Monday, July 30, 2012

Parental units at the Olympics...

A friend of mine posted this video on Facebook this morning.

Gymnastics happens to be one of those sports I actually do like to watch.  I have to admit that I missed this coverage, though...

Notice how the lady in pink sitting behind the parents looks annoyed as hell as Mom and Dad squirm, shout, and wince.  And then at the end of the clip, it looks like Mom mouths the "F" bomb.  LOL... talk  about "ugly Americans".

In all seriousness, though, I guess I could understand why they were so lacking in situational awareness.  If I had a daughter competing at the Olympics, I'd probably be the same way.  That being said, though, as a fellow spectator, their antics would probably really annoy me.  But if I found out they were the parents, I'm sure I'd cut 'em a break.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Octomom's latest gig...

I about fell out of my chair when this ad came on my TV the other day.  Those Octoloan folks must be out of their fucking minds, hiring Octopussy to pitch their product.  She is not well liked.  Besides, she doesn't even use the product she's pitching.  It says so in the disclaimer at the end of the ad.

That being said, she does need the work.  She has 14 innocent kids to take care of, after all...  I think it'll take more than a $1000 loan to cover it, though.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Okay... I stand corrected

Last night, my husband and I were at our favorite local watering hole when one of the other patrons requested that a couple of the TVs be turned to the Olympics.  It was the opening ceremonies, which I usually end up missing.  Last time we had a summer Olympics, we were abroad and only had television coverage in German.

Anyway, I caught the big opening dance scene and totally lost it when all the hearing impaired little kids in their jammies sang "God Save the Queen".  It was a very impressive show.  I found myself teary more than once, watching all the people coming together.

I was moved by the Parade of Nations, too.  It was so inspiring to watch so many athletes who had worked so hard and sacrificed so much to get to London.

So, in essence, I could give a shit about the Olympics, even if I don't care for tote bags about fat Americans.  ;-)

Good show, London!!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Those naughty Brits...

Yesterday, I ran across a short article about how folks in London are preparing for the upcoming Summer Olympics.  Apparently, some Brits are having some laughs at American expense.  Some entrepreneur came up with a tote bag that reads "I'm renting my flat to a fat American family."  

Far be it for me to disagree that there are a lot of fat people in the United States.  However, there are quite a lot of fat people in England, too.  In fact, on our latest trip to Germany back in May, I noticed there was no shortage of fat people on the European continent.  And certainly not all of those folks were American tourists.

But since the obesity epidemic is at its most acute here in America, I guess we've earned the distinction of being fatasses.  And for that, people from other countries think it's okay to make fun of us.  I can have a sense of humor about such things until people start complaining about political correctness.  You see, I believe that turnabout is fair play.  So if you make fun of Americans, you should expect Americans to make fun of you.  And there should be no complaints about prejudice, racism, or even rudeness.  In fact, I ranted about this topic once before.  My views haven't changed.

In all seriousness, I don't think the proposed tote bags are funny.  I doubt I'd think they were funny even if I were a skinny Brit.  Indeed, I'm surprised that no one came up with anything wittier.  Brits are stereotypically quick with a quip.  But this just isn't funny.  What's funny about renting your flat to a fat American family?  Would it be just as funny if I claimed I was renting a flat from a toothless British family?  I don't think so.

Would the Brits prefer it if the Yanks stayed home and their hotels stayed empty?  Actually, it wouldn't surprise me if that was their preference.  But then we Yanks would have to listen to complaints about how we don't embrace or understand cultures other than our own.  It's hard to learn about different people if you never leave your own country.  

I could give a shit about the Olympics anyway.  I might tune in for some women's gymnastics, but I generally don't enjoy sports that much.  That's probably because I'm such a fat American who has no talent for sports.  It's a curse.  But at least I have nice teeth.  


