Wednesday, November 30, 2016


This post is not for people who have issues with anxiety, like I do.  As a matter of fact, I probably shouldn't write this post, because I am dealing with anxiety right now.  My stomach is tied up in knots and I'm feeling nervous.  My mouth is dry.  My bowels are in overdrive.  Yesterday, I had a crying jag.  The sad thing is, my problems aren't really so bad.  But I am feeling the fight or flight response right now.

Most of my issues are related to worrying about my dogs, Zane and Arran.  I probably shouldn't be as upset as I am about Zane's mast cell tumor, except I have found a couple more masses that may also be tumors.  He's such a sweet, delightful, adorable dog.  And he's only eight years old...

On the negative side, there are these bumps coming up.  They have been causing some symptoms for awhile that I chalked up to issues he's always had.  For instance, he's always been a picky eater with a sensitive stomach.  I didn't link the lump on his side to the gas he's had in the morning and his lack of appetite.  He always seems to feel better after he eats, but getting him to eat can be a challenge.  Now I know that mast cell tumors excrete histamine, which can end up in the stomach and cause nausea and indigestion.  He's also very itchy.  He's always been itchy, but it seems worse now.

On the positive side, I started him on Benadryl and Tagamet over the past week.  I have noticed that his appetite is much better.  He has less gas in the morning.  He seems to feel a lot better and has more energy.  The Tagamet, in particular, seems to be helping him a lot.  It also has anti-cancer properties.

On the negative side, the gold standard of care for dogs with mast cell tumors is having them removed surgically.  Every time a dog has surgery for these tumors, there is a risk that not all of the cells will be removed.  They could end up spreading.  There's also the issue of recovery and the secondary issues that come from being cut open.  I like our German vet, but I'm not sure she's as aggressive as she needs to be.

On the positive side, at least we can afford the treatment.  We have more money than we've ever had and German vet care is much less expensive than American vet care.  I also have access to good information about mast cell cancer.  I have books and Facebook groups, as well as many Web sites to read.  I have seen a lot of pictures of mast cell tumors, many of which are much uglier and scarier than what Zane has at this point.  He seems to be basically healthy at this point, but I really don't know what lurks beneath the surface.

It's a good thing I never wanted to be a doctor or a nurse.  I hate to see suffering.  That's not to say doctors and nurses like to see suffering, just that for me, it's especially heartbreaking.  I have taken care of three dogs that came before Zane and Arran that got very sick and died somewhat quickly.  I'm not sure Zane's issue will kill him immediately, but it's going to cause me a lot of stress and worry.  I'm going to be constantly looking for bumps and obsessing over them.  

I should probably learn to meditate.  I should recite the Serenity Prayer over and over again and realize that there are things beyond my control.  In the meantime, though, my stomach is tied in knots and I feel nervous, scared, and sad.  

And I still don't know what caused Arran to have his "spell" the other day.  He hasn't had another one that I know of, but it was still very disturbing and scary.

And for anyone who has waited tables...

And here's a reposted review of Waiter Rant, by Steve Dublanica.  Waiting tables is another job I used to do and hope not to do again.

  • Confessions of a real live waiter...

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      October, 19 2009
  • Pros: Funny, well-written, and relevant to anyone who has either dined out or waited tables.
    Cons: None for me.
    I have developed a special empathy for those who wait tables. About eleven years ago, I was struggling to get myself launched into some kind of career and decided to take a job waiting tables at The Trellis restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia. I had never waited tables before, but I had watched my three older sisters do it successfully. I figured I could handle it. After 18 stressful months, I eventually got the hang of waiting tables and the job did help me move on to bigger and better things. However, the experience definitely left an indelible impression on me and made me realize that I'm not cut out for service industry work. Nevertheless, after my stint waiting tables, I'm still left remembering the experience and feeling like I can commiserate with others as to what the job is like. That's pretty much why I decided to read Waiter Rant: Thanks for the Tip- Confessions of a Cynical Waiter, written by Steve Dublanica.

    I found out about Waiter Rant by cruising around the Internet. Someone had mentioned Dublanica's wildly popular blog by the same name and I went to read it. In the course of reading Dublanica's blog, I learned that he had started the blog anonymously back in 2004 and went to great pains to protect his identity as well as that of the place where he was working. He referred to the place as The Bistro and related all kinds of hilarious and poignant anecdotes about his bosses, co-workers, and customers. Impressed with Dublanica's witty writing style, I ended up reading his blog for several hours and then ordered his book, which had pretty much forced him to give up his anonymity.

    I was hoping the book, Waiter Rant, would be as good as the blog was. Dublanica didn't disappoint me, as he explained how it was that he had gotten into waiting tables as a guy in his thirties. Dublanica explains that people who wait tables generally fall into three different categories: those who don't know what they want to do, those who are learning to do something, and those who are professionals. I found myself really relating to Dublanica's observations about why he was waiting tables. The money can be fairly good and it's mostly paid in cash at the end of every shift. The hours are generally pretty flexible. And the work, while definitely hard at times, is often interesting... or, at least it's often busy, which makes the time go faster.

    The trouble is, waiting tables is the kind of job where one can get stuck for years. I have a hunch that was what had happened to Dublanica. He had a real desire to be a writer, but like so many other people, he was afraid of failure. So he settled for waiting tables for awhile and eventually became a manager at "The Bistro", where he ended up mining plenty of "food for thought" for his blog, which later turned into his very entertaining book.

    As I read Waiter Rant, I found myself remembering some of my own experiences as a restaurant server. For instance, Dublanica writes about how waiters who work in fine restaurants find themselves thinking they should be eating what their patrons eat. They often develop and broaden their culinary palates to a point that goes beyond their budgets. I know I developed more of an appreciation for fine foods and liquors after I worked at The Trellis. Unfortunately, my love for good food now shows a lot more than it did when I waited tables. I also found myself nodding in agreement when Dublanica writes about waiters who work when they're sick, waiters who have substance abuse problems, and waiters and other restaurant workers who are working illegally.  He also outlines the different types of customers one runs into while waiting tables.  It's amazing how some people behave when they're out to eat.  Some people are wonderful, friendly, and generous... and some people, well, are generous only with attitude and grief.  Frankly, I think the way a person treats a waiter is often a good reflection of the type of person they are.

