Sunday, February 27, 2011

Forcing church on people...

When I was growing up, my parents used to force me to go to church.  I grew up Presbyterian.  My dad was in the choir and my mom was the organist, often not even at the church I was forced to attend.  I would sit next to a nice lady whose husband was also in the choir and she used to entertain me.  I got very little out of church, other than getting to meet a few very good people.  Oh... and I liked the music, but having a mom who is a church organist kind of made going to church just for the music kind of a waste of time.  She would often practice at home.

Hanging out on the ExMo board today, I saw a rant by a young woman who's 16, posting anonymously, and still being forced to attend church.  She hates church and gets nothing out of it.  People on the messageboard are telling her how to tune out church...  Naturally, her parents would probably be very upset if they knew their daughter was consorting with ExMormons, most of whom used to "go through the motions" at church, too.  The funny thing is, ExMormons are probably some of the nicest and smartest people I know.

Reading that post makes me wonder how many people are really present during a church service.  How many people show up just because it's expected or required of them?  That old saying, "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink" immediately comes to mind...  You can force people to go to church, but you can't force them to believe.  You can't force them to pay attention and be mentally present, even if their bodies are sitting in the pew.  So what it really must come down to, then, is that a lot of people go to church because it's the right thing to do and the right image to project...  In my mind, that makes church a waste of time for those that don't care about it.

My parents finally quit making me attend church when I was about 15... almost 16.  I had gotten a job and apparently, my making money was more important to them than my spiritual health.   My parents never talked to me about God, nor did they ever read the Bible with me, even though they forced me to join the church when I was about 10.  They never even sat with me in church.  Religion was never discussed or explored in my home... But I did hear a lot of music.

I finally learned about the church I was raised in of my own volition.  When I was 21, I got a job as a cook at a Presbyterian church camp.  My boss was a Director of Christian Education who later became a minister.  It was through working at church camp that I learned about what people in the church I grew up in believed.  I also made some wonderful friends.  My former boss is one of them; he officiated at my wedding.

I didn't get much out of being forced to go to church.  And today, I don't attend church.  I spend my Sundays with the man I love and our two dogs.  I get a lot more out of doing that then sitting in a sanctuary "not all there"...

Friday, February 25, 2011

Joe Cartoon - Joe Fish

My awesome mother in law introduced me to the sick world of Joe Cartoon...  I kinda feel like that gerbil today...

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

My husband's youngest child...

On an intellectual level, I know I should never say this about my husband's youngest daughter.  I know he loves her and hopes she will one day recover her senses.  But when I think of this girl, now 17 years old, I feel nothing but an intense cold rage.  I've only met her in person one time, almost eight years ago when she was nine.  She seemed like a nice enough kid until she slapped my husband across the face for having beer in our refrigerator.  That was a shocking moment for me.  

When I was nine, if I had dared raise my hand to another adult, I'm certain I would have been knocked into the middle of next week.  But my dear spouse just sat there, lowered his head, and looked guilty.  Somehow, we diffused the situation and all was reasonably well until the kids left.  That was the one and only time I ever saw them in person.  I'm still angry about that physical slap and all the rest of the disrespectful figurative slaps that have come my husband's way since then...

There were the little slaps when he would try to call his daughters, attempting to stay involved in their lives.  They would refuse to answer the phone.  Or when they did pick up, they had nothing to say... their minds full of the warped bullshit spewed by their sick mother.  There was the hateful shove the youngest girl gave my husband when he tried to connect with her when he last saw her in person and she refused to speak to him.  There was the vicious kick to the balls that little shit delivered when she sent my husband a hateful letter just in time for his birthday, demanding that he sign adoption papers so that her mother's worthless and workless third husband could legally adopt her and her sister.  

You know... I almost wish he had just signed those papers.  She and her sister do not deserve the man who is their biological father.  He is leagues better than they are.  He is kind and decent and treats other people with respect instead of smug superiority.  He is loving and faithful and loyal... He doesn't turn his back on other people.  His daughters have turned out to be just as horrible as their mother is.  Underneath their sweet, modest, chaste facade, my husband's daughters are full of blackness.

