Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Offensive Facebook "friends"...

I unfriended a Facebook contact today.  I think he got added courtesy of a beer drinking group I'm in.  I wasn't actually friends with him.  From what I could see, he lived in New Zealand.  For a Kiwi, he was quite antagonistic.

I posted about Clayton Lockett, the guy whose execution was botched in Oklahoma yesterday.  This guy from New Zealand made a rather flippant comment.  I tolerated his comments for awhile.  It's not generally my policy to unfriend people who simply disagree with me, even if I find the way they disagree rude.  I decided to unfriend him when he told one of my real life friends to go fuck himself.  It started to feel like the New Zealander was being a troll, so I figured it would be best to "sever" the friendship as it were.

This was all going on as Bill and I were eating lunch at an Olive Garden.  I don't generally make a habit of eating at the Olive Garden.  One reason I don't eat there has to do with the fact that I've enjoyed real Italian food.  A second reason is because I've come to hate American chain restaurants.  The portions are too big and the servers are too solicitous and fake.  The third reason is because I once fainted in an Olive Garden.  Back in 1993, I was with my underage cousin and her friends and I suddenly got a stomachache.  I was trying to get out of the booth to get to the bathroom and ended up passing out.  It was very embarrassing.  An ambulance was called and everything.  I think I got a mild concussion from hitting my head on the floor.

Anyway, we went today because we had gift cards, which we didn't end up using because the value of the gift card was much more than the value of the lunch and we figured it would be better to use it for dinner sometime.

After lunch, we were on the way home and I asked Bill what he loves about me.  He said, "I love your irreverent sense of humor.  And I love that you're so goddamn smart!  Remember, I used to be married to an idiot!"

I thought about it for a moment and said, "If you were married to an idiot, then anyone you could have married would have looked 'goddamn smart' in comparison."  By the way, I don't disagree that ex is an idiot.  She has proven her idiocy and lunacy on multiple occasions.

On the subject of offensive people, I was reading RfM today and ran across the big brouhaha about Hermana Brookie and the poor guy, Leonard, that she helped baptize into Mormonism.  If you're interested, have a look…  I gotta say, I don't generally follow missionary blogs, but Hermana Brook's was a doozy.  If you ever needed an example of someone who doesn't think before she expresses herself, her now defunct blog might be a good one to read.  What I found most disturbing, though, wasn't so much the rude comments she was making about Leonard.  It was the pervasive attitude coming through loud and clear that she thinks her religious beliefs make her more special and powerful than the average person.  I know this is what some churches teach their followers… it's part of the hook that keeps people drinking the Kool-Aid… but to be someone of such obviously normal intelligence and yet be so clueless is really scary.  This lady is 22 years old and she thinks believing in Joseph Smith's fraud makes her somehow more evolved than everyone else is.

Speaking of annoying people… Marie Osmond just came on TV to pitch Nutrisystem.  I'd like her to get off my TV.  But would I rather watch her or Jillian Michaels?  I think Marie might win that round…  Jillian is way more irritating in my view.

Another icky death penalty case...

Last night, I read about former Oklahoma inmate Clayton Lockett, who was put to death yesterday for his part in the murder of 19 year old Stephanie Neiman.  In 1999, Lockett shot Neiman with a sawed off shotgun and watched two accomplices bury her alive after Neiman and a friend arrived at a home the men were in the process of robbing.  To be sure, the crime Lockett committed was horrible and he deserved to be punished.  And punished he was yesterday, when the State of Oklahoma put him to death.

Lockett's execution did not go as planned.  Ten minutes after the lethal injection was administered, Lockett fell unconscious.  Then, he apparently blew a vein and the execution went awry.  He ultimately died of a heart attack after the execution.  Apparently, the scene of the execution was gruesome and the blinds had to be lowered so the witnesses wouldn't see Lockett straining to raise his head, clenching his teeth, and writhing.

I hate reading the comments on stories like this one.  People are justifiably outraged by what Mr. Lockett did to Stephanie Neiman.  But there is something very bloodthirsty and sick about the way some people celebrate executions.  I don't necessarily have a lot of sympathy for Lockett.  He probably deserved to die.  However, I have a problem with state sanctioned homicides.  I just find the idea of executions sick and barbaric.

According to an article in the Christian Science Monitor, four percent of people sent to death row are innocent.  Maybe that doesn't sound like a huge number of people to you… and it's not, unless you or a loved one happen to be among the four percent of innocent people who land on death row.  Sometimes the innocent people are exonerated and eventually released from prison, but not all of them are.  Sometimes their sentences are reduced to life in prison or they do, in fact, end up executed.

I can see executions in a case when a person is so dangerous that taking them out of the world would be a service to the public.  But so many criminals sit on death row for many years.  Lockett got fifteen years… and in those years, he cost the people of Oklahoma a lot of money in court and the extra security needed to keep him on death row.  Then, when he finally was executed, it went wrong and some people now see him in a sympathetic light.  I think executions give criminals a platform and infamy that they don't deserve.

Anyway, I can't say I am completely opposed to the death penalty.  I think it's appropriate when a person truly is a danger to other people and there's no question of his or her guilt.  For instance, I think it was probably appropriate the John Allen Muhammed, aka The Beltway Sniper, was executed.  I think it was appropriate that Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh was executed.  Perhaps it was appropriate that Clayton Lockett was executed, too.  But I really think that the states where the death penalty applies ought to get their shit together.

The death penalty needs to be a very rarely imposed sentence that is only done in extreme cases.  They should be done for the sake of public safety only.  Executions should not be turned into a spectacle for the public's entertainment.  They should be carried out with no fanfare or press, quickly, and only when there is absolutely no question of the person's guilt.          

And really, I think until we have the system perfected and no innocent person stands a chance of being put to death, we probably ought to be like the rest of the civilized countries in the world and do away with executions altogether.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

The pain of job hunting...

So Bill got the bad news yesterday that the people in New York didn't choose him for the job he was interviewing for.  He got a call from the recruiter yesterday morning, which I thought was very respectful.  Usually, where there's a rejection, they send a letter or an email.  Anyway, the recruiter encouraged Bill to stay in touch, because they company has other divisions that could use his skills.  In fact, both recruiters he dealt with were in touch with him and one said she would send his resume directly to the Seattle office.  All in all, I'd say as rejections from employers go, this one was very kind and personal.

Still, Bill was upset about it, so he spent a good portion of yesterday applying to more jobs and setting up a few other things.  I brought up to him that even if he had gotten the job, he actually has a lot going on right now.  He's going to visit his dad and stepmother this weekend because it's his dad's birthday.  He has to finish his classes for the cyber security program he's been working on for two years and those won't be done until late June.  We were hoping to take a "hop", though we may not do that if it looks like his looming unemployment will be extended.  I have no wish to go bankrupt.    

Bill also needs to have a sleep study done because he has symptoms of sleep apnea.  This is a pretty serious thing.  My dad has had sleep apnea for years and he's had five sleep studies, plus laser surgery that removed his uvula.  Bill's symptoms are not as bad as my dad's were.  For instance, my dad snores loudly enough to wake the dead.  I used to be able to hear him through the walls.  Bill doesn't snore much at all.  However, he does sometimes wake up gasping and sputtering for breath and most nights, he's pretty useless after about 8:30pm.  He also has a hard time staying asleep.  He always has.

A lot of it is probably from anxiety and the residual trauma of life with his ex wife and abandonment by his kids.  Some of it might be from his time in Iraq, though he's had trouble sleeping the whole time we've been married.  Sometimes he has nightmares.  If it turns out Bill has sleep apnea, the Army will issue him a CPAP machine and he'll automatically get 50% disability rating, which could be a great thing in terms of his job search.  Being that "disabled" gives him a hiring preference for government jobs.

Another job fair is coming up soon, too.

This was just the first job interview/rejection, though, and I fear it's going to be tough going.  At least my teeth are fixed.  

