Saturday, December 31, 2011

Happy New Year, everybody...

I know I have some regular lurkers who read but don't post.  I just want to wish everyone a happy new year.  Hopefully, 2012 will be healthy, prosperous, and full of joy for everyone.  As for me, I plan to keep on bitching cuz that's just how I roll... Ba-Bay!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Dr. Phil is such a wanker!

Yes, I called Dr. Phil McGraw a "wanker".  I do watch his show, but not because I think he's a font of wisdom.  It's more because his show is like a train wreck.  Every day, troubled people come on his show looking for help.  He gives it to them in exchange for being allowed to condescend to them, threaten them, and basically humiliate them on national television.

Dr. Phil has cute little catch phrases which have unfortunately become part of the American lexicon.  The one phrase that makes me want to puke the most is when he says, "How is that working out for you?"  Granted, the people who come on Dr. Phil's show mostly have some kind of problem.  A lot of their problems are self-inflicted.  Some of Dr. Phil's guests are self-centered and irresponsible.  I get that.  But he deals with them by making jokes at their expense, threatening to "haunt" them, and talking to them like they're complete morons.

One thing I don't like about Dr. Phil's show is the way he panders to women.  Yes, I know that women are his primary audience and he has to please them to stay on the air.  However, I don't like that he patronizes them while simultaneously shitting on men.  He talks to women as if they need pity and protection, while at the same time, he tells them they can do whatever they want to do.  Dr. Phil tells an abusive man not to hit a woman because that makes him a coward.  Why is the man a coward only if he hits a woman?  Because she is supposedly weaker?  Shouldn't Dr. Phil be discouraging violence among both genders?

If I could, I would tell Dr. Phil that there are some women out there who don't want to have it both ways.  We would prefer to be thought of as on par with our male counterparts.  And that means we don't need special protections or consideration.  People who really want respect and equality don't ask for different treatment or favors or patronizing protective measures from Dr. Phil and his ilk.

Another phrase Dr. Phil uses is "I'm going to put some verbs in my sentences."  In other words, he's going to take some action that's going to affect the people on his show.  He talks to them as if he's their father about to give them a whoopin'.  It must be hard to be such a wise man who knows what everyone else should do.  He acts as if he can slip right into his guests' bodies and know exactly where each one went wrong.  Of course, the people who get invited to his show are those who are extreme...

Last year, Jessica Beagley, Alaska mom of six, went on Dr. Phil's show for "help" with her anger toward her adopted son.  The show Beagley was on sparked outrage among the masses because it showed her squirting hot sauce in her son's mouth and forcing him to take a cold shower.  It later came out that Beagley had initially sent milder videos documenting her discipline methods that Dr. Phil's producers didn't think were extreme enough.  They told her they wanted more.  So she sent the one that made her look much worse than she probably is... which led to an appearance on Dr. Phil's show and an investigation by CPS.  Beagley was later convicted of misdemeanor child abuse.

I can't imagine why anyone would want to be on Dr. Phil's show.  It's almost akin to going on Judge Judy's show.  You can almost guarantee ol' Phil will talk down to his guests and outright insult them.  Why would anyone want to set themselves up for that?  Of course, the bigger question is, why the hell do I watch Dr. Phil in the first place?  I'm seduced by a train wreck.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Family horror show... the next generation

Last year, I posted about my husband's ungrateful, entitled former stepson.  I won't go too much into the details about that situation, because I already spelled them out in the earlier post and frankly, it still pisses me off.  I will just state here that my husband raised the young man as his own, even though he never adopted him.  They had a big falling out in 2009, when the young man elected to change his name without telling the man he's always called dad.  We haven't heard from him since my husband decided to stop paying child support when the lad was 21 years old.

My husband does check on his kids and his ex stepson on occasion.  He also looks up his ex wife, just to make sure she's not doing anything diabolical that would affect him.  A few months ago, my husband discovered a Wedding Channel entry for ex stepson and his girlfriend, a young lady we had the chance to meet several years ago.  Then yesterday, he discovered ex stepson's girlfriend has apparently become his wife.  She had a wedding picture on Facebook.

I glanced at the photo for seconds, long enough for me to block her.  It's not that I have anything against the young woman.  In fact, I feel sorry for her.  She has married into a nightmare.  Even if ex stepson changes his ways and turns out to be the world's greatest husband, she will have to deal with my husband's personality disordered ex wife as her mother-in-law.  At this point, they live on opposite sides of the country.  If I were the new wife, I would hope with all my heart that's how it stays.  But I have a feeling that knowing my husband's ex wife, things are going to be rough for ex stepson's beloved.

Six years ago, when the boy was eighteen, ex called my husband in hysterics because the lad had decided he wanted to move out of her house.  She wanted my husband to "talk some sense into the boy" and get him to stay home with her.  But my husband did not agree that the lad should stay home with his mom.  In fact, he thought it would be the best thing for him to get out on his own and told his ex as much.

Ex lamented that she didn't like the girlfriend because she reminded her of herself at that age and she worried that the lad would get her pregnant.  She thought the girl was too needy.  As she was a teen at the time, I'm sure the young lady was indeed needy and dramatic, but we did meet her and she struck us as being level-headed. She did seem to have an inkling of what was going on with her future mother-in-law, even if she was blind to the fact that her boyfriend is a snake.

So the boy and his girlfriend, the same woman he married, went off to live in another state.  They lasted almost a year before they went back home.  Ex "rewarded" the young man by helping him go to college and paying for his plane ticket to my husband's father's house.  They were going to meet up so my husband could give him a car, free and clear, because we were moving abroad and could only ship one car with us.  In hindsight, we should have sold the car and spent the money on a weekend trip in Europe.