Monday, July 23, 2012

Okay... now that I've caught up-- a post on empathy and judgmental comments

Last week, my husband and I were in Virginia.  He was on business and I was tagging along, because we happened to be in a city I know intimately.  Because I had my iPad with me and have had varying results with using a portable keyboard with it, I didn't get much writing done last week.  However, it seems that people were reading my blog.  For some reason, my entry on Jessica McCord has attracted a lot of hits, especially from abroad.  In that particular blog post, I wrote about a woman named Jessica McCord who, along with her second husband, murdered her first husband and his second wife because they had just won custody of Jessica McCord's oldest daughters.

I had first heard of Jessica McCord when I watched a television program called Snapped on the Oxygen network.  As I listened to her story and then followed up by reading a book called Death Trap, by M. William Phelps, I couldn't help but notice that there were similarities between McCord's ex husband's story and my own husband's story.  And so I blogged about it.

A couple of days ago, I came back home to the following comment:

I think it's terrible that your husband would give up on his children and leave them with an unstable mother and a "weird" stepfather. Any good parent would risk their own life to keep their kids out of harm's way.  

This comment, left by someone calling themselves "nanny braun" reflects the ignorance of someone who's never "been there, done that".  I will admit that I don't like these kinds of comments for many reasons.  For one thing, it really reflects a knee-jerk response of someone who hasn't really given much thought to what they're writing before they write it.  For another thing, it shows that "nanny braun" hasn't really taken the time to look around this blog and therefore isn't too well versed on my husband's situation.  Finally, it's just a very judgmental and ignorant comment that sounds as if it comes from a person who watches too many Lifetime movies.

The Internet is a wonderful thing, but it sure has made it a lot easier for people to be mean and rude to one another.  I would bet money that "nanny braun" would never make this kind of comment to someone s/he was talking to in person.  And yet s/he has no problem being uncivil on the anonymous Internet, not realizing that there are real people behind the words she reads.

I left "nanny braun" the following rebuttal:

Thanks for your input, nanny braun. I agree with you that it's "terrible" that my husband had to let his ex wife and weird husband raise his daughters. I wish he had been able to take them from her and give them a fighting chance. Actually, I mostly wish he'd had those kids with me instead of her. I guarantee that if he had, he would have been able to be a proper father to them. Unfortunately, fathers in the United States often don't get a fair shake in court and end up spending thousands of dollars with no positive results. 

How dare you judge my husband's situation? You make it sound like it's an easy thing for fathers to do, getting full custody from their children's mother. It's not. I don't know where you come from, but waging a legal war costs a lot of money that my husband didn't have because--like a GOOD and RESPONSIBLE father-- he was paying court ordered child support to the tune of $30,000 a year. And taking time away from a new job to fight in court for his kids in a state on the other side of the country would have prevented him from being able to support them. Which would you prefer? A dad who spends all his money on pointless court battles or a dad who spends his money to support his children? And tell me, if he did get custody of his kids, would you be one of those idiots who would berate him for taking them away from their mother and making them live on the other side of the country? 

Your comment is very judgmental and ignorant. You clearly know nothing about Parental Alienation Syndrome, which is a very real thing. If you are an actual nanny, I'd recommend that you spend some time researching PAS. You need to educate yourself. Moreover, since you know nothing about PAS or our particular situation, I'd appreciate it if you kept your uninformed comments to yourself.

I will admit that I was pretty pissed off when I wrote this, but this is actually the third or fourth version of my response.

Folks, let me be real.  If I didn't know my husband the way I do, I would probably agree that he should have just taken his kids from his ex wife.  And that agreement would have come from a place of extreme ignorance because as a childless, previously unmarried woman, I didn't have the foggiest notion about how divorce, child custody, or court systems work, especially when you're the father, broke, and divorcing in a state that strongly favors mothers.  I didn't know about any of this stuff, even though I have a master's degree in social work.  This is not something that social workers necessarily learn about in school, even though they often end up working with kids involved in divorce situations.  I just assumed that courts consider both parents and their rights to their kids equally.