Monday, April 28, 2014

Just to prove how mature I am...

I actually went looking for a comment I left for a visitor to this blog last year.  The woman whose comment prompted obscenities from me had been harassing me on my Jessica McCord post and was actually the reason I closed comments on that particular blog posting.  I just got tired of arguing with her.  She kept telling me that she was an "academic" and that I shouldn't be arguing with her because, armed with her statistics and alleged degrees, obviously she knew better about my situation than I do…

Anyway, when she came back to my blog and left me a shaming comment on a post I wrote about a dream my husband had, I fired back with profanity.  I wrote that it was obvious she didn't read my blog in its entirety and was basing her comments about me and my husband on that Jessica McCord post.  She hadn't read the rest of the blog, didn't know our story, and therefore didn't know what she was writing about.

Perhaps it may not seem like it, but I don't actually enjoy cursing at people who comment on my blogs. It usually takes a few stabs before I will respond with profanity, though an egregiously rude comment may cause me to swear sooner than that.  I actually enjoy swearing, but I try to be respectful to people unless they invite me not to be by attacking my or my husband's character.  Then I don't mind dropping a few choice words.

At the time of this incident, I was kind of upset about it.  Now I'm amused.  It can be very liberating to swear at people who ask for it.  And then, I typed the words "fuck you" in a search engine and came upon this hilarious Web site.  Now, just so you know, this is not a site that is safe for work or for your kids to see…  but if you enjoy profanity and are curious about how to curse in different languages, you may find it interesting reading.

In other news, Bill just told me that his recent interview was unsuccessful, though the team didn't completely shitcan his resume.  It will be redistributed in the Seattle area, perhaps for a position in a different department.  We'll see.  I had a feeling it wouldn't be as easy as it seemed.  It's nice that they let him know, though.  I think he made a good impression.

We'll keep looking.


Lost in Bloomingdale's...

Yesterday, as I wrote about graduation season, I was reminded of another dramatic event from my youth.  It actually took a long time to get over this particular trauma in the years after it happened, but yesterday was the first time I'd thought of it in a long while.

I was six or seven years old.  We lived in Fairfax, Virginia, which is a suburb of the Washington, DC area.  At the time of this incident, my sister, Becky, was about seventeen or eighteen.  We generally got along, though she had a tendency to be moody and would get very upset and angry whenever the mood struck.

Anyway, one day she decided she wanted to go to Bloomingdale's at Tyson's Corner, which is a huge shopping mall in northern Virginia.  For some odd reason, she decided to take me with her.  My parents had company coming over.  Maybe that's why she took me… they may have told her to get me out of the house as a condition of driving the car.

So we went to Bloomingdale's and they had a kids' area where there were books and toys.  Becky told me to stay there and read while she went shopping.  I stayed there for awhile.  I really don't know how long.  It could have been a few minutes or an hour.  I was a kid and a few minutes probably seemed like an eternity to me.  All I know is that at some point, I got bored and decided to go look for my sister.

I started wandering around, but I couldn't find Becky.  Before too long, I got lost.  I started to cry.  Eventually, a matronly looking black woman approached me.  She said, "Little girl, are you lost?"

I was sobbing uncontrollably, but managed to tell the nice lady that I couldn't find my sister.

She said, "Come with me."

I followed the lady, who turned out to be a plain clothesed security guard.  She took me to her tiny office and called my parents, who said they'd be right there to pick me up.  Meanwhile, Becky was still out there in the store, looking at the latest fashions.

The security guard took me to what must have been a room designated for lost children.  All I remember about it was that there were couches and a nurse worked there.  Why there was a nurse working at Bloomingdale's, I'll never know.  It was the 70s, though.  Maybe she just looked like a nurse.  I remember she wore a white uniform that resembled a nurse's outfit of that era.

The security guard finally found Becky, who was furious with me and swore she'd never take me anywhere again.  She kept asking the "nurse" why they hadn't paged her.  The nurse said they didn't have a paging system in the store.

My dad eventually showed up at the mall.  He had his friend with him.  They were chuckling about my frightening ordeal.   I remember being very worried about Becky being so mad at me for wandering off.  Had this scenario happened today, God knows what kind of invasions that would have invited into our home.  I'm sure someone would have called CPS!  Not that I would have agreed with that, of course.

It was a scary incident when I was a kid, but I survived it mostly unscathed… and Becky did eventually forgive me and take me on other outings.  She even joined me in Europe when I was traveling there on the way home from Armenia.  Given how certain parts of that trip turned out, maybe it would have been better if she'd kept her promise not to travel with me anymore…

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Pain and suffering...

I just read about a very fucked up court case in the works.  According to the Toronto Sun, 42 year old Sharlene Simon, mother of three and SUV driver, is suing 17 year old Brandon Majewski, Brandon's family, and his friends.  Why?  Because Simon is suffering "psychological distress" after having killed Brandon and injuring his two friends while they were riding their bikes.

At around 1:30am on October 28, 2012, Brandon and his friends mounted their bikes to go get some hot dogs. It was dark and drizzly outside and in the wee hours of the morning.  Ms. Simon came upon them in her SUV and struck them from behind.  Majewski was killed, while his 16 year old friend Richard McLean suffered a broken pelvis and other bones.  Other friend, 16 year old Jake Roberts, only sustained some scratches.

Besides suing Brandon, his parents, and his friends and their families for improper biking, Simon is suing the County of Simcoe for "failing to maintain the road".  Simon is claiming psychological suffering, including depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress, and irritability and she's demanding $1.35 million.  Brandon's parents and stepparents are absolutely devastated.  Worse yet, Majewski's older brother, Devon, died six months after the funeral having overdosed on pills.

Sharlene Simon was speeding, though no Breathalyzer test was done at the scene of the accident.  Her car was damaged in the accident, though she at least has the good fortune of still being alive.  Simon is also being sued for funeral and medical costs.  It could be that countersuits are common in situations like this one… though it does seem really crazy that she would claim damages when someone was killed.

Granted, my information about this case is coming from a news article and there may be much more to the story than what I've read.  It still seems shockingly wrong that someone would be so callous to sue the bereaved parents of a child… especially when the litigant is the cause of the boy's death.  But then, perhaps more facts will come out that explain this lawsuit in better detail.  Hopefully, justice will prevail.

It's graduation season!

Apologies if I've posted about this before… I probably have, but I think it's a story that bears repeating. This is not a happy story, so skip it if you prefer something cheery.

Since it is graduation season, I feel impressed to write about an incident that occurred in the year 2003, when I had the great "fortune" to attend two graduation ceremonies.  My own grad school graduation from the University of South Carolina occurred in May 2002.  I guess 2003 was the payback year.

Picture it.  It's late April 2003.  Bill and I live in a shitty apartment in Fredericksburg, Virginia.  Bill is about to get his master's degree from Webster University.  My sister, Becky, was about to get her master's degree from American University.  Both ceremonies were going to be held at the American University campus.  American University also happens to be where Bill got his undergraduate degree back in the mid 80s.

My parents were still mostly functional in 2003.  My dad's mental state was starting to slide a bit, but he was 70 years old and still pretty "with it".  Though my parents had lived in northern Virginia for a couple of years, my mom didn't feel comfortable driving up there anymore.  Becky realized that Bill and I lived close enough to the DC area that she could call upon us for a favor.  She asked us to play chauffeur for our parents.  They would drive to our shitty Fredericksburg apartment and Bill would drive us to Becky's graduation ceremony at American.