Anyway, not long after the boy collected my husband's old car... the one I threw up in one night after a particularly drunken evening at an Army ball... he started talking about reconnecting with his long lost father, the man he had once bragged about "kicking out of his life" at age six.  Husband and I were fine with that, because we suspected the lad's bio father had gotten a raw deal.  And we also knew that ex was expecting us to be outraged and we didn't want to give her that satisfaction.

Two years later, we discovered the young man was changing his name.  Husband and I were not upset that the boy was changing his name, since it never should have been changed in the first place.  Husband had never adopted the boy and, I suspect, ex had done the name change illegally anyway.  My husband was, however, angry that his "son" had opted to make this major life change without so much as a word to him about it.  Ex stepson's excuse for not telling my husband was that he was afraid of his reaction...  Given the fact that families are supposed to be forever, especially since the lad was raised LDS and "Families Forever" is their mantra, we both thought it was odd that the boy did not think my husband would find out about the name change at some point.  I guess he was planning to cut ties once the child support gravy train ended.

So now we've discovered that the lad got married.  We found out about it on the Internet, just like we've found out about everything else pertaining to my husband's kids and former stepson.

My thoughts now turn to the pretty young lady who married my husband's ex stepson.  Six years ago, I actually warned her in a tentative way about what might lie in her future if she married into the family.  And at that time, I still had some good will toward my husband's kids and considered ex stepson part of the family.  Today, I don't see him that way at all.

Here's what I do know about ex stepson 

* Ex stepson is a very charming guy who knows all the "right" things to say.

* Ex stepson doesn't have any qualms about lying and taking advantage of people.

* Ex stepson is his mother's son in many ways.  He acts like her.  He rationalizes his bad behavior and comes up with spurious reasons for his questionable actions.  He's also a bit controlling and has a temper that he tries to hide, sometimes unsuccessfully.

* Ex stepson has had brushes with the law.

* Ex stepson seems to care a lot more about money than he does people.

* Ex stepson has admitted to drug use and has been arrested because of it.

* Ex stepson has had admitted to having financial problems.

* Ex stepson is very manipulative and tries to play people against each other.  He's a con artist.

* Ex stepson has a history of "hitching his wagon to a star".  He finds people who are willing to do all the work and aligns with them, then takes the credit.

* Ex stepson has had a troubled homelife.

Here's what I know about the ex

* She has a long history of failed relationships.  Every time a relationship fails, it's always totally the other person's fault. She does not take responsibility for her problems or her failures.

* Ex has a history of financial problems to include bankruptcy and foreclosure.

* Ex has dreams of "being someone".

* Ex has big time abandonment issues and has already had issues with her son being on his own.  She has admitted to not liking the girl he married.  I doubt her attitude has changed.

* Ex never does anything with no strings attached.  She helped ex stepson get an education.  She will expect loyalty in return.

* Ex manipulates people, especially children or people who are naive.

* Ex is good at telling sob stories and lies and rallying people to her cause.

* Ex has a long history of upheavals and seems to think nothing of moving at the drop of a hat.  I expect she will find a way to move closer to her son if she thinks she's losing control of him.

This is why I think the next generation of family hell is about to begin...

* Ex seems to be doing a lot of things her own mother did to her when she was growing up.

* Ex never lets anyone go completely, and certainly not someone she gave birth to.  She had no compunction about contacting her first husband, the man who supposedly abused her and their son, when it suited her needs, even though they hadn't spoken in about 15 years.  It wouldn't surprise me if her first ex husband is now rueing that day.

* Ex has connections in her old state.  She may not have much money, but that's never stopped her from doing what she wants to do.

* If Ex stepson and his wife have a baby, Ex will want to be there to manipulate it.  She does not let anyone go... certainly not someone who has her blood running through its veins.

* Ex is now off the gravy train and apparently doesn't have a job.  Her youngest kids are now at the age at which she has historically gotten a divorce.  They are still young enough to be manipulated.  It would not surprise me if her recent move cross country was, in fact, a way to ditch her husband.  He's finally set up in a job.  She made it clear to my husband that she never wanted to marry her third husband.  Now is the time for her to line things up for a divorce and move closer to her son and his new wife.  Meanwhile third husband would be stuck on the other side of the country, having to work to pay child support and alimony.  He would not be near the kids, so she could easily alienate them, too.  And the fact that she doesn't work could work in her favor when it comes time to determine child support.

* Ex has a history of making dramatic moves either before or after she gets a divorce.  She left her first husband and moved abroad to be with my husband.  She left my husband and moved to a western state after they split up.  She just left the western state for the east coast a few months ago.   Give her a year or two for things to dissipate in the western state and for ex stepson's wife to get pregnant and she'll have a perfect excuse to move again...  That, and the weather where she is now is shitty for a good portion of the year.

* Based on our sources, my husband's daughters apparently preferred the old state and are comfortable there.  They would likely have no issues moving back there.  In fact, they might even find suitable spouses.  Where they are living now, I would imagine that suitable young men would be less plentiful.

We'll see what happens.  I would actually like to put all of these people out of my mind, but it's like a train wreck.  And my husband, God bless him, still loves his daughters, even if they despise him.  He wants to know how things turn out for them.  Parental love is blind.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I suck at parties...

Last night, spouse and I went to a party thrown by his boss.  Honestly, when he mentioned this shindig to me, I got a nagging feeling that I should bow out.  But it's been awhile since I last socialized, so I agreed to go.  Things got off to a good enough start.  I dressed in black, except for the garnet and onyx necklace spouse gave me last year.

