Sunday, December 31, 2017

Goodbye 2017...

I probably will...

I decided to put one of yesterday's posts in draft mode for the time being.  It just seems too soon to be posting it.  I will probably move it out of draft later... I don't know when.  Maybe when the shock has worn off or more information comes out about the case.  The one person I wanted to read it read it, so that mission was accomplished.  It's not my desire to cause pain or embarrassment to others.  On the other hand, I may also decide to tell anyone who complains to fuck off because I'm just that classy...  It probably depends on my hormones.  They are apparently in full swing tonight.

Bill and I got invited to a party tomorrow evening.  It's a murder mystery party, which means we have to act.  It may end up being fun or it may suck.  But we don't have anything else to do, so we might as well go and meet some new people.  One of the people is a Facebook friend I don't know personally.  Hopefully, politics and religion will not come up.

Bill and I have been watching TV all day...  old episodes of Three's Company, which was one of my favorite shows when I was growing up.  I still enjoy watching it sometimes.  I laugh at all the jokes, even though I've heard them before.

We've also been doing laundry all day because laundry in Germany takes all day.  We will start 2018 with wonderfully clean sheets.

One of my friends shared this on Facebook.  Because this is a personal blog, I figure I will share it too...  Hopefully, I won't bore anyone more than usual.

2017 in review...

1. What did you do in 2017 that you'd never done before? 

I finally visited Berlin and Northern Ireland!

2. Did you keep your new year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year?

I'm not big on resolutions.  I'm usually too drunk to remember them.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?

No... Most of my friends are too old.  I think one of my first cousins once removed had a baby, but she has several now and it's hard to keep track.  I think a couple of people became grandparents, too.  Bill's daughter had a baby, but I don't consider her "close" to me.  I've only met her once.  So her baby is a stranger, too.

4. Did anyone close to you die? 

Not in 2017.

5. What countries did you visit?

France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Belgium, Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland... I think that's it.

6. What would you like to have in 2018 that you lacked in 2017? 

I was hoping to visit Armenia.  Maybe in 2018 we can make that happen.  I also want less debt.  I think we can make it happen.

7. What date from 2017 will remain etched upon your memory?

Probably August 30th.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?

Getting rid of a bunch of assholes on my Facebook friends list.  I'm not long on achievements these days.  Bill managed to get a great new job with a company that pays well, so I'm happy for us.  

9. What was your biggest failure?

Caring about stupid Facebook dramas and people who treat me badly.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?

Aside from the odd cold and my eyes suddenly not being able to handle contact lenses, not really.  I have switched to daily contacts, though, and they rock. 

11. What was the best thing you bought?

Gosh... I buy so much stuff.  It's really hard to choose the "best" thing.  I love Bill's new kilt, though.  Talk about sexy!

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?

Bill's... on so many occasions...  He made me so very proud so many times this year.  The one thing that sticks out was the way he bonded with a 90 year old man on our cruise... a fellow soldier.  It was very moving to observe.  I am also proud of how he's been reconnecting with his daughter, even if I don't trust her.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?

Certain Facebook friends I knew offline and used to hang out with locally.  I once had respect for them and they disappointed me.  They'd rather be buddies with a misogynistic prick than me.  Story of my life.

14. Where did most of your money go?

Probably my student loans.  My goal is to pay them off in 2018.  If we succeed, we'll be nine years ahead of time.  I also paid off my credit cards.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about? 

Visiting Scotland again and seeing Bill in a kilt.  Hubba hubba!

16. What song will always remind you of 2017?

I'm not sure.  Most of what I listen to regularly was not released in 2017.  I did rediscover "Save Your Kisses For Me" in 2017, but that song came out in 1976.  It's a very catchy song and is always on the brain.

This is like a combination of ABBA and Tony Orlando and Dawn.  

17. Compared to this time last year, are you happier or sadder?

I think I'm a little sadder.  I love Europe, but long for roots... and not having a landlord anymore.

17a. thinner or fatter?

Probably fatter.

17b. richer or poorer?


18. What do you wish you'd done more of?


19. What do you wish you'd done less of?

Engaging with Internet assholes.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?

We spent Christmas at home in Germany.  Or... we stayed at our landlady's home.  She has made it clear that it's her house.

21. Did you fall in love in 2017?

I've been in love since 2001.  It only deepened and endured.

22. How many one night stands?

I don't do those.

23. What was your favorite TV program?

I don't really do those, either.  I like to watch reruns and trash.

24. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?

Hate is a very strong word.  I can't say I hate anyone new this year, but there are quite a few people I used to think of as friends and don't anymore.

25. What was the best book you read?

I've read so many that I don't remember my favorite.  I did really enjoy Maurice White's life story.  It was very interesting.

26. What was your greatest musical discovery?

Probably Benny Andersson's latest album, Piano.  It's absolutely beautiful.

I just bought this and it's just lovely... I am getting old and like instrumental stuff.

27. What did you want and get?

A new phone!  I also bought a new camera, but that doesn't excite me as much as the phone does.  I also love Bill's new kilt.  

28. What did you want and not get?

A new car for Bill.  Maybe after the student loans are gone.

29. What was your favorite film of this year?

I don't go to the movies very often.  Haven't been to a theater since 2011.  

30. What did you do on your birthday?

We went to Belgium.  Unfortunately, on my actual birthday, we had to drive back home.

31. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?

More travel... maybe more time spent doing things that enrich my life like making real friends and earning money.

32. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2017?

Nightgowns sans bras.

33. What kept you sane?

Travel and writing.  Making music, even if not many listen to what I make.

34. Which celebrity/public figure did you admire the most?

Anyone with an agenda to getting rid of Donald Trump and his cronies.  Maybe Mueller?

35. What political issue stirred you the most?

Donald Trump in the White House.

36. Who did you miss?

I miss the respect I used to have for some people in my family.  Sadly, I've lost respect for a lot of people this year.

37. Who was the best new person you met? 

Probably Yannick, the guy who owns the apartments we visited in Ribeauville three times in 2017.  I think he saved our sanity.  I love that he's so dog friendly.

38. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2017.

Sometimes, you just need to tell people to fuck off.  Some people really need to hear it and sometimes you really need to say it... or something similar/less profane.

Beautiful New Year's Eve sunrise...

I may write something more substantial later.  For now, here are a few pictures of this morning's intense German sunrise.  They were taken with my new iPhone.  One of the things I like about living where we do is that we get the most amazing sunrises and sunsets.  It's easy to watch the weather.  Beats the hell out of the view of I-35 we had at our house in Texas.  These pictures were taken over the course of about 20 minutes.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Modar strikes again... twice

I have mentioned before that I have a pretty strong sense of "Modar".  By that, I mean I have gotten to the point at which I can pick out Mormons at twenty paces.  I can't help it.  It's almost like I've developed an extra sense.  Because of my exposure to the LDS church, I start pinging on clues about people.  Then, because of my curiosity, I start trying to find out if I'm right.  Many times, my instincts turn out to be dead on.  By the way, I know this kind of behavior probably makes me an asshole.  Oh well.