Now… I knew what was up.  Becky had phrased her "invitation" in such a way that it sounded like she cared if we were there to celebrate with her.  And, I'm sure on some level, she did want us there because we're family.  But really, it was about her wanting our parents to attend and knowing they wouldn't show up if Bill and I didn't drive them.  At that time of my life, I was less assertive than I am now.  Still, I knew what she was up to.  She was asking a favor of us and expecting me to say yes out of familial obligation.  And Bill, being a brand new son-in-law wanting to make good with my parents, was all too willing to be the driver.  So though I knew we were being used, we agreed to help Becky and my parents, knowing that we were going to get a lovely lunch at 1789 for our trouble.  1789 is a very nice restaurant in Georgetown; in fact, it's where Bill presented me with my engagement ring the previous year.

So, graduation day rolls around.  It's early May and the weather is fine.  Mom and Dad come to our apartment and Bill drives my mom's land yacht to Washington, DC.  We park and go to a gymnasium, which is where the ceremony is being held.  My parents seat themselves a couple of rows ahead of us.  Bill and I sit with Becky's boyfriend, Steve.

We were chatting quietly among ourselves.  It was a gym, after all, and people were yelling, clapping, ringing cowbells, and using air horns to congratulate the graduates.  Somehow, we had the misfortune of sitting near the single biggest northern Virginia/DC area cunt on the planet.  Apparently, our quiet conversation bothered her.  She complained to my parents, specifically about me.  I was surprised she knew we were with them, since they weren't sitting with us.  But my mom said, "We can hear you." in my direction.

We quieted down; but again, it wasn't exactly a dignified event.  We listened to the graduation speeches and then the noise level kicked up again.  The massively cunty woman in front of us objected again and said something to my parents.  Why she didn't just turn around and speak to me personally, I will never know.  It would have been the smartest and most adult thing to do.  But she didn't… she took her issues to my parents, who felt compelled to correct me.

Anyway, my father suddenly turns around and roars at me loudly enough for everyone in the vicinity to hear him, "Shut up!  You're DISTURBING people!"

How I felt when my dad screamed at me at my sister's graduation...

At that moment, I was completely consumed with fury.  I gave what Bill has described as an absolutely murderous look to my father and the bitch who was sitting near us.  I'm pretty sure if looks could kill, they both would have died instantly.  As it was, I'm certain the look in my eyes conveyed to that horrible bitch and her pansy male companion that I hoped she got into a fiery car crash on her way home from the graduation.  I then got up and stormed out of the gym, mortified and livid.

Here I was, dressed up and sitting in that fucking gym, not even really wanting to be there, but doing a favor for my parents and my sister.  Moreover, I was being no more disruptive than anyone else at the graduation, including the two men I was sitting with; and I was almost 31 years old, being spoken to like a six year old by my father in a way that was absolutely uncalled for.

Bill came after me and found me absolutely beside myself with rage.  I was so furious that I told him I wanted to leave right then and there.  He was trying hard to get me to calm down while at the same time trying to figure out how we were going to escape the graduation without a vehicle.  Getting back to Fredericksburg without my parents' car would have involved taking a train or bus or renting a car.  Owing to the massive child support Bill was paying, we were pretty broke at the time and really didn't have the money to rent a car or buy train tickets.  So he was trying hard to get me to calm down and go through with the lunch at 1789.

After about a half an hour of deep breathing and venting, I finally calmed down and we found my family.  I was still feeling really pissed at my dad.  I went to the ladies room and Bill was left there with my mom, who went into damage control mode.  She suggested that we sweep this under the rug and just try to have a nice lunch.  Bill, being my biggest supporter, explained that I had a perfect right to be pissed off at my dad for the way he treated me in public.  His reaction was unreasonable and he humiliated me.  Even Becky's boyfriend, Steve, stuck up for me and said he felt my father's reaction was way out of line.

Somehow, we got in the car and I was sitting in the front seat.  Bill was being nice to my dad, but I was still enraged.  Poor Bill got my claws at one point as we were making our way to the restaurant.

It happened to be Mother's Day, and the restaurant was giving out potted impatiens flowers to all mothers.  When they gave one to me, my dad helpfully piped up with "You're not a mother."

I said, "I am a stepmother."  I took the flower and proceeded to have a sumptuous lunch on my dad's dime.  I had steak and eggs, champagne, two whiskey sours, and dessert.  Bill caught my eye as I casually ran up a big bill.  I made sure my father literally paid for being an asshole to me in public.  Bill knew exactly what I was doing… and I think he approved, even though today I realize it was a pretty passive aggressive thing to do.  Talking to my dad rationally about what he had done and how it made me felt would have done no good.  In my dad's eyes, he had the perfect right to discipline me in any way he saw fit, even though I was almost 31 years old and married.

This is the same man who, while roaring drunk, felt it was appropriate to slap me across the face when I was almost 21 years old and the whole family was staying together at a beach house.  He slapped me because he felt I needed to be knocked down to a lower level.  To my credit, I did tell him that he had no right to hit me and if he ever laid another finger on me, I would have him arrested.  To his credit, he never has struck me again, though there were times when he threatened to.  My reminder that I would be calling the police always seemed to get him to back off and simmer down.

The following week, I attended Bill's graduation by myself.  Afterwards, we went back to 1789 and enjoyed a more modest celebration lunch, but it was a hell of a lot more pleasant, even if we had to deal with a couple of drivers near the Key Bridge who were intent on cutting in front of us.

I do love my family, but variations of the above scenario has happened to me more times than I can count.  Someone in my family will ask me for a favor of some sort or want me to attend a family event, and then it turns into a huge drama.  I find myself in a situation in which I feel forced to swallow abusive or embarrassing behavior or I find myself regressing to that kind of behavior myself.  They wonder why I don't want to do things with them anymore.  The scenario I just described is why I avoid family gatherings whenever I can.  I'm just getting too old for that kind of shit.

2003 was an exceptionally dramatic year, but it did give me the balls to stand up to Bill's ex wife and anyone else who seeks to treat me with disrespect.  Of course, at this point, I realize my dad was probably in the early stages of dementia and that was likely affecting his behavior.  But truly, he has treated me like that for most of my life… with disrespect and condescension.  I simply can't tolerate it anymore.

Awkward family photo…  I think my dad must have threatened us with the belt.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

If you're going to stage dive into a crowd...

make sure someone is prepared to catch you!  I'm guessing the guy in the above video didn't have such a good afternoon.  He just went "splat"!

Yesterday, I was watching School of Rock and Jack Black was playing a frustrated rock star who poses as a teacher at a private school.  Since he doesn't know the first thing about teaching kids, he starts teaching the kids about rock music and they eventually end up playing a concert.  He successfully stage dives and it's an epic moment… kind of like this classic ad he did for Nickelodeon.  Obviously, Jack Black is a frustrated rock star at heart.

Watching that scene reminded me of an incident at my college back in the early 90s.  I was at a fraternity party.  It was held in a big party room on campus, because it was a fundraiser for a philanthropy.  Every year, Tau Kappa Epsilon threw what was known as the "Safe Sex" party.  They sold t-shirts.

Anyway, that particular year, there was a stage in the party room.  Some guy got the bright idea to do a stage dive.  Apparently, people knew he was going to do it.  Unfortunately, he decided to throw in a flip at the last minute…  Think about it.  Dark room.  Loud music.  Drunk people.  Stage diving.  You might guess that it was a disaster.  It was.

I mentioned this incident on Facebook and one of the guy's fraternity brothers (and a friend of mine) piped up and said people weren't expecting the flip and moved out of the way when they saw the guy coming at them feet first.  Instead of catching the fun loving frat boy, the crowd parted like the Red Sea.  Let me just say, he hit the floor with a sickening thud and the party was pretty much over after that.  An ambulance came, but I didn't stick around to watch the aftermath of that disastrous stage dive.

This is not something I ever had any desire to do…

I worked at a church camp around the same time period and couldn't even bring myself to do "trust falls"…  Some of my colleagues were happy to do them off of picnic tables, but I couldn't even do it on the ground.  There was just too much of a chance my trust would be misplaced and I'd end up with busted teeth and a concussion like my friend's fraternity brother.  I'm grateful to have a healthy sense of self preservation.