The boss's house was beautifully decorated.  The front yard was lit up with lights, and they had these toy little bears playing tinkly Christmas music on the front porch.  I couldn't see them as we approached, so the overall effect was cool and very festive.

So we went into the party and cracked open a couple of beers.  Started talking with the boss and one of his wife's friends.  Other people showed up, mostly from their neighborhood.  We weren't really mingling, so we headed for the food table.  After we ate a little, one of spouses's co-workers came over and started chatting.  Next thing I know, I start getting carried away... and when I get carried away, I end up saying stuff I shouldn't.  I'm a pretty cynical person and not very good at framing things with a positive spin.

Anyway... it wasn't as bad as it could be.  I only talked one person's ears off.  But it was her birthday.  *Sigh*

I'm just not any good at parties.  I am not good at small talk.  I tend to talk too much and share too much and be too honest.  I have a really inappropriate sense of humor.  Ah well... At least it's Christmas Eve.  That means the holidays will soon be over and things can get back to normal.  And at least I didn't get drunk...

Friday, December 23, 2011

On family gatherings...

The last couple of days have been somewhat interesting.  Two of my three sisters sent me gift boxes from Harry and David.  As it turned out, the boxes were identical, so we're now up to our asses in pears, Moose Crunch, cheese, sausage, crackers, and nuts.  One sister also sprung for a bottle of wine.  I sent my sisters thank you emails.  They both wrote back.  At least my oldest sister's note was pleasant.

The younger one, who jumped on the gift box bandwagon after my oldest sister started doing it, suggested that we get together to rent a house at the beach.  She wrote in parentheses that she "knows" how much I hate reunions.  That was kind of a dig.  For the past several years, I've pretty much sworn off family gatherings because they always turn out to be traumatic.  I dread attending them because I usually end up in tears and it takes days for me to recover afterwards.

Someone usually says something shitty or goes out of their way to one up another person.  A couple of my sisters are particularly gifted at making little digs or being funny at someone else's expense.  This isn't to say that I don't own my share of our problems, but when I have tried to explain why I don't like family gatherings, I'm quickly told that I'm too sensitive or overreacting.  

Family gatherings are supposed to be loving and fun.  But in our family, they usually go downhill quickly. The last couple of times I attended them, I made a point of beating a hasty retreat when things started to get shitty.  That worked fairly well, until Christmas 2003, when one of my sisters got a ride with me and my husband to our parents' house.  Things predictably got bad and I decided I wanted to leave.  My sister first tried to manipulate my husband into getting me to cave.  When that didn't work, she threw a tantrum.  By that point, I'd had more than enough.  My husband and I got in our car and left her at my parents' house.  She ended up having to take the bus back home.  It was about a four hour trip.

After that, I decided that no one was going to ruin my holidays again.  But people in my family still seem to want to force these gatherings.  They conveniently forget the time in 1993, when we all rented a beach house and spent a week together.  There was much squabbling that week that culminated in my dad, drunk as piss, hitting me in the face, trapping me in a bedroom, and berating me for hours.  No one did anything to help me in that situation and no one seems to understand that I'm not willing to put myself in that situation ever again.

I don't like spending time with my family because I enjoy peace.  And every time we get together, peace goes out the window.  Maybe I'm selfish for exiling myself from family get-togethers, but I don't see why my needs should always be on the back burner.  Changing the climate of these gatherings has to be a cooperative effort.  And as long as I'm the only one who wants change, things will always end up being the way they always are.  Maybe when my parents are gone, I'll be sorry... but I have a feeling I won't be. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

PSA: It's illegal to put unstamped mail in mailboxes

Yesterday, I was hanging out on one of my favorite messageboards and someone started a thread about putting unstamped mail in mailboxes.  This person said they had no idea that it was illegal to leave things like wedding invitations, Christmas cards, or personal notes in peoples' boxes without sending them through the U.S. mail system.  A lot of people seemed to think that the law was stupid and made no sense.  After all, most people purchase their own mailboxes and place them on private property; however, even though the box belongs to the homeowner, the area inside the box is the US Postal Service's domain.  And it is indeed an offense to open someone's mailbox and leave anything in it that hasn't gone through the postal system.

This is what the law says:

3.1.3 Use for Mail
Except under 3.2.11, Newspaper Receptacle, the receptacles described in 3.1.1 may be used only for matter bearing postage. Other than as permitted by 3.2.10, Delivery of Unstamped Newspapers, or 3.2.11, no part of a mail receptacle may be used to deliver any matter not bearing postage, including items or matter placed upon, supported by, attached to, hung from, or inserted into a mail receptacle. Any mailable matter not bearing postage and found as described above is subject to the same postage as would be paid if it were carried by mail. [D041.1.3]

While most of the time, people can and do get away with not stamping mail, violating the law can lead to a stiff fine and/or the unstamped mail being returned to the sender with postage due.

Oddly enough, yesterday I actually witnessed someone putting unstamped mail in the bank of mailboxes near our house.  I had my two dogs with me and they were freaking out because they always do when strangers are around.  I was struggling to walk them and had just dodged a car that was driving along our dirt lane.  I had almost reached the mailbox and some woman pulled up in a minivan.  She had a little girl with her.  The girl got out of the car and put stuff in one of the mailboxes.  I waited patiently for her to finish, not knowing if she was picking up mail for someone.  She got back in the minivan.  I glanced at her mom, who seemed to think my dogs' barking and carrying on was hysterically funny.

