Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The difference between flying monkeys and "abuser groupies"...

If I live to be 100, I will never understand "abuser groupies".  "Abuser groupies" is a term I just made up.  I was probably inspired by the German habit of using descriptive words to make new words.  The German language often has really long words, which are commonly made up of words that describe the item.  For instance, yesterday Bill learned that the German word for devil's skull is one word-- Teufelssch├Ądel.  I could probably look for and find many other examples of this, but that would mean veering off topic, which I'm all too keen to do.  So, for now, I'll just try to explain what I mean when I refer to "abuser groupies".

First off, as I sit here pondering this, I think maybe another common term for "abuser groupies" is "flying monkeys".  But, to me, flying monkeys are kind of different than abuser groupies.  Flying monkeys, as described in pop psychology, are basically people who abuse on behalf of another person, usually a narcissist.  They get co-opted to do the narcissist's dirty work.  Sometimes, they don't even realize that they are being used for that purpose.

For instance, my husband's stepmother was often used as a flying monkey when Bill's ex wife wanted to get an abusive message to us, but lacked the temerity to deliver it herself.  She'd enlist other people to do her bidding.  Ex knew how to push Bill's stepmom's buttons and spur her into action.  For years, she'd get Bill's stepmom or even his dad to abuse on her behalf.

In the spring of 2006, Bill's ex wife sent Bill a horrible email about how his kids hated us both and thought he was a terrible father.  She threw in her own toxic comments about Bill's failings as a human being, then told him not to tell me about what she'd written.  It was classic abuse, right down to her attempt to isolate Bill by demanding that he not share her email with me.  Fortunately, Bill did decide to share.  As I had promised him the last time she'd sent him email full of hate, I decided to respond.  I mainly responded because she'd always berate me in her missives, even though we've never met in person and I had nothing to do with the breakup of her marriage to Bill.  I note today that had I had the chance to do it over again, I think it would have been better if neither of us responded at all.  But at least it got her to leave us alone.

I sent Ex my one and only an email basically telling her to go screw herself, but not using profanity to do so.  Instead of responding to me directly, she went crying to Bill's stepmother, claiming that I had sent her a "mean" email.  She knows Bill's stepmother is well-versed in the art of guilting.  She knows Bill is very susceptible to being guilted.  Guilt, to Bill, is like kryptonite.  Ex planned on stepmom calling Bill up and chewing him out for what I'd written in my email to her.  Of course, Ex neglected to tell Bill's stepmom about the email she'd sent to Bill, which had provoked my response.  Notice that neither Ex nor stepmom wanted to deal with me themselves.  They were too cowardly.  Instead, they were trying to turn Bill into a "flying monkey".

Sure enough, Bill's stepmom called Bill, yelled at him for upsetting Ex, and commanded him to keep me in line.  This was the kind of thing stepmom had done for years, so Bill was expecting it.  What neither Ex nor Stepmom were expecting that time was that Bill was armed with emails from his ex wife, basically proving that my attack had not been unprovoked.  He sent copies of the emails to stepmom and turned it all around on Ex.  That was the last time Ex ever sent emails to us, because now she knows they can and will be used as weapons.  In fact, at this point, she's left us alone for years.  But anyway... that's an example of a flying monkey.  It's a person who gets hijacked into abusing on an abuser's behalf.

When I write of "abuser groupies", I'm not really thinking of flying monkeys.  I don't think of the "groupies" as delivering any abuse themselves.  Instead, they simply seem to admire the abuser and want to hang out with him or her.  For example, a few months ago, I left a locally run Facebook group because people within the group seemed very willing to aid and abet a person who, to me, was clearly an abuser.  This guy regularly used degrading language about women and had what appeared to me to be some very fucked up, rapey attitudes about relationships with women.

I noticed that he had a very low boiling point when it came to online discussions that frustrated him.  He would go from zero to eighty in two seconds whenever a woman confronted him about anything.  He'd start with what seemed like "reasonably toned" comments, but then would quickly turn into vile name calling and raging.  On more than one occasion, I noticed this man referring to women who confronted him as "cunts", usually with a sneering adjective before it (ie; "sanctimonious cunt").  In the United Kingdom, the word "cunt" is not necessarily as bad of a word as it is in the United States.  It basically means a person is silly or stupid, albeit expressed in an extremely offensive way.  In the United States, the word "cunt" considered a very bad word that one saves for the end of the argument.  Most of the people within our group were Americans, so immediately going straight to the c-word is really beyond the pale.

I had to wonder why, if the group we were in was intended to be fun, so many people tolerated this man's liberal use of such derogatory language, especially since quite a few of the people in that group are themselves women.  One of the group's leaders, a female veteran, told me that she had once ended up in handcuffs because someone called her a cunt.  I also noticed that she would stick up for her "friends" sometimes, when she felt like it.  She got really aggressive toward me once, chiming in on an exchange I was having with another woman, steadfastly defending her against me over a pretty minor disagreement (and I never used the c-word).  And yet, she had no problem allowing this guy in her group to refer to women as cunts whenever he felt like it.  In fact, she seemed to enjoy his humor and abusive personality.  I noticed she especially seemed to agree with the abuser's choice to use the word "cunt" when he was using it toward a woman who dared to be assertive.  When the assertive woman inevitably left the group, she and her friends would make fun of her.  Then, she would claim to be a feminist.

The same goes for another woman in the group.  I met her once in person, thought she was pretty cool, and noted that she was fairly intelligent.  She has daughters, at least one of whom is a teenager.  One would think a mother of at least one teenaged girl would be a bit more sensitive to misogynistic comments from a grown man.  But no-- this lady seems to really enjoy the abuser's filthy comments and basically hateful attitudes toward women.  I don't know that she acts as a flying monkey, per se.  I don't necessarily see her doing any "dirty work" on his behalf.  She just hangs around and seems to admire his handiwork.  She "laughs" when this man abuses other people, especially women.  She cheers when people are fooled by his superficial charm and makes fun of the people who won't put up with it, joining in on the chorus of those who casually hurl the word "snowflake" around like it's really an insult.

I wonder if either of these women notice this man's misogyny or even realize that they're encouraging him to be hateful to females.  Does it even occur to them that one day, he will turn on them?  Don't they know that, one day, there will be a disagreement of some sort and he will quickly become abusive?  Will they still be laughing then?

As I was writing this, I thought of the old story "The Frog and the Scorpion"...  I kind of like the twist Adult Swim put on this old tale.  But the message is the same, really.  

For some people, abuse really is in their nature.  If you wait long enough, an abusive person WILL turn on you.  I hope those abuser groupies have been taking notes. 

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

High school teacher basically compares military recruiters to pimps...

It's no secret that a lot of people dislike military recruiters.  I remember having some rather unpleasant exchanges with one particular woman back when George W. Bush was president.  We were both on a messageboard for second wives and stepmothers.  She would regularly disdain the recruiters who were calling her son.  She made all kinds of comments about military service and how far beneath her son it was.  Later, I laughed at her when her son decided to join the military against her vehemently expressed wishes to the contrary.