My husband still watches his daughters from afar.  They have no idea how much he loves and cares about both of them.  They think he just left them.  Maybe if he had just left them, this would all be less painful.

I know my husband's daughter is 17 and brainwashed... but I still want to scratch her eyes out.  And I can't help but hope that karma delivers to her the same kind of pain she's delivered to her father.  I hope someday she has hateful, vindictive children who disown her and reject her with the same callousness.  Maybe it's wrong for me to say and think these things... after all, I am technically her stepmother.  But I'm also a human being.  I love my husband more than anything... but, God help me, I hate his kids almost as much as I hate their crazy mother.  

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Shit or get off the pot...

I figure it's time once again to rant about my online acquaintances.  There's a woman I "know" from one of my drama hangouts.  I've "known" her for years, but we've never met in person.

When I "met" her, she had an abusive boyfriend who treated her very badly.  She ranted about him regularly.  Her posts were often very intelligent and sometimes funny, but they were overwhelmingly negative.   After a couple of years, things got really bad and this chick decided to leave her boyfriend.  Beautiful.

Next, she got a job working for an abusive woman she dubbed "Miranda Priestly".  She worked like a dog for this woman, who treated her with nothing but disdain.  Finally, after months of being abused by old Miranda, she got fired.  And for the next two and a half years, this woman was looking for work.

I will be the first to admit that the job market sucks and has for a long, long time.  As this lady was looking for work, she continually complained about everything... job interviews, her neighbors, her landlord, her unemployment benefits, the fact that she has no car or decent clothes...

Finally, six months ago, she got a job.  For awhile, all was fine.  But then she started complaining about the job.  There was too much work.  The boss was a drunk.  The boss didn't want to let her have her lunch hour free so she could study for her graduate school program.  She was judged as uncooperative and unfriendly, and was treated badly.  Meanwhile, she's getting praise from other people who tell her they will happily hire her if she needs a job.

So now, she asks her online friends if she should cut bait and run.  We all said "yes", if you're being mistreated and are unhappy, start looking for a new job.  Otherwise, STFU.  One helpful poster even took some of what this woman had posted about others complimenting her and advised her to start there, looking for a new opportunity.  Another friend of mine told me she bet our mutual buddy would come up with some reason why she couldn't job hunt right now.  And lo and behold, that's exactly what happened.

My online friend's response was "Thanks, but I don't want to move.  It's too expensive and I don't know anyone there."

I think my friend is feeling a bit "risk aversive", which is totally understandable under the circumstances.  However, life is short and it's generally up to you to make your life a success.  Coming online to whine about your life is not going to solve your problems.

I think George Carlin says it best at 1:28 in this clip...

Friday, February 18, 2011

I learned something new about Wanda Knight...

Those idiots from the pharmacy group called again and started telling me they were going to refill my Prozac.  I said "I'm sorry?  You have the wrong number."

The guy started to recite the number, then abruptly hung up on me...

How many times do I have to tell them Wanda Knight no esta aqui?

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Spelling Song...

Well spelled...

Ugh... more calls for Wanda Knight...

Remember this post from October?  I thought I had taken care of the phone calls for "Wanda Knight", but apparently I haven't.  Some prescription drug service has been calling lately for dear old Wanda.  I got the first call about ten days ago.  I was at home and the phone rang.  I noticed the phone number was out of Texas, which is where my mother-in-law lives.  I picked up the phone and some woman with a heavy Hispanic accent asked for Wanda Knight.

I was immediately annoyed, since I only recently stopped getting collections calls for Wanda.  But I tried to keep the edge out of my voice as I explained to the caller that Wanda Knight doesn't live at my house and I don't know her.  The caller explained that Wanda had given her that phone number.  Fair enough.  But Wanda is giving out the WRONG number.