Friday, April 25, 2014

A university diploma is just a piece of sheepskin designed to cover one's intellectual nakedness...

A Facebook friend posted this today.  A few snarky comments were made, including the one that I used to title this post.  Whenever I see someone posting something like this, I can't help but think the reason they're posting it is because they're trying to denigrate someone who had the good fortune to attend an institution of higher learning.  I'm generally not impressed by that attitude.  To me, it sort of signifies sour grapes.  If you didn't go to school and you're happy with your choice, why would you need to tear someone else down for their choice to go to school?  If you aren't saddled with a shitload of student loans and are able to make a living that satisfies you without benefit of a college degree, you should be glad and even proud of that fact, not crapping on people who chose to attend college.

Granted, I do understand that there are plenty of people out there with degrees who aren't very bright.  I know that having a degree doesn't actually mean you are any smarter or better than someone who doesn't have one.  Plenty of people have made a name for themselves without having had benefit of college.  What a degree does say is that the person who earned it had enough self-discipline and tenacity to complete a degree program.  It also means that they somehow came up with the money to go to school-- perhaps it means they got the money from their parents, but it also might mean that they worked hard or took out loans so they could formally educate themselves.  It means they hoped for and invested in what they thought might lead them to a "better life".  Most people can't afford to attend college just for shits and giggles.  They go to school because they hope it will lead them to something more than a dead end job.

Obviously, there are many professions that require graduation from a university.  In today's world, you can't be a doctor or a lawyer if you haven't been to college.  You can't be a social worker or a psychologist or a teacher or a certified public accountant if you haven't been formally academically prepared.  I do realize that there are many professions where that "sheepskin" isn't required.  You can work your way up in plenty of jobs, though it might take longer and you might have a harder time finding someone to give you a chance.  I certainly don't have to be college educated for what I do.

Many people go to school, not just for what they learn in a classroom, but also for social reasons or because they want to meet other peoples' expectations.  My time in school enriched me and broadened my horizons.  And dammit, it wasn't easy to earn those degrees, either.  I worked very hard for them… particularly when I was in graduate school.  It wasn't just the academic work that was difficult; it was living alone and juggling jobs to support myself while I also attended class and made satisfactory progress toward completing my degrees.  Those three years were challenging and worthwhile, though not in the way I expected them to be.  They led me to a good place, though not the place I expected them to lead me.  They presented me with different opportunities and experiences than I might have had if I had not gone to grad school.  Of course, we are now paying for those degrees, but even that experience has been educational.  In fact, I have learned firsthand how paying a little more each month on a student loan can really pay off in the long run.

Life is pretty hard.  It's harder for some people than it is for others.  Everyone has a path to follow.  If your path doesn't lead you to an institution of higher learning and you survive alright, then good for you.  But it really isn't very becoming to accuse someone who went to college as "trying to hide their intellectual nakedness".  In fact, I think it makes you look petty and jealous.  On the other hand, if you run into someone who acts superior just because they went to college, feel free to roll your eyes as hard as you can.  They probably really are "intellectually naked".  But they'd probably be that way if they hadn't gone to college, too.  Some people are just assholes.

I think a lot of people are starting to think of higher education as a "scam".  People think they have to get a degree, but they aren't sure what they want to study.  They go to school, try something, and hate it.  They drop out, which is bad news if they've taken out student loans.  They find out that being unsuccessful in college and dropping out doesn't mean that the loans go away.  For some people, going to college is a big mistake.  For others, I say that going to college is a good thing… as long as you are prepared for the challenge and can afford to go.  And if that's the case, no one should be putting you down for making that choice.  I loved my years in school… I got more out of them than I put in, even if I am now "The Overeducated Housewife".

According to 7th Heaven, if you don't go to college, your life will go down the toilet!

For the record, this particular storyline on 7th Heaven did make me roll my eyes.  I think Mary was smart not to go to college until she knew what she wanted to study.  Nowadays, going to school to "find yourself" can ultimately end up leading down a road to financial ruin.  And for some people, a technical track is a better fit anyway.  Why spend time and money on general ed classes if you don't have a goal in mind?

Anyway, that's my rant for the day… so far at least.

By the way, Bill's interviews in New York seemed to go very well.  Even if he doesn't get a job offer, I think it was a worthwhile endeavor.  At the very least, he was able to go to Eataly and buy me some Italian hot chocolate mix.  ;)

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Review of Betty Broderick, My Mom: The Kim Broderick Story

I just finished Betty Broderick, My Mom: The Kim Broderick Story, a book by Nanette Elkins.  This is a book about Betty and Daniel Broderick written from the perspective of the couple's eldest daughter, Kim.  Elkins was a friend of Kim Broderick's and, in the introduction, claims that they had a major book deal years ago.  The deal eventually fell through, though, and Elkins lost touch with Kim.  I got the sense that Elkins was one of those people you have to work to get rid of; she published a couple of texts from Broderick that seemed as if she wanted her to leave her alone.

I guess Elkins decided to publish the book anyway.  Oddly enough, I can't find it on Amazon now, even though I bought it less than two weeks ago.  I'm guessing the reason might be because it's not a very good book. Indeed, here is a comment supposedly left on Amazon by Kim Broderick…

This is NOT my story, April 13, 2014

By Kim Broderick

This review is from: Betty Broderick, My Mom: The Kim Broderick Story (Kindle Edition)

I absolutely did not write this book. I have not authorized it or approved of its publication. In fact, I had no idea it was coming out. I have had no contact with the author in over four and a half years. I have no interest in getting my story out there or exposing my family to any more public scrutiny or pain. Yes, years ago Nanette penned the manuscript for a book, with the idea of putting out something that could encourage others dealing with tumultuous family situations and hardship. At the end of the day, I ultimately decided against completing and publishing it. It is inaccurate, it depicts individuals and events in a distorted light, and it does not represent my feelings, beliefs, or truth. The author has invaded my privacy, defamed my character, and caused much hurt and sadness. Further, she has used the name and likeness of my children without my consent. I would strongly request that she take this book down as soon as possible and encourage you not to buy it.

Who are/were Betty and Daniel Broderick?  

In case you haven't heard of this notorious couple, Betty and Daniel Broderick were once a golden couple in San Diego, California.  Daniel Broderick was a very well known malpractice lawyer, mainly owing to his degrees in medicine and law.  Betty was his wife, who supposedly suffered long and hard to put her husband through school, give him four children, and help him achieve his brilliant career.

There was a movie made about Betty Broderick, who became the ex wife from hell when she and her husband divorced.  Dan Broderick married his former secretary, Linda Kolkena, which enraged Betty.  She engaged in outrageous tactics to harass him, from breaking into his home and vandalizing his property, to driving her car into Dan's house, to finally murdering him and his second wife, Linda, as they slept.

In 1991, Betty Broderick was convicted of second degree murder of her ex husband, Daniel Broderick, and his wife, Linda Kolkena Broderick.  She was sentenced to 32 years to life, which she is now serving in California.

My thoughts on Elkins' book

In all honesty, I wasn't very impressed with Betty Broderick, My Mom: The Kim Broderick Story.  Although Elkins managed to write it in a way that suggested it was coming from Kim Broderick, she didn't write in a way that suggested that Elkins is a very good writer.  It seems like Elkins didn't bother to have an editor look at the manuscript before she offered it for sale.  There were several incidents of redundancy within the book and I noticed that there were certain words Elkins seemed to enjoy using above all others.  The first one that comes to mind is "obnoxious".  I can't tell you exactly how many times Elkins used that word to describe Betty Broderick, but it was very often and quite noticeable.