Ordinarily, I wouldn't have laughed at that woman, but she was overall a nasty person who was downright mean to me and regularly made racist comments about Mexicans.  She lived in Texas and said the Mexicans were basically the cause of all her problems.  I never got the impression that she held people in the military in much higher esteem.  Oh... and she also told me that she didn't think I was a "real" writer, either, then bragged about how many articles she allegedly sold to magazines.  I'm certain that whatever she sold needed plenty of editing, because although she might have been a prolific writer, she wasn't a very skilled one.

So yeah, I did laugh out loud when she whined to us about how her son had, on his own, decided to join the Air Force.  Now you're an Air Force mom.  Own it.  I'm glad your son has enough testicular fortitude to go against his meddlesome mommy's wishes.  He must have gotten that from his father, who also apparently got the hell out of Dodge to get away from you.  One of her other complaints was that her current husband had what she termed a "boyfriend" (a bandmate who did stuff with him) whose company he preferred to hers.  I can see why.  (Sorry, sometimes I do need to let go of things...)

In any case, that anti military recruiter sentiment sometimes expands into other areas by people who probably ought to keep quiet.  This week, it expanded into  El Rancho High School teacher Gregory Salcido's classroom.  One of his students was wearing a Marine Corps sweatshirt and Salcido said, “Don’t you ever freaking bring the freaking military into this classroom,” Salcido says. “I don’t understand why we let the freaking military guys come over here and recruit you at school. We don’t have pimps come into school.”

The quick thinking young man, proudly sporting his Marine Corps shirt, decided to film his teacher's ugly tirade.  Naturally, it has now ended up on social media.  I listened to it last night, aghast that Mr. Salcido apparently still has a license to teach.  I'm less shocked by the sheer ignorance of his anti-military comments as I am at the language he uses.  Is it now acceptable for teachers to repeatedly use words like "shit" and "freakin'" while they are on the job?  I am certainly not one to be offended by cursing, but there is a time and a place for everything.  A classroom is no place for that kind of language unless it has something specific to do with what is being taught.

"Dumb shits?"  Really?  They're not "high level people"?  They're not intellectuals?  They're not talented?  They're not academics?  And this guy is all of those things?  I don't think so.

What was even more noticeable to me was the glaring typo in the article I read.  Check this out.

Not for nothing, Marine Times, but this doesn't help your cause in proving that people in the military are not "dumb shits".  I'm kidding, of course.  It's just a common typo.

I don't understand where this guy gets the idea that people in the military "have no other options" and are uneducated.  My husband, who served thirty years, now has three college degrees from private colleges that he mostly didn't have to pay for.  He's enjoyed a challenging career that has given him the chance to see the world.  He gets paid retirement and has fully covered medical care, simply for getting up in the morning.  He's now enjoying a well-paid job in a beautiful country in Europe.  

Now... I do understand that a lot of parents don't like that military recruiters come to schools.  I get that recruiters can be pests, since they can be very focused on getting their numbers.  In that sense, they aren't unlike certain religion peddlers.  However, the military is a perfectly respectable and viable career for many people.  In fact, for some it's an excellent way out of poverty.  I've known quite a few bright people whose families didn't have the money to send them to college.  They joined the military and got their degrees.  I have one friend who was, at times, homeless when we were in high school.  She's now an Air Force Colonel who will never be homeless again.

So, I think Mr. Salcido needs to pull his head out of his ass.  He's clearly ignorant about the military.  Moreover, I can't believe he thinks it's appropriate to use that kind of language in a classroom.  Not only was his language basically filthy, it was also racist toward Muslims.  No wonder so many people would rather homeschool these days.

Very well said.

I rather liked this guy's video (posted above).  He's basically said what I would say, including pointing out that over 70% of today's teenagers can't join the military anyway, because they don't qualify.  Quite a number of today's teens are too fat to enlist and/or unable to pass the ASVAB.  Incidentally, even though I never had any aspirations of being in the military, I took the ASVAB.  I went to a high school where recruiters were welcomed and respected.  I can think of at least two of my classmates who came from poor families and went on to enjoy excellent military careers.

Anyway, it's too bad Mr. Salcido didn't make his comments to an actual Marine.  My guess is that the Marine might have made him eat his words.  Semper Fi!

Edited to add:  This is not the first time Mr. Salcido has been in trouble for his words and actions as a teacher.  It's time he got fired.

Monday, January 29, 2018

Psychiatrists who have "issues"...

Yesterday's post about passive aggressive behavior has led me to remember another anecdote from the late 1990s.  An old friend of mine read yesterday's post and noted that she had the same thoughts my psychologist did about my dad's toilet behaviors being akin to a dog marking its territory.  My friend mistook my psychologist for my psychiatrist, though, and I felt compelled to correct her.  Why?  Because they are two very different men.

I am, to this day, friendly with my former therapist.  He's a Facebook friend, and not of the variety that simply lurks without commenting.  I'm pretty happy to be friends with this guy, mainly because it could be a clue that I'm not as annoying as I think I am.  Of course, therapists do make their livings dealing with annoying people.  I choose to believe that I'm not one of his most annoying former patients.  It makes me feel better.

Quote Investigator says Notorious d.e.b. gets credit for this quote...

I am not friendly with my former psychiatrist.  I didn't like him from the get go.  I am grateful to him for finding me the right medications when I was very depressed and anxious.  I will also grant that he was a competent doctor.  However, he was also a major league asshole who did some real damage to me before I finally decided that it wasn't me who had issues.  It was him.

Yesterday, as Bill and I were driving to a nearby city for a late lunch, I was remembering my "work" with this guy.  I'll call him Dr. Smith.  It's not his real name.  Actually, his real name is common enough that I could probably just use it, but enough people who read this blog actually know me, so it's probably better to preserve his anonymity.

Dr. Smith was an older doctor from the Midwest.  He was tall and had a full beard.  I'd say he was kind of ruggedly handsome, although not really my type.  By the time we crossed paths, he'd been a doctor for several decades, having graduated from medical school in the mid 1960s.  I suspect that when Dr. Smith was a new doctor, he did a lot of talk therapy rather than pushing pills the way psychiatrists tend to do today.  I always got the impression that he missed being a therapist and preferred that to being a drug pusher.  He enjoyed talking and, I suspect, liked the power he had over his patients.  I would say he was one of the most authoritative doctors I have ever seen.  Bear in mind that most of the doctors I've seen have had some affiliation with the military, so I've seen my share of authoritative doctors.  Smith did offer talk therapy, but I think most people saw him for pills.

Our very first meeting consisted of what was called "intake".  I had to go speak to him for over an hour, telling him about my problems.  My therapist had recommended that I talk to the doctor about getting antidepressants, since I was quite depressed and anxious.  Bear in mind that at this point, I had only seen the psychologist a couple of times.