I also didn't know anything about parental alienation syndrome, which I know is a controversial subject.  Maybe if I hadn't seen firsthand the eerie commonality we observed in my husband's daughters' behaviors with others who have experienced this phenomenon, I might agree with certain feminists that it's just a myth.  But I've seen it with my own eyes and I know that parents use their kids as pawns, which is a most unloving act.  It's as if there's a script that these kids and their alienating parents use against the targeted parent.  I am thoroughly convinced that PAS exists. Aside from living through it and reading countless accounts of it, I've also read scholarly books about PAS.  And I can recommend an excellent book-- Adult Children of Parental Alienation Syndrome: Breaking the Ties That Bind -- about parental alienation syndrome for any readers who also want to learn more about PAS and how it affects adult children who have lived through it.

But whether or not PAS actually exists is not really the focus of today's post.  Today's post is really about smug, self-righteous, judgmental jerks who think they know better about our situation than we do and act like our decisions affect them personally.  Life is hard and everybody struggles.  The process of living is a learning process and hindsight is always 20/20.  Unless you've never made any mistakes and actually know the people involved in this story, you aren't really in the best position to judge and run the risk of coming off like an uninformed asshole.  

Just for the record, my husband loved his daughters very much.  He still loves them.  But they have rejected him... and they rejected him without knowing anything about his side of the story.  They simply took their mother's word for what happened and have never bothered to ask him what his side is and now they have grown into adults who are strangers.  When they were children, I wouldn't have expected my husband's daughters to think about what their dad's side of the story was.  But they are now grown women who apparently just take other peoples' words for things without using their own brains.  I shouldn't blame them for that, I guess.  It's how they, and so many other people, were raised.  They don't question information that came from their mother, the person who is mostly responsible for the fact that they exist.  

That being said, even though my husband's daughters have apparently never been taught critical thinking skills, they are now adults and are fully responsible for their actions and/or inactions.  This is true for everyone who goes from being a child to an adult.  That's why I support teaching children about responsibility, empathy, and accountability when they are still children.  Because if they don't learn these things when they are children, when will they learn and how will they prepare for the day that others start holding them accountable?  So I hold my husband's daughters responsible for the pain they have inflicted, even though I know that they too are hurting.  They don't know how much they've hurt their father and the rest of his family, whom they had no qualms about flatly rejecting.  They might not even care about anyone else's pain but their own.  But, just like nanny braun, they judged... and they were unfair.         

Folks, being rejected by your children HURTS.  If you have never been through such a thing, you can't possibly know how painful it is.  My husband adored his daughters.  He would have done anything in his power for them, given the chance.  His marriage to his ex wife did not work out.  They never should have gotten married in the first place, but again, hindsight is 20/20.  Lots of people get divorced because they made the wrong decision.  That's no reason to spend the rest of one's life being punished by one's own children or others who think that children must come before everything else in the world.  Again, childhood is the time to learn responsibility, accountability, and empathy.  It's a time to learn that the world does not revolve around one person's wants and needs.  

Moreover, I had nothing to do with my husband's decision to divorce, so I don't know why people repeatedly blame me for the failure of my husband's first marriage.  I wasn't in his life when it was going on, nor was I the cause of his divorce.  My presence in his life is no reason for my husband, who was a perfectly good father, to lose contact with his children.  Had the situation been reversed and my husband had custody of the kids, he would not have cut his ex wife off from seeing them.  That would be a cruel thing to do.  And what she did to him was CRUEL... but most of all, it was cruel to the kids, who have missed out on their wonderful dad.  There is NO WAY their mother's third husband loves them the way my husband does, and yet they call him "Daddy" instead of the man who helped create them and has worked so hard to provide for them.  He could have provided so much more than financial help, but apparently his ex wife felt that punishing her ex was more important than giving her children access to both parents.    

Losing your kids to PAS is so painful... My husband's daughters are not mine and I barely know them, but I do know their dad intimately and I have seen his significant pain over many years.  I can't even know how much he really hurts; I just know that the pain I've actually seen is just the tip of the iceberg.  So when some asshole comes on my blog and shames my husband for the tough decisions he's had to make, I want to defend him.  I want to defend myself, too, because even though I am his second wife, I am not a home wrecker.   Our lives are not a Lifetime movie.  This shit is real and it's deep and complicated.  