A few days ago, someone in our community who is a blogger and wannabe budding YouTube star, shared some posts from her blog's Facebook page that immediately started activating my Modar.  I first noticed her when I was on my iPad, which sometimes limits my ability to do any hardcore stalking.  It's a lot easier to search for information on a computer.

This person, who writes about food and festivals, immediately sent off clues about her faith.  The very first thing that made me notice was her country of origin.  She's from a country in South America, where there are many LDS missionaries and converts.

Next, I noticed her public pictures, all of which seemed to center on her family.  They were all dressed alike.  She made some comments about not drinking alcohol.  Then there was her last name, which is quite prevalent in LDS circles.  I noticed her husband's brother lives in Utah, although he sets off my Modar a lot less than she does.

Finally, just now, I visited her personal page on my computer.  I was able to see more of her photos, one of which directly outed her as a Mormon.  I don't know how I missed the obvious signs that I was right, since her pro LDS posts are public.  But it wasn't her personal page that clued me in.  It was the page she created for her new blogging venture and the way she promoted it.  It screamed "Mormon" to me.  If you read enough Mormon mommy blogs, you realize that a lot of them have a very specific style.

I really don't know what compels this curiosity.  Sometimes I find myself doing this with Catholics, too.  I'm also usually right on the money when I spot someone I think might be Catholic.  It has a lot with the way they carry themselves.  I have absolutely nothing against Catholics, by the way.  In fact, there were times when I really admired them and considered whether or not I'd like to be Catholic.  But, it turns out I'm really not very religious, so I think I'll just stay Presbyterian.

The second time this week my Modar went off was for a sad case.  A doctor in Wisconsin committed suicide.  43 year old Dr. Wayne A. Hendrix, who was an anesthesiology resident at the Medical College of Wisconsin, brandished a weapon in the hospital where he was working on Christmas night.  He threatened a co-worker and indicated that he was suicidal.  Then he barricaded himself in a room.

A S.W.A.T. team was called in and they tried to negotiate with him.  Sadly, Dr. Hendrix was later found dead.  He had used a computer to dispense fentanyl and then overdosed on the drug.  Given Dr. Hendrix's recent issues with his mental health, I'm just glad that no innocent people were harmed, particularly his patients... Or, at least there's been no news about patients being harmed.

For some reason, when I read the first story about Hendrix, I had a strong feeling he was LDS.  The first clue was that he went to medical school at the University of Utah.  Not everyone who goes to school in Utah is LDS, but quite a lot of students are.  Next, I discovered that he also attended a school in Utah for his undergraduate degree.

Hendrix's brother Travis indicated that the doctor was going through tough times.  Evidently he had just broken up with his girlfriend and was having difficulties with his ex-wife.  She has custody of Hendrix's children, who live in Utah.  The doctor was reportedly seeing a psychiatrist and had been prescribed antidepressants.  He also reportedly had attempted suicide in 2016 and suffered from an addiction to alcohol.

I don't know for certain if Hendrix was LDS, but I did find an obituary for a man named Wayne A. Hendrix who was the same age and died on the same day that the doctor died.  The obituary indicated that the funeral would take place in Springville, Utah at an LDS chapel.  However, the obituary also read that Hendrix had died in Springville.  Dr. Hendrix did not die in Springville; he died at Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

The obituary was noticeably brief and no one had left any comments.  Many times, people tend to be brief when they write obituaries for suicides.  There is still a strong stigma of shame surrounding it as a cause of death.  There was a picture with the obit, but the person in the picture was wearing a Green Bay Packers hat and sported a beard.  The picture I saw of the doctor was clean shaven and very conservative looking.  Upon further sleuthing, I now believe that the bearded man and the clean shaven doctor are the same person.

I am sad for Hendrix's family, especially his children.  Suicide is apparently a big problem among physicians, especially those in training.  I have no idea of the extent of what Dr. Hendrix's problems were.  I can attest from firsthand experience how hellish depression and suicidal ideation can be.  Add that to the stress of a marriage breaking up and demanding medical training and it only compounds, especially when alcoholism is also an issue.  

Anyway... I probably ought to try to squelch my Modar.  I wish it wasn't so sensitive, especially in cases dealing with suicide.  On the other hand, I probably would have made a pretty good investigator.  Maybe in another life.

Friday, December 29, 2017

Meddlesome and manipulative mates...

I've been reading Sanctimommy and, once again, my reading has rendered fruits for my blog.  Last night, I spotted this post...

Amazing...  this lady doesn't sound like much of a friend to me.

A woman posted that her best friend is having a baby boy and apparently plans to have her newborn son circumcised.  The poster opposes her friend's choice and she also happens to be planning the baby shower.  And so, because she's planning the shower and opposes circumcision, she's asking for ideas on how to "educate" her friend on the evils of circumcision.

Now... I am not a mother, so I have no skin in the game.  I think if I were a mother of a boy, I probably would not have opted to have him circumcised.  Personally, I don't see the need to improve on nature if there is no medical need for it.  My father was born in a house in rural Virginia, so he was not circumcised.  Bill was, because he was born in a hospital in the 1960s and it was par for the course in those days.  Dad never had any problems that I'm aware of and, as long as you teach proper hygiene, most males do fine without having that little piece of skin cut.  Hopefully, they will not be in a situation years later where circumcision would be necessary, although I do know sometimes that happens.

When I posted about this last night, some of my friends offered opinions.  We actually had a pretty interesting discussion about circumcision.  Here in Germany, it's not commonly done unless there is a medical or religious reason to do it.  Some of my friends with sons left the decision up to their husbands.  I think that's a reasonable decision.  I'd probably do that, too, although Bill usually tends to agree with me.  I don't know if circumcision would be something I'd be really militant about one way or the other.  However, I do think that if a decision is to be made, it's entirely personal and up to the parents.

As for this post, my focus is not on the decision whether or not circumcision is best.  My focus is on this woman's idea that it's up to her to manipulate her friend into changing her mind about circumcising her son.  Can you even imagine how awkward and uncomfortable it would be for this mom-to-be to attend a baby shower entirely devoted to reasons why she shouldn't have her son circumcised?  I can see the Cake Wreck now.  What kind of a friend puts another friend in that position?

I really dislike people who engage in manipulative tactics to get their way, especially in situations that are none of their business.  I have family members who are masters at manipulation.  I find it a sneaky, disrespectful, underhanded way to do things and it's one way to get on my shit list for a very long time.  Fortunately, I don't have any true BFFs, unless you count Bill, so something like this would never happen to me.  I think if I did have a "friend" who tried something like this, I would be out the door in a jiffy.  A baby shower is no place to be promoting an agenda, especially about something as private and personal as a baby's genitals.