While there were some interesting insights within the book that perhaps Elkins gleaned from earlier talks with Kim Broderick, it seemed like she fabricated some of this book through other sources.  I get the sense that she had a partial book in the works after interviews with Kim Broderick and then maybe Kim stopped cooperating, forcing Elkins to look to other books and movies made about the case.  She writes about the made for television film about Betty Broderick which starred Meredith Baxter, but it doesn't seem like she really was involved in that production or knew much more about it than the common viewer.  Moreover, in other parts of the book, including a section in which she describes Broderick having a special visit with her family, it seems like Elkins was filling in the blanks rather than reporting actual facts related to the Broderick story.

Elkins does at least seem to give Broderick an evenhanded look at her parents.  She doesn't paint either party as completely innocent or completely guilty.  But she also reveals some rather unflattering details about Kim Broderick, which, if I were Kim, would really upset me.  She even includes a tidbit about how the bar bill at Kim's wedding was apparently so high that she had to cancel honeymoon plans to go to Big Sur.  I can't imagine what that had to do with the subject matter, except to make Kim Broderick look bad.

In a news article about Elkins' book, there appears another statement from Kim Broderick…

Editor's Note: Kim Broderick provided this response following our initial story:

"I did not write or authorize the book you featured on your program. I have no interest in getting my story out there or exposing my family to any more public scrutiny or pain. Over 5 years ago Nanette penned the manuscript for a book with the idea of putting out something that could encourage others dealing with tumultuous family situations and hardship. Ultimately, I decided against completing and publishing it. The author has invaded my privacy, defamed my character, and broken our agreement that I was to have the final say on where any personal information I shared with her would end up.”

So obviously, this is an unauthorized book and the facts may be stretched a bit.  But even if it had been a book published with Broderick's permission, it's just poorly written, with a number of typos and awkward sentences, and it needs a good editing to remove some of the more rambling passages and redundancies.  I have a hard time believing any major publisher really ever considered printing this book, but if Elkins was truthful about that claim, I can see why the book deal ultimately fell through.

It looks like this book is no longer available, but if it were still out there, I would not recommend it.  

Weird murder stories from my college town...

Last night, while lying alone in bed, I re-posted on Facebook an old blog post I wrote last year about Farmville, Virginia, the town where I went to college.  Most people who have been to Farmville would say it's kind of like Mayberry.  It's a rural town in south central Virginia surrounded by beautiful country… lots of trees, nice people, and the Appomattox River.  I enjoyed my four years at Longwood College, now known as Longwood University.  Twenty years post graduation, I still have a lot of friends from my college days.  Last night, we were reminiscing about Farmville.

My friend Donna reminded me of a bizarre murder that took place there just five years ago.  I remembered it well, actually, because only a few days ago I was trying to find out if anything new had happened to the perpetrator of a quadruple homicide in Farmville.  It happened in September 2009, just as Bill and I were coming back from Germany.  Dr. Debra Kelley, a sociology professor from Longwood, was about to go on sabbatical.  Her estranged husband, Mark Niederbrock, was a local pastor at a Presbyterian church.  They had a 15 year old daughter named Emma who was a fan of "horrorcore" music.

That September, the family went to Michigan with Melanie Wells, one of Emma's friends, and a young man named Richard "Sam" McCroskey, who had come to visit from California.  McCroskey was an aspiring horrorcore/rap musician who went by the name "Syko Sam".  He and Emma had met online.

After the trip to Michigan, the group went back to Farmville.  Dr. Kelley had a house on First Avenue, which is very close to campus.  Apparently, despite her background in sociology and criminal justice, Kelley was not suspicious of McCroskey.  Looking at his photos, he doesn't seem all that threatening.  In fact, Bill even said the young man resembled him when he was a teen.  Must be the Irish blood.

Evidently, Sam and Emma were dating, though their relationship may have been about to go on the skids.  McCroskey apparently became upset about some text messages Emma sent that indicated they weren't as exclusive as McCroskey expected.  He became very distraught.  Late in the evening on September 14, 2009, McCroskey drank beer, smoked marijuana, and possibly took painkillers.  Then he attacked the three women sleeping in the house.  He started with Melanie Wells, who was sleeping on a sofa, then Dr. Kelley in her upstairs bedroom.  Finally, he attacked his girlfriend, Emma.  All three victims were killed by a maul, a heavy hammer used to drive stakes or wedges.  None of the women woke up as McCroskey carried out his attack.  None had defensive wounds.

Three days later, at about 5:00pm, Mark Niederbrock arrived at the home.  For some reason, McCroskey stayed there with the three dead bodies.  He attacked Niederbrock with the maul.  Then, once his girlfriend's father was dead, he moved his and Wells' bodies into Emma's room and tried to clean up the mess.  At one point, he videotaped himself, saying that he needed to kill himself to pay for what he'd done.

Ultimately, the suicidal feelings passed and McCroskey tried to flee.  He stole Niederbrock's car and was eventually pulled over.  The police officer, unaware of the murders, issued McCroskey a summons for driving without a license, but did not arrest him.  McCroskey was later found sleeping in the baggage claim area at Richmond International Airport.  He was eventually charged with six counts of capital murder.  Though he could have been sentenced to death, he ended up getting life.  He is now at Red Onion, a supermax prison in Pound, Virginia.

I didn't know it until last night, but there was another notorious murder in Farmville years before.  In the year 2000, local businesswomen Suzanne Arena and Susan Varner, who had run a wildly successful antique business in downtown Farmville, were murdered by Susan's ex husband, Reggie Varner.  

I remember their business, Suzi's Antiques, which was located downtown and had all kinds of cool vintage clothes the women had picked up in antique stores all over southern Virginia.  I never went in the store myself, though I had seen the storefront a lot of times.  It never seemed to be open.  But Suzanne Arena and Susan Varner were friends with many famous people because their finds were used in many feature films.  Indeed, I remember in 1992, the movie Sommersby was partially filmed in Farmville and Lexington, Virginia.  Richard Gere, Cindy Crawford, and Jodie Foster were all very temporary Farmville residents when that movie was made.  No doubt, that was what helped Hollywood discover the local antique business, and they eventually started rubbing elbows with the likes of June Carter Cash and Donna Karan.

This was yet another case of a love story gone awry.  Susan was married to Reggie Varner in 1978.  While Suzanne and Susan had their antique business, Varner was a local farmer and apparently very attractive to the ladies.  He was also apparently a bit on the old fashioned side.  It was hard for him when the business took off and his wife started making more money than he did.  He was also allegedly very envious of the close relationship Suzanne and Susan had.  Susan and Reggie divorced in 1996.

When Susan started dating another man and spoke about marrying him, Reggie Varner went off the deep end.  In the course of one violent afternoon in July 2000, Reggie Varner took the lives of his ex wife and her mother with a heavy, sharp instrument…  an axe.  Apparently, Varner was later found incompetent to stand trial.  He died April 15, 2005.              

There are other weird stories about my college town.  For such a small place, there has been quite a lot of intrigue there over the years.  Nevertheless, I enjoyed my time in Farmville and never knew of most of the crazy stuff that happened there.  To me, during my college years, it was a pleasant college town featuring nice people and beautiful countryside…  and it seemed like a very safe place to be.  Perhaps ignorance really is bliss.

Man commits suicide after being broken down by family court system...

Today, I heard the tragic story of Chris Mackney, a father of two who split from his ex wife and then got financially raped by the family court system in Fairfax, Virginia.  He posted a suicide note, which was then posted to a number of Web sites, including A Voice For Men.  After Mr. Mackney's death, his ex wife Dina sicced lawyers on the Web sites who dared to post her ex's suicide note and discuss his demise.  If you follow the link to A Voice For Men, you can read the note in question, since at this writing the site is refusing to take it down.  You can also listen to today's edition of Going Mental, which is a show hosted by Paul Elam of A Voice For Men and Dr. Tara Palmatier.