The intake session with the psychiatrist was an expensive appointment because it took up a precious hour of the doctor's time.  Although I remember passing many pleasant hours with my psychologist, the hour I spent with the psychiatrist was rather hellish.  I talked about what had brought me to his office.  I remember being on the edge of tears the whole time.  At one point, he asked me if I didn't think I needed to go on a diet.

I remember being pretty shocked at Smith's very blunt comment about my body.  I mean, yes, I am overweight and have been for years.  But the way he asked me about it was so cold and, frankly, kind of mean.  I remember he said, noting that I was about to burst into tears, "Oh, was I not supposed to mention that?"

What Dr. Smith didn't know... or perhaps he didn't believe after I told him... was that I had spent years obsessing about my body and had actually engaged in eating disordered behaviors as a teenager and college student.  I used to starve myself on a regular basis and engaged in a lot of crazymaking behaviors in an effort to lose weight.  I was still struggling with those issues when I first started seeing him and was living with my parents, who also used to tell me how unattractive I was.

There I was, about to fall apart, and he made this very insensitive comment about my weight.  It wasn't like he wanted to know if that was a symptom of my depression and anxiety, either.  It was more like he thought I was gross to look at.  Then, later in the session, I misspoke and said my parents lived with me and he very coldly said, "No, I think you live with them."  The way he said that made me feel like such a loser, and not in the way he wanted me to be (all that unattractive weight I was carrying around).  It was like he could tell my parents were very disappointed in me and rightfully so.

Then, he said he thought I was probably fat because of sexual abuse in my past.  He said he felt the extra weight was my way of making myself unattractive to men.  For the record, I don't think that's the whole reason why I'm heavier than I'd like to be.  However, I will admit that I've never been very comfortable with sex and I did experience sexual abuse.  If I'm honest, I could probably live the rest of my life without it, although I do love Bill's touch.  I think I have weight issues for many complex reasons.  One of the main ones, though, is the simple fact that I like to eat and drink.

I left Smith's office that day with a prescription for Prozac, after I listened to his very patronizing speech about how I had taken the all important first step to recovery by asking for help.  He had prescribed Prozac because that was the drug my dad was on, and he said that if my dad was having success with it, I probably would too.  Apparently, a tendency toward depression can be genetic and so can the drugs that turn out to be the most effective.  Actually, I don't think my dad did have success with Prozac.  He later switched to Wellbutrin, like I did, and I think that helped him more.  But anyway, I took Prozac for about three months, with the doctor raising the dosage until I was up to 60 milligrams a day, which was a lot.

Although I eventually had what Dr. Smith called a "partial response" to Prozac, it wasn't really helping me that much.  In November of 1998, I had a major meltdown while I was at work.  I can't really describe in detail what happened.  It was kind of like my brain froze or something.  I didn't feel like I could function.  I started crying uncontrollably and had to leave.  I also felt suicidal-- it was like I just went certifiably crazy or something.  It was very scary for me and probably for anyone who witnessed me in that state.  I felt like I was going crazy.  It was probably due to the high dosage of Prozac I was on, because it never happened again after I got off the drug.

I had emergency appointments with both of my shrinks that day.  I remember my therapist asking me what I planned to do with the rest of my afternoon.  I said I was going to go home and read a book.  He said, "I hope you won't be reading any Sylvia Plath."  It was a rather funny comment, but I was too upset to laugh at it.  Then I saw the doctor, who said maybe it was time to consider trying a different antidepressant.  He didn't change my meds that day, but he did the following week.  That was when he prescribed Wellbutrin, which ended up being a life changer.  Wellbutrin also has the added benefit of being energizing.  People often gain weight on antidepressants, but not usually on Wellbutrin.  I'm sure that was another reason he prescribed it.

I remember the actual day my life started to change for the better.  It was December 4, 1998.  I had a purple pill in my hand as I sat at a restaurant in Williamsburg, Virginia.  I took the pill.  Exactly four days later, I woke up and realized I needed to get on with my life.  That was when I decided to go to graduate school.  Somehow, it was like all of the fears and paralysis I had experienced with depression vanished and I soon found myself working to make a move happen.  Wellbutrin probably saved my life.  Within a month, I was applying to graduate schools and getting ready to take the GRE.  Within three months, I had acceptance letters to both of the programs to which I had applied.  Several months after that, I finally moved out of my parents' house for the last time.

In the meantime, I still had the occasional meltdown at work because I was waiting tables at a very popular restaurant and the job was very stressful.  I would get abuse from the customers and my co-workers and the work itself was high pressure.  I felt like I was living on adrenaline.  Although I eventually got good at waiting tables, it took several weeks to get the hang of it.  There were a lot of days when I would show up to work feeling like I needed to throw up from the stress.

Dr. Smith, again, would usually take the other person's side whenever I had a conflict.  One time, I came in to see Dr. Smith and told him about how one of the chefs was abusive to me.  I had made a mistake on an order.  Someone had ordered a cheeseburger and, for some reason, the computer didn't automatically sequence burgers as "third courses".  We had to remember to do that manually.  I had forgotten to properly sequence the burger, so I went to tell the chef that I had intended to for the burger to come out with the main courses the rest of the table had ordered.  Instead of simply saying it was okay and making a note of the change, the chef proceeded to yell at me, something that neither of us had time for.  I shrugged and said "Whatever." and the chef called the manager and complained.  Then she also yelled at me and I got really upset.  Actually, I'm surprised they didn't fire me!  But, for whatever reason, I did good enough work and was reliable enough that they didn't.  Twenty years later, I'm still friends with a lot of people from that job.

When I told Dr. Smith about that incident, he asked me if I had apologized to the chef.  I remember saying that I hadn't, because I didn't feel like I did anything wrong.  I simply responded dismissively to the chef's rude, abusive behavior instead of just swallowing it like I always did in the past.  Smith felt that I should have been willing to tolerate the abuse and I owed the chef an apology for not accepting abuse from him.  He was not an advocate.  When I told my therapist the same story, he said, "That chef sounds like a prima donna.  Good for you for standing your ground."  See?  They are two very different men.

In August 1999, I went off to grad school.  For the next few years, I continued to visit the psychiatrist and the therapist quarterly.  I didn't really need either of them that much, but I wanted to continue to take the medication because I didn't want to fall back into depression while I was in graduate school.  Those three years were also pretty stressful and intense.  I wanted to give myself the best chance at success.

I met Bill online when I was in graduate school.  In 2002, six months after I finished my two master's degrees, we got married.  I remember visiting Dr. Smith with a few photos from our wedding.  He looked at them, frowned, and said, "Oh Jenny, don't you think you should lose some weight?"

Again, I was shocked at the sheer bluntness of that comment.  I wasn't depressed at that point.  I had finished grad school and gotten married, but instead of congratulating me for my successes, there he was making more derogatory comments about my body.

He also had a very annoying habit of calling me "kiddo", which I fucking hate.  I remember telling him that I was a thirty year old married woman, not a kid.  I told him I wanted him to stop calling me "kid" or "kiddo".  He said something along the lines of, "I'll always think of you as a 'kid' because I'm so much older than you are."  It seemed to me that the doctor didn't understand that calling me a "kid" when I was having trouble launching into adulthood was belittling.  It was the opposite of empowering, which was what I really needed.  There I was, trying to be strong and act like an adult, and there he was calling me a "kid" and, frankly, treating me like one.