So then mom and daughter drive down the road.  I was hoping that was the last of them so I could pick up my mail and get home.  But instead of going to the end of the road, mom and daughter turned around and came back toward me and the dogs.  There are no sidewalks on our road because it's a private dirt and gravel lane.  Consequently, I was juggling the mail and my dogs, who were still barking like crazy.  Mom was still laughing and I heard her kid make some shitty remark out the window.  Merry fucking Christmas to you, too.

When I got back to the house, I started thinking about people who think it's okay to leave unstamped mail in mailboxes.  A quick search on the 'net led to comments by people who think this rule is akin to it not being legal to pull the tag off a mattress.  Another outraged comment came from someone who just wanted to save a little money by doing the legwork himself.  Someone else claimed that she had self-delivered mail because she didn't know a friend's address, but did know where her friend lived.  She said, "This rule can't apply to every situation, can it?"  It was as if she felt she should be excused from committing a crime because she had good intentions and didn't know any better.

Here's the thing.  The postal service may suck, but it needs money to survive.  Across the country, post offices are closing and services are being cut because there's not enough money for them.  People are not using the mail as much as they used to because they can use email and the Internet to conduct business.  Cheating the postal service out of revenue means that people will eventually lose their jobs because there won't be enough money to pay them or maintain the infrastructure.  Contrary to popular belief, the postal service is not a government agency paid for by taxes.  It's a business.

Frankly, I don't want people putting stuff in my mailbox.  The offenders are almost always people who are soliciting for their religion or business, not friends.  Besides, mail is a sensitive thing.  Maybe a lot of it nowadays is junk, but the mail can often contain sensitive information.  Folks, this is how peoples' identities can get stolen.  You may not be trying to steal mail when you drop off your unstamped Christmas card or wedding invitation, but someone else who would open a mailbox that isn't theirs might be.  I just read this morning that people who would stoop to identity theft aren't necessarily strangers; in fact, they often tend to be friends and family who have more access to your information.  And how can we tell the difference between someone with friendly intentions and someone who means to do harm?  We can't selectively apply rules to those who are up to no good.  The rules have to apply to everyone.

We also need this rule in place to prosecute people who leave unsavory things in mailboxes.  How would you like it if one of your neighbors decided to show their disdain for you by leaving a nice big pile of dog crap in your mailbox?  If we allow people to put stuff in mailboxes that hasn't been through the mail system, how would you be able to prosecute someone who did something nasty?  I can see it now...  it's okay to leave cards, car keys, gift cards, compact discs, etc.  But it's not okay to leave a pile of shit or live snakes or something equally unpleasant?  What if you happen to think poop isn't gross or enjoy keeping snakes as pets?  Nah... it won't work.

So that's my little PSA about the mail.  It may seem like it's trivial and stupid and a pointless law, but really, there are good reasons why the rule exists.  So be a good citizen and stamp your letters.  Your postal worker will thank you.

Friday, December 16, 2011

When friends don't respect boundaries...

A couple of days ago, I stopped by a blog I occasionally read.  I initially started reading the blog a few years ago when someone on Recovery from Mormonism linked to it.  I thought the blogger was somewhat entertaining and she wrote well, so I kept dropping by to see what she had to say. I generally thought her blogs were funny and snarky, if not occasionally a tad on the disrespectful side.

When I first started reading her blog, the blogger was married, but had no children.  She complained that none of her friends were childless, so she was left with no one to "play with", as it were.  She commented that she and her husband were seeking new friends, but didn't want anyone around who was struggling with infertility, since she and her husband didn't want to hear about how someone's junk didn't work.  I thought that was a somewhat insensitive and rude remark, but I had to admit it was also kind of funny.  So I kept reading her blog, enjoying a large part of it... until the day she announced that she was pregnant with twins.

Suddenly, this blogger who had claimed that she didn't want kids had turned into a certified mommy blogger.  Every new post was about her pregnancy.  And then when her twins were born, every post and photograph was about them.  One of the twins has special needs and initially wasn't expected to live, but somehow miraculously survived.  Mommy blogger now takes every opportunity to write about how hard it is to be a mom of a kid with special needs and what a miracle this child is.  She posts picture after picture of her kids, dressed in identical outfits like living dolls.

Mommy blogger had picked up some regular lurkers from Recovery from Mormonism and some of them had linked to her blog, pointing out how self-absorbed she seemed to be.  Mommy blogger found out about the comments on RfM, got pissed off, and made her blog private for awhile.  But she was evidently missing all the attention, so quite predictably, she eventually reopened it.  I started lurking there again, noticing that Mommy blogger had toned things down a bit... until the other day.

Mommy blogger recently wrote that she has an awesome neighbor who helps her out a lot with her kids.  Awesome neighbor is always around to chit chat, lend Mommy blogger eggs, milk, or flour, or enthusiastically attend neighborhood events.  In other words, Awesome neighbor is definitely a good friend to Mommy blogger...  but is Mommy blogger a good friend in return?

In a recent blog entry, Mommy blogger describes her neighbor as a kind-hearted person who happens to be very private.  She writes that she had been wanting to blog about her neighbor for awhile, but had always held off, because Awesome neighbor is not a fan of attention.  Apparently, Awesome neighbor's sheer awesomeness finally overrode Mommy blogger's initial minimal respect for her privacy, because Mommy blogger recently penned a post that not only identified Awesome neighbor by her first name, it also identified her in several photos.

It seems that Awesome neighbor was recently diagnosed with a type of cancer.  Despite the fact that Awesome neighbor is very private, apparently her diagnosis is license for Mommy blogger to "out" her.  And not only has Mommy blogger identified this woman to the entire Internet, she has also outed the woman's plight to the rest of their neighborhood, mainly because she and another neighbor took it upon themselves to decorate Awesome neighbor's garage with balloons, streamers, and "get well soon" signs.  As she giddily writes about all of this, Mommy blogger reiterates that her neighbor is private and hates attention... and Mommy blogger notes that the "get well soon" decorations were taken down very quickly.