    Dublanica has a way of communicating with his readers as if he's in a room, talking to them one on one. His writing has a definite conversational style that is engaging and unabashed. I think it will appeal to fellow waiters and ex-waiters because they will recognize Dublanica's experiences in the trenches. I think it will appeal to those who haven't waited tables because besides being entertaining, it's very informative. At the end of the book, Dublanica adds several irreverent appendices on subjects ranging from how to order wine without looking like a twit, to things that every waiter would love to tell their customers, to signs that the restaurant you're working in is dysfunctional. I think I liked the dysfunctional list the best, since I related to so much of it.

    Anyway, I highly recommend Waiter Rant to anyone who wants to know what it's like to be in the trenches, serving fine food at a busy restaurant. I would also recommend it to those who are now going down that road or have been there before.

    For those who want a little taste of Waiter Rant, here's the address for Steve Dublanica's blog:

This one is for anyone who works in retail...

Here's a reposted review of Freeman Hall's book, Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store.  I figure it's a good read for anyone working retail for the holiday season.  I did my bit years ago and don't care to do it ever again.

  • Freeman Hall dishes on his life as a retail sales associate...

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      January, 11 2010
  • Pros: Often very funny. Anyone who's worked retail, especially with women, will relate.
    Cons: Kinda mean spirited. Lots of dirty language.  It's kinda already been done by a waiter.
    I once had a stint working as a retail sales associate. Luckily, I worked in a mens' shirt store, where the customers didn't tend to be too demanding. I spent about seven months doing that job until I was blessedly delivered from retail hell by a stint in the Peace Corps. I think my little taste of working retail was enough to last me the rest of my life.

    Freeman Hall
    , author of Retail Hell: How I Sold My Soul to the Store-- Confessions of a Tortured Sales Associate (2009), did not have as much luck as I did breaking away from retail slavery. Hall, who is very much an out of the closet homosexual, writes that he loves stylish clothes. Working in retail was one good way to be able to afford them. After all, the one fabulous perk of working retail is an employee discount. Of course, Freeman Hall never planned to spend years working in retail. His real ambition is to be a screenwriter. But he still has to pay the bills and he wants to look good doing it.

    Hall goes to hell

    So Freeman Hall heads over to the personnel office of a big department store he refers to as "The Big Fancy". He is hoping for a job in housewares or maybe men's clothing. He gets a job selling handbags. Not purses, mind you-- Hall explains that the "p-word" is akin to the filthiest expletive at The Big Fancy-- but handbags, very expensive designer handbags made by Kate Spade, Coach, and Marc Jacobs, among other big names. These are the kinds of bags that run hundreds or even thousands of dollars. And Freeman, who is the only male sales associate in handbags, gets a commission for every single one he sells.

    But-- in order to make his commissions, Freeman Hall must deliver excellent customer service to every one of the many different types of strange and difficult people retail stores attract. Hall has all sorts of irreverent names for these people, all of whom are women and regular shoppers at The Big Fancy. There's the Nasty @$$ Thief, the Snot Monster, Picky B*tch, Discount Rat, and, of course, Shoposaurus Carnotaurus, just to name a few.

    Hall must deal with some very distasteful and somewhat shockingly bizarre scenarios as well as obnoxious co-workers. In one disturbing chapter, he writes about covering someone in the swimwear department while she went on her lunch break. While Freeman and another woman were in swimwear, they were visited by a skinny woman who had taken six swimsuits into a fitting room to try on. Later, the woman came out of the fitting room without her swimsuits. Freeman and his colleague were annoyed, thinking she'd left the suits in a pile on the floor. If only the pile she'd left had been that simple to clean up...

    Hall also writes about about the store management's many wacky ways to keep the associates sales pumping. For instance, Hall explains the eight flights of stairs he and his colleagues must climb and descend before and after every single shift. The eight flights of stairs were a feature at most of The Big Fancy stores in the United States because the store's founder wanted sales associates to get their exercise. Sometimes management would decorate the stairwell or pipe obnoxious music in it to help the associates gain enthusiasm. They would also hold ridiculous pep rallies in an attempt to boost sales along with attitudes. Apparently, their efforts to boost spirits fell far short of their goals.

    My thoughts

    I'm of a mixed mind about this book. First off, having once worked retail, I had an inkling about Hall's experiences, although his were much more bizarre than mine ever were. Some of Freeman Hall's stories are hilarious and he does have a delightfully snarky way of expressing himself.

    On the other hand, some of his descriptions of his customers and co-workers came across to me as very mean spirited. After awhile, that aspect of this book grated on my nerves. Now... don't get me wrong... I have worked retail and been a waitress. I know how hard it can be to work in a service oriented job, particularly when it involves spending money on luxuries. People can be brutal to sales associates, treating them like slaves and talking to them as if they're less than human. Oftentimes, managers and co-workers can be just as bad as the customers, making an already stressful work environment even worse.

    But there must have been something else attractive about that job besides the employee discounts, because Hall stuck around for a number of years, collecting his anecdotes for this book. He never really explains what it was, besides paying his bills and buying designer clothes, that made him sell handbags for as long as he did. I guess, in a way, this book is sort of like the ultimate payback for the way Hall was treated as a retail slave. I guess I can't really blame him for writing this book, which is sort of a retail version of Waiter Rant a book I recently read by Steve Dublanica.

    I predict that a lot of people who have worked retail will relate to this book and laugh out loud reading it. I also predict some people will get tired of the endless carping jokes and wish for a little more humanity. After all, while a lot of us have worked in retail, almost all of us have shopped retail. As I read this book, I sort of cringed, wondering if I had ever inspired a retail worker to come up with a mean spirited nickname for me. I also wondered, in the wake of Hall's often very snarky rants, why I should feel sorry for him, especially given the fact that so many Americans would love to have a job... any job.  And lots of people in retail would love to have a customer... any customer.


    I did like this book, but I can't say I loved it. Maybe I'm just getting too old to read stuff like this. I probably would have loved reading this when I was still in my 20s. Freeman Hall has a gift for storytelling and some of his descriptions are hilarious. I could practically hear him talking through his very colorful words and vivid depictions. But in the end, I think I was overcome by the constant crassness, which is why this book gets four stars instead of five. My mother would be so proud to finally see this day come.

    For more information: or


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

2016 can suck it...

I found a very funny video on Facebook this morning that I wish to share with everyone who reads this blog...

Flo and Joan remind me a little of Garfunkel and Oates.

JibJab used to do funny videos every New Year's Eve.  Now they don't do them anymore and I miss them terribly.  I'm glad to see some witty ladies taking up the torch.