So then the operator asks me if I take any prescription drugs.  I told her I didn't.  She said that was great, promised to take our number out of the database, and that was supposedly that...  except it wasn't.  Over the weekend, my spouse and I were eating dinner and the phone rang.  We thought it might be my mom calling about surgery that my dad had.  Hubby saw the Texas number and picked up.  It was the pharmacy people again.  He rang off politely... probably a lot more politely than I did.

Today the phone rang and I could see it was the pharmacy folks again.  They hung up when I answered.  Then they called again an hour later.  I answered the phone and it was some guy from India or Pakistan.  He asked for Wanda Knight.  I said, "Wanda Knight does NOT live here!  This is NOT her phone number."

This time, the guy didn't try to sign me up for anything.  He just said he'd take our number out of the system.  I guess it's a good thing we're moving soon... these people can call for Wanda Knight and not have to talk to me anymore.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Househunting kind of sucks...

So my husband and I have to move in about six weeks.  We just gave notice to our landlords and they're coming here to walk through the house with a realtor.  This house is going back on the market ASAP.  It kind of makes me sad, because even though this house has some major problems, I have enjoyed living here.  This house has a lot of land and trees, which makes it very private and quiet.  I'm not looking forward to moving to a house with a lot of neighbors and/or traffic.

I've been continuing my househunt online and have found a few places I wouldn't mind looking at.  I think what turns me off, though, is the prospect of having to deal with new landlords/rental companies.  It's always stressful to look for a new home because you never know ahead of time whether or not you're going to like your landlord or your neighbors.  In this house, we haven't had any dealings with the landlords.  They get our rent automatically and they live in another state.  On the other hand, our landlords also aren't the most responsive people when it comes to maintenance.  Thankfully, we haven't had any really serious issues.

We also have two dogs.  They're not too obnoxious, but they are beagles.  That makes them bigger than some of the ridiculous weight limits landlords put on their houses.  And they need to be somewhere where they can bay and not annoy everybody.

I guess one good thing about having to move is that perhaps we won't get eaten up by bugs this summer.  One bad thing about living in the woods is that there are bugs galore, along with other critters.  And maybe we won't have any problems with rusty water, either...

*Sigh* but moving just sucks...  I'm tired of doing it.  Four moves in four years is too many moves.  I'd like to live in a community long enough to get to know it.  I have a bad feeling that our next move might end up being even briefer than this one was...  Or maybe my husband will just retire so we can start making moving decisions for ourselves.

On a different subject, I noticed yesterday that our local Publix was selling cane sugar sodas... Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, and Mountain Dew.  I wish soda makers would just go back to sugar and stop putting high fructose corn syrup in everything.  Cane sugar is probably not much healthier, but it does taste better.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

There's danger in not rocking the boat...or, don't be so eager to get on the bus to Abilene.

My husband and I were enjoying a leisurely breakfast this morning when the subject of character disordered people came up.  My husband works with a man whose wife is a bit on the fucked up side.  They have been having problems for months and my spouse has been kind enough to listen to his co-worker vent, because he went through the same kinds of things with his first wife.  Somehow, as my husband was talking about his friend, the conversation drifted again... this time to wondering how people with character disorders end up in control of situations and turn them into problems for everybody else.

I commented that my husband's ex wife seemed to have a way of causing people to abandon logic and rational thinking.  When people are around her, she somehow manages to get them to surrender their brains in the interest of "not rocking the boat".  Take, for instance, the Christmas debacle of 2004.  My husband's ex tried to set up a Christmas gathering from hell.  She demanded that we all get together for the biggest holiday of the year at my husband's dad's house.  She expected that everyone would comply, mainly so the boat wouldn't rock.  No one wanted her to get pissed off, throw a fit, and possibly withhold visitation with the kids/grandkids.  I was expected to suck it up and cooperate because she figured, as the new wife and family member, I wouldn't want to make a scene or upset the family.  She never thought I would opt out of the Christmas from hell and, I'm told, she was very upset about it, even though she doesn't even like me.