Someone had to go to work and make the money to support those two girls (and their older brother, who was not even my husband's legal responsibility).  It's certainly admirable when men are able to go to court to wrest custody from exes who may be unstable.  In my husband's case, it just wasn't feasible.  He simply didn't have the money or time to do it.  That doesn't make him a bad person or even a bad father.  Those who say otherwise are just wrong.  That might work on Lifetime, but it doesn't work in real life.  You can't pay court fees or lawyers if you don't have a job.  You also can't pay child support, which my husband did generously every month for over ten years without fail.

So... nanny braun and anyone else with nanny braun's narrow views, allow me to preemptively advise you to STFU if you feel compelled to judge my husband for the way he's handled his situation.  Just be glad you're not in a similar predicament.  Before you post a comment, take a minute to think about it and decide if it's really constructive, truthful, or kind... and consider how you would like it if the same words were directed at you.  

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Back home again...

And I have a lot to catch up on...

I hope I'll be able to update my blog before too long.  For now, I thought I'd share this photo...

Gotta love the US Army.

Get one for your little booger.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Out of town again...

Hubby has another business trip.  I get to go with him again.  We're going back to the area where I grew up and, I imagine, will visit my parents.  I have a big bag of tomatoes for them.  I'm hoping they'll either eat them or pass them out to all the people who work for them.

I also have a photo to replace the one that got damaged last time we were there.  I had printed a photo to put in a picture frame and somehow the photo got scratched.  My husband's image ended up with a big white squiggle on it.  So naturally, my mom wants a new picture to show off to her friends.

I was one of the unlucky folks who was affected by the Yahoo! hackers...  Most annoying!  Spent most of yesterday morning changing passwords.  Hackers are some of the most irritating troublemakers.

Anyhoo, I probably won't blog much this week, not that I often have that much of substance to write about anyway.  Have a nice week!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A pissing match...

Yesterday, I was hanging out on my favorite message board, Recovery from Mormonism, when I came across a thread about dining out and tipping wait staff.  Since I spent some time doing that particular job, I decided to chime in.  One particular poster, a guy who uses initials to identify himself, pretty much said that he had a "table" he used to determine how much to tip a server.  He wrote:

I was taught that "tip" meant "to insure promptness". I still believe that a tip is related to the level of service.

My tipping policy is,

If I get just the expected service, I give the "expected" tip, 15%.

If I get better than expected service, I give more.

If I get less than expected service, I tip less.

To give an example of how I might tip, one day at a nice restaurant, our food was delayed. My BF and I were not really all that concerned about the delay because it was a very busy night and we were expecting the kitchen to be backed up. The waitress came by and apologized for the wait. We assured her that we were OK and understood that they were swamped and that we didn't need anything to placate us.

Well, that was not good enough for her. She went over to the manager and asked him if he could comp part of the meal for us. Well, he recognized us as somewhat regulars, knew that we lived over 50 miles away and thought he would "take care of us". He comped that dinner completely and gave us, gave us desert and a $50 gift certificate to use for our next meal.

We got comped over $100, we tipped the waitress $50 on a bill that would have been about $60. Even tipping her $50, we were still $50 ahead. She took care of us, we took care of her. We continued to ask for her as our waitress as long as she worked there.

As a bonus, the manager knew that we rewarded good service so every time we went after that, we NEVER waited in line. We would walk in and the next available table was ours even if here was an hour wait. The minimum tip we left was around 30%. We were treated as royalty and we rewarded that treatment.

On the other hand, if we have to wait while there are available tables, the food is slow and the staff acts like they don't care, they may bet one penny. A one penny tip is often considered worse than leaving no tip. A one penny tip clearly shows that you didn't forget to tip.

I hesitated before commenting.  I knew that if I said anything, this poster would probably get upset and start an argument with me.  I had seen over and over again that this particular poster has a tendency to get defensive and generally doesn't listen to reason.  But I decided I needed to be heard too, so I wrote:

You said "On the other hand, if we have to wait while there are available tables, the food is slow and the staff acts like they don't care, they may bet one penny."