Seriously... this year has sucked for so many people.  I hope next year is better.  But... I can't say my hopes are especially high.  

I woke up this morning not feeling particularly well.  I'm still feeling anxious and on edge about everything.  At least this little ditty makes me laugh about how much things are sucking lately.  They could certainly suck more, though, so I suppose I should just relax and enjoy the ride.

Last night, I got unfriended on Facebook by a guy I "met" on RfM.  He's an American who lives in Norway and apparently has a Norwegian ex wife who won't let him see his son(s).  I don't remember if he has one or two boys.  Anyway, supposedly someone on Facebook is sharing his posts with his ex, so he unfriended a bunch of people.  I don't know his ex, but I guess he's being cautious.

I actually don't mind that he dropped me, because he's one of those people who use numbers and letters in place of words and that's annoying.  Also, he has a hangup about "slut shaming" and gets upset if he thinks someone is engaging in slut shaming.  One time, he told me he thought I was "hot", which kind of creeped me out a little.  Not that I wasn't flattered on some level, but it's weird when someone who knows I'm married flirts.  I guess I'm old fashioned, though.    

Maybe later, I'll have more to say.  For now, I'm going to drink some coffee.

Monday, November 28, 2016

A review of Andreea Raducan's The Other Side of the Medal

At the 2000 Summer Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, Andreea Raducan put in a brilliant performance in gymnastics and won the all around gold medal.  She also won a silver medal on the vault and a team gold medal.  Unfortunately, Raducan was eventually disqualified and stripped of her gold all around medal because she tested positive for a banned substance.  Before the competition, Raducan had complained of a headache.  A team doctor gave her a cold pill which had pseudoephedrine, a banned substance, in it.  Before she knew it, Andreea Raducan was famous for more than just her gold winning performance in the gym.

I always enjoy a good life story.  Although I have never so much as successfully turned a cartwheel, I find women's gymnastics fascinating.  I probably downloaded Andreea Raducan's 2013 book, The Other Side of the Medal on a drunken buying spree.  I just finished reading Raducan's book this morning and mostly enjoyed it.  Since her turn at the Olympics, Andreea Raducan has become a journalist, television host, and sports announcer.  She also does some modeling and promotional work.  In short, she's moved beyond life as a gymnast and become successful, despite losing her gold medal.  She went on to win five more World Championships medals and retired from the sport in 2002. 

The Other Side of the Medal is the story of how Raducan became a gymnast in a country that was once a veritable gymnast factory.  Raducan notes that since Romania's society changed after the fall of communism, children don't get involved in sports the way they used to.  She writes that parents are now too busy to support their athletic kids and they are less willing to send them away to be trained.  I'm not sure what went on at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, but the Romanian women gymnasts were not contenders there.  Raducan writes that a lot of the former great Romanian gymnasts have left Romania and are now working in other countries.  

Andreea Raducan came of age at a time when Romania boasted many wonderful female gymnasts.  She writes about the grueling training it took for her to reach the pinnacle of success and how crushing it was when she tested positive for "doping".  I couldn't help but feel a little sorry for Raducan, who had simply taken a pill that so many people take when they're feeling sick.  Many people were supportive of her after the controversy, including Nadia Comaneci.  In Romania, she is seen as a sympathetic figure.

For the most part, I think Raducan's book is a good read.  I did notice some editing glitches, most of which appeared to be slight errors in proofreading.  For instance, I noticed a couple of sentences where she clearly started to write something and changed her mind about how she wanted to express herself.  She obviously went back to rearrange the sentence, but didn't do a complete job of it.  There were a couple of other times when it seemed like maybe there was a language glitch.  Overall, though, I was impressed by Ms. Raducan's ability to express herself.  She includes some color photos as well.

I think The Other Side of the Medal is a good read for people who like true stories, enjoy women's gymnastics, and are interested in Romania.  I think I'd give this book a solid four stars out of five.

A video of Raducan performing at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Jinger's wedding...

Because I was feeling so bleah yesterday, I decided to watch Jinger Duggar marry her man, Jeremy Vuolo.  I pretty much quit watching the Duggars awhile ago, not just because of Josh's scandal, but because the show had gotten really boring.  But I do like to watch the wedding shows because it's always interesting to see what everyone's going to be wearing.

I must say, I liked Jinger's dress the best of all the sisters' wedding dresses so far.  It's very classic and pretty, while still being modest.  Also, this was the first time I ever heard Jeremy Vuolo speak and he actually seems like a decent, intelligent guy.  I was touched that he had tears in his eyes as Jinger came down the aisle.  Bill was teary when I walked down the aisle, too.

I also liked Jeremy's father as the officiant.  He was funny and wise and not too boring.  I have high hopes that Jeremy will be a good husband to Jinger and take her away from the Duggar dynasty in Arkansas.

I'm not sure who was playing piano.  It sounded like maybe it was Erin Bates Paine, but perhaps she's learned to quit banging on the keys and hitting the pedal so hard.  Personally, I prefer organ music in a church, but the piano and violin were a nice enough touch.

Michelle looked relatively okay, although the baby talking is still a big issue for her.  At one point in the show, Michelle and Josie's former nurse were putting some type of crown on Josie's head for when she served as flower girl.  Michelle was talking to the kid like she was a complete idiot.  And, while I have heard Josie sing, I have yet to hear her really talk.  So, for all we know, Josie may have some issues.  Or she may not.  Who knows?

I recently read that the Duggars have taken in the son of Michelle's niece.  The boy's name is Tyler and he's living on the Duggar compound because his mother has had some issues with drugs.  I think he's about eight years old or so.  The Duggars are now his permanent guardians.  I guess they got their 20th kid, after all.  Hope he won't be too fucked up by the experience.

I see in the second article I posted, Tyler and Michael Duggar got their own pocket knives with their names engraved on them.  People are saying that's an inappropriate gift.  Since Michael is five, I probably wouldn't give him a pocket knife.  But I think Tyler is old enough to have one.  Hell, where I grew up, a lot of the boys had pocket knives.  It's a redneck thing.  It won't be long until they have BB guns and slingshots, too.

All in all, it was a fairly classy wedding with a minimum of blubbering from Boob and Michelle.  Now it's time to plan for Joy's wedding...  The Duggar compound is emptying at a furious rate!

I am somewhat less sad today, although the weather is still depressing.  Maybe we'll go out and do something later.  Or maybe not.  I wish we had a fireplace.

Check out Michelle's purple dress...  It's a little Grimace-esque.

