, and DVDs available to borrow.  I also heard a rumor that Lifecycle exercise equipment was available in the hotel, but I never sought it out.

There's a little outdoor area next to the hotel where folks can smoke or have a little picnic. Each floor has a kitchen, though one must go to the front desk for a key. There's a storage area in the bottom of the hotel where guests are encouraged to store excess luggage. And parking is free.


I thought the housekeeping service did a good job. We didn't ask them to service our room every day. On the days we did have them clean, they did a thorough job. At the very least, they emptied our trash cans every day and exchanged our towels.

I thought the service at the front desk was less impressive. First off, Bill was supposed to pay up front for our stay. When he tried to take care of that, the clerk had computer problems. The next morning, he went down to pay, and the clerk charged him the wrong amount. A different clerk seemed to have a terminally sour disposition. When my key card stopped working one afternoon, I went to the desk with my dogs to get some help. The sour clerk was on the phone and refused to acknowledge me, until my dogs started freaking out at the sight of other dogs. He shot me a dirty look. I shot one right back to him. It was only at that point that he got someone to help me. When Bill tried to call me, he asked that particular clerk to connect him to our room. The guy ended up hanging up on him instead. Only one of the three clerks we encountered was truly helpful and good natured.


Most people who stay at the Hilltop Hotel are there on the government's dime and paying the current per diem rate. The government is paying $68 per night for us to stay in our double room. There are also a couple of extra charges for pets. We had to pay a "deep cleaning" fee of $30 for our room on the pet floor (the fee is higher for carpeted rooms on the lower levels). Each pet also costs an extra $3 a day.  Both key cards have to be turned in at check out.  Losing a key card results in a $20 fee, which I think is totally ridiculous.

Auf Wiedersehen

I really wish our last few days in Germany could have been spent in a nicer and more authentic hotel. I think the Hilltop Hotel could use a little refurbishing and shudder at the idea of having to live there for weeks on end. Alas, like so many others, Bill and I are at the mercy of the U.S. government when we travel on government business. Thankfully, the lodging at our new post in Atlanta doesn't allow dogs, so we get to stay in a Hilton. Hopefully, we will find a new home quickly and start settling in... at least until our next move.

For more information:

FYI: The Hilltop Hotel has now mercifully closed.

Then, the other day, I ran across a comment left last week for me by some random person out there in cyberspace.  This person disagreed with my negative review, having stayed at the same property back in 2004.  I'm going to assume the writer was a woman, based on the person's writing style.  She took issue with the complaints I had and accused me of being a snob because I didn't like the furnishings in the room.  I felt they were cheap, dated, and tacky and said so.  Okay, so there's no accounting for taste.  On the other hand, why shouldn't I have a voice?    

The comment originally made me really mad... so I left this really long rant of a comment.  But even though at first I felt pretty good about that rant, it just seemed too angry to me.  I didn't think it would leave a good impression with other people and, as angry as I was, I knew the whole situation was pretty ridiculous.  So I revised my response thusly...  My comments are italicized while the original commenter's are in bold.

Wow... I'll be honest. When I first read your comment, it really made me mad. But I've calmed down now, so allow me to take a few minutes to address your points.

To complain about the furnishings is a bit snobbish. The toilet seat issue and the shower being too small...

My complaint about the shower wasn't that it was too small. It was that there was a seat in it that took up space and made it difficult to take a shower. My husband and I are both short, average sized Americans and we both had the same complaint about the shower. As for the toilet, my comment wasn't that the seat was too small, it was that the toilet was too shallow. I have never seen a toilet like the one at the Hilltop Hotel and it was a consistent issue for us.

It surprises me that you think I'm a snob for expecting a basic level of comfort in a hotel, even if the government is paying the tab.

wow...I'll be nice!

Your comment wasn't in any way nice, though I do appreciate that you didn't elect to add more undeserved snark to it.

I have been around the military for 20 years.

So what? I've been around the military for my entire 38 years of life. That doesn't make either of our experiences any more valid than another person's. Everybody's different.

I have always seen those who are spoiled by our American ways, to be the first to complain. Come on now...this isn't the Hilton...

Oh, so now you're assuming that I'm a spoiled American, just because you've seen a few of them in your day? You don't even know me. It so happens I've lived in three different countries, twice with the military, and once as a Peace Corps Volunteer. I was in the third group to go to where my Peace Corps assignment was, so it definitely wasn't cushy "American style" living. We had no electricity during my first year, and though I was lucky enough to have running water, a lot of my colleagues did not. I spent two years heating up bath water in a metal bucket on a kerosene heater, doing my laundry by hand, and reading novels by the light of an oil lamp. So yeah, I know very well that not every hotel is like a Hilton.