I realize some people are very gung ho about certain issues.  We live in a society where it's almost celebrated to be very outspoken about some things.  You can get on Facebook and spout whatever bullshit you want and watch it bloom into a discussion.  You can blog to your heart's content about issues.  Unfortunately, it seems like this activist attitude has spilled over into offline relationships and is eroding civility.  Planning activities for a baby shower around the mother's decision to circumcise is just plain tacky.  I am certainly not one to be celebrated for my good taste, but even I find this woman's idea to be completely tasteless and rude.  Too many people are far too free with their opinions about how other people should raise their families.  

One friend wrote that if she had concerns about circumcision, she would give her friend a heartfelt letter addressing the subject.  I'm of a mixed mind as to whether or not that's appropriate.  I have gone the letter route on one or two occasions... when I was a lot younger and dumber than I am today.  I think that for something like this, it's really not a good idea.  

If I did broach the subject, I would probably try to do it in a much more general way.  Like, maybe I'd have a discussion about circumcision in general.  But even then, you have to be very careful.  Even casually bringing up a topic like circumcision could be seen as manipulative.  I think it would really have to depend on the nature of the friendship, too.  Some people have very close friends with whom they can talk about anything. If your friend is more like a family member, maybe it would be okay to offer your unsolicited opinions about their offspring's junk.  But I think, in most cases, it's just not wise.  And planning a social event around it is just plain lunacy.

In our local community, there are a few people who are very militant "intactivists".  Every once in awhile, someone in our local Facebook group will ask where he or she can have their son circumcised.  The militant anti-circumcision folks will usually respond to the post with an angry emoji.  Sometimes, they'll post information about why they think circumcision is the wrong thing to do.  That usually gets people spun up into a tizzy, which can be entertaining or stressful, depending on whether you're actually involved in the online melee.  

As for melees... the original post on Sanctimommy got really heated.  Perhaps it was as heated as the last post about women who have c-sections not being real mothers.  It's amazing what triggers people.  I only hope no one invites another person to kill themselves over an Internet argument about circumcision.    

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ricky Schroder's kids and prejudice about healthcare providers...

This morning's topic is somewhat of a rerun with a new twist.  Yesterday, I spent most of the day watching a totally vapid Lifetime show called Growing Up Supermodel.  It starred the children of several formerly hot models and actors.  These kids all grew up in California and their parents are somewhat wealthy... Don't know if they'd hang out together if they weren't thrown together for reality TV.

One of the families profiled was Ricky Schroder's.  Ricky Schroder, as you might know, was a big kid star in the early 80s.  Women from my generation had mad crushes on him.  I never found him that attractive because he was too baby faced for my liking.  However, I will admit that he had a certain ethereal look to him-- blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin.  He looked angelic.  That look has now kind of passed because he's apparently sporting a full beard and darker (probably dyed) hair now.

Ricky doesn't like the show.

Ricky Schroder's now ex wife, Andrea, was raised LDS.  She and Ricky have since left the church.  Andrea has a very deep, husky voice.  She sounds like a pack a day smoker.  She and Ricky were married for 24 years when she filed for divorce.  They had four children together.  The two youngest, their daughters, Cambrie and Faith, were featured on Growing Up Supermodel.  Ricky Schroder's daughters are stunning.  Cambrie looks like a young Brooke Shields.  Faith is similarly lovely.  They probably could be legit models.  Andrea seems a bit immature and evidently lacks parenting skills.  She doesn't discipline; she claims that was Ricky's job.  Moreover, in more than one scene, it appears that her older daughter is more mature and actually more of a parent than Andrea is.  I watched Cambrie comfort her mother and try to discipline her teenaged sister while Andrea whined about the divorce and how "lost" she feels.

Andrea and the girls...  

As I mentioned before, I spent all day yesterday watching this show.  It was incredibly mindless.  At times, it was downright frustrating and annoying.  And yet, it was also kind of like watching a trainwreck-- awful, yet hard to turn away from.  Other people on the show included Kelly LeBrock, who was a hot model/actress in the 80s and is now a very down to earth mother of three.  Her youngest daughter, Arissa, is an aspiring plus sized model  She looks a lot like her father, Steven Seagal.  I actually liked Kelly and her daughter.  I think they should get their own show.

Watching the manufactured drama on Growing Up Supermodel made me curious about Ricky Schroder's Mormon conversion story.  I know he grew up without religion.  Courtesy of Deseret News, I found a rather sickening tale of how Ricky had struggled to believe in the church, even after he was converted.  His mind was changed when he was hunting with his dad and a friend and shot a buck.  Sadly, the bullet only wounded the beast.  Ricky felt like shit because the deer was wounded and would now suffer.  It was getting dark and he couldn't find the buck to put him out of his misery.  Ricky prayed to Heavenly Father and, miraculously, was able to find and kill the buck.  This led him to believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is "true".  Or, at least he believed for awhile.

It's pretty clear that he and Andrea are now outside of Mormonism.  Andrea was sporting a cross necklace and spoke of starting a drinking habit.  Their gorgeous daughters do not dress like Mormons.  And Ricky, whose conversion story was pretty shaky from the get go, has moved to Atlanta, though plans to come back to California when he's needed.  Of the Schroders who were featured on the show, Ricky (who says he hopes the show will get cancelled) seems to be the most reasonable and grounded.  Apparently, he was the sole disciplinarian in their clan.  After watching his wife and daughters, I have to say I pity anyone who dates Ricky Schroder now.

I posted about my impressions of Growing Up Supermodel on RfM.  Afterwards, I noticed someone had started a thread called Mormon dentists.  The anonymous poster, who lives near my old stomping grounds in northern Virginia, says their family is searching for a new dentist and they (apparently) want to avoid Mormon dentists.  He or she was asking how one can tell.  I must admit that I could empathize with their question.  A few years ago, when we lived in Texas, I similarly avoided a dentist who was obviously LDS.  Of course, it never occurred to me to want to ask that question of a healthcare provider ahead of time.  The truth is, I don't really care what a person's religious beliefs are as long as they're private.  But when it's very obvious what someone's religion is, it does send a message.  I figured it would be better to choose one of the many other dentists in San Antonio... someone with whom I would be more compatible.  As much as we'd like to be open-minded about everything, the fact is, everybody judges to some extent. 

The responses to the poster's question were interesting.  I was actually kind of surprised no one lectured the person for being bigoted, even though RfM is the "recovery from Mormonism" message board.  Sometimes, the people who frequent that board can be rigid in their thinking and very vociferous about expressing themselves.  A lot of people have a trigger PC response when it comes to "prejudice" in that they think it's always wrong.  Honestly, I think many people don't actually stop and think long and hard about this kind of issue.  Many of us have been conditioned to be open-minded at all costs.  But when it comes to healthcare, I think it's very important to have a good rapport if at all possible.  If a provider is very obvious about a lifestyle choice that makes a patient uncomfortable, I do think the patient has the right to seek care elsewhere...  even if that means the person is being "bigoted".  