Saturday, November 26, 2016


That's how I feel today.  I feel positively "bleah".

It's dark and cloudy.  I probably ought to get dressed and go out somewhere, but I feel too depressed to do it.  So I've been sitting on the futon, watching movies.  Bill is a little worried about me and says we have to go out tomorrow if we don't go out today.

There are a lot of reasons why I'm feeling like a homebody.  The weather is a big part of the issue.  It's cold and dark and I don't necessarily want to be out when it's cold and dark.  Although the dogs aren't acting sick at all, I'm concerned about them.  I have razor burn on my legs because I shaved them without lubrication.  They're itchy.  And although it would do me some good to get some fresh air and a change of scenery, I just don't feel like it.

I did buy tickets to see Sting in March.  I got them in a "fan to fan" sale, which means they were probably overpriced.  Hopefully, they're also legit.  ;-)  I look forward to that show since I am a big Sting fan.  Maybe we'll do what we did last time and stay in Stuttgart.

We put up the trees yesterday.  I didn't really feel like it and, truthfully, it's kind of a burden to decorate for Christmas since it's just the two of us.  But I can't bring myself to skip decorating.

All in all, I'm just having a bleah day.  I didn't want to get up this morning, but had to answer the call of nature.  Once I do that, there's no more sleeping.  Zane and Arran had their morning walk, then had a good play session afterwards.  Both of them snuggled with me on the futon.  Now Zane is in bed and Arran is watching Wonder Woman on the futon.  I am pecking away at a boring blog post on my computer, wondering about the meaning of life.

I should go find a cute little pub, sit around and drink beer, and contemplate the meaning of feeling bleah.  Maybe I'm a little sad because Thanksgiving was a bit of a bust.  This time of year sucks.  :(

Sorry this post is such a downer.  Maybe tomorrow, I'll be perkier.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Rest in peace, Mrs. Brady....

I hadn't planned to write another blog post this morning, but I noticed that one of my old blog posts was getting a lot of attention.  Growing up, I watched The Brady Bunch rather religiously.  I still like watching reruns even today.  So when I saw that my post about Florence Henderson's life story was getting many hits today, I figured something was up.  Then I learned that she died of heart failure yesterday at age 82.

While 82 years is a respectable lifespan, I can't help but be a little sad that Ms. Henderson is now gone.  2016 has been a terrible year to be a celebrity.  So many legends have passed.  I suppose, on the positive side, at least they won't be around to see what happens when Donald Trump assumes the White House in January.

Given my lack of success with family blending, I suppose The Brady Bunch probably shouldn't be on my top ten list of television shows.  But I liked the show a long time before I ever knew that one day I'd marry a man with kids.  And while the story lines were silly and the acting was corny, there was something very wholesome and likable about the Brady family.  In an era when so many people were getting divorced, many people longed for the warm, loving family that the Bradys represented.  In today's world, there's still a lot of divorce, but the Bradys remain a representative of an ideal family, even though there was little realistic about them.

In any case, Florence Henderson was a classy, talented, graceful woman who led a long, productive life.  She overcame adversity to become a great success.  She's someone to be admired and, for sure, will be missed by her family and friends.  May she rest in peace.

Barry Williams is probably crushed in a different way today.

Pork on turkey day... and intellectual blinders...

We had a rather low key Thanksgiving.  Bill and I meant to go out to dinner last night, but I was too worried about the dogs.  I was especially worried about Arran, after his little "spell" (which probably was some kind of seizure), but Zane was also concerning me.  Neither of them should have worried me too much, though.  Bill took them for a walk and they had a great time.  They even played for awhile afterwards.  Zane even rolled in some kind of shit and needed a bath.

While it distresses me that both of my dogs have gotten mast cell tumors, I do think that being clued in to the benefits of Tagamet and Benadryl is a good thing.  The Tagamet, in particular, seems to be making Zane feel better than he has in months.  Not that he was ever really "sick", per se, it was more like he didn't feel as well as he used to.  I think the histamine from the tumor was giving him stomach troubles.  Now he's playing again.  So that's a good thing, even if I'm now a nervous wreck looking for new bumps.

Anyway, because we hadn't planned to stay in last night, Bill had to go buy something for dinner.  We ended up having slow cooked pork with mashed potatoes, green beans, and French bread.  He paired it with Rioja.  For dessert, we had a little cake he got at a bakery.

I spent the day doing chores-- laundry and vacuuming-- and watching Albert Brooks' movies.  I also watched several hideous episodes of Wonder Woman.  Egad!  The third season was terrible!

A couple of my cousins in Virginia posted hilarious videos of another cousin who lost a football bet.  This cousin, in his early 50s and sporting a beer gut, dressed as a Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader, complete with blonde wig.  He didn't have a bare midriff or wear the diaper like shorts, but the costume was authentic enough for everyone to get the point of what he was doing.  I have to admit, even though most of my relatives are politically conservative Christians, they are very funny people!

This morning, I'm feeling somewhat okay, even if last week's revelation about Bill's ex kid, Catherine, caused more discussion last night.  I wish I could genuinely wish Catherine well, since that's the "Christian" way to be.  Unfortunately, I'm still very angry with her, even if logically I realize that not having Bill's kids in our lives may have been a true blessing.  I say that, not because I didn't want to have a relationship with Bill's kids.  It's just that I've realized that any relationship we have with Bill's kids will include their very toxic and controlling mother.  Also, while I barely know Bill's two daughters, I've seen enough of Catherine's writings to know that she is apparently a reincarnated version of Bill's ex wife who happens to have Bill's face.  The other daughter, Brigid, seems to have Bill's personality and her mother's (unfortunate) looks.  I am a lot less angry with Brigid than I am Catherine.

Interestingly enough, this morning, I came across a letter written by a very controlling true believing Mormon father (TBM) who apparently shares parenting skills with JimBoob Duggar.  I'm including it in today's blog post because I think it kind of dovetails on the dynamic that tends to exist in hyper religious families with narcissistic heads.  In Bill's case, his ex wife is very controlling and narcissistic.  In the case of the person who received the letter below, it's the father-- a patriarch-- who is controlling.  This is the mindset that children of narcissists must fight against.

This is the letter in its entirety.  I read that the six children who received this letter are 9, 12, 14, 14, 17, and 19.  At least one of the children refused to sign the letter.  I have to wonder what makes certain parents think they have the right to dictate what their children's religious beliefs should be.