It seems to me that if you have a friend who has repeatedly explained to you that they are private and don't like to draw attention to themselves, it's not very respectful or even all that friendly to blog about her, especially with photos.  I wonder how Awesome neighbor must feel, knowing that her wishes and preferences aren't honored by her "friend", Mommy blogger, who has shown absolutely no respect for her boundaries.  Mommy blogger seems so proud of the fact that she's gone against her friend's wishes, as if she knows her friend's needs better than her friend does.  Or maybe she just plain doesn't care what her friend wants and needs.  It seems to me that a true friend would have resisted the urge to publicize how awesome her neighbor is if the neighbor had made it very plain that's not what she wanted.

It makes me wonder if Awesome neighbor has started making covert plans to move yet.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Take my advice... Be wary of giving or receiving unsolicited advice...

Full disclosure here.  Sometimes, I hang out in places I don't belong.  I am intrigued by a lot of different subjects, so I seek out information on everything that interests me.  Though I am not a mom, I do on occasion hang out on  There are lots and lots of message boards on Babycenter.  It matters not which one I stumbled across, because this is an issue that can come up on any message board, particularly those that are frequented by busybodies.

I always try to be careful when I offer advice to people.  I have several reasons for not being overly forthcoming with advice.  The first reason has to do with my training as a social worker.  I was taught that despite popular belief, it's not up to mental health workers to offer advice to their clients.  People who work as counselors are actually supposed to offer insight, objectivity, and clarity to their clients' accounts of their problems.  Then, they are supposed to help their clients come to conclusions that will help them make the decisions that will work best for them.  No one is living your life but you.  No one knows what it feels like to be in your shoes.  If you are basically a competent adult, you are the very best person to know what you need.  So a therapist's job is essentially to help you determine what your problems are and what you need to do to fix them.  It's not the therapist's job to tell you how to fix them.

The second reason I try not to offer advice is essentially a selfish one.   I don't want to be held responsible for giving someone bad advice.  I don't want to be the one who is blamed when my bad advice causes someone harm or heartache.  I think people need to be responsible for themselves and make their own decisions. I think they need to own their own mistakes.  If I give someone advice and it goes wrong, it's all too easy for them to point a finger at me.

The third reason I try not to give advice is that I don't think most people are looking for advice.  Have you ever given someone some advice that you thought was top notch and they immediately told you why your advice either wouldn't work or wasn't applicable to their situation?  I think it's an ego thing.  Most people would rather you didn't tell them what they should do, even if they ask you for your opinion.  There are exceptions to this, of course.  But by and large, I think most people who talk about their problems really just want to vent.

Anyway, getting back to the message board posting that prompted this blog entry...  Yesterday, I ran across a post on a Babycenter message board.  The woman who posted it seemed to be at the very end of her rope.  She claimed she wished she'd never had her four children because she suddenly realized what made people feel like "hurting" their kids.  She was stuck alone, in a house in a rural area, with no working telephone, no car, and no adults to talk to.  Her husband goes to graduate school and works two jobs.  Consequently, she does most of the child rearing herself.  One of her kids has autism and another is a baby who doesn't sleep well.  The other two kids are older, but still under age 10.  This mom also claimed she was not feeling well and had never wanted to live out in the woods.  She also claimed to have some fairly serious psychological problems.

Now... it was pretty clear to me and apparently most of the other ladies lurking on the board that this woman was in some distress.  She had apparently posted about her bad home life before.  There were many women offering their opinions and advice.  Just reading the thread reminded me of a feeding frenzy.  Quite a number of posters were very emotional, begging the poster to seek help, expressing their extreme concern for her.  Some were even calling for her to divorce her husband.  

I was a bit flabbergasted by the divorce advice, mainly because no one on the board seemed to know this woman offline.  No one had ever met her husband and heard his side.  In fact, it seemed like an awful lot of these women were jumping on a cacophonous bandwagon, calling for this distressed woman to make a very serious decision that would not only affect her, but also her husband and four innocent children and their extended families.

I asked a couple of friends what they thought.  One person said they understood why the posters were calling for divorce.  She gave me a spiel about how people in abusive marriages can be blind to their predicaments.  I know about that.  My husband's first wife was abusive and he was blind to it.  In fact, when I met him, he thought he had been the abusive one.  Why?  Because his ex wife had told him he was.  She had also told her group of lady friends that he abused her and demanded that he give her a knife that was part of his military uniform for safekeeping.  Instead of putting the knife away, my husband's ex showed it to her friends to strengthen her allegations of abuse.  And then those friends told everyone in their church about the "abuse", which led to the entire church turning their backs on him at a time when he, too, could have used some support.  I have been with my husband for nine years and have never seen any evidence that he's an abusive monster.  In fact, my experiences with him have been quite the opposite.  The closest he might have come to being abusive was withdrawing from her; which, I could hardly fault him for doing.  

My point in relating that little anecdote is to remind people that there are always three sides to every story... his, hers, and the truth.  The ladies on Babycenter responded very emotionally to a woman's apparently very urgent problem.  They offered a lot of emotionally charged and drastic solutions that may have made them feel helpful... and perhaps made the original poster feel loved and appreciated.  Or perhaps their very insistent calls for divorce or separation made the original poster feel uncomfortable and overwhelmed.   