If you read this blog regularly, you may have read about my tendency to avoid medical people.  It's strange that I would be this way, given my training in public health and social work.  On the other hand, maybe it's partly because of my training that I avoid medical people.  I think the main reason I avoid doctors is because I had a very bad experience with an OB-GYN back in the 90s.  I don't know if I have a tendency to become phobic or it's just garden variety anxiety, but ever since that disastrous first "women's health" exam, I often have almost full blown anxiety attacks when I must see a doctor.  Fortunately, I am ridiculously healthy.

Because of my anxiety around medical people, I fully support being picky about choosing a healthcare provider.  I think a patient's comfort and ability to trust is of paramount importance.  So while it may be anti-PC or "bigoted" to reject an obviously Mormon dentist, I think that's okay.  The main point is that the person gets the care he or she needs from a provider with whom they feel comfortable.  Otherwise, they might end up phobic, like me.

I turned 40 in 2012, when we lived in North Carolina.  Because Bill was still on active duty at the time, I was assigned a primary healthcare provider at Fort Bragg.  Because I had turned 40, they determined it was time for a mammogram.  I got the phone call one October day and the person who called gave me the name of my provider, a woman I had never seen before.

I took down the woman's name and looked her up on the Internet.  I soon discovered that she was quite a bit younger than I am and likes to party.  Her social media accounts were rather public and, to be honest, turned me off.  I decided I would not see her.  I happened to casually mention this decision to some now former online friends of mine.  Quite a few of them took me to task and proceeded to try to school me, which did nothing more than piss me off.  I got a lot of impassioned lectures about how it's wrong to be "judgmental".  However, when it comes to my health, I think I have the right to judge.  If you're in the business of providing healthcare, it is incumbent upon you to put forth a professional, experienced, and mature image.  If you aren't experienced or mature, I think you should learn how to fake it convincingly until you are.

I completely understand that medical providers have lives outside of their work.  I also get that a person's activities outside of the professional environment may have zero bearing on how well they do their jobs.  However, I don't think it is incumbent upon me to give healthcare providers a chance to prove themselves to me (or anyone else).  It's my body.  It's my health.  Due to my past experiences with a horrible (and female) OB-GYN, I have special needs when it comes to my healthcare.  I need to find someone with whom I will feel very comfortable.  I did not feel comfortable when I saw this woman's public posts on social media.  I had a feeling she would not be mature or experienced enough to deal with my specific issues.  Moreover, I was just a name on a piece of paper to her.  My decision not to see her would not affect her in any way.  Maybe it was wrong to be prejudicial, but dammit, I think I have the right to have high standards regarding anyone who will be examining my private parts.

Incidentally, Bill later saw the woman to whom I'd been assigned.  It turned out my instincts about her were dead on.  He said she was quite inexperienced and tried to prescribe medications for his blood pressure that he can't take.  She also lectured him about too much salt on his food.  In addition to having high blood pressure, Bill also has hyponatremia.  It's a rare hereditary condition he shares with his father.  It means his sodium level is abnormally low, despite the fact that his blood pressure is high.  Most people with high blood pressure need to reduce their salt intake, but if Bill did that, he'd be putting himself at risk.  Experienced doctors know that if one has hyponatremia, salting food is essential, even if the person also has hypertension.  Extremely low sodium levels in the blood can be deadly.

Bill said the provider I rejected gave him a lot of textbook answers during their visit.  She was clearly very "green", which I understand is normal for new providers.  They have to learn somehow.  But she would not have been a good choice for me.  I don't have to volunteer to "train" this provider if it compromises my comfort.  Making people comfortable is a very important aspect of a healthcare provider's training.  I think if I feel uncomfortable before I've even walked into a provider's office, that's a red flag that shouldn't be ignored.  Also, the older I get, the more I realize that I should listen to my gut feelings.  They usually turn out to be right.

Naturally, there are times when you won't have a choice of providers.  If you're in an emergency situation, you may find yourself being tended to by a doctor with multiple tattoos and piercings.  Some people are fine with that.  Other people aren't.  Or you may find yourself being resuscitated by someone who looks like he just got off his Mormon mission.  You won't have a choice in that situation.  You may even find that it doesn't matter anymore after that.  On the other hand, I didn't have a choice of OB-GYNS back in 1995 and I wound up with a woman who really hurt me.  So now, I insist on being comfortable.  I think everyone should, as much as the situation allows.

As for the person asking about how to tell if a dentist is LDS, I think he or she has the right to determine a comfort zone.  If someone's obvious religious proclivities are a turn off, I think it's okay to make another choice.  There's no shame in that.  Northern Virginia is full of people who need healthcare and plenty of people will not have issues with a provider's religion.  Some people would even choose a provider based on shared religious beliefs.

It's all about getting the best outcome and being comfortable.  And frankly, knowing what I know about LDS beliefs, I think I'd be a bit wary myself of someone who is very obviously Mormon.  Think of Ricky Schroder's decision to believe in the LDS church because he was able to find and kill the buck he wounded.  It's all about exercising good judgment.  When it comes to healthcare providers, it's probably best for them to leave religion out of the picture and lock down all social media accounts.  Don't give people a reason to get the "wrong impression".    

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Hey guys! When it comes to feminine hygiene, keep your legs crossed and your mouths shut...

Well... look at this!  Here I am inspired just minutes after posting!  I love it when that happens.

My product of choice.  They don't always have it at the commissary.  

Last night, just as I was about to fall asleep, I saw a post by George Takei about an anonymous woman who was forced to pay $15 for a box of tampons.  She happened to be at Calgary International Airport when everybody's least favorite aunt arrived.  She found herself unprepared for her period and the vending machine in the ladies room was empty.  When the woman went to a drug store to buy the necessary supplies, she was ripped off.  It was $15 for the tampons.  So the woman paid the money and left the box in the restroom for other women, along with a note of explanation.

Carlee Field came across the box of tampons, snapped a photo of them and the note, and posted to Reddit.  Apparently, the outrage was enough to spark a response from airport officials, who promised to stock the vending machines.  The drug store, likewise, lowered the price of the tampons.

The story was interesting enough, although the comments were especially stimulating.  It always amazes me when men want to weigh in on subjects regarding menstrual periods.  To their credit, many men were surprisingly understanding and even empathetic.  On the other hand, there were quite a few comments from guys who felt the need to lecture us women about bringing the necessary supplies with us.

Here are just a few comments from males who think they know what it's like to bleed from the genitals every month...

Maybe she should be a responsible adult and bring her own...? Or should we treat women like helpless victims?

Airport price gouging is not unique to tampons. It's a huge price gauging enterprise. It's why I make sure I have what I need, along with "just in case" items, before I leave my house.