And this is the part of the letter that threatens the children with withholding their inheritances if they don't stay Mormon.  While I don't have a problem, per se, with people deciding who should get their money and property when they die, I do think that trying to force someone into believing in a specific religion is pointless and stupid.

Here's a "charming" video put out by LDS Philanthropies that specifically encourages parents to make inheritances contingent on their allegiance to the church.  It got a lot of negative attention, so it has since been removed from the LDS Philanthropies Web site.

A couple of years ago, I posted a letter I found on Reddit that was written to a young man who no longer wanted to be Mormon.  It was basically the same kind of letter expressing the same sentiment.  Believe as I say you must or you'll be disowned and disinherited.  When you're a young person, the threat of being cast out from family is very scary.  So initially, these kinds of manipulative threats and scare tactics will often work, at least in the short term.  I'd like to think that most people, as they get older, gain the wisdom to see that trading their soul and free agency for money and property is a losing proposition.  You can't take money and property with you when you die.  Moreover, it's unnatural for adults to be governed by their parents.  But when you're young, you don't always have perspective or wisdom.

While I'm not sure how Mormon Bill's ex is these days, I do know that she exerts the same kind of "my way or the highway" pressure to everyone in her sphere.  She forces everyone to accept her viewpoint or be cast out.  And the people in her sphere lack the wisdom and perspective to see that it's much better outside of the ex's sphere of influence.  It's better to be able to make your own decisions, seek truth on your own, use your own brain.  The one time I met Bill's kids, I noticed they were very programmed and employed black and white thinking.  What a shame that is.  They otherwise seemed to have normal intelligence, but they were wearing intellectual blinders forced on them by their crazy mother.

I suppose, for this reason, I should excuse Catherine on some level.  I'm sure it isn't easy being the daughter of a raging narcissist.  At the same time, I see a lot of the same controlling, narcissistic tendencies in Catherine.  On the other hand, I didn't get a good look at her wedding dress, but what I did see indicated that she got a gown that was off the shoulder.  Maybe she's finding her way out of the stupidity of Mormonism.  But then again, why should I care?

I dread Catherine potentially linking up with Bill again because I fear she'll do what her mother did.  I don't want to see her using her future offspring as currency to control other people.  Bill's father and stepmother, being the blind idiots that they are, are setting themselves up to be exploited.   If Catherine has babies, will she use them as a means of manipulating people?  Her mother did it.  Apparently, her mother's mother also did it.  Catherine would have learned from the very best.  But then, maybe she is more decent than she seems.  Somehow, I doubt it, though.  She doesn't want to mend the rift with Bill, but she does want to be connected with Bill's father and stepmother.  And they are letting her do it.  This will make the inevitable future funerals awkward for everyone.

I was doing so well lately, not thinking about ex and her spawn and what they were doing.  Every time I go some time without thinking about them, I get hit upside the head with another revelation and it spins me into orbit.  I really shouldn't care about any of them.  I should not let them take up residence in my head.  I do it anyway.

I'm sure it was hard on Catherine, trying to adjust when Bill left.  She was very young at the time and her mother filled her head with a lot of half truths.  For whatever reason, Catherine lacks the curiosity to find out what really happened.  She doesn't want to know the whole truth.  So she stays faithful to Mormonism and her mother's perspective rather than developing her own.  I think that's very sad and, frankly, disappointing.  But it's her life.  As long as she stays out of my life, it shouldn't matter...  Except she isn't really staying out of our lives because despite her decision to change her name/get adopted/disown her father, she's continuing to engage Bill's family.  And they are letting her do it, rather than holding her accountable.

So... I guess the best thing for me to do is focus on my marriage.  Catherine can have Bill's dad and stepmother.  They obviously want to play her game.  It matters more to them to have a relationship with a granddaughter who has treated them with nothing but contempt than their very loving and decent son.  More power to them.

Repost of my review of Lynn Wilder's Unveiling Grace.

Here's another exMo lit book review I'm trying to preserve.  This one is about a former Mormon BYU professor who leaves the LDS religion and becomes a Christian.

  • Lynn Wilder finds her way out of Mormonism and into biblical Christianity...

    Review by knotheadusc
     in Books, Music, Hotels & Travel 
      November, 25 2013
  • Pros: Well-written, basically interesting, highlights significant issues within Mormonism.
    Cons: Rambles a bit.  Wilder still seems to need recovery.
    If you've read many of my book reviews, you may know that I often read what I refer to as "exmo lit"-- that is, books written by people who are former members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons).  I became interested in exMormons because my husband is one.  He converted to Mormonism with his ex wife, then left the faith a few years after they divorced.  Watching the aftermath of that decision has led me to discover a couple of online exMormon communities.  I've made new friends, many of whom are very interesting and intelligent people and I've read lots of books about the "exmo experience".  Of course I'd want to read Lynn K. Wilder's 2013 book, Unveiling Grace: The Story of How We Found Our Way Out of the Mormon Church.  I downloaded it to Kindle and finished it over several hours in one sitting.

    Who is Lynn K. Wilder and why did she write a book about qutting Mormonism?

    Dr. Lynn K. Wilder is currently an associate professor at Florida Gulf Coast University, where she teaches courses in education.  Prior to her work at Florida Gulf Coast University, Dr. Wilder taught at Mormon owned Brigham Young University and was on track to become a full professor.  She and her husband were raised as mainstream Protestants, then converted to Mormonism in 1977.  They raised their three sons and daughter in the faith, first in Indiana, then later in Utah, when Wilder was hired to teach at BYU.

    In her book, Unveiling Grace, Wilder explains what about Mormonism attracted her husband and her to the faith.  Much of it seemed to have to do with coincidental "miracles" that coincided with good and bad events in the Wilders' lives.  Dr. Wilder was a teacher who worked with kids with special educational needs.  But she longed for a family.  It was challenging for her to sustain a pregnancy; she had at least a half dozen miscarriages at around sixteen weeks before her first two sons, Josh and Matt, were born.  Her next son, Micah, and daughter, Katie, rounded out the family.  Having the children was difficult and she relied a lot on prayer and good works through the LDS church to win favor with God...  or at least that's what I got from her story.  She explains that for thirty years, she attributed her eventual success to Mormonism instead of traditional biblical Christianity.