I don't know about all restaurants, but at the place where I worked, the hosts/hostesses were in charge of seating, not the wait staff. And sometimes those open tables you're seeing are for people who made reservations.

As for slow food, that is often not the wait staff's fault. It's one thing if the server forgets to put your order in, but in my experience, half the time slow food happens because of the kitchen getting backed up, which the server has no control over. The server who takes your order sometimes isn't the one who's responsible for delivering your food, either, especially if the place uses a food runner or the server has a "back" (another server who is in charge of delivering the food).

It's completely understandable to tip less if the staff acts like they don't care and I think it's great that you hooked up the waitress who went out of her way for you. The place where I worked actually made it hard to bend over backwards for customers because they had a lot of petty, penny pinching rules and did not make it easy to cater to people with kids. I was pretty happy when my time there was finished, even though I made good money there. Because of my experiences waiting tables, though, I never tip less than 15%, even if the service is poor. I don't believe that any server in their right mind deliberately gives bad service-- not when they make $2.13 an hour. But that's just me.

And just as I suspected, this guy got very upset by my post and wrote:

So, I expect that my tip applies to everyone, host and cooks alike.

But if you read ALL of what I wrote and not just go ballistic because of ONE LINE, you will see what I expect from my wait staff, I expect THEM to handle issues with poor service from other aspects of the restaurant. As with the waitress in my story, I EXPECT that if my food is slow coming out of the kitchen, the wait staff will do SOMETHING to acknowledge that there is a problem, and do SOMETHING to rectify the problem, and not just "act as if they do not care". I don't need to have my meal comped, but do SOMETHING to make up for the slow service.

The wait staff is my main interface with the eating establishment, I EXPECT they would act that way. I expect that they would insure I get fast service or they would do SOMETHING to make up for the poor service of other staff members.

I said I had not gone ballistic, just offered a different perspective.  And of course, an argument ensued.  Or, at least he tried to start an argument with me.  I had different ideas.  Ordinarily, I might have been upset by this person's comments to me, but since I knew what his reaction was going to be, I decided to have some fun with him by calmly mocking him.  With each new post, he became more and more insulting and abusive.  He even said he would leave me a penny if I waited on him.  I said that was fine, since I am now permanently retired from waiting tables (and have been since 2002).  He said I was "a low rent truckstop dive diner waitress if I ever saw one."  That comment actually made me laugh, since waitresses in those kinds of places tend to be nice.

With each new insult from the angry, entitled poster, I grew more and more silly and mocking, which got him more and more annoyed.  Instead of feeling anxious and upset and taking this guy's shitty remarks personally, I have to admit, it was a lot more fun responding by teasing him, because he predictably took the bait every time.  And what was even funnier is that another poster came to my defense, which ended up driving my poor victim into an indignant frenzy!    

I finally used the silly childish rhyme "I'm rubber; you're glue.  Everything you say, bounces off of me and sticks to you."  When he finally told me he would "let me feel better about myself by giving me the last word", I said "Thank you.  I do."  WINNING!!

Yeah, it was a waste of time and pretty stupid, but it was also surprisingly fun.  Maybe that's what I should do every time I run into an asshole on the Internet. 

Saturday, July 7, 2012

This is not nice, but...

Today is my husband's 48th birthday.  We just had breakfast and then I got the urge to watch this on YouTube...

This video, originally created by a guy named Ricky, has been posted and re-posted.  I myself have seen it I don't know how many times.  The first time I heard of it was several years ago on a blog called Psychotic Letters From Men.  I got so tickled I had to watch it again.  Even today, I watch it when I need a good laugh.

Maybe I shouldn't find Ricky's rant that funny.  Basically, he's hurting and upset that his ex-girlfriend dumped him.  He issues death threats and says a lot of bad words.  He tries to come off as menacing and ends up looking silly.  Still, there's something about this video that is pure magic.  Maybe Ricky should get on reality TV!

When I watch this video, I am reminded of how dramatic young life can be... and why it's not so bad not to be so young anymore! 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

I hate it when the 4th of July is in the middle of the week...