Oh please. This is the problem nowadays. People stop looking at reality in favor of talking points and PC bullshit. The topic was price gauging. My comment was that the gauging isn't unique to this particiular item, and that planning ahead could prevent the expense. Am I really wrong about that? Really?  (someone should teach this man how to spell "gouging"-- actually, this word is curiously misspelled several times by different people)

I'm confused. A lot of women are saying they have irregular periods, heavy periods, etc. as an excuse for being caught off guard. That just seems counter intuitive. I would think that if you had irregularities in your cycle and that you likely COULD have a surprise.... Isn't that more of a reason to always be prepared and to carry fem Hy products? Because you know there's a likelihood of having a surprise?

Of course the socialist thinks everything should just be given to her.

Fancy that.

I can see how youd assume most men take such a drug, your sex life must be dull.

Wait... Youre female and you said something logical.... My mind is about to explode! Welcome to the wonderful world of getting yelled at by the mob of women with pitch forks and torches!

Quit getting so butthurt because guys are calling women unprepared for not packing a few extra while traveling 🙄you know you’re away from home for days at a time and that it could happen at any point. Unpreparedness is just the truth here. Sensitive much?

I could probably sit here all morning and read the comments, but I'll stop with the ones above.  

#TMI I've been menstruating for many years.  In fact, on New Year's Eve, I will have been having periods for 32 years.  I had the good fortune of getting  my first period on New Year's Eve 1985.  Generally speaking, my periods are very regular.  Every once in awhile, they do something weird.  I usually am prepared when I go out, but there was one notable time when I wasn't.  It happened in 2012, when I was on a cruise...

I have already written this story a few times, but I'll repeat it for those who don't want to read old posts.  It was the end of November 2012.  Bill and I were in Scotland on Hebridean Princess, a ship that generally caters to the elderly set.  I had just gotten new luggage and, for whatever reason, forgot to stock my bags with feminine hygiene supplies.  I usually have a several tucked away just in case, but I guess I forgot to stock up in the excitement of packing.

On the last night of the cruise, we not only found out that our sweet bagel, MacGregor, was dying, but I had also started my period and was completely unprepared.  Fortunately, the assistant purser, a very lovely lady named Valeria, was able to score me a few items from crew members to get me through the night.  I doubt this is a problem they deal with too often, since most women on that ship are past menopause.  Nevertheless, I will never forget that kindness.

Since that experience in 2012, I have been very careful to make sure I am ready in case Auntie Flow arrives when I'm on the go.  But even though I am now especially sure to pack the essentials, that doesn't mean I won't need to buy more, perhaps even in the airport.  The human body can be an unpredictable thing.  I'm sure it won't be long before my hormones go haywire and I won't know WTF I'll be dealing with as I enter a "new season" of life, as Michelle Duggar puts it.  

Feminine hygiene products truly are a necessity.  In fact, some might argue (and a few did) that they should be freely available in public restrooms, as toilet paper generally is.  But, as a quick Google search shows, quite a lot of women lack the appropriate supplies for their time of the month.  If you're poor and you have a choice of spending money on stemming the crimson tide or eating, you'd likely pick eating.  If you're paying with a SNAP card, the choice to eat would be a no-brainer.  You can't use SNAP cards on non food items.   

There are some communities taking notice of the need.  How progressive!  It seems like providing hygiene supplies to menstruating women would be a "win-win" proposition.  Women can spare themselves the embarrassment and humiliation of being caught unprepared and "price-gouged" at the airport, and everyone can avoid the sight of blood on furniture and clothing.  In all seriousness, though, this is a big deal.  There is evidence that not properly taking care of one's period can lead to significant health issues.  

These health issues, gone unaddressed, end up costing everyone in the long run...

So yeah, we have a president who makes tacky comments about Megyn Kelly, saying "she's got blood coming out of her 'wherever'."  I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised when I read stupid comments from men who think they know what it's like to have periods and have the right to opine about what women should do to prevent being "surprised".  The fact is, sometimes you get caught with your pants down, for whatever reason.  It happens to everybody.  It shouldn't be a big deal to be able to access affordable sanitary products when that happens.  And men, who will never have to deal with the mess, expense, and inconvenience of monthly periods, should really be more sensitive.  Better yet, most of them should simply STFU on this particular topic.    

Gee Baby, ain't I good to you?

Today's post is inspired by the song I just uploaded to SingSnap.  I first heard it when Lyle Lovett sang it, not knowing that Diana Krall also did a version... and of course, both Lovett and Krall were covering the original from years ago.  I relate to the song because I have a husband who treats me like a queen.  I do my best to treat him right, too.

This morning, Bill walked out the door wearing a pair of really nice cashmere trousers I bought him last year.  He never wears them because they are a size too big.  I didn't buy the bigger size because I was hinting.  They just didn't have any in his size when I ordered and they were such a good price I couldn't pass them up.  He paired the charcoal pants with a blue houndstooth shirt I bought him this year and a navy blue sweater vest from last year.  He says he likes the sweater vests, so I'll probably look for a couple more for him.  They keep him warm here in frigid Germany.

This year, I also bought Bill a navy blue cashmere sport coat.  It's quite a handsome garment if I do say so myself.  Unfortunately, it definitely attracts dog hair.  I can see where the time I spent working in a menswear store is coming in handy.  He also wore his adorable new tweed cap.

Gosh, he's cute.  I love that hat.  It was an impulse buy.

He put on his kilt again, this time with all of the bells and whistles, so my mom can get a look at him.  I asked my sister to share the below photo with her.

We're still trying to figure out the belt.  It's tricky.

Bill had a merry Christmas.  I have a new phone, which is definitely a thrill.  I've been limping along with an iPhone 5s for years now.  It's been serviceable, but it doesn't hold a charge like it used to.  I now have an iPhone 8 Plus, which seems really huge to me.  It's about the size of a checkbook.  I think I like the size of the 5s more, but I do look forward to having a phone that doesn't crap out on me every few hours.  I probably will end up liking the bigger size, anyway.

As we look forward to a new year, I'm feeling kind of restless and nervous.  But then, I pretty much feel like that most of the time.  I like living in Germany, but a lot of the people I connected with are leaving now.  I don't know why, but when people start PCSing, I start feeling like I'm being left behind or something.  On the other hand, I hate moving.  I also hate renting.  I guess something has to give eventually.

Anyway, we did have a nice, low-key, drama free holiday.  It's was actually a bit boring.  I'm left with little to write about.  But, at least I can sing a song.

I kind of hope it rains today...  I'm in a musical mood. 

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Flyin' low and feelin' mean...

The day after Christmas is always so anti-climactic.  Bill went back to work this morning and I spent most of the day washing our bedding and a load of clothes.  It takes forever to wash clothes in Germany, so that was no small feat.  I also did my usual Tuesday chore of cleaning the bathrooms.  I tried to sleep in today, but it's so ingrained in me to clean the bathrooms first thing in the morning that I couldn't fall asleep again.  Besides, Bill brought me coffee in bed.