I have to say, I'm not nearly as jaded about women or marriage as Elam and Dr. T. are.  However, I do agree with a lot of their advice and if I had a son, I would advise him in much the same way they advise men who are listening.  Unfortunately, a lot of the men who are listening are nice guys who have already been burned by extremely vindictive women who make it their mission to screw over their exes.  I think it's a very sad state of affairs… even as I also understand that women get screwed by their ex husbands, too.  I can understand why they offer advice against marriage or even having kids.

You can read Mr. Mackney's blog here. (ETA- Mr. Mackney's blog has now been taken down.  Big surprise!)

For more information on domestic abuse against men, click here.  

I feel lucky that Bill trusted me after his experience with his ex wife.  If I were him, I'd have probably stayed single.


Wednesday, April 23, 2014

A review of A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story...

Since I'm reading Betty Broderick's story as told by her daughter, Kim, I've decided to repost the movie review I did of her life story.  I think I only reviewed the first film.  There were two done.  One was about how Betty Broderick ended up in prison and the other was about how she was convicted of murdering her husband and his second wife.  Naturally, this story is compelling to me, even though from what I can tell from other sources, the movie makes Dan Broderick seem too nice.  Of course, Stephen Collins portrayed him and I think Stephen Collins is kind of a boob, so there you go…

Meredith Baxter portrays Betty Broderick, a woman scorned

 Mar 23, 2011 (Updated Mar 23, 2011)
Review by   
Rated a Very Helpful Review
  • User Rating:Excellent

  • Action Factor: 
  • Special Effects: 
  • Suspense: 

Pros:Meredith Baxter is great as Betty Broderick.

Cons:Stephen Collins is too nice as Dan Broderick.

The Bottom Line:Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned... Thankfully, we have places to lock them up when they go too far.

Since I just read Meredith Baxter's bio, I thought it would be fun to watch one of her many made-for-television movies.  It so happened that one of Baxter's most notorious flicks, A Woman Scorned: The Betty Broderick Story, was uploaded in its entirety on YouTube.  Naturally, I had to watch it and see Meredith Baxter portray the infamous murderer Betty Broderick.  It was a role completely opposite of Baxter's turn on the hit sit-com, Family Ties and it also satisfied my love of true crime films featuring psycho women.

Who is Betty Broderick?  

For sixteen years, Betty Broderick was the loyal wife of Dan Broderick, one of Southern California's most prominent medical malpractice lawyers.  Raised a strict Catholic, Betty Broderick believed in marriage for life.  She reportedly worked very hard to raise the four children she had with Dan Broderick and give him a beautiful home.  She also reportedly worked hard so that he could attend both medical school and law school.  As both a physician and a lawyer, Dan Broderick was a force to be reckoned with in the courtroom.  By Betty Broderick's rather hysterical account, he couldn't have achieved that success without her.

Despite his brilliance in the courtroom, by many accounts, Dan Broderick was also a bit of a scumbag.  In the early 80s, he hired a beautiful blonde 21 year old named Linda Kolkena to work as his assistant at his law firm.  Despite the fact that Linda couldn't type and had little experience, Dan paid her lavishly and it wasn't long before they were having a very public affair.

Betty Broderick evidently felt pushed aside as Dan reportedly fooled around with his young lover, but she wasn't one to take such shenanigans lying down.  While Dan Broderick carried on with his girlfriend, Betty Broderick carried on with his personal property, setting fire to his clothes, smearing Boston Creme Pie all over their bed, and eventually driving a car into the front of Dan's house.  Dan and Betty got divorced and Betty was served with many restraining orders, but Betty continued her harassment, breaking into his home, vandalizing his property, and attempting to alienate their children and mutual friends.

When Dan and Linda eventually married, Betty Broderick completely snapped.  On the morning of November 5, 1989, she visited the newlyweds in their expensive home and shot them both as they slept, killing them.  After two trials, one of which ended in a hung jury, Betty Broderick was convicted of two counts of second degree murder.  By all reports I've read, she has yet to express any remorse.  Nevertheless, a lot of people feel Betty Broderick was perfectly justified in what she did and even today, she serves as sort of a role model/heroine to disenfranchised women.  She's even been held up as an example in women's shelters as someone who invested too much in a relationship.

The film version of the "war of the Brodericks"

A Woman Scorned was not originally aired on the Lifetime Movie Network, but it was destined to become a staple of that channel.  Stephen Collins (of 7th Heaven fame) portrays Dan Broderick, with Baxter playing his wife, Betty, and Michelle Johnson playing Linda Kolkena Broderick.  One interesting aspect of watching a film like A Woman Scorned on YouTube is that people leave comments.  Many people who had followed the Betty Broderick case claim that the film version made Dan Broderick out to be a much nicer guy than he actually was.  Some people also claimed that Linda Kolkena Broderick was, in real life, a "gold-digging hussy".

It's true that the jerkier aspects of Dan Broderick seem to be tempered by Stephen Collins' "nice guy" portrayal.  Even when he's threatening to cut off Betty's alimony for harassing him, he seems sympathetic.  While I don't know the Brodericks personally, I'm guessing that the real Dan was probably much more of a cut-throat bastard with more of a killer instinct.  Most extremely successful malpractice attorneys are like that.

I think Meredith Baxter was an excellent choice to play Betty Broderick.  She pulls off the over-the-top behavior of her character without a hitch.  Betty Broderick supposedly has narcissistic personality disorder.  If that's the case, I think Baxter portrayed that type of person to a tee.  I almost cringed as her character set Dan Broderick's wardrobe on fire on the front lawn of their swanky home and calmly said, "Liar, liar, pants on fire."  It was perfect.

I wasn't as impressed with Michelle Johnson's portrayal of Linda Kolkena Broderick.  She came off as too nice and lady like for the role.  I'm guessing the real Linda wasn't as dignified as the film version of her was.

The Brodericks' children are portrayed by Kelli Williams (Kate Broderick), Jandi Swanson (Debbie Broderick), Aaron Freeman (Grant Broderick), and Jordan Christopher Michael (Tommy Broderick).  The characters' names have been changed from the real Broderick children's names.  I suppose that was to protect their identities, though this case got a lot of coverage on Court TV and is widely written about on the Internet.

My thoughts about Betty Broderick    

As much as I enjoyed A Woman Scorned, I certainly don't condone Betty Broderick's actions, even if the real Dan Broderick was a scumbag.  For one thing, despite her personal sacrifices to aid Dan Broderick's career-- a choice that she apparently made of her own free will-- Betty Broderick comes off as a personality disordered individual.  Even if Dan Broderick cheated on her and dumped her for a younger woman, I could hardly blame him for doing so.  Both the true accounts I've read about this case and the dramatized film version of Betty Broderick make her out to be completely nuts.

For another thing, no matter how rotten Dan and his second wife Linda were to Betty, she had no right to take their lives!  When she killed Dan and Linda, Betty took away her children's father and their home.  She also effectively took away their mother, since she was sentenced to 32 years to life in prison.  I do not applaud her crazy actions, though I have to admit they were entertaining to watch on television as portrayed by Meredith Baxter.  And in her memoir, Baxter admits that playing Betty Broderick was great fun; she initially had sympathy for her, but then learned more about who Betty Broderick is and supposedly changed her mind.

And finally, I wonder how people would react if Dan Broderick had been a woman named Danielle with a husband who had sacrificed everything for her career, only to be dumped by a younger, more handsome model.  I wonder if people would be so eager to champion the cause of a man scorned...   I doubt people would be justifying murder if Danielle Broderick had been killed at the hands of a jealous, vengeful husband.  Indeed, I bet a lot of people would be screaming that the jilted man should be locked up for life.  And indeed, that's the punishment I think Betty Broderick deserves.  Scorned or not, she had absolutely no right to kill.

For kids?   

This is a made-for-TV movie circa 1992, so swearing and smut are somewhat kept to a minimum.  I doubt most kids would be interested in this film and some of the younger ones might be confused by it.  However, I don't think it's a bad film for older kids to see.  If anything, it might serve as a warning against getting too involved with personality disordered people.  It might make a good way to introduce a discussion about relationships with others and choosing the right person to be with.