I walked out of that appointment with a prescription for Topamax, which is a mood stabilizer and anti-seizure medication.  It's also been used to treat migraine headaches.  I didn't have any of the problems that Topamax was intended to solve, though.  Dr. Smith had given it to me because of the side effects.  Topamax kills your appetite.  Many people lose weight on it.  Dr. Smith was hoping I would lose weight and that's why he'd prescribed it.  I remember having to explain to pharmacists that I wasn't taking the drug for seizures.  They would routinely tell me that I shouldn't take Wellbutrin if I had seizures, since Wellbutrin can cause seizures in some people.  I was put in the embarrassing position of having to tell pharmacists that I was using the Topamax for an off label purpose.

I took the medication and it did kill my appetite.  In fact, Bill didn't like that I was taking it because I didn't want to cook or eat.  I remember it made anything carbonated taste flat, so I stopped drinking beer and soda (not necessarily a bad thing).  I still didn't lose any significant weight, which seemed to really upset Dr. Smith.  He couldn't understand why I wasn't dropping pounds.  I remember he said, "Maybe your thyroid is bad."  Other times, when I didn't progress the way he thought I should, he'd say things like "Oh, I was hoping you'd be one of my success stories." in a pitying tone of voice.

I finally stopped seeing Dr. Smith in February 2004, because I changed health insurance.  I weaned myself off of the Topamax and Wellbutrin without any ill effects.  Smith had also given me Klonopin for anxiety, but to be honest, I really didn't take it very often because it didn't do anything for me.  I was able to get off of all of the meds without any ill effects.  I suppose I'm pretty lucky.  The only thing that happened was I gained some more weight.

About three years after I saw the shrinks for the last time, I had to request their notes from my sessions.  It was 2007, and Bill and I were planning to move to Germany the first time.  I had to be evaluated for the Exceptional Family Member Program (actually, it turned out I didn't really have to be evaluated, but that's another story).  The EFMP screening required me to present my records to a doctor who would determine if I needed to be in the EFMP, which is a program that allows the powers that be in the military to consider the medical and educational needs of family members before assigning them to a job.  Anyone going OCONUS (outside of the continental USA) is supposed to be evaluated.  Because I had seen a therapist and was on psychiatric medications, the doctor decided I should enroll in EFMP (and again, that's another rant about which I've already written).

Against my better judgment, I decided to read the notes from my sessions.  The ones Dr. Smith had written often included his impressions of my appearance.  I remember in one note, he wrote that my appearance was "garish".  That took me aback, since when I think of a garish appearance, I think of someone who wears a lot of makeup and flashy clothes.  I have never been one to wear a lot of makeup or wear loud colors.  Apparently, that was how he saw me, though-- garish (clownish?).  I was left with the impression that he thought I was mega fat and should be dressed all in black or something.  Actually, at that time in my life, I was buying a lot of clothes because I had lost weight working in the restaurant.

I read other notes in which he noted with apparent disappointment that I wasn't losing any weight.  It was like he was very disappointed that I wasn't slimming down, although just working at the restaurant had effortlessly peeled about thirty-five pounds off of me.  I looked comparatively good, although I have never been as sick as often as I was when I worked at that restaurant.  I was constantly at the doctor's office.  It's the only time in my life that I've ever been close to being hospitalized, aside from when I was a baby and had pneumonia.

I try not to think too much about Dr. Smith these days.  The truth is, I mostly have negative opinions about him.  He was generally negative toward me.  At best, he was very condescending, which is something I can't abide and have less patience for today than I did back then.  However, even though I think he has some of his own "issues", he did find me the right medication which did help me finally get out of my parents' house.  So, for that, I truly am grateful.  But I'm not grateful for the constant comments he made about my appearance, the belittling things he said to me about how I lived my life, and his generally negative and unsupportive attitude toward me.  He was almost as bad as my father.

Moreover, I don't think Dr. Smith focused on my weight because he was concerned about my health or well-being.  I think he just doesn't like overweight women.  It's his personal preference that women be slim and submissive.  My therapist later told me that Dr. Smith was on his third marriage to a woman who was my age.  Somehow, I'm not at all surprised.

I will no longer endure people who treat me badly, especially people I'm paying.  I hate going to doctors because I have had a couple of bad ones who did some harm.  I don't trust them.  This is probably why I've been so riveted to the victim statements made by the athletes who saw Larry Nassar.  They are expressing a lot of the same feelings I have about how my trust in medical people is now greatly diminished.  First, it was because of the terrible experience I had with my very first visit to an OB-GYN and then it was my years of experience with Dr. Smith, who constantly made statements that were belittling and made me feel like there was a lot "wrong" with me, and not just in my head.  Frankly, it was the ultimate mind fuck.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

Bathroom slob? Urine trouble.

This morning I read a post by George Takei about a woman who posted a list of bathroom rules her husband had given her.  Apparently, this woman is a total slob in the bathroom.  Her husband of six years was fed up with his wife's disgusting habits.  He wrote out an admittedly snarky list of complaints and rules for her to follow.

I noted that the couple, who come from Australia, had apparently discussed the wife's lack of consideration in the bathroom.  He mentions in the note that they had talked about it some three weeks prior to his writing the list.  Among his complaints are that she doesn't flush the toilet and leaves the cap off the toothpaste so that it dries out.  She's also co-opted his one drawer and vanity with all of her makeup and crap.  She has four drawers of her own to use, yet that apparently isn't enough.


So... he wrote the list of rules.  I read them and, frankly, thought they were perfectly reasonable, albeit presented in a rather irritable tone.  At one point, he does mention that he's been tempted to replace the toothpaste with some other substance.  However, he "loves her too much" to do that.  What a relief.

I was pretty interested in what people thought of the rules.  To me, at their core, they seemed very fair.  Most people seemed to think the husband was well within his rights to make these demands.  However, there were a few comments that got my blood pressure up.  Behold...

Sigh... once again, people who don't understand what "passive aggressive" behavior is.

Sorry to bring this up again, but I have to rant.  People, passive aggression is not simply behavior that you find annoying.  It is a specific type of behavior.  There is nothing passive aggressive about this man's note to his wife.  In fact, I'd say it's rather direct and assertive... possibly even aggressive, depending on the dynamics between the two.  Maybe some people think he should have spoken to her in person and been less snarky, but it sounds like he tried to on more than one occasion and was simply fed up.  Some people express themselves better in writing.  Moreover, when things are written down, there's no question about what was communicated.  

If anything, I'd say the man sounds like he was frustrated by his wife's inability or unwillingness to show him some consideration.  Maybe it would have been better if he hadn't written that he'd been tempted to replace her toothpaste with something else.  That action, by the way, would constitute passive aggression.  Smiling at your wife and then putting Nair or something else in her toothpaste is very passive aggressive behavior.  His choice to write a very direct note rather than speaking to her is not passive aggressive.