I took the boys for the morning walk and ran into a German lady who has a cute little pug.  She asked me if I was cold because I didn't bother to zip up my coat.  I never do, because it makes me feel stifled.  I have to admit the temperatures were pretty raw today, though.  Looks like we'll get more snow on Thursday... that's when I vacuum.

I just started a new true crime book about an old case.  It's about a man who has a nasty habit of poisoning women he's married.  I first heard about the case when I was watching a true crime series on Netflix.  I think it was called Your Worst Nightmare.  Anyway, I was so blown away by the show that I went looking to see if anyone had written about it.  Sure enough, someone had.  But it's such an old case that the book is not on Kindle.  I hope to be done reading it soon so I can write a review.  I find true crime posts turn out to be more interesting than most.

Last night, I called my mom while somewhat lit on wine and a recent viewing of An Officer and a Gentleman.  Indeed, that movie was what inspired today's post title.  At the beginning of the film, the officer candidates go running on the beach and call cadence.  The first line goes, "Flyin' low and feelin' mean."  Bill likes to watch that movie with me and critique it.  Especially when they play "Retreat" when they're supposed to play "Reveille"... and too late in the day at that.  It's amazing the shit I know because I married an Army guy.

Mom is doing okay, though, and was in the middle of cooking for two of my sisters and their families.  They are visiting her right now.  As for Bill and I, we had a very pleasant, drama free holiday for once.  Bill was supposed to "meet" his daughter's husband last week, but she had to bail on him.  I'm sure that as their chats continue, more of the truth about why she's suddenly talking to him will come out.  And I'm sure I'll hear about it, too.  Then I'll blog about it, cuz I always do.

I was considering not writing today because I don't have much of anything to write about right now.  Today is Boxing Day, which is a German holiday.  Consequently, it's really quiet here and kind of boring...  well, except for the dipshit teenagers who insist on standing in the field outside of our fence, causing our dogs to go ape shit.  They just stand there and gawk.  It's annoying as hell.  I was tempted to yell at them, but who wants to be the old lady who yells at people to stay off the lawn?  Actually, I'm sure a lot of people do.

Aside from doing the laundry, I've also been catching up on South Park.  I guess if I still watch cartoons, I can't be that old, right?  Incidentally, I was reminded of this cute cartoon the other day.  I guess kids today don't watch this kind of thing anymore...

I should watch more cartoons.  It would be good for my mind.

Oh... and I also watched a very lame Osmond Family Christmas special from 1981.  Yes, it's been a boring day.  Time to plan a trip.

Monday, December 25, 2017


A joyous Christmas to those of you who celebrate.  Bill and I have had breakfast and opened our gifts.  I bought him a new hat, a sweater, a sport coat, tons of clothes, a couple of new knives, a cutting board with board conditioner and cleaner, safety gloves for when he uses the knives, oven mitts, an apron, a belt for his kilt, and a couple of buckles.  He got me a new phone, a beautiful beer stein, socks, a pair of earrings with a matching necklace, and a fancy gizmo for charging the new phone.

We also got nice gifts from Bill's mom-- a wooden Bento box for Bill and picture frames with pictures of Bill and the dogs for me.  All is well.  I don't know what we'll do with the rest of the day, but so far it's been nice.

Christmas is historically dramatic for me, but these last years with Bill have made me like the holiday again.  I am truly blessed to have such a sweet man in my life.  Once again, I thank whatever lucky stars were out there that brought us together.

I think this was my favorite gift.  Bill was worried that I wouldn't like it!  Prost!

I may try calling my family today.  They are mostly celebrating with my mom in Virginia.  We have beautiful sunny skies, though.  Might be a better idea to break in the stein.  ;-)  Or maybe use one that is dishwasher safe.

One more holiday to go before the holidays are a memory and we're looking forward to the summer.  Bring it on.  

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Season's Greetings, and all that jazz!  

Sunday, December 24, 2017

My life's work...

Yesterday, I read an article about the social work program at my alma mater, Longwood University.  When I was a student there, it was called Longwood College, but even in those days, there was talk that it would eventually be renamed.  And so it was in 2002, eight years after my graduation day.

I read the article about social work with interest, since I later earned a master's degree in social work at the University of South Carolina.  When I was a Longwood student, I had visions of doing something with my writing skills.  I later went to USC with visions of becoming employable.

Well... life has turned out interestingly for me.  I am doing what I had dreams of doing, but I'm not really making much of a mark.  Or maybe I am.  It's impossible to know.  Some people read my writing and might even enjoy it sometimes.  Some people probably think I'm not much of a writer and am spinning my wheels.

I could have been a social worker.  I could have worked in the field of public health.  Those were my plans fifteen years ago, but then the process of life altered my path until I found myself washed up in Germany.  I worry about things like whether or not our landlords are going to give us a hard time when we move out of their house.  I wonder when we will move, knowing that someday it will happen.  But it could happen in a few months or a few years.  It's impossible to tell.

I felt kind of bad as I read the article about Longwood's social work program.  When I was a Longwood student, I had no plans to become a social worker.  Now I see that people who finished Longwood after I did are running the program.  I could have been among them, I guess, even though I was an English major.

I always thought I'd have some kind of career.  I don't mean a vocation, like what I think my writing is.  I mean an actual career.  I thought I'd have business cards and a company email address.  I thought I'd wear professional clothes and have some kind of job title that commanded respect.  I thought I'd have co-workers of some sort.

Instead, I mostly spend my time alone.  Sometimes I get dressed and go places, then I come home and write about what I saw and did.  People read what I write and sometimes I even make money.  If I suddenly found myself alone, I'm not sure what I'd do.  I feel like the time I spent in school didn't actually prepare me for much more than writing stories about the past.

Despite everything, so far I've led a rather interesting and, in some ways, even extraordinary life.  I've had some experiences that some Americans can only dream of.  And I've missed out on a lot of experiences that I'd always expected I'd have.  I thought I'd be a mother, settled down in a town somewhere with my man.  I thought I'd have a job and a role in society.  Instead, I kind of float from place to place, observing and writing... sometimes people read what I write and oftentimes they don't.

Bill tells me this is my vocation.  Maybe he's right.  Personally, I think I'm better at music than writing, but that's probably in the eyes and ears of the beholder.  It was at Longwood that I found out about my ability to create music.  Maybe that's what I was supposed to do.  Maybe what I am supposed to do is what I'm doing right now.

Sometimes it's intriguing to let your mind flow early in the morning while your husband and dogs are sleeping.  That's what I'm doing right now.  It's not that deep and probably not that engaging for people who don't know me.  But it gives me something quiet to do as I wait for the sun to rise.

I caught myself looking at pictures of people I knew when I was a teenager.  I see where they've ended up.  Quite a few people I used to know never left Virginia.  Many of them still live in the county where I grew up and couldn't wait to leave.  I look at them with their nice waterfront homes, SUVs, and bow-tied boys, looking every bit the southern kids they are.  I look at the young girls with bows in their hair and pretty dresses.  A lot of them will find and marry local people and stay where they are.  And some will flutter away like I did, marry someone in the military and end up scattered to the winds, never knowing where they will land the next time.