    It was her son, Micah, who facilitated her family's exit from Mormonism.  Micah was always a very devout Mormon and had dutifully applied for a mission when he was about to turn nineteen.  He was originally supposed to go to Mexico City, but a medical emergency during his training necessitated a change to Orlando, Florida.  While he was in Florida, Micah and his missionary companion tried to convert a black Baptist preacher, who apparently convinced them that Mormonism is a false religion.  Micah got in touch with his mother just as he was exiting his mission and very soon, the rest of the family followed Micah out of the church.  The entire family, apparently to include the young women who married Wilder's sons, are now "biblical" Christians.

    My thoughts

    To be honest, I have mixed feelings about Unveiling Grace.  I am not a particularly religious person myself, so I wasn't reading this book looking for a faith promoting story.  Wilder, like my husband, is an exMormon.  Those who have never been exposed to Mormonism may not know that it's usually a very big deal to leave the LDS church if you have other family members in the faith.  Wilder is very fortunate that she and her husband were converts and everyone in their family was willing to leave the church.  I know of many people who have lost contact with siblings, parents, and children because they quit Mormonism.  My husband is, in part, estranged from his daughters because he's not LDS anymore.  The LDS church can make a very effective alienation tool, since it requires everyone to pray, pay, and obey before everyone gets the promised blessings.

    Wilder does a good job illustrating some of the less appealing aspects of being LDS, especially for women who have career aspirations.  She writes that she was expected to be involved in several time consuming "callings" within the church.  Perhaps the most demanding role she was pressured to take on was presidency of the Relief Society.  Every LDS woman over the age of 18 is a member of the Relief Society; it meets every week on Sunday and one evening per week.  Being president of the ward's (congregation's) Relief Society was a very large commitment and required Wilder to be an example to other women in the church.  But Wilder had decided she wanted to pursue her doctorate and, besides taking care of her four kids, was also working outside of the home.  Wilder explains that the church's prophet at the time had asked all the women to quit working outside of the home and be homemakers, tending to their husbands and children.  She also explains that her decision to work went against the prophet's words, which put her at odds with local church leaders.

    Wilder repeatedly writes about how prestigious and excellent Brigham Young University is, and yet it's a university that almost lost its accreditation in its School of Education because there were too few professors working there who had gotten their degrees at universities other than BYU.  Another complaint was that the student population was not diverse enough.  When BYU did start taking students who were more diverse, some of whom also had disabilities, Wilder claims that some professors wondered allowed how some of them had gotten into "their" program.  It seems to me that any university that has that much "group think" and lacks diversity can't be a real beacon for higher thinking.

    Years later, when Wilder was a professor at BYU and determined that she no longer wanted to be LDS, she also realized that if anyone in the church found out about her disbelief, she would lose her job.  Her work at BYU required that she be an active Mormon who believed in and promoted "the gospel".  The fact that Wilder's disbelief in Mormonism seriously threatened her job at BYU is a sign that the school is not as excellent as it is purported to be.  If anyone should be at liberty to think freely, it's a college professor.  And yet apparently most professors at Brigham Young University (the ones who are LDS, anyway) are not allowed the freedom to think freely about religion and other subjects.  Deviating from Mormonism means losing their livelihood, which to me, seems counterproductive in a university environment.

    Dr. Wilder was one of the few education professors at BYU who had been entirely educated at other universities and was also a convert.  She writes that she encountered some discrimination in Utah for being a convert and having a career.  One would think that Wilder would be more logical, given that she was educated at secular universities outside of Mormonism.  However, Wilder seems to rely a lot of feelings and "signs" when she is presented with a dilemma.  She presents several instances in which opportunities seemed to "fall out of the sky" and claims that they were signs from Jesus rather than recognizing that they could have come from something else.

    Wilder writes one story about wearing a cross and having to hide it under her clothes, since Mormons don't revere the cross the way other faiths do.  She lost the cross while working and went to the lost and found at BYU, where the girl working the desk told her that they wouldn't have any crosses there.  It turned out several had been turned in, though none were the professor's.  As she was walking away, the lost and found girl ran after her and said someone had just turned in Wilder's cross.  Wilder took that as a "sign" from God rather than considering that she might just have been lucky.

    Dr. Wilder writes about how her sons had each gone on missions-- all three originally were assigned missions abroad, which supposedly means that they were "more impressive" than other Mormon missionaries.  Let me state for the record that I don't know if the missionaries who go to foreign countries really are better or more impressive than other missionaries are.  Wilder mentions that common belief in her book, that those who are called to foreign countries, especially in Europe, are somehow more prestigious than those who end up in the United States.  She is obviously very proud that her sons got called to Russia, Denmark, and Mexico (then Florida, but only because of the medical issues).  And yet, it doesn't seem to occur to her that all three young men, who each served "honorably", were out spreading what she later calls a "false religion" to innocent people around the world.  In fact, her youngest son, was actually led astray by someone he was trying to lead to Mormonism.  I'm not disappointed that Wilder's son's beliefs changed, though I don't think that his mother is as "recovered" from Mormonism as she seems to think she is.

    This book also rambles a bit, which makes it hard to follow sometimes.  Wilder starts in the recent present, introducing readers to her family and explaining how her sons were all different, yet amazing people.  In 2006, her third son, Micah, had an epiphany that changed everything.  Then she abruptly goes back to 1977, when she and her husband decided to convert.  From there, the book skips around somewhat, rather than progressing in one direction.  If you aren't paying close attention, it's easy to get lost.


    I think this may be good reading for Christians, especially those who are former Mormons.  Many parts of Unveiling Grace are interesting and it's basically a well-written book.  Wilder does bring up several aspects of Mormonism which can be problematic for those who can't entirely buy into the belief system.

    On the other hand, I get the feeling that Wilder still has some recovery to do.  Some of her faith promoting thoughts seem to be the same kind of thoughts Mormons have, only rebranded as evangelical Christian.  She seems to rely a lot on feelings and "signs" as to what's right, rather than rational thinking and logic.  Given that she's a college professor, I find that a little troubling.

    For more information:

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Arran had a "spell"...

I took Zane to the vet yesterday, but his regular doctor wasn't there.  The vet checked his ears.  They looked good, but she still gave me some cleaner for them.  Not a word was mentioned about the mast cell tumor.  I have to take him back next week.  I feel like I'm always at the vet's office.

Last night, after a nice dinner and some wine, Bill and I were sitting in the living room.  Arran was curled up next to me.  Just an hour earlier, he and Zane had been playing and both were acting very normally.  So I was very surprised when Arran suddenly jumped off the couch, screaming in what seemed to be a great deal of pain.  He didn't lose consciousness, but it took a couple of minutes before he stopped shrieking.  He seemed to be disoriented.  He pooped a couple of times in front of us, as if he lost some feeling in his back legs.  Finally, he threw up.