Think about this.  You are a mom alone in the woods with your four young kids.  You have no phone and no access to a car.  You don't work.  Your husband is the sole breadwinner and he's never home because he's busting his ass to make a living.  You want out of the situation-- maybe not the marriage, but definitely the situation.  People are telling you to get a divorce.  Okay... has anyone even stopped to think about what might happen in the event this woman files for divorce?  Dad works two poorly paying jobs and goes to grad school.  Good luck getting a lot of child support.  And if there's not enough child support, that means mom has to work.  That's if he doesn't fight for custody, which he could conceivably win, depending on their actual situation and mom's mental status.  Mom getting a job might not be a bad thing, of course, but it will mean mom will have to pull herself together and arrange for people to help her, at the very least, with her children.  And that's what she probably ought to do anyway, divorce or no divorce.    

This isn't to say that the woman on Babycenter wasn't in an abusive situation.  This is to say that no one on that message board actually knew what the woman's situation truly was.  They only knew what they had read and, more importantly, interpreted, on a fairly anonymous Web site.  And not a single one of them would be around to help pick up the pieces or take some responsibility if their advice turned out to be terrible.  What's even worse about this situation is that one or more of the posters actually called this woman's religious leader on her behalf.         

While it's somewhat alarming to think an adult in this day and age doesn't have a working phone of their own, it did seem lost on some of these ladies that their fellow poster did have access to a computer.  That means that the woman does have a means of communicating with the outside world.  Moreover, this woman apparently has some pretty serious issues that warrant the intervention of someone local and professional who can help her out in person.  Any advice that was given should have been, in my opinion, along those lines, not calls for this woman to end her marriage.  Although statistically speaking, that may very well be what ends up happening.

Anyway... I just wish people would be more careful with advice, both giving it and receiving it.  But people in hell want ice water, right?

Monday, December 12, 2011 the source of much undiscovered talent...

Seems like there are a lot of folks out there on YouTube that fancy themselves artistes of some sort.  Or maybe there are just a lot of people out there who think they have something important to say.  I have never posted a video of myself on YouTube, mainly because I don't think I would be very good at it.  I like to cut up and crack jokes.  I'm a hell of a singer.  But when it comes to being on camera, I have a tendency to freeze up.  I am not comfortable on film at all.  Maybe that's why I'm so fascinated by some of the YouTube personalities I have discovered over the years.

Weird Wilbur is probably the first YouTube star I connected with.  I actually found him when he posted a rant about Mormonism.  Since my husband is a former member of the church and has been disowned by his family, in part, because he doesn't agree with it anymore, I was interested in what Wilbur had to say. Wilbur has since taken down that video, but after watching it, I did find myself checking out some of his other videos.  And that's when I discovered Wilbur's hilarious music...

The above link is to a song that is one of Wilbur's best known hits.  I just happened to have it on my mind this morning.  Between the music and Wilbur's thoughts of life, I find plenty to entertain me when the stuff on TV gets too boring.

"Chickenshit" is my favorite Weird Wilbur song...

But say I'm in the mood for something truly weird...  weirder than Weird Wilbur...

Then I go to Reid Baer's channel, where I can hear him recite original poetry while dressed in costumes...

Or listen to him rant about odd topics...

Or even hear him sing original songs...

Or talk about his hobbies...

When I want to learn something new or think about something profound, I turn to Lithodid Man.

In fact, Lithodid Man even got me to read a new book...

Yep... I owe a lot to YouTube.  From old commercials to new music to new talent, it's definitely one of my favorite places to spend quality time...  It beats reality TV.

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away...

Exactly one month ago, the Duggars announced that they were going to have their 20th child.  Today, it was announced that Michelle Duggar has miscarried.  While I am sorry for the Duggars' loss, I can't help but recall their rationale for having so many children.  Michelle Duggar had her first miscarriage after her son Josh was born.  She was taking "the pill" and blamed it for the miscarriage.  She took it as a sign that God was telling her not to take birth control.

Over twenty years later, Michelle Duggar is still in the business of being pregnant, even though her last child was born very prematurely and Michelle is in her mid 40s.  The Duggars have a reality show and often speak of their children as gifts or blessings.  I wonder how a woman who can't get pregnant should take that.  God isn't blessing her because she can't conceive?

In any case, now that Michelle Duggar has miscarried despite not taking the pill, are we to assume that God is an Indian giver?  Yeah, I know... it's an offensive term.  But this situation is on many levels offensive.

Michelle Duggar has so many children already who need her.  She has a medically fragile daughter who is due to turn two Saturday and still needs oxygen.  Despite that, I won't be the least bit surprised if she tries again.  And once again, the state of Michelle Duggar's womb will be the stuff of national news.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Jillian Michaels annoys me yet again...

So yesterday, I was watching The Doctors and there was a woman on there who was an exercise addict.  She worked out for four or five hours a day, explaining that as a child, she was taunted for being "chubby".  Jillian Michaels sat down to talk with this woman, who was obviously reliving painful memories as she talked about growing up with her classmates throwing food at her and calling her a cow.

Jillian asked the woman about her childhood and it came to light that her parents had gotten a divorce.  The woman was actually really charitable as she spoke about her father, saying that she didn't begrudge the fact that he had remarried and had two sons with his second wife.  She said he was around when he was "needed", though she felt as if he had "forgotten" her.  But Jillian piped up, saying he "emotionally abandoned" her.

I don't know.  Maybe the woman's dad did, in fact, emotionally abandon his daughter.  I don't know how Jillian Michaels can ascertain that, though, in the very brief interview she had with the compulsive exerciser.  I'm certain that my husband's ex wife has convinced their daughters and everyone else in her sphere that my husband "emotionally abandoned" his kids.  The fact is, he was kicked out of their lives and used.  He was treated like a sperm donor with a wallet who needed to repent for the fact that his marriage didn't work out.