I look at those people I knew in Virginia and see that they and their families still live there, in that town where I came of age.  A part of me feels a little jealous of their stability.  I see they have friends and connections with a community.  My parents, after my dad retired from the Air Force, landed in that town and made connections.  I grew up there, watching them take root.  They've left there now, so even though that was once my home, it's not really anymore.

I wonder if Bill and I will ever settle in one place and form bonds with a community.  Even if we did, would it even matter?  I have no descendants to dress in bows and pose in front of a pretty house in the country.  I flowed through college and graduate school... and now I'm stuck on a rock.

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Should former Peace Corps Volunteers be called "Veterans"?

Today's second article comes courtesy of a Facebook post by the National Peace Corps Association.  Within the post was a link to a story about a returned Volunteer named Jennifer Mamola, who had served in Uganda and was involved in a horrific accident.  Ms. Mamola and two other Volunteers, Ellen Grim and Danielle Gucciardo, were walking to catch a bus one evening.  It was very dark outside and there were no street lights, except for some light from a nearby store.  Suddenly, a car, driven by a drunk who had neglected to turn on his headlights, came barreling down the road and struck the three women.  Danielle Gucciardo was killed instantly, but Jennifer and Ellen survived.

Jennifer Mamola was unconscious for five hours.  Both of her legs were broken.  She had to be medically evacuated to South Africa, where she underwent the first of many surgeries to fix the damage.  Ms. Mamola had to leave the Peace Corps and faced a long recovery from her injuries.  Like so many other former Volunteers who come home with medical issues, Mamola faced a lot of bureaucracy trying to get the medical help she needed and was entitled to receive.

I know from personal experience that once you're out of country, the Peace Corps wants to be done with you.  I was given some vouchers for medical treatment at home, but I didn't use them.  Having read what some people have gone through to be reimbursed for service related injuries and illnesses, I see I was smart to just deal with my issues on my own.  But I came home relatively healthy, physically speaking.  I did have some recurrent problems with tenacious skin infections.

These days, Jennifer Mamola is on a mission to get returned Peace Corps Volunteers recognized for their service in the same way military veterans are.  I'll be honest.  I'm of a mixed mind about it.

A lot of people don't realize that serving in the Peace Corps does have some things in common with serving in the military.  I don't mean in terms of the actual job or mission, but in the way the organization is run.  It's definitely a government agency.  And, like everyone who works for government agencies, Peace Corps Volunteers swear the same oath to the Constitution that military members do.  And, just like a lot of former military members do, Peace Corps Volunteers who get hurt or sick during service often face difficulties in getting the treatment they need.

On one hand, I can see why former Volunteers want to be recognized for their service.  The Peace Corps can be very challenging.  My husband served thirty years in the Army and he will be the first to admit that Volunteers often live in austere conditions-- often even more austere than people in the military do.  Dedicated Volunteers can make miracles happen.  They serve their host countries, but they also serve the United States.  Later, they sometimes end up working in jobs that put them in contact with the military.  Bill has met one of my former Peace Corps colleagues in a professional setting.  So yes, in some ways, that service can lead to transferable skills that co-mingle with other government organizations, including the military.

On the other hand, Peace Corps Volunteers aren't really "employees", per se.  They are Volunteers.  In many ways, being a Volunteer is like having a real job.  In other ways, it's not.  I won't say that serving in the military is better or more honorable than being a PCV is.  A traditional Peace Corps stint is usually 27 months of service, whereas a military contract tends to last longer.  You serve four years on active duty; then, if you choose to "get out", spend the next four years in the IRR (inactive ready reserves).  That means the military can recall you any time during those next four years.  With the Peace Corps, you can quit any time you want to.  You won't be recalled to duty after you leave service.

As a returned Volunteer myself, I'm not sure I'd necessarily want to be called a "veteran".  As I mentioned before, Volunteers have a different mission than most military servicemembers have.  A lot of Volunteers would not want to be lumped in with military personnel.  It's been my experience that quite a number of RPCVs actually disdain the military and (wrongly, in my opinion) see servicemembers as part of a "killing machine".  However, what I think many former Volunteers do want is to be able to get the resources they need when they get home.  That means that service related injuries and illnesses should be taken care of, as they should be for veterans.  Of course, plenty of veterans have trouble getting the help they need, too.

I admire Jennifer Mamola and others like her who are lobbying on behalf of former Peace Corps Volunteers.  I think it's absolutely right that she and others who have been hurt in the line of Peace Corps duty get whatever they need to be as healthy as possible after their Peace Corps service.  However, I don't think our current government is likely to be very sympathetic to her plight.  I hope she will keep fighting, though, because the Peace Corps does do a lot of good... not just for the people in the countries served, but for our own people in the United States and the people who serve.  

So... no, personally, I'm not looking to be called a "veteran" as my husband is.  I do think that like veterans, Volunteers who sacrifice two years to the Peace Corps should have access to better care when they come home.  But then, I also think the same about military veterans.  ... Actually, I think ALL Americans should have better access to healthcare, but that's a rant for another day.


Inviting people to commit suicide is NOT COOL...

A few days ago, Sanctimommy shared this post on Facebook.

Someone sent this to Sanctimommy and they posted it because that is the business Sanctimommy is in.  They post ridiculous mommy shaming Facebook posts for the world to see.  It's supposed to be dark humor.

I have been following Sanctimommy for awhile now, even though I'm not a mom.  Sometimes reading that page makes me realize the shit I don't have to deal with because I never had children.  It kind of makes me feel better as I inexorably march toward menopause.

I don't get any mommy shaming because I have no kids to be shamed over-- although I HAVE been doggy shamed before.  I remember some guy gave me grief because I admitted to stopping at a rest stop while driving with my dogs.  I left them alone for a few minutes while I peed.  When I came back to the car, there was a crowd there.  My then dogs, Flea and MacGregor, were honking the horn.  At the time, it was funny, but that guy felt their lives were in grave danger because I dared to leave them in the car for a few minutes.  It was February, so they were in no danger of death by heatstroke.  Moreover, if anyone had tried to break into the car, Flea would have eaten them.  He still gave me a ration of shit.  And it was on my birthday, no less.

I read these pages because it never fails to surprise me how sanctimonious people can be, especially about children and pets.  It seems like people nowadays have a really hard time minding their own business and/or living and let live.  The Internet compounds this problem to epic proportions.  You have a segment of people who want to be "heroes".  You have people who are looking for fifteen minutes of fame.  And you have many, many stupid and/or thoughtless people who feel compelled to be the first one to deliver the quip that stops everyone in their tracks.