Yes, A Woman Scorned is typical Lifetime movie fare, but it's still a pretty good film.  I give it four stars.
Recommend this product? Yes

Off he goes!

Bill left early this morning to catch a non-stop flight to New York City.  He doesn't have anything going on tonight, so I told him he should go to Eataly, which is a really neat gourmet food store that has a location in New York.  Bill and I visited the very first Eataly in Torino, Italy when we were on our first trip to Italy together in 2008.  I can't believe how many times we've been lucky enough to get to go to Italy… and other places in Europe, for that matter.

Last night, I watched 19 Kids and Counting.  I shouldn't watch that show because Jim Boob Duggar makes me want to get violent.  He's just such a thoughtless jerk and a bully.  On last night's episode, he brought his huge ass family to Josh and Anna's house in the DC area.  Anna was tasked with cooking dinner for 25 people, which is no easy feat.  Naturally, Jim Boob calls and tells her they will be early, since there was bad weather.

Now… I am pretty certain this was all contrived and, in fact, Anna probably had some help.  And they did add a teaser that probably got people to watch an otherwise boring episode by making it sound like she was going to announce another pregnancy… Josh said Anna had "surprising news", which turned out to be Ma and Pa Duggar's early arrival.  And, of course, Anna burns something, which makes the smoke alarm go off.  Actually, I didn't see that much smoke coming out of the oven and I got the sense that perhaps a "special effects" person made the alarm go off.  At the very least, it seemed very contrived and didn't really put Anna in the most flattering light.

The episode following was a rerun of the mini golf date Jim Boob and Michelle put poor Jessa and Ben through.  Boob comes off like such a massive asshole in that episode, putting the poor lad through the wringer and inserting himself like a vagina blocker.  Meanwhile, Michelle talks in her baby voice… and continually explains to the obviously stupid viewers what "courtship" is.  Duh.

I had stopped watching this show sometime ago, but got back into it when there were new courtships.  Now I'm thinking I probably shouldn't have quit watching Glee.

I don't like it when Bill goes on business trips, but this one is kind of exciting.  I hope it goes well for him.  It's really gratifying to see him so confident and motivated.  He's come a long way since our first in person meeting in 2001.

I remember that very first date.  He showed up at my apartment in South Carolina, wearing khaki pants and a 90s era button down… you know the kind-- cotton and patterned!  I used to sell those shirts in a menswear store in the 90s.  They were kind of fashionable in 1994-- usually boldly colored with paisleys or stripes on them.  By 2001, they were out of style.  I suspect that was another one of the ex's yard sale finds.  He was visibly nervous about meeting me.  And yet, when I opened the door, the first thing I noticed were his big blue eyes and his very kind face.  He gave me a big hug and it was very comfortable.

The date ended early because Bill had to go to work the next morning.  He had come to South Carolina on business.  I wasn't sure about how I felt about him.  I remember him saying it would be hard to go back to just typing after that date.  We had another date before he left to go back to Kansas, where he was posted at the time.  He got moved early to Virginia, which facilitated our ability to date.  So date we did… and the rest is history.

Right now kind of feels a little like that time.  Life is changing again, but I think it's going to be okay.  But I probably ought to stop watching the Duggars.

Bill posted this to illustrate how he's feeling.  I think it's spot on… and one of the more entertaining ads I've seen in a long while...

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Signing out of Fort Sam...

So Bill is taking care of his "final out" at Fort Sam today.  He has to sign his last evaluation and then after that, he's done except for his retirement ceremony and getting us new ID cards that reflect his retired status.  It's a little sad, yet exciting.  I think this could be a good time in Bill's life.  Last time he got out of the Army (back in 1995), he was not at all prepared and saddled with the dead weight of his ex wife.  This time, he's a lot more ready, even if the economy is worse.

Tomorrow morning, he flies to New York City and Thursday, he interviews.  Hopefully, it will go well.  I think if this firm offers him a job, he will probably take it.  It will give him valuable experience in a growing and hot field.  It will also mean moving to a part of the country he knows he loves…  or at least, it may mean that.  Of course, he might also be rejected.  I don't think he will be, though.  This company seems very interested in him and they seem to need people.  LOL… what do I know?

Anyway, at the very least, we want to move to a new house.  It could be in San Antonio or elsewhere.  We just don't want to live here.  This house is in poor shape and located in kind of a yucky neighborhood.  I also think it's overpriced.

My mouth is slowly getting back to normal.  I had terrible canker sores last week, but they are slowly going away… I think it was a hormonal thing.  I also took my blood pressure yesterday.  It does seem a bit higher than it was, though it's not yet dangerously high.  I need to take some steps to lower it, though.  Exercise and less beer drinking would help.  When we lived in North Carolina, I had to walk my dogs every day several times a day.  Here, I can just let them go outside.  I think that's had a big effect on me.

I'm trying to relax and enjoy what should be a time that is as exciting as it is scary.  We really could end up anywhere… and I think Bill is going to do well if he manages to get his foot in the door.  So if you have any spare good vibes this week, send 'em his way.  I'd like him to have a better exit from the Army than he did before.  I like the idea of "do-overs"… and if anyone deserves one, it's him.  I know some people who read this blog might disagree, but anyone who actually knows Bill knows he's a great guy.

By the way, I've been reading a book about Betty Broderick, the crazy wife of Daniel Broderick.  You may remember her story from Meredith Baxter's famously over the top portrayal of her in a movie of the week.  The book was supposedly from eldest daughter Kim's perspective.  I think it was poorly ghostwritten though… the woman who wrote the story definitely needed an experienced editor.  In any case, it makes me realize how bad things could have been for Bill.  At least his ex wife leaves us alone.



Kentucky loses prisoner to starvation...

So I just read the sad story of James Embry, a 57 year old former inmate in the Kentucky State Penitentiary who had three years left of a nine year sentence for drug offenses.  Apparently Mr. Embry had issues with anxiety and for some reason, stopped taking medication in May 2013.  By January 2014, he had starved himself to death.

According to the AP, Embry refused 35 of the last 36 meals he was served, though he would occasionally drink tea.  He weighed 138 pounds when he died at six feet tall, having lost over 30 pounds.  This wasn't a hunger strike, per se.  Embry had wanted to get back on his anxiety meds, but for some reason, the so-called medical staff at the penitentiary denied his request.  This was despite his comments that he had "no hope" and had started banging his head against the door of his cell.    

Maybe I shouldn't have been shocked that the doctor who was in charge of Embry's care at the prison had been sued 103 times since 1992 by inmates and their attorneys.  Despite the many lawsuits, the doctor was drawing about $165,000 a year and was supposedly on vacation when Embry met his maker.  Of course, the prison psychologist and head nurse at the prison also royally fucked up by neglecting this man and his legitimate medical needs.

Maybe it shouldn't surprise me that a lot of people have no empathy for Embry, who was "just a criminal", after all, and apparently had better access to healthcare than regular folks do.  By the way, in case you miss it, I'm being facetious.  I have to wonder what led Embry to drugs in the first place.  Could it be that he had no family or friends?  He was buried in a potter's field near the prison because no one claimed his remains.  Obviously, he was functional when he was on the anti-anxiety medications.  He got off of them and became despondent, suicidal, and self-destructive.

While I wouldn't call myself one to be soft on crime, I do think that prisoners should be treated humanely and with as much dignity as possible.  It sounds like Embry's last months on earth were just unspeakably horrible, given that he had an untreated mental illness.  Maybe death was a blessing for him.  Still, starvation and dehydration is a terrible way to go.  Kentuckians should be ashamed.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Fascinating look at cowards...