There are always at least three sides to every story.  There are the two opposing viewpoints and the truth, which always gets buried to some degree when people with egos and emotions get involved with each other.  The fact is, women are not always blameless when a relationship fails.  Sometimes they are, in fact, the cause of breakups.  And sometimes they don't encourage the children caught in the middle from having healthy relationships with BOTH parents.

Moreover, when marriages break up, that means that two people are now FREE to begin again with someone new.  If that means they get married or become partners and have children together, that should be their right.  I never hear anyone begrudge a woman for remarrying after divorce and having kids.  Why shouldn't a man be allowed to do it without fear of judgment?

Personally, I believe that people should really know each other before they marry and before they engage in activities that can lead to childbirth.  If you voluntarily have children with someone and it turns out they're no good, you are, in part, to blame.  While people can make drastic lifestyle changes, they rarely change who they are at the core.  If the person you had a child with is not the person you married or otherwise made a commitment to, chances are you committed too soon.  Either that, or you're not being completely honest with yourself and your own role in your relationship's failure.

I am sorry that the woman on The Doctors endured taunting and bullying from her peers for being overweight.  I'm sure that her father's absence in her life caused her great pain.  But I don't think it's fair for Jillian Michaels to solely blame the woman's father for his daughter's troubles.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

An open letter to my stepchildren...

Dear long lost stepdaughters,

Well, we've finally reached the point at which both of you are now legal adults.  That means you are free to do whatever you want with your lives, although I suspect you're so tightly chained to your mother's apron strings that you don't realize how free you finally are.  Make no mistake about it.  I don't like either of you.  It's not because you remind me that my husband has a past.  It's not because I resent you for being born.  It's because you have treated your father and his family with utter contempt.

I realize that you were hurt when your parents were divorced.  I know you have been told a lot of stories about what kind of person your father is.  I know your mother has told you what kind of person I am, even though she has never even met me.  Although on some level, I understand that you were raised in a vacuum and have never been taught to use critical thinking skills, I still very much dislike both of you for your cruelty and contempt.  Had you just directed it at me, I might have been a lot more understanding, even though I have done nothing but marry a legally divorced man and offer him my love.  And I would have offered you my love, had you given me a chance.

Your father is the finest man I know.  You have missed out on a lot by cutting him out of your lives.  While I suppose your mother didn't give you much of a choice but to reject your father, one of the reasons your father left is because she made his life miserable and tried to force him to be her slave.  But mark my words, there will come a day when you will wish you knew him.

I knew my father when I was growing up.  He is still married to my mother.  Yes, he was around-- an "everyday daddy", as one of you put it--, but he was often a perfect ass.  I would have loved to have had a father like yours when I was growing up.  Your dad still loves you both so much, even though neither of you deserve it.

Although I have never met your mother in person, I have read her emails and have talked to people who have known her since she was a teenager.  She is a toxic, hateful, crazy woman who uses people.  She shamelessly uses children to fight her battles and keep other people in line.  Now that neither of you are children anymore, you can no longer be used for that purpose.  Your worth is now significantly less in her eyes.  Be prepared to have your little sister's and brother's affections held over your heads to keep you in line.  When you have children, be prepared to protect them from your mother and defend yourself from her insidious need to take your power away from you.  She will no doubt do everything she can to use them to control you.  You are nothing but objects to your mother; but don't take that personally.  Everyone is just an object to her.  In her twisted world, the only person who really matters is her.

I should probably feel sorry for you.  On one level, I do.  I can't imagine how difficult it must have been for you to grow up with her raising you.  I can only wonder if you ever even missed the man who has loved and supported you all your lives.  You just threw him away.  Well, don't worry.  I will take good care of him.  He'll be okay.  I will see to that.

Good luck.

Sunday, December 4, 2011


We landed in Barbados on Sunday, November 20th.  It was kind of bittersweet.  On one hand, I was pretty tired of puking due to seasickness.  I was kind of ready to get off vacation, too.  On the other hand, I love an adventure and the people on our cruise were a fun crowd.  Moreover, SeaDream has a great crew!  I knew I would actually miss a few of them.

We had to be off the boat at 10:00am, so a bunch of us sat in the salon until then.  A group of Norwegians actually ordered champagne to drink in the last minutes before the witching hour.  Some people exchanged email addresses.  Just last night, I got an email from a couple we met who sent us pictures.  I haven't looked at them because I honestly hate the way I look on film.  My husband caught a glimpse of them and said they weren't worth seeing.

The couple who took those pictures were kind of interesting, anyway.  The male half actually offered to take a shot of me in my bathing suit!  Most women would rather not have pictures taken when they're in a bathing suit, especially when they're "fluffy".  I wondered what he expected me to do with the picture... put it on my refrigerator?  I also noticed that this particular guy had a habit of making little "digs" at people.  It was like he was a bit insecure.

In any case, it was sad to leave SeaDream... but very telling what a wonderful crew they were when several of the staff members gave me hugs and kisses!  I guess for the cost of the fare, that kind of endearment isn't too out of line!  Seriously, though, I really felt like I was leaving friends in some of the staff.  That's what will keep me coming back to SeaDream time and again.

Several of us went to the Hilton Barbados to pass some time.  My husband and I were planning to stay a couple of nights, while a few of the Brits were flying out of Barbados later that day.  Hilton Barbados is a pretty nice hotel.  There are a couple of pools, a beach, restaurants, and very comfortable rooms.  I would have liked to have stayed longer.  Maybe someday I can go back to Barbados and explore it some more.