Now... I actually have a bathroom related anecdote from my past that is a pretty good example of passive aggressive behavior.  In the late 90s, I was living with my parents, trying very hard to launch into adulthood.  My father, who was at that time in his sixties, was apparently unhappy that I had invaded his house after my stint in the Peace Corps.  

I was relegated to what used to be my sister's room and eventually became the "guest room", because it had its own bathroom.  The room was out of the way of the rest of the house.  You had to walk through the dining room to get to it.  There was really no reason to use the bathroom in that room unless you just simply wanted to.  There were two other bathrooms in the house that were more convenient to get to in almost every case.

More than once, I'd come home from work to find urine in the toilet.  My father had been going into my room during the day and peeing in the toilet, without flushing.  I'm sure he felt quite justified in doing what he was doing.  It was his house, after all.  He felt perfectly okay in going into that room, taking note of how I wasn't as neat as he would have preferred (I take after him-- my mom is the only reason he lived in a spotless house because my dad was an even bigger slob than I am), and pissing in the toilet, leaving it for me to find later.

I was seeing a psychologist at the time, so I mentioned the behavior to him.  My therapist's mouth kind of dropped open.  He said, "Wow.  That's like a dog marking his territory."

My dad was not necessarily a passive aggressive person by nature.  He generally had no problem telling me when he was upset about something.  I'd say he wasn't as confrontational as my mom is, though.  And, for some reason, instead of using the other toilets or being considerate when he used the one in the room I was using, he decided to leave me a calling card.

Imagine my glee when a few years later, my husband Bill and I visited my parents' house with our then dogs, Flea and MacGregor.  Both Flea and MacGregor are now at the Rainbow Bridge.  I have very fond memories of both of them for different reasons.  Flea was more my dog than Bill's and he was very protective of me.  I will never forget Flea's reaction to meeting my dad.  I don't think Flea liked old men in general, but he really didn't like my dad.  He would position himself between me and my dad and stare down my dad... barking at him whenever he spoke.  It was very bizarre.

Bill and I went out for awhile.  When we came back, my dad was "pissed".  I asked him what was wrong and he said, "One of those dogs peed all over my bed!"

Guess who?

I could always count on Flea to get pissed on my behalf.
Now, I had nothing to do with Flea's decision to pee on my dad's bed.  It was classic animal behavior probably driven by instinct, especially since Flea was very well house trained and ordinarily wouldn't have chosen to pee on a bed over a floor.  I've always kind of thought of that incident as payback, though.

Anyway... so ends another one of my rants about people who need to use a dictionary before using words or concepts they don't know.

The apathetic robber... another one of my oddball dreams

I had a very weird dream this morning.  I woke up still kind of scared about it because it was a nightmare.  But then as I sat on my "bog" ruminating, it occurred to me the dream was also kind of funny.  Here's what I remember about it so far.

For some reason, I was back in high school.  I must have had my 17 year old body, which was nothing much to write home about.  However, I also remember wearing my wedding rings.  My high school basically looked the same, except the two courtyards it had within it back in my day were filled in like they are now.  Also, the interior kind of resembled the mall like ambiance of an airport.

One of the bathrooms had a dumpy looking brown haired woman with glasses that loitered around there begging for tips, kind of like what they do in Germany.  Here, it's not really a tip the klofraus are seeking; it's 50 cents.  That's how much one typically gets charged to use the public bathrooms here.  In exchange for that, the bathrooms are usually clean and stocked with toilet paper.  Anyway, there was a woman doing that at my high school, but it was only one bathroom where this happened.  My high school had several.

The first thing I remember about the dream is that I dared to go into the bathroom and didn't tip the lady.  She remembered me.  The next time I wanted to use the bathroom, she was there with her hand out demanding change.  I had only entered the restroom to adjust the wraparound skirt I was wearing.  It was short and tricky and kept rotating inappropriately.

"You don't tip!" she snarled as I tried to finagle my skirt so it looked more appropriate.

"I don't have to tip.  This is a public restroom." I said.

"You have to tip." she said, thrusting her hand at me.

I rolled my eyes, ignored her outstretched hand, finished adjusting my skirt, and walked to what I think was Spanish class.  I resolved to complain to the principal about this woman extorting spare change from hapless teenagers.

When I got to the classroom, I sat down, noting a few other mature looking women in there with me.  Suddenly, a solidly built elderly guy came busting into the room.  He had a gun and carried himself like a military veteran.  He went to the front of the room and demanded that the women all give him their jewelry and cash.  He had a very ornately decorated box with red ribbon on it and a little slot on the top for us to deposit our valuables.  It kind of looked like the red satin boxes that get passed around on Valentine's Day.

I remember looking to my left and noticing a very elaborate makeup display, with sparkly lights all over it.  Remember, the school looked like a combination mall/airport terminal.  I longed to be outside the classroom, where this guy was brandishing his weapon and demanding my jewelry.   He also had a rope and instructed us each to tie our wrists to it.  I remember being more annoyed than scared.  Like, "how dare this guy come in here and try to take my stuff?"  At the same time, I was a little bit scared because he had the gun.

I remember dawdling, hesitating to remove my jewelry.  I finally reached into my very deep purse and pulled out a couple of rumpled silk flowers that had been made into pins.  I put those in the guy's box, neglecting to give him my earrings, wedding band, or engagement ring.  Then, totally surprising even myself, I stood up and simply walked out of the room.

I remember my heart was pounding, but I was carrying a big backpack full of books.  It didn't occur to me to ditch the books as I walked toward the exit, adrenaline coursing through my body and making me tingle with fear.  I looked behind me and noticed the robber wasn't following me.  He either didn't notice or didn't care that I left the room.

I woke up panting and sweating.  It was a very vivid dream.  I'm not sure exactly what inspired it.  However, I do think it's kind of cool that I pretty much said "fuck off" to the robber and left.

I don't know what this dream means.  Maybe it's a sign that I'm becoming more apathetic about things like personal health and safety.  Maybe I'm becoming more materialistic.  Perhaps I've been exposing myself to the media too much.  It was an interesting dream, though... and I'm glad I didn't really decide to run away from an apathetic robber.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Don't be a ding dong on your mission...

Today's post is brought to you by NewNameNoah.  I recently wrote about his videos on YouTube, in which he has secretly recorded LDS temple ordinances in different temples.  NewNameNoah is Mike Norton, and his videos aren't really new.  He basically caused a shitstorm in the church when he started uploading them to YouTube and showing the world just what goes on in those sacred temples one must be a worthy Mormon to enter.

Mike recently started a new shitstorm when he uploaded a couple of videos of Mormon missionaries caught on video.  The first one showed two young guys practicing pick up lines as they waited for someone to answer the door.  (as an aside, just this week I was reminded of why I should be more circumspect about answering the door)

The guys in question were standing there trading silly lines that were kind of tragic, yet very funny.  It all got caught on video.  Mike then uploaded the video to his YouTube channel, where it was spotted by The Daily Mail.  The Daily Mail then ran an article about it, further embarrassing the church.