I shared Sanctimommy's post on my own page.  I got a lot of outraged comments.  Most of the people commenting realized that the above photo did not represent my personal views.  No one invited me to kill myself... at least not this time.  I was surprised by the outrage, since it's obvious that this post shouldn't be taken seriously by anyone.  But if I thought I got outraged comments, Sanctimommy got some that were just beyond the pale.  In fact, it got so bad that they posted this last night.

Wow... unbelievable!

This was the post that prompted last night's statement from Sanctimommy.

Folks, I get that sometimes things on the Internet will get you fuckin' pissed!  I understand that when you get that pissed off, you want to say something really dramatic and shocking.  But please don't invite other people to kill themselves.  You may think it to yourself, but please don't say it.  It's just wrong.  And if you have any shred of decency in you and someone actually takes your suggestion, you will feel like shit.  And you really should.  

Sometimes I do get outraged comments from people; though fortunately, no one has yet invited me to kill myself because of something I wrote on this blog.  I did, however, once get a personal invitation to kill myself from someone I thought was a friend.  It was pretty devastating, too, because it happened in front of other people during the years when I was actually a bit suicidal and depressed.

The incident occurred in 1996, when I was at mid service training during my time in the Peace Corps.  I was going through a very difficult period with my assignment.  The country director was down on me and had even threatened to kick me out of the country at one point.  Add those difficulties to the reality of living in 90s era Armenia-- no power a lot of the time, constant sexual harassment, no running water for some and no hot water for all, and just feeling like you're totally undervalued, yet living in a fishbowl.  Add that to having a dysfunctional family that doesn't really care that much, although they were kind enough to send me People magazine... well, things were hard and I was coming close to the end of my proverbial rope.  

I was feeling paranoid at the time.  I think it was, in part, because the Assistant Peace Corps Director's son was one of my students.  I knew he had talked to her about me, although I think he actually liked me.  I knew people at my school had complained to the APCD about me because she was a parent at my school and I wasn't as much of a superstar teacher as one of the newer Volunteers, who had a master's degree in teaching English as a Foreign Language.  They had seen this master's level teacher in action because the training for the new Volunteers was done at my school.  They would have preferred the master's level teacher to come teach at my school, but she was working at a local university.  She also didn't stay longer than the first year because she and her husband got jobs in Palau.  So much for dedication, huh?

Anyway, the previous year's training, which I had taken in the city of Abovian, was largely handled by the Volunteer who taught there.  But she had a much stronger relationship with her school than I did with mine.  She also had a very different personality than mine.  She was confident and assertive and, frankly, more into the job than I was.  She had helped plan and coordinate the training for my group.  It was her "baby" and she did a fantastic job.    

By contrast, I wasn't involved in the training that was held at my school, as I should have been.  I wasn't able to help plan it.  I had been on vacation when the planning was going on and no one had told me about it ahead of time.  I wasn't involved in the decision to have the training there and no one asked my opinions about what should be done.  So, when the new Volunteers were being trained, I would come to the school and just sit there doing nothing.  No one had asked me to show up to training, either.  I went because I felt like I was supposed to be there. 

I didn't go on the last day of training.  I got yelled at for that.  I remember thinking to myself it wasn't a good idea to stay home; but then, the leadership at my school didn't seem to care whether or not I was there.  I wasn't involved or engaged at all.  It seemed like a waste of time to go to the school for that last day, so I didn't.  Maybe it was a sort of symbolic rebellion.  Remember, too, that I was in my early 20s and, though I didn't know it at the time, legitimately clinically depressed.

So, all of that shit had led up to our training at Lake Sevan.  The APCD had asked me to present a lesson on prepositions.  There was a lot of tension.  I felt really paranoid about her request.  But I came up with a lesson that was uniquely "me" and used the song "Over the Rainbow" to illustrate how prepositions could be creatively taught.  The presentation went fine, but I was still feeling miserable.  At one point, I cracked an ill advised joke about slicing a vein.  And this guy in my group, also a master's level teacher (and now a doctoral level teacher) said, "Go for it, Jenny."  Everybody laughed.  I felt like the lowest creature on the planet.  I wished I could just die right there on the spot.  I started thinking it would be better if I could just check out.  Needless to say, my depression got worse.

Now, I will admit that I shouldn't have made that crack.  It was a really dumb thing to say.  But I also wasn't really in my right mind at the time.  I was overwhelmed, anxious, paranoid and depressed.  I felt like no one cared about me.  Depression messes with your thinking and distorts your perceptions. I didn't realize it, but I was seeing things differently than they probably were... although I do think some of my paranoia was justified.

That guy who said "Go for it!", with whom I used to be friendly, took the opportunity to shit on me again in a really shocking and public way.  I was very, very upset about what he said and I've never forgotten it, although I did forgive him for awhile.  I have since come to the conclusion that he's extremely toxic and I don't want to have anything to do with him.  I guess that's fine, since I'm sure he feels the same way about me for different reasons.  I hope he hasn't invited anyone else to kill themselves, although having seen him enraged more than once, my guess is that he probably has.

Although I count my two years in the Peace Corps as very important in my life, the truth is, those years were also very painful and difficult.  I didn't really fit in with most of the people I served with and I didn't have a really rewarding assignment.  I'm glad I did it, though, because the end results were worth it.  I grew a lot and proved to myself that I could make it on my own in a foreign country.  I did meet some great people and have some excellent experiences that forever broadened me.  My second year was also way better than the first year was.  I found ways to make the experience more rewarding and fun.  But I still came home pretty mentally sick and things didn't get better for over a year after my return.  The truth is, I often did contemplate suicide during that time period.  It was horrible.  I wouldn't even wish it on Bill's ex wife.  That's how bad it was.  

So now I offer this plea to anyone reading this post.  It's okay to be outraged and angry about what someone says or does.  You may get so angry that you legitimately hope the other person will die.  But please, for the love of God, don't actually say that to them unless you are prepared to deal with the fallout of someone actually taking your suggestion.  Believe me, there are people out there on the edge who will do it.  They may even do it just to spite you, because there are a lot of people out there who are just looking for a reason.  Some especially sick individuals may simply try it in order to punish you.  They may not even want to succeed.  But what if they do succeed in killing themselves or, worse, end up living, but with an extremely horrible quality of life?  If that happens, and you have the slightest inkling of a conscience, you could experience an especially devastating form of karma from which you may never recover.  That's not to mention the potential legal ramifications of encouraging suicide.  It's really not worth it.

I can't say it enough.  Please... if someone gets you so upset that you wish suicide on them (and their loved ones, because let's face it, they are the ones who will deal with the aftermath), take a step back from the computer.  Take a deep breath.  Do NOT invite them to kill themselves.  It could turn out very badly for a lot of people, you especially.  It could turn out that the person who got you angry enough to invite them to kill themselves will become your albatross.  If you truly hate someone enough to tell them to kill themselves, the last thing you'll want is to have the psychological burden of their suicide on your head.