Our cruise, part five...

Our last stop was at a beautiful marine park called Mayreau in The Grenadines.  This was the day SeaDream was throwing its Champagne and Caviar Splash.  Okay, so SeaDream used prosecco instead of champagne.  It was still a hell of a lot of fun.  The Splash is what convinced my husband and me to book again the last time we cruised.

SeaDream staffers hauled food and supplies to the beach and put on a very impressive barbecue, complete with a band and several hungry stray dogs.  The last time we cruised with SeaDream, our Splash was held at Jost Van Dyke in the British Virgin Islands, where it got crashed by a couple of human interlopers.  This time, there were no human interlopers, just several unneutered canines.

This is a shot from the beach...

Getting ready to serve the goods...

Let the party begin!

We had a great day.  The party was followed by an eight course tasting menu that I mostly really enjoyed.  Unfortunately, I did deal with a little more seasickness toward the end of our voyage.  It was a small price to pay.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Our cruise, part four...

After a wonderful day in St. Lucia, we moved onward to our next port, Bequia, in St. Vincent, The Grenadines.  Unlike Soufriere, Bequia was very laid back.  People said good morning to us instead of badgering us to buy their goods.  A cute little dog followed us around.  I couldn't help but notice the little fellow was still sporting his testicles.  I suppose we could have done something fun like venture to the nude beach or eat lobster pizza.  What we chose to do is buy some rum.

My husband and I are big fans of refined alcoholic spirits.  We went into one store and listened as a young woman yelled in Creole on her cell phone while the store clerk stood by, completely disinterested in whether or not we purchased anything.  We left that store and went around the corner, where we found a small grocery store.  It was hopping with business.

We found our way to the booze aisle, where I found a most intriguing bottle of 15 year old rum made by El Dorado, a company out of Guyana.  It just occurred to me how close Guyana was to Bequia.  Priced at about US $27 in East Caribbean dollars, this rum was a good buy.

I was thinking about buying something nice for the wall, but decided against it when I remembered how much stuff is already on my walls.  We went back to the ship, where I proceeded to swim off the marina again.  Later, we had a very nice lunch with some of our new friends.

The next day, we went to Carriacou, which is part of Grenada.  I was actually surprised we were going to Grenada.  I thought Carriacou was part of The Grenadines.  This was not the most beautiful port, but it was probably the most interesting.  The smell of garlic and curry filled the air as my husband and I wandered around the area.  Suddenly, we found ourselves at a small museum.  A tour had started, led by a very black local woman who spoke with a lilt.

We joined the other couple touring, a very thin man with long, scraggly brown hair who appeared to be European-- perhaps Dutch?-- and a very thin, pale, redheaded woman with a British accent.  The man was very engaged in the tour and kept asking questions of the guide.  My husband and I listened politely as the museum worker spoke.  I had to admit, the other man on our tour was asking good questions.

Afterwards, we purchased a wood carving and paid the entry fee.  I noticed that the museum worker's demeanor seemed different... kind of like a prostitute collecting her money at the end of a trick.  It was odd.  She asked, in a somewhat unfriendly tone, if we had come from "the boat".  We said we had.  She gave us some unsolicited tips on places to see, then didn't even so much as bid us goodbye.  I felt weird after that encounter.

We went back to the dock to wait for the tender when I noticed a quiet, thin, black man with extremely crooked teeth sitting there making wood carvings by hand.  The detail of the carvings was amazing.  I wanted one, but wasn't sure how much money we had.  A Canadian couple from our cruise purchased one.  I later sent my husband back to buy a carving of his choice for us.

The carving on the left is the one we bought at the museum.  The carving of the sailboat was the one my husband chose for us.  Both were very reasonably priced.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Our cruise, part three...

November 16th, we were in St. Lucia.  It was our anniversary, so I was pretty excited.  I wasn't that impressed with our first port, Rodney Bay, because it turned out to be a little shopping area and a bunch of guys wanting to sell taxi rides.  Since we only had a few hours at this port, I didn't want to chance going somewhere.  I had been looking at booking a tour of the island, but it turned out our ship would be in Soufriere later that day.  And then my husband couldn't get any cash out of the ATM, so we were fucked anyway.

After walking around the port area very briefly, we went back to the ship and I went swimming again.  I guess we were just there for the people who were taking the helicopter tour.  Around noon, we started heading for Soufriere, which is the town closest to the Pitons, two mountains that look a little like ice cream cones.

Another couple introduced themselves.  It turned out they were beer fans and wanted to try the local brew. The cruise director warned us that the area was slightly sketchy and it wouldn't be wise to walk around with a lot of jewelry or cash.  Nevertheless, we found a cool, hole in the wall bar, where we were able to taste the local beer...

Anyway, it wasn't bad... it was better than Beast, anyway.

That night, we enjoyed a fabulous anniversary meal.  We scored a great private table outside and got great service from Jose, the world's most adorable waiter.  My husband bought some tasty champagne that was older than our nine year old marriage.  After dessert, they presented us with a cake, which we had delivered to our stateroom.  We were too full to eat it.  And then we didn't have silverware, nor did we have a place to put the cake, so we only got to eat a couple of bites of it.

But it was still a wonderful anniversary.  We weren't the only ones celebrating, either.  It turned out the mustachioed dad's daughter was also celebrating an anniversary, albeit with the whole family.  I heard them talking about how Dom Perignon was so yummy.  I've had Dom before... it's for sure tasty champagne, but I think it's a bit overrated... That's just me, though.

Our cabin stewardess decorated our stateroom, too... and of course, I got to sing to my husband.  It was a very memorable night.