These guys-- probably all of 18 or 19 years old-- were actually acting their ages.  Isn't this a sign that these guys should be doing more maturing rather than knocking on doors?

If the above weren't bad enough, Mike also got video of sister missionaries behaving in a way that wasn't fitting for "representatives of Jesus Christ" (as missionaries claim they are).  See below.

Again... perfectly age appropriate behavior from these ladies, but not exactly "Christlike", is it?

I wasn't going to write about this because, as I realized last night, lately I've been jumping on a lot of bandwagons.  Last week, I wrote about the "social influencer" who asked for a free four night stay at a hotel in Dublin.  Then she complained when she was "outed" for asking for free stuff and shamed by the masses for being so impertinent.  In fact, she even made a second complaint video.  Last night, I learned that story went all over the place like seeds from a dandelion.  Paul Stenson, whose hotel from which the young lady tried to score free nights, writes on his "bog" that the story was covered by multiple news outlets.  

Likewise, this thing with the missionaries behaving badly seems a little old hat at this point.  I was going to move on, but then I ran across this post on Reddit about how missionary presidents are taking the videos very seriously.  Current missionaries are being reminded that they are "representatives of Jesus Christ" and should behave accordingly while ringing doorbells.

Now personally, I think it's a lot to ask of teenagers to be so serious all the time.  Mormon teens, by and large, are normal people who are growing up.  It's perfectly normal for young people to "cut up", say inappropriate or immature things, laugh, and joke.  What's not normal is forcing those kids to leave home for 18 months to two years, dress in their Sunday best six days a week, and knock on doors all day proclaiming that they are "representatives of the Lord, Jesus Christ".  

These missionaries are giving up a significant portion of the best years of their lives to peddle religion to people who mostly don't give a shit about Mormonism.  Many of the people whose doors they're banging on aren't shopping for a new religion and don't want to be bothered.  And frankly, I have it on good authority that a lot of the missionaries would rather not be bothered, either.  Some of them truly do believe in what they are doing, but quite a few are only on a mission because it is expected of them.  Moreover, a lot of the men have been led to believe that they won't find a worthy spouse if they don't serve an honorable mission.

I understand that members of the Mormon church look at the mission as an honorable thing to do.  It's a rite of passage for men and more and more women are doing them, proving their faith.  I used to think Mormon missions were an almost complete waste of time and money (I think the language skills developed in foreign missions are useful).  Then I noticed that the mission made Bill's daughter into more of a human being.  In her case, the mission was good.

The thing is, young adulthood is a time for having fun and spreading one's wings.  The youngsters in the above videos are basically normal, healthy people coming of age.  There is nothing particularly special or blessed about them for going through the temple, taking out their endowments, and knocking on doors.  These folks should be working or in college, dating, having some fun, and yes, joking around with their friends.  They should not be expected to shill for Joseph Smith twelve hours a day, six days a week.

As to whether or not I think it was a good thing that Mike Norton posted these videos... well, I'm kind of on the fence about it.  In some ways, I think it's good to present the missionaries as exactly what they are-- people in their late teens acting like normal folks.  Let's face it.  Many people think Mormons are "weird".  Although the church is better known than ever and there are parts of the country where they are very common, the fact is, a lot of people still see Mormonism as a "fringe belief system".  So these videos kind of humanize the missionaries and make them look like everybody else.

I think the videos also serve as a wake up call to anyone in the church who deludes themselves into thinking that missionaries are special.  The vast majority of them aren't any more special than anyone else their age.  These videos prove it.

However, although the faces are distorted, I think it could be all too easy for these young adults to be recognized and potentially outed, much the same way "social influencer" Elle was when Paul Stenson shared her post and one of his readers discovered her name.  Some people can turn this kind of thing into a positive, but not everyone can.  Moreover, thanks to these videos, the missionaries are liable to get even more "training" and shaming about their behavior.  It's bound to make the experience even less fun-- which may be good in that fewer people will do it, but bad in that there will be more suffering among missionaries who may already be miserable.

Anyway... I don't have a dog in the this fight, other than to simply sit on the sidelines and watch... mainly with amusement.  And I'd rather think about the zany antics of Mormon missionaries than either Larry Nassar or David Turpin.  You do what you must to get by.

Friday, January 26, 2018

A question that crossed my mind...

And this question may be offensive to some readers, but it's something I've been thinking about for the past few days as I've watched so many female athletes speak out against Larry Nassar.  At the same time, I've been reading about David and Louise Turpin.

Who is worse?  Larry Nassar or David Turpin?

I asked this question among a few friends and could tell a couple of them were offended and didn't want to think about it.  I'm not sure why I thought of it.  I think it's because I've been so riveted by the news reports.

Ultimately, I think both men are horrible and need to be put away for life.  And I say this even though Turpin hasn't yet had his day in court.  However, I think in terms of long term damage and the scope of damage done, Larry Nassar is worse than Turpin is.

For sure, David Turpin's crimes are disgusting, horrifying, and incredibly disturbing.  For sure he was unspeakably cruel to his children and probably his wife, although I think she's pretty horrible too.  However, I think the difference is that Turpin's kids knew he was a monster.  They knew enough that they made plans to escape him.  They ran to the vehicle that delivered them from their house of horrors.  

By contrast, Larry Nassar had won the trust of hundreds of young athletes and their parents.  He convinced them that he was a competent physician who cared about them.  He made them think what he was doing was intended to be helpful.  He manipulated them into keeping quiet and letting him do what he wanted to do with them.  All the while, he was a wolf in sheep's clothing.  Turpin, at least, was clear about what he is.

Larry Nassar had so many people doubting the stories about him.  I've listened to gymnasts talk about how their parents didn't believe them when they talked about what Nassar did.  More than a couple reported that their parents demanded that their daughters apologize to the doctor.  I've seen their parents crying because they initially didn't believe their daughters.  They took the word and the reputation of a highly decorated physician over what their own children were saying.  All the while,  their daughters were telling the truth about being abused, while Nassar was billing them for services rendered.

I listen to these young women speak about what they've been through.  I can relate to some of them.  One gymnast, now aged 25, has yet to have a pap smear done.  The thought of it horrifies her.  She doesn't trust doctors and doesn't want to see them for routine exams.  I relate to that so well because I had a bad experience with a doctor, too.  The doctor I saw was a woman, though.  And even though I'm 45, I've only had two pap smears in my life.  I haven't seen a doctor since 2010.

At this point, we still don't know all that has happened to Turpin's children.  I'm sure more details will come out and I will be disgusted anew.  I might even change my mind.  Maybe I feel the way I do now because I can relate to Nassar's victims.  I, too, was taken in by someone who was seemingly kind to me and really just wanted to get off.

I think about the ripple effects that will be caused by both of these men's actions.  With Turpin, it's everyone in his family-- his children, their aunts, uncles, and cousins, and grandparents.  Of course, anyone who has a relationship with the children and any children they have will be affected.  That's a lot of people.