We were both pretty worried about Arran, but it was getting late and we had been drinking wine.  So we took the boys to bed.  At about 2:00am, we woke up and Arran seemed to be completely back to normal.  He's fine this morning, too.  Zane, on the other hand, woke up with gas and had to be coaxed to eat.

I love my dogs very much, but I swear I worry over them constantly.  Imagine if I'd had kids!  Of course, kids can tell you where they hurt.

It's Thanksgiving, but Germany doesn't celebrate Thanksgiving, so it's mostly business as usual.  Bill is home and we were planning to go out to eat somewhere, but now I'm worried about the dogs.  We're also supposed to get a visit from a guy who's going to clean out our furnace because we had no heat on Monday.  The landlords showed us how to reset the system until the automatic mechanism gets fixed.

Bill is downstairs making Eggs Benedict and I'm sitting here reading about the depressing state of the world and wondering why I bother blogging.  I haven't felt too much like reading the news, since so much of it just plain sucks.  And politics are a hot topic right now.  If I post about politics, I attract attention from some of my rabidly conservative relatives.

I don't know how we'll celebrate the holiday today.  Maybe we'll stay home and drink wine.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Sometimes the Internet is useful...

About two weeks ago, I found out my dog Zane had a mast cell tumor.  Last year, I got the same diagnosis for my other dog, Arran.  Arran's tumor was removed and so far, there has been no recurrence.  Zane, on the other hand, appears to be growing another bump.

Because of Arran's diagnosis last year, I joined a Facebook group for people who have dogs with mast cell disease.  I also bought a couple of books about canine cancer.  So far, four of my dogs have gotten that dreaded diagnosis and I'm damned sick and tired of it.  So I want to do what I can.

Our German vet told us to simply watch Zane for more growths.  She did not mention giving Zane Benadryl or Tagamet, which is all over the research for mast cell disease.  Lately, Zane hasn't really been 100%.  He's always had a sensitive stomach, but it's been worse recently.  I think it's because of the mast cell tumor had just had removed (and any others I can't yet see).

I started giving him Tagamet on Monday and have already noticed that he seems to feel a lot better.  Yesterday morning, he couldn't wait to take his walk and was barking at the gate in our yard.  He had good energy the whole time and even wanted to play for a few minutes after we got back.  Tagamet supposedly has anti-cancer properties besides being an effective antacid.  It works in conjunction with Benadryl to combat mast cell disease.

I'm taking Zane to the vet's office this morning to have his ears checked.  I will also point out the new bump I've found and talk to her about the meds.  I'm also planning to put Zane on "Cleo's diet", which is supposed to help combat mast cell disease holistically.  Anyone who's interested in Cleo's diet should join the Facebook group I linked.  There's a wealth of information there.

Although I think there are worse cancer diagnoses than mast cell cancer, I've been feeling sick over the fact that both of my dogs have had it.  I want to give them the best quality life I can for as long as possible.  I have a feeling that will mean I have to do a lot of Internet research.

In the meantime, I'm kind of dreading taking Zane to the vet and showing her the new bump I found.  I'm not ready for him to have another surgery.  I worry that invasive methods will cause the cancer cells to spread, especially since this particular bump is subcutaneous.  Also, I'm hoping she doesn't give me a lecture, although I kind of doubt she will.  The bottom line is, the Tagamet definitely seems to be helping Zane...  at least for now.


Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Trump supporters are annoying...

Yesterday, I ran across an article about how Melania Trump will be staying in New York City with her son, Barron, rather than moving into The White House.  This is ostensibly because the Trumps want to allow Barron the opportunity to finish the school year.  While I completely understand a parent wanting to let their child finish the school year, I do think this decision is yet another indicator that Donald Trump has no idea how public service works.

Kids have to change schools all the time, for whatever reason.  Military kids change schools very frequently, even though there has been a new policy put into place to allow high school seniors to stay in place until they graduate.  Barron Trump is ten years old, though, and if simply changing schools mid year is that much of a trauma for him, he's going to be in for a rude awakening.

It's going to cost taxpayers a lot of money to keep Melania and Barron Trump secure in New York City.  It's also going to inconvenience a lot of people who live in New York because of the heightened security requirements that will be required.

I pointed this out on my Facebook and a couple of people said they were okay with Barron finishing the school year in New York.  I would be too, if Barron were an ordinary kid with ordinary parents.  He's not, though, and this decision has far reaching consequences for all Americans.  And, to me, it just shows that Trump and family don't have an appreciation for what government employees and their families have to deal with.  Why can't Barron Trump suck it up?

I noticed another friend posted something similar on her Facebook wall...

I noticed that yet another annoying right wing, conservative, condescending white male had multiple comments about this development.  Basically, he shamed anyone who would deny poor Barron Trump the chance to finish out the school year in New York City.  But Donald and Melania Trump have many resources available to them and their son to make this move a smooth transition.  Military kids are expected to be resilient and get uprooted constantly.  Where's the empathy for them?

I just don't think Donald Trump has a clue about what it means to be a public servant.  Ultimately, as president, that's what he's supposed to be.  But he's concerned about his businesses and getting his children security clearances (hello, conflict of interest).  He's not about serving the American people.

I've been trying not to put too many political posts on my Facebook wall because I don't enjoy debating with people... especially the many conservative people in my friends list.  Last week, I had to tell a couple of Trump supporters to quit being so patronizing because I don't find that communication style very productive.  One poster insisted that I found him condescending due to his opinion.  That's not the case.  It's the attitude I object to, and the overall sentiment that those of us who see anything wrong with the Trumps are somehow just off the turnip truck.

*Sigh*...  I have this feeling that the Trumps aren't going to end up staying the course.  We could end up with Mike Pence as president.  What a shitshow this is.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Facing the music...

We're back in Germany now.  The house has no heat for some reason.  I'm not sure what the problem is, but it's a real bummer not to have heat.  Fortunately, it's not that cold right now, though our house is chilly today.

When we picked up Zane and Arran, Max the dog sitter told us that Zane didn't seem his usual chipper self.  Naturally, I started thinking about things that could be going wrong. I had forgotten that he's been taking Benadryl because of his mast cell disease diagnosis.  Benadryl always zonks me out and it's possible that's what happened with Zane, too.  I took him and Arran for a walk today and they were both happy to go out.