And the fact that the government is paying is irrelevant, especially given the fact that the government wasn't doing us a favor in this regard. We stayed at the Hilltop Hotel because the government was forcing us to move, not because we were on a vacation. For $68 a night plus pet expenses, I certainly do expect that the furnishings will be somewhat up-to-date and comfortable, or at least utilitarian. That you would actually chastise me for expecting American style accommodations when, in fact, I was staying in an American run hotel is especially ironic. I probably would have been much happier if we had been in a German hotel.

the governments paying, why are you complaining??

Why aren't you using basic proper English grammar and capitalization? Didn't you go to elementary school?

I realize most people are trying to profit from their reinbursement...if thats the case, then sorry for you.

This is an extremely offensive and totally baseless remark. While it may be true that some military folks try to profit off of per diem TDY payments, my husband and I aren't in that category of people. But even if we were, it would neither be your business nor your place to make this comment. The fact is, a lot of people in the military use that extra money to make ends meet. It's certainly not up to you to criticize them for doing that.

You made your stay miserable because you expected everything to be like America.

I beg your pardon? Who are you, Sylvia Browne? Again, you don't even know me. You don't know what my expectations or experiences are. You don't know what the circumstances were during our stay. What a thoughtless remark this is.

Did you venture out to eat?

How could I? We had a rental car and my husband was using it for work purposes. And the hotel is not exactly close to the gates of Robinson Barracks.

There are so many wonderful restaurants in the area...some right there in the vineyards and they allow dogs inside!!

There are wonderful restaurants in Germany? No kidding! I lived in Germany on the economy for two years and had many opportunities to dine in some excellent locally run restaurants. But during my stay at the Hilltop Hotel, I had my dogs with me. While some dogs do great in public places, mine do not. Moreover, one of my dogs at the time was dying of prostate cancer and wasn't up to hanging out with us in a restaurant.

I did stay in the room with my dogs, but it wasn't because I had an attitude problem. It was because I did not want to leave them alone to bark and howl. I felt it would be inconsiderate to do that because I knew it was likely they would disturb other people in the hotel. But, according to you, I'm an ugly American and a snob because I was dismayed that there wasn't a good restaurant nearby where I could get a good meal and still stay with my dogs to prevent them from bothering others. If I had gone out to eat and let them howl, I bet you would have chastised me for doing that, too.

I prefer diving right into the local makes the stay so much more fun...

So do I. And believe me, the three times I've lived in other countries, I dove into the local culture and surrounding cultures with relish. I learned a lot and now I make money writing about my experiences. I certainly don't need you to preach to me about this.

and who cares about the size of the toilet, the bed, the old beat up desk....

I do. And so do a lot of other travelers, especially when they're spending their own money on a place to stay and/or having to do business. Since I make money as a writer, a decent desk is important to me.

Moreover, a lot of people have read my review of this particular property, which leads me to believe that many people want to know what they'll be getting for their money at the Hilltop Hotel. I'm surprised you're not among them... or maybe you are? How else would you have found this review?

those things wouldn't matter if you didn't sit in your room and pout about them.

And once again, you're making an incorrect assumption about what I did, how I feel, and what kind of person I am. Let me remind you again that you don't know me. Please stop acting as if you do. It's giving me the creeps!

Since you've elected to leave me such a didactic comment, allow me to leave one for you. In your attempt to shame and belittle me for writing truthfully about my negative experiences at the Hilltop Hotel, you come off as a complete busybody... you know, the type I've often run into in my days as an Army wife. Wait-- you're not one of those? Pardon me.

If I were to judge you solely based on your comments here, I might guess you are not very well educated, a bit of a gossip, and never actually ventured very far beyond the gates of the American bases in Germany... But, in fact, I don't actually know you, so it would be terribly unfair of me to make that assumption about you, wouldn't it? Especially since my assessment of you based on your comment might very well be incorrect.

I can see that you're a driveby, so I don't expect you'll ever read this comment, let alone respond to it; but I do think your incredibly condescending attitude is very unfair and every bit as snotty as you claim my review is. Believe me, if we'd had the choice to stay somewhere more conducive to our needs, we certainly would have. And then I never would have felt the need to write this review and make this unfortunate and hopefully brief connection with you.

The next time you feel inclined to offer such personal comments about a complete stranger, I hope you'll take a minute to think about it and focus on what the person said, not on what kind of person you think they are. And then, by all means, feel free to f*ck right off.

Have a nice life.
Sigh... I do feel better now.