However, Nassar's crime has affected over 150 women and a few men... women who aren't necessarily related.  Their families will be affected, as will everyone who is involved with them in the future.  Their health will probably be affected-- especially those who can't bring themselves to see a doctor.  They will never be able to easily trust a healthcare provider again.  If and when they have children, they will be hypervigilant around their children's doctors.  It will be that much harder for them to be able to trust people who provide healthcare.

There's also the black spot on the sport of gymnastics, especially since this certainly isn't the first time sexual abuse has been mentioned within the sport.  Former coach Don Peters, who once ran the SCATS program in Southern California, was banned from coaching after having sexually abused gymnasts.  There have also been allegations against other coaches who have physically, mentally, and sexually abused their charges.  That black spot will affect any mom who wonders if her daughter should be a gymnast.

Turpin's kids, likely, are glad to be getting medical care.  Hopefully, it's being dispensed by compassionate, caring, and sensitive people who won't damage them further.

The more I listen to these women speak out against Larry Nassar, the more I think just how much pain and suffering he's caused, all under the guise of being a doctor.  It's absolutely sickening.

"Cootie kids"...

Every once in awhile, I read something that really makes me stop and think.  Jennifer Turpin is one of the thirteen "kids" who were discovered living in a "house of horrors" in Perris, California a couple of weeks ago.  Authorities found her and her siblings living in filth.  Some of them were shackled to their beds, completely removed from the outside world.  I have been following the horrifying story of the Turpin family.  The more that comes out about them, the more bizarre and insane their story is.

This morning, I ran across a very poignant Facebook post written by Taha Muntajibuddin, a man who knew Jennifer Turpin when they were both kids.  At one time, Jennifer Turpin had been allowed to attend school and she and Muntajibuddin were third grade classmates at Meadowcreek Elementary School.  Evidently, in those days, Jennifer Turpin was thought of as one of the "cootie kids".  No one wanted to be friends with her because she was dirty and smelled bad.

Muntajibuddin remembers that after that year, Jennifer moved away and he lost track of her.  There had been times when he'd tried to track her down through Facebook.  He wondered how she'd turned out and hoped she'd turned into someone totally different than who she was when they were eight years old.  But he never was able to find her and imagined that maybe she was one of the few people in the world who hadn't succumbed to the lure of social media.  Naturally, like so many people who recently discovered the Turpin family, he was horrified when her real story came to light.    

In his very reflective Facebook post, Muntajibuddin reminds people how important it is to be kind.  Better yet, they should teach their children to be kind.  Every elementary school has a "cootie kid" who gets picked on.  Sometimes those kids are able to rise above that moniker.  Sometimes being harassed and bullied leads them down a dark road in which they turn to violence or substance abuse.  Sometimes, it turns out the "cootie kid" is a survivor of a hell that no one else knows about or understands.

My own class had a "cootie kid".  I have written about her on this blog.  Like Muntajibuddin, I went Googling to see how she turned out.  Unlike Muntajibuddin, I actually found our old "cootie kid".  I was gratified to see that it looks like she turned out alright.  She's one of the ostracized kids who had enough resilience to rise above being picked on and bullied in school.  Just as Muntajibuddin describes Jennifer Turpin as "pleasant" and having a "whimsical optimism", the "cootie kid" girl I knew was very plucky and friendly, despite her challenges.  She had some really good qualities, in spite of being made the odd girl out.  She was worth the effort of kindness and consideration, as most people ultimately are.

I don't have kids of my own, of course, so I have never had the responsibility of trying to teach anyone right from wrong.  I'd like to think that if I'd had children, I'd try to teach them to be nice to others.  I'd like to hope I'd encourage them to befriend kids who need friends.  On the other hand, I'm also a realist and a human.  The reality is, as lofty as those goals are, they often fall flat.  Humans are horribly flawed and fallible.  You can have the best of intentions and still be a total failure in some areas.  You can try to be an excellent example and still not manage to sway anyone to follow your lead.

If there's anything to be learned from kids like Jennifer Turpin, it's that everyone is fighting battles that aren't readily apparent to the naked eye.  Kids make fun of other kids when they are different somehow.  I was made fun of when I was in school.  So were a lot of my friends.  We didn't have the misfortune of being total outcasts, but we took our share of licks.  I remember how that felt and how it still feels today.  Life is hard for most people, but it costs nothing to be kind.

And yet, as I write that, I know there are times that I'll fail to be kind because I'm human and fallible.  Perhaps if I can take anything from Muntajibuddin's Facebook post, it's the reminder that sometimes the reality of another person's situation is much more horrible than you can ever know.  If it weren't for Jennifer Turpin's sister's bravery, there's no telling how much longer she and her siblings would be living the miserable life they were living.

You never know how you will affect other people.  Jennifer Turpin surely doesn't know how she affected her classmate and how her classmate is, in turn, affecting everyone who reads his poignant thoughts about her.  Just by existing, she's already changed the world.

Hindsight is 20/20 and I'm sure those who had contact with the Turpin kids now regret not speaking up and calling the authorities.  There's a fine line in knowing when it's right to call for help for someone else's kids.  Some people do it at the drop of a hat.  I think most people would rather not get involved when they see someone like Jennifer Turpin.  I can admit to feeling that way myself, even though I have a degree in social work and would likely have been one of the people who got called when a situation like this is discovered.  It's hard to stand up for other people.  It's even harder to know when a situation warrants making a call to the authorities.

The Turpin kids needed a lot more than friends.  In fact, it sounds to me like they weren't really allowed to have any friends.  But the ones who went to school no doubt interacted with others.  We should teach kids-- really each other-- to simply be kind... and Muntajibuddin's post is an excellent reminder to do so.


Thursday, January 25, 2018

A little political poetry...

My uncle, the one who insists on repeatedly sending me political bullshit in my email, sent me a couple of messages yesterday.  I usually delete his emails because 99% of them are conservative forwards that are insulting, extremely stupid, factually wrong, misattributed, or just plain offensive.  The other 1% usually consist of drunken screeds directed at family members.

Sometimes I do stop to read them, though... just to remind myself why I usually trash his messages unread.  This is one of the two he sent yesterday.  I am sharing it with you for your edification.  Be sure to scroll to the end of this post for my response.

Re: Fwd: Fw: A TERRIFIC POEM /Our Vets.

I’m honored to have the opportunity to pass this well-written poem along.

He was getting old and paunchy
And his hair was falling fast,
And he sat around the Legion,
Telling stories of the past.

Of a war that he once fought in
And the deeds that he had done,
In his exploits with his buddies;
They were heroes, every one.

And 'tho sometimes to his neighbors
His tales became a joke,
All his buddies listened quietly
For they knew where of he spoke.

But we'll hear his tales no longer,
For ol' Joe has passed away,
And the world's a little poorer
For a Veteran died today.

He won't be mourned by many,
Just his children and his wife.
For he lived an ordinary,
Very quiet sort of life.

He held a job and raised a family,
Going quietly on his way;
And the world won't note his passing,
'Tho a Veteran died today.