I'm still worried sick about Zane, even though he lavished me with beagle kisses last night and slept well.  I'm afraid he's going to get sick soon.  I don't think anyone's ever ready for that to happen to a beloved pet, but I really don't feel ready for Zane to be ill.  It seems like yesterday that we lost our sweet MacGregor.  On the positive side, although Zane took awhile to eat his breakfast today, he was delighted to take a walk.  He had plenty of energy.

My irritation about Catherine has mostly passed.  Bill and I talked for a long time.  He said it was helpful to read the second part of my rant yesterday because it put things in perspective for him.  He had a relationship with his daughters and knew them as people before all of this shit happened.  I didn't have that benefit.  The first thing I remember about Catherine is seeing her slap my husband across the face for having beer in the fridge.  The second thing is seeing Bill's face when he got a short, hateful letter from her demanding that he give her up for adoption.  Then I realize that I couldn't have kids with him and allow him to be the dad I know he would have been had he been given the opportunity.  Yes, I am pissed about that.

But... you know, Bill and I have a great life.  Despite what happened to his relationship with his ex wife and kids, he has a good relationship with me.  He's no longer totally broke and living on a roller coaster of craziness.  He doesn't have to go to the Mormon church to keep the peace in his family.  He gets to choose his own underwear and drink what he likes.  He has money to spend on trips to Ireland and veterinary treatments for our dogs.  He doesn't have to worry about bankruptcy or foreclosure or coming home to a wife whose behavior is completely crazy.

It came to my attention yesterday that some people who read this blog have dealt with issues very similar to mine and Bill's.  It's good to know that there are people out there who have some empathy for us.  Anyone who is reading this blog should know that there are a lot of guys in situations like Bill's because there are a lot of crazy, vindictive, shitty women out there in the world who use their position as "mother" to use their kids as weapons toward others.

While I know that statistically speaking, women are more likely to be abused by men, abuse by women certainly does happen.  Sometimes women even go as far as sexually abusing men.  I know this because it happened to Bill.  He only recently admitted it to me, after he saw a doctor who noticed scar tissue.  Out of respect for Bill, I won't go into details about what happened.  I will only say that the abuse perpetrated by his ex wife wasn't just mental, emotional, and physical.  She sexually assaulted him as well.

I'm always afraid to write about our experiences because there's always the risk I'll get some comments from an angry child of divorce or ex wife who feels like I have no right to complain about what happened.  Too many people seem to believe that fathers have no rights or feelings.  I've seen so many people express the attitude that if a marriage falls apart, the father ought to be out in the cold and/or replaced.  So many people also seem quick to believe that the male is the sole reason the marriage fell apart.

Anyway... I don't want to dwell too much on this because it's a waste of time and energy.  I have enough things to be upset about other than seeing Bill's former daughter listed as a "person he may know" on Facebook.  It sucks, though.  Like I said before.  If you hate your father enough to formally disown him, you probably ought to block him on Facebook, right?

Well... hopefully, the heat will get fixed today so I can at least take a shower without freezing.

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Just when I thought it was safe, part 2

I'm a bit less pissed off tonight than I was last night.  I realize that yesterday's rant may seem completely looney to anyone who hasn't followed this story.  Those who want to know the story can easily find it in this blog.  I've been chronicling it for years, now.

The short version of the story is that Bill and his ex wife divorced in 2000.  I wasn't the cause of their divorce and I have had absolutely zero influence on Bill's kids.  I met them once in 2003, six months after we got married.  During that one 48 hour visitation, Catherine, the subject of yesterday's post, slapped Bill across the face because we had two beers in our refrigerator.  She was nine years old at the time.

After that visit, she stopped talking to Bill, claiming she had a headache when he'd call.  Pretty soon, she became downright hostile.  Bill's ex wife seemed to be actively encouraging this behavior until Bill's older daughter started acting the same way.  The last time Bill saw them in person was in 2004 at a disastrous Christmas gathering that I've written and thought about far too many times during our marriage.  In 2006, they demanded that he let their stepfather adopt them, which Bill refused to do.  He finally quit paying child support in 2011.  Shortly thereafter, they changed their names to their stepfather's.  For all we know, they also got legally adopted.

So yeah... THAT'S why I don't want to hear from them.  Whenever we hear anything about them, the stress level goes up.  And, to be very frank, their behavior is so egregiously shitty-- especially Catherine's behavior-- that I highly doubt I could be civil toward them for long, anyway.

Bill's mother hasn't seen or heard from those kids in many years.  I think they may have talked to her on the phone in 2003, when they visited us that one time.  Bill's father, on the other hand, is an extreme wimp and lets Bill's ex wife walk all over him.  More than once, he's allowed her to show up with her brood and take over his house, putting up with any obscenely bad behavior for as long as she wants to stay.  He doesn't defend Bill, but allows the ex to stage dramas in his home and use him to get to us.

These are truly toxic people and I am convinced that Bill's younger daughter is especially bad.  While I am trained as a social worker and would probably ordinarily work toward reconciliation, we tried to do that for many years.  They were unwilling.  And pretty soon, it became very obvious to me that they were not going to change.  Why should we spend the precious time in our lives trying to reconnect to people who are so utterly convinced they are better than us?

I know my husband is a wonderful, thoughtful, kind, compassionate man.  I have seen him endure nothing but pain whenever his ex wife or her kids come out of the woodwork.  They are a source of significant pain to him because despite their mean-spiritedness, he still loves them deeply.  I, on the other hand, don't know them and don't have a bond.  It hurts me when they come out of the woodwork, too, because they have contempt for Bill.  But because I have no bond with them, it's easy for me to be outraged and angry with them.  To me, they're pests I'd like to swat.

I would never tolerate my husband's kids' behavior if they were true strangers.  If someone on the street treated me or Bill the way they did, I wouldn't want to have anything to do with them.  Since I don't have a bond with these kids, other than having once thought they were my stepchildren, I kind of feel the same way about them that I would an abusive stranger on the street.

Because Bill loves his father and stepmother and they will never hold those kids accountable for their behavior, there will always be a way for them to harass us.  Or... harass Bill, because I don't really talk to his dad or stepmom anymore.  But Bill does and he shares with me, which then causes me to go batty.

Probably the best thing Bill could do for both of us is find an impartial counselor and work out these issues once and for all.  I, on the other hand, could visit a spa and quit spending so much time on Facebook.  In any case, if anyone is wondering, yes, I know that yesterday's rant was over the top.  I was really upset, though, because this isn't the first time it's happened and it probably won't be the last.