My husband got yesterday off and he spent it smoking ribs in the smoker I bought him for our anniversary seven years ago.

And I watched a lot of TV...  House Hunters International, especially.  It made me want to pack my bags and look for a new place to live outside of the United States.  It also made me feel like drinking bubbly, which I commenced in doing.  We had a nice heavy meal, which resulted in my having to get up in the middle of the night to take a big dump.

It took awhile to get to sleep anyway, mainly because MacGregor the beagle had some ear troubles and I had to fix him up by cleaning the gunk out of his ears and give him some doggie Benedryl.  It's amazing how fast that stuff works on dogs.  Within minutes after taking it, he was settling down and falling into slumber.

And now it's Thursday and I need to get back into some kind of groove, but can't really be bothered.

The 4th of July is better when it's near the weekend.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The narcissistic family... a mini cult

Living with a narcissist is like being a member of a mini cult.  Narcissists require anyone within their sphere to follow their orders, believe what they believe, hate who they hate, and most of all, show them the deference they think they deserve.  If you dare not to give the narcissist in your life the props they think they deserve, there will be hell to pay.  The less accomplished a narcissist is on the outside of the cult, the more he or she demands complete subservience and devotion to his or her causes.  Try to go astray and you will quickly find yourself punished.  Do what the narcissist says and you might be rewarded... or maybe you won't.

My husband and I have seen this phenomenon as we've observed his ex wife, a true narcissist if we've ever seen one.  She has five kids ranging in age from 24-5.  The 24 year old got married last year.  My husband noticed that his former stepson's wife now lists her hometown as the city where his ex wife now lives, thousands of miles from where the young man and his wife had been living.

I met my husband's former stepson's wife a few years ago.  Back then, she seemed only mildly indoctrinated.  She let some of her true feelings slip about my husband's ex wife.  Sometimes she expressed support for the ex, sounding a bit like she'd been heavily coached; but she also seemed to have some awareness of what was going on.  When I heard that she and my husband's former stepson got married, I felt some dread for her.  Because I knew that now that she was married, she would be trapped into the mini cult.  

As a 24 year old man, my husband's ex stepson and new wife could live anywhere in the country they want to.  Yet he's now living close to his mother.  I'm sure she pressured him into moving, probably because he's had some trouble finding work... or maybe because she laid a guilt trip on him.  The young man has brought his young bride to where the ex lives, away from her comfort zone.  I remember so well six years ago, when my husband's ex stepson and his now wife talked about how they avoided his mother's house because "there was no life there."  They talked about the ex's current husband, and how he berated the girlfriend's choice in clothes, claiming that she dressed like a slut.  It didn't seem like they had great affection for the ex and her new husband.  In fact, they seemed a lot more connected to the girlfriend's parents.  For that reason, I'm thinking they moved because they felt they had to.

So now the ex stepson's new wife can look forward to her mother-in-law overstepping her boundaries, making snide comments, telling lies about her, trying to drive a wedge between her and her friends and loved ones, and if she ever has a baby, fighting over her child.  I suspect the marriage will be fraught with difficulties and will eventually end in a nasty divorce.  It may take years, but I think the marriage is doomed... unless my former stepson's wife has either completely surrendered herself or by some miracle, the ex leaves her alone.  The young wife did not strike me as the type of person who would do that and I know for a fact that the ex will meddle.

As painful as it's been to be a stepmother to the ghost kids my husband had with his ex wife, I think it would be much worse to be the daughter-in-law to my husband's ex wife.  Very soon, that young woman will find out the real truth about my husband's ex wife and will experience her nastiness firsthand-- the lies she tells, the wedges she constantly tries to drive between the people in her life.  And if she tries to leave the mini cult, she will be on the outside, perhaps without any offspring she's created.  

I know this post sounds dramatic and I wish it were hyperbole.  I have been watching for almost ten years and have seen the pattern over generations.  Sadly, that's the way it is when you're dealing with a narcissist.  You're either with them or against them.  Neither position is a comfortable place to be in.  You're either strong enough to break free and go your own way with no contact, or you stay in the cult and surrender yourself to the narcissist.