Indeed, my absence from that gathering did cause a rift.  The in-laws were pissed at me for a good, long while.  But I eventually had the opportunity to talk to them about what happened.  I explained to them my reasons for not taking part in that nightmare of a party.  It wasn't because I was looking down at them or hoped to upset anyone.  It was because I knew the gathering would be a disaster and would serve no one.  I felt that showing up would ultimately be disrespectful, because I couldn't promise that I would stay on my best behavior.  I knew that no matter what I did, I would be cast in a bad light.

My husband's ex wife erroneously believed that I would care too much what other people thought of me. I think she thought I'd be too weak to resist her bullying tactics and "rock the boat".  She made the mistake of thinking that my self-esteem was as fragile as hers apparently is.  What she didn't understand is that I'm quite used to people not liking me.  It used to matter a lot more when I was younger and less secure.  But I went through lots of therapy and eventually came to the realization that my mental health is worth more to me than gaining a few fake friends.  People who are my genuine friends know me very well and understand that what you see is what you get.  I don't act for anybody and I don't expect anyone to act for me.  I may not always say and do the popular thing, but I always try to do the right thing.  I would much rather have a few genuine friends who love me for me than masses of fake friends who expect me to always get on their bus to Abilene.          

I think a lot of people end up enslaved to people with character disorders because they have been trained to keep the peace at all costs.  They don't want to do anything that would upset that apple cart because they fear confrontation and being alone.  But can you really have genuine peace if you're always swallowing your feelings, wants, and needs in favor of what other people want?  Can you really be happy if you always give in to others-- especially those who are mentally or emotionally crippled-- just to avoid a scene?

I mentioned before that somehow many people seem to lose their ability to think logically when they spend too much time with my husband's ex wife.  The ex has a twisted sense of logic and somehow she gets other people to identify with her warped logic.  In a letter to my husband, she declared that their two daughters didn't like me and didn't want to have a relationship with me.  My husband's daughters have met me once.  When they were with me, they seemed to have a good time.  But apparently, now they hate me, and she's kept them away out of "concern" for their well-being and "respect" for their wishes...  And yet... this same, "loving", "caring" mom of five wanted me to spend Christmas with those kids who supposedly "hate" me.  Why would a loving mom who cares about what her kids want to force them to spend the biggest holiday of the year with a person she says they can't stand?  It makes no sense.

When you bring up these kinds of logical discrepancies with a person who has created their own warped reality, they tell you you have no right.  They expect you to handicap your thinking and just agree... because if you don't agree, there will be hell to pay.  Anyone who refuses to surrender their logic is seen as a threat, a bad influence, or a bad person.  But those who surrender their ability to be rational don't get rewarded for doing so.  The character disordered person will just view them with contempt, seeing them as stupid and weak.  There's even less respect for those they can manipulate.

Years after the Christmas debacle, my husband's former stepson tried to put one over on him.  My husband had thought of this young man as his son for most of the boy's life.  He willingly paid child support for him, gave him a car free and clear, and loved him as if he were his own.  And yet, this young man tried to screw over the man he's called "dad" for most of his life.

When we found out about what this boy was up to, we kept quiet about it for a few weeks.  We wanted to see if the kid would come clean on his own.  When my husband did finally bust him, the young man acted like the whole thing was my husband's fault.  He accepted no responsibility for what he'd done.  Just like his mother, he expected my husband to just accept his twisted reality.  When my husband refused, the boy decided to punish him by cutting off communication.  And I bet they all think I'm the reason my husband is suddenly so keen to stick up for himself.  After all, when they knew him, he always capitulated and accepted their warped reality.

I want to ask this kid... is it really punishment for us that he's cut off communication?  Why should we want to have anything to do with someone who thinks nothing of screwing over other people, especially people who showed him nothing but love and acceptance?  But again, we're bad people if we don't surrender our logic and accept their fucked up sense of reality.  If we dare to confront them, we have to be cut off... because our logic and confrontations don't fit in with their fantasies.  We have to indulge their bullshit because they've been hurt and abused.  And because they've been hurt and abused, they have the right to hurt and abuse other people... and goddammit, you better shut up and accept it... or else there will be a reckoning.