The above video is an experiment that shows how people react when they see people abusing a fat woman.  Apparently, most people will walk on by if they see several teenagers harassing an obese woman near the beach.  In all honesty, I probably wouldn't want to get involved in such a scene, either.  On the other hand, it's really hard to fathom that there are too many people out there who would dare to do this kind of bullying to someone they don't know out in public.  You never know who might be packing heat!

What's really sad are the nasty comments on the YouTube video.  Some people are just plain sick.

Apparently, I'm a home wrecker… (old post from 2010)

I originally posted this on Epinions back on New Year's Eve, 2010.  I'm reposting it, because Bill and I were talking about his planned trip to see his father next month.  I will not be going with him because someone needs to take care of the dogs and because, frankly, I don't really feel that welcome there.  Although my father-in-law and his wife intensely dislike Bill's former wife, they still kind of treat me like an interloper, even though I have been married to Bill longer than she was and I treat him much better than she did.

A lot of people seem to think that if you are a woman who marries a man who has been married before, somehow you've wrecked a "happy home".  This piece is about my thoughts on the subject of home wreckers.  I have never thought I was one… and even if I were a home wrecker, the blame shouldn't be placed entirely on me or any other woman.  Most men are not weak willed idiots.  They have a say in what they do or don't do.

Personally, I'm kind of sick of the idea that men are immature kids who can't control themselves.  I have a wonderful husband who is good to me.  All he asks from me is that I love and respect him, which I am proud to do.

When I was getting my teeth cleaned the other day, I remembered an incident with a dental hygienist I ran into in Georgia.  She asked me if I was married and had any kids.  I said, "No, I don't have kids."

"Oh, I guess your husband is childish enough for you, huh?" she said with a smile.

"No, actually he's a great husband."  I said, kind of shocked that this woman would say such an unprofessional thing as she was x-raying my teeth.  I'm guessing the lady had a bad experience… as many women do.  But a lot of men have childish partners as well.  Reverse that situation and see how even less appropriate it would have been had the hygienist insinuated that my husband was married to an immature woman.

I told my hygienist in Texas about that and she was shocked… especially when the Georgia hygienist later reprimanded me for saying "Damn" because the x-rays hurt.  Despite popular opinion, I have a small mouth.  ;-)

Apparently, I'm a homewrecker...

Dec 31, 2010 (Updated Jan 3, 2011)

The Bottom Line Imagine me, a homewrecker... perish the thought!

In my last writer's corner piece, I lamented that the last days of 2010 were shaping up to be very strange indeed. Well, it is now New Year's Eve and I've only been awake for a few hours, and yet some weird things have already happened today.

First of all, I had a very strange dream this morning. I wrote about it in detail on my blog, so I won't describe it in detail here, except to say that the dream had to do with a crowd of people getting the wrong idea about me and treating me with a lot of hostility. All the while, I was trying to call my husband, Bill, on my cell phone for support or maybe an escape route, but I couldn't reach him because my cell phone wasn't getting service. There was only one person in the crowd who seemed to take a neutral, advocate-like role and seemed ready to help me. I woke up just as I was about to face a judgment hearing.

I don't know if it was my subconscious preparing me or what, but this morning I got a very strange comment on a champagne review I wrote for Associated Content last June. Bill had bought me a bottle of my favorite bubbly, Taittinger, for my birthday and made me a gourmet breakfast. Right after I posted that review, someone commented that I've got myself a keeper of a man. I commented that I had actually thanked my husband's ex wife for divorcing Bill. After that, not a peep from the peanut gallery, until this morning.

I guess people are looking for champagne reviews for New Year's Eve... Someone, who signed themselves "Bills ex" [sic] left the following comment:

"One woman's trash is another woman's treasure, homewrecker."

Excuse me?

I feel pretty certain my husband's ex wife did not actually leave that comment. For one thing, it's much too articulate. For another thing, as a "devout Mormon", I doubt she would be looking for champagne reviews on New Year's Eve, and certainly not for a champagne like Taittinger. And finally, even if ten years after their divorce my husband's ex wife was going to leave a nasty comment to me, I think she'd somehow want me to know that she was the one who did it. That's the type of person she is.

In any case, I decided to delete the comment, since I didn't feel it had anything to do with the original article. But then I started to think about the term homewrecker and what it implies. And now I'm not sure if I should feel insulted or gratified. The term "homewrecker" implies that I'm some kind of devious vixen who stole my husband away from his ex wife. Anyone who knows me personally, knows that I'm not very vixenlike at all. I hardly ever dated before I met Bill. I was a virgin until two weeks after our wedding. A sexually adventurous temptress I truly am not.

While the term homewrecker implies that I broke up my husband's marriage, it was already irrevocably broken well before I came along. All I did was marry a man who was legally divorced. Though we did meet online a couple of years before we met in person, Bill had been divorced for almost an entire year before I met him in the flesh. In fact, I talked to him online for months before I even knew anything about his ex wife, who, by the way, was by that time already shacking up with her third husband.

My initial conversations with Bill were entirely platonic and based on our mutual love of travel. I had never asked about his life offline and he never volunteered the information. Didn't think it was any of my business to ask and certainly never thought I'd ever meet him in person, let alone marry him! He eventually told me about his first marriage only when he decided he liked me and wanted to get to know me better. Even after he told me about her, he kept his conversations with me platonic until he was divorced.

One thing I've noticed about the term "homewrecker" is that it lays all the blame on the other woman. Let's face it. Most people don't accuse men of being homewreckers, right? But a woman who comes along after a man has made a commitment to marry is called a homewrecker, ostensibly because she has somehow lured this guy away from the loving arms of his ex wife. It's as if he would have stayed faithful to the marriage if it weren't for her. It paints the marriage as some sacred, idyllic institution, ruined by some trollop who came along and sullied it with her sordid treasure breasts of lust.

Wow... I didn't realize I had that kind of power! Even if, in our situation, I had been a so-called homewrecker, I am not the one who committed to being married to my husband's ex wife. When it comes down to it, single women who hook up with married men (and vice versa), whether they know he's married or not, are ultimately not the ones who strayed. The married party is the one who made the commitment. So why does she automatically get all the heat? Frankly, even if my husband was the type of person to cheat, I would probably be more inclined to feel sorry for the next woman. Because if he'd be willing to cheat on me, he'd likely be willing to cheat on her, too.

Now, if she happens to be a married woman who knowingly cheats with a married man, that may be a different story altogether... But I don't think single women who have affairs with married men, or vice versa, should be the ones who get the lion's share of the blame. People may refer to them as "homewreckers", but I think the reality is that most women who end up the "other woman" don't have that kind of power. Ultimately, the only reason they have any power is because it's somehow been granted to them.

Anyway, I really do think it's laughable that anyone would refer to me as a homewrecker, even in jest. I'm just not very sexy. I'm basically a fat, almost middle-aged, overeducated housewife who walks around in sweats and bare feet and doesn't wear makeup. After eight years together, Bill and I are still in love and get along famously. But it's not because I'm some kind of tawdry tramp who rocks his world in the sack so much that he'd just up and decide to dump his first wife for me. It's because we really do love and respect each other. It would have been a lot easier had I come along first but, probably because I'm eight years younger than he is, I didn't.

Besides, for the record, it was she who dumped him... and, once again, I thank her for it. I don't know why that's inappropriate. I would be grateful to her whether I liked and respected her or not. If she hadn't decided to dump Bill, he might still be married to her. And if she hadn't married him, some other woman would have and likely would have treated him better, meaning I'd probably still be a lonely, single virgin. Whether my husband's ex wife meant to or not, she gave me a gift. Why is it wrong to be thankful for a gift?

I really don't know who left that comment or why they felt it was appropriate. Perhaps, for some reason, they were trying to upset me. Perhaps they're alone and bitter on New Year's Eve and lashing out. Maybe it was just someone looking for a laugh. At least it gave me something different to think about on the last day of 2010.