Many people who want to be liked and don't want to make a scene will acquiesce.  They fear being alone.  I would submit that I would rather be alone than subject myself to continuous cognitive dissonance.  I would rather maintain control of my sense of logic and rationality than surrender it and subject myself to more contempt and disrespect.  It really is better to be alone or have just a few friends than swallow a bunch of Kool-Aid and have masses of fake friends who expect you to handicap your mind.

There is danger in wanting too much to be liked and accepted.  Don't ever let another person hold your mind hostage.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Overly helpful "voice of reason" strikes again...

Maybe winter is just getting to me.  I find I have less and less tolerance for the "voice of reason" these days.  A few months ago, she got me so pissed that I took a sabbatical from her for about three weeks.  I came back at around Christmas and made a conscious effort not to post anything that would force me to interact with her.  Until recently, it was working fairly well... even though she was apparently stalking my Facebook, scouring it for comments about her.  When she saw a remark a couple of months ago that she thought applied to her, she left me a pointed comment.  She never otherwise comments on my Facebook.  I had to laugh to myself, since what I posted didn't have a damn thing to do with her.

So anyway, yesterday I found an article on Shine! about ways to save money on groceries by employing a few tricks.  I thought it was a pretty harmless post that wouldn't invite any contention.  I noted that I wanted to try one tip in particular.  The article said that cheese could be preserved by spreading butter on the cut sides.  Well... Ms. Overly Helpful decided to insert her opinion that wrapping cheese in wax paper and putting it in a baggie was a much better way to preserve cheese.  No shit!  Of course wrapping cheese well will keep it fresh longer.  I never would have thought of the butter solution, though, and that's why I thought it was cool and decided to mention it specifically.

Now, it's not so much that I don't appreciate practical insight from others.  It's that Ms. Overly Helpful feels the need to chime in on every subject and one up everybody with her brilliant insights and condescending attitude.  I don't feel like she offers her tips in the spirit of friendship or a true desire to be helpful.  I feel like she offers them because she wants to feel superior and offering her little tips gives her some kind of self-esteem boost.

The funny thing is, I know I'm not the only one who feels this way.  Other people have told me they feel the same way about this person.  While I don't like that others are annoyed, I can at least rest assured that at least I'm not the only one who is a little sensitive to her brand of assistance.  I swear, though, I'm rapidly losing my patience with this woman.  I only wish I were more laid back.    

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Just got visited by the JWs...

It never fails.  The only time I haven't gotten a visit from the Jehovah's Witnesses was when my husband and I lived on a military post, where proselytizing is not allowed.  I doubt the JWs would bother military folks anyway, since they're anti-military.  Anyway, it seems like no matter where we are... from Armenia to Germany to the United States, we somehow manage to get a visit from the Witnesses.

I opened the door this morning and two well-dressed women stood before me.  One had a Watchtower in her hand, the other kind of held back.  The one with the Watchtower started talking about how I should be concerned about the government.  I said, "I'm really not interested in this."

The lady stopped and said, "Okay.  May I ask why?"

I said, "I'm just not interested."

With that, they turned and left.

My husband is former LDS.  Sometimes I wonder if I should hand them a Book of Mormon the next time they start their spiel.  I don't imagine my counter effort to proselytize would be welcomed.

I know part of their faith is to reach out and "witness" to others.  I do wonder, though, why some faiths think it's appropriate to invade someone's property uninvited and unannounced and start trying to change a person's religious beliefs.  It's the height of rudeness.  I doubt the JWs would like it if people did that to them.


Monday, February 7, 2011

Naive article writer gets me all hot and bothered.

A few days ago, I ran across an article written by a Yahoo! contributor named Lauren Finnegan.  Finnegan is a military wife whose article was about the sad case involving Julie Scheneker, the Tampa Army wife who shot and killed her two kids.  Scheneker's husband, an Army colonel, was in Qatar on business and supposedly Scheneker lost it when her son, Beau, became "mouthy".

Lauren Finnegan asks if military spouses should have mental screenings like servicemembers do.  My immediate reaction to that question was kind of a vehement "no".  I am against "screenings" for several reasons.  The first reason is that I think requiring screenings of military spouses is a waste of time and resources.  Granted, if you go to a military treatment facility for medical care, you will be asked questions to determine whether or not you're mentally stable or in an abusive relationship.  But what about people like me?  I make it a point not to visit military doctors whenever possible.  In fact, I saw a military doc for the first time in three years just a few months ago.  So how is the military going to screen me?  I don't even go on post if I can help it.

Secondly, those screening questions are pretty easy to fudge.  It's pretty obvious what the "right" answers are.  And while the military pays a lot of lip service about servicemembers getting help for their mental problems, the reality is that servicemembers can end up being punished for doing so.  It's not uncommon for them to lose security clearances and miss out on promotions because of a documented mental health history.  Moreover, spouses can be forced to join the Exceptional Family Member Program if they have had issues with their mental health.  I was made to join EFMP several years ago because I once sought treatment for depression and anxiety.  I was threatened when I balked-- a coordinator told me that my husband could be kicked out the Army if I didn't cooperate.  While EFMP is a great program for some families, for others, it sucks because it can cause assignments to be cancelled.

Thirdly, I doubt screenings would make a difference.  So Julie Scheneker comes up with red flags on her screening.  Then what?  Is the Army going to force her into treatment?  Is the Army going to refuse to let her husband deploy (fat chance)?  Are people going to be camped out at her house, looking for signs of trouble?  Maybe someone might be able to talk her into seeking help, but what about her husband's career?

Mind you.  I don't think the military's unofficial policies on mental health issues are wise.  I absolutely believe that people who have problems with depression should seek treatment.  However, I also think they should enjoy the right to privacy and not be penalized in their careers for getting help.  And I certainly don't think a spouse's mental status should have much, if any, bearing on a servicemember's career, either.  I have been around long enough to know the score...  If I believed that screenings would be used only for good and I felt they wouldn't be a waste of time, I'd be all for them.  But from what I've seen, mandatory mental health screenings for military spouses would turn into a shit sandwich pretty darn quick.

The best we can hope for now is to trust people to do the right thing and be sensible.  Seems a lot to ask, doesn't it?

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Screech writes a book...

Remember Saved By The Bell?  I didn't actually see the show until I was in college. mainly because it debuted when I was a teenager and no longer watched Saturday morning TV.  Anyway, the show was corny as hell, but I watched it anyway because there was something about it that was kind of mesmerizing.

Years later, I saw Dustin Diamond, the guy who played "Screech", on Celebrity Fit Club.  He looked like he had become a complete asshole.  I was very surprised that he was on Celebrity Fit Club, too, because he had always been so scrawny on Saved By The Bell.

This clip made me realize that Screech had definitely grown up... and not into the nerdy but sweet character that was depicted on the show.  Dustin Diamond came off as a very angry individual indeed.

Well... I was curious about his book, Behind The Bell, so I ordered a used copy from Amazon.  It's full of piss and vinegar... profane language and vulgarity.... typos galore... lots of misogyny, too.  But interspersed within those bad things are elements of good.  There's trivia and a few interesting anecdotes.  Diamond is occasionally funny and I have read worse writing.

Overall, it's a pretty shitty book, though... and it's also pathetic, since Dustin Diamond seems determined to show everyone that he's a major stud having "banged" over 2000 women...

Way to ruin the Saved By The Bell fantasy, Screech...

You can find my full review of Behind The Bell on Epinions.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Why is prostitution illegal?

This is a question the late, great, comedian extraordinaire George Carlin once asked...  He wanted to know why it was illegal to sell something that is perfectly legal to give away...

I gotta admit he has a point.

Just sayin'...