When politicians leave this earth,
Their bodies lie in state,
While thousands note their passing,
And proclaim that they were great.

Papers tell of their life stories
From the time that they were young,
But the passing of a Veteran
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.

Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
Some jerk who breaks his promise
And cons his fellow man?

Or the ordinary fellow
Who in times of war and strife,
Goes off to serve his country
And offers up his life?

The politician's stipend
And the style in which he lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the service that he gives.

While the ordinary Veteran,
Who offered up his all,
Is paid off with a medal
And perhaps a pension, small.

It is not the politicians
With their compromise and ploys,
Who won for us the freedom
That our country now enjoys.

Should you find yourself in danger,
With your enemies at hand,
Would you really want some cop-out,
With his ever-waffling stand?

Or would you want a Veteran
His home, his country, his kin,
Just a common Veteran,
Who would fight until the end.

He was just a common Veteran,
And his ranks are growing thin,
But his presence should remind us
We may need his likes again.

For when countries are in conflict,
We find the Veteran's part,
Is to clean up all the troubles
That the politicians start.

If we cannot do him honor
While he's here to hear the praise,
Then at least let's give him homage
At the ending of his days.

Perhaps just a simple headline
In the paper that might say:

If you are proud of our Vets, then pass this on.

I feel like this poem deserves a little reworking, especially since this particular uncle insists on sending racist email after email and continually praises draft dodging Donald Trump. Let's see what I can do to fix this little piece of poetry.

He was getting old and senile
And his mind was failing fast,
Uncle Ed sat by his computer,
Sending emails from the past.
Of politicians he agreed with
And decisions they had made,
Of their exploits within Washington;
Slashing Social Security and Medicaid.
And 'tho to some of his relatives
Ed's emails were mostly bunk,
They resolved to just ignore them
Cuz' they figured he was drunk.
Sometimes the emails are racist
and often they offend,
And my mood's a little poorer
when Uncle Ed hits "send".

He's worked and raised a family,
And managed his travails;
Yet on the day he passes,
I'll only recall his emails.

Although I've always loved him,
his children, and his wife.
I tire of his political bullshit;
which often causes strife.

For many politicians are selfish,
And people think they're fake,
Others forecast their passing,
And the policies they'll make.
The media tells how their choices
Badly affect the old and the young,
And the way they screw the veterans
Goes unnoticed, and unsung.
Is the greatest contribution
To the welfare of our land,
An uncle who sends political emails
And disturbs his fellow man?
Or the ordinary housewife
Whose nerves are worn and frayed,
Fighting hard to still the impulse
that make her words cut like blades?
The hapless housewife's stipend
And the style in which she lives,
Are often disproportionate,
To the lack of a shit she gives.
About her uncle's politics,
Republican and all,
His insights regarding morality,
And how America will fall.
It is not the lowly relative
With patience, grace, and poise,
Who wins respect and gratitude
When her drunken uncle annoys.
Should she find herself angry,
The latest missive on her screen,
Wouldn't she like to respond,
To his ever-venting spleen?
Or would she just sit quietly
Again holding her piece,
As her dad, Ed's big brother Bill,
Taught Ed's very clever niece.
She's just a common cousin,
Daughter, sister, niece, and female,
But her life is worth just enough--
To receive masses of forwarded email.
For when old men are online,
In the darkest hours of the night,
One never knows what bullshit
They'll send via kilobyte.

She cannot block his postings
And he will not volunteer,
To stop forwarding ridiculous emails,
That won't inspire cheer...

Perhaps in a simple reprimand
her response will someday be:
If you are sick of mindless email forwards full of conservative politics, then pass this on.

Maybe it's kind of mean to be rewriting this classic piece of poetry that so touched my uncle's heart.  However, I think I've generally been pretty patient with him, especially since I asked him to stop sending me this shit a year ago and yet he persists.  I might as well have a little fun with it.  After all, a gift for words is something passed down from his side of the family.   

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Awesome judge lets gymnasts have their say...

There are so many depressing subjects I could write about today.  At the very least, I could write more about the creepy thing I found while walking my dogs yesterday.  My German friend actually contacted the police on my behalf.  But I think I'd rather write about something empowering.

Larry Nassar is getting his due.

I've been following the story of Larry Nassar, the disgraced former physician who molested scores of young athletes.  I recently wrote about Nassar.  In my post, I wrote that I don't think Larry Nassar is all bad.  I recognize that he probably does have a legitimate sex addiction.  While having an addiction doesn't relieve anyone from facing responsibility when they hurt others, I do believe that addictions are real.  And I know that addicts aren't necessarily horrible people.  Minus the addictions and the bad behaviors caused by them, I think most people are inherently decent.  I still believe that, because I don't believe that we have that many people in the world who are truly evil to the core.

It doesn't mean that I think this man shouldn't be in prison. It doesn't mean that I don't think his actions are reprehensible and disgusting. It doesn't mean that he shouldn't have to sit and listen to young woman after young woman tell him what a scumbag he is.  I simply believe in the possibility of redemption for most people.  If I didn't, life would just be too depressing.  

Yesterday I read about the judge who is presiding over Larry Nassar's case.  Judge Rosemarie Aquilina is proving to be a formidable advocate for the many gymnasts who were repeatedly sexually abused by Larry Nassar.  As of yesterday, she's allowed nearly 140 young women to make victim impact statements to Larry Nassar.  Judge Aquilina is also a twenty year veteran of the Michigan Army National Guard, which only adds to her cred as far as I'm concerned.

Aly Raisman lets Larry Nassar have it.  What a strong and eloquent woman she is!  And what a spineless coward Larry Nassar is.

Kyle Stephens tearfully explains how, when she told her parents about Nassar's abuse, her parents didn't believe her.  It caused a serious rift in their relationship that severely damaged their family bond for many years.  Stephens' father eventually took his own life.  

I could relate somewhat to Kyle Stephens' comments.  My own father had a tendency to listen to other adults over anything I said.  Fortunately, no one ever abused me the way Nassar abused these young women.  Later in the video directly above, Donna Markham, mother of Chelsea Markham, testified that Nassar abused her daughter after she sought treatment for an injury.  The abuse allegedly led to her daughter's drug abuse and eventual suicide.

Judge Aquilina has also allowed other people to speak.  Here's a video featuring a gymnastics coach who was also one of Nassar's former students.

"Go to Hell!"

When Nassar wrote a six page letter to the judge complaining about how having to listen to the victims was "too much", Aquilina's response was,

Damn right.  She's concerned about the victims and allowing them to heal.

The judge berates Larry Nassar.  What a badass!

So many judges would deny these young women the right to be heard.  So many would want to get on with the sentencing and move on to the next case.  This judge realizes that there are so many young women in pain who will forevermore have to live with what Larry Nassar did to them.  She's inviting them to leave their pain in her courtroom.  Not only will Nassar probably spend the rest of his life in a federal prison, he will also have the memories of so many angry young women using their voices to tell him what a fucking creep he is.  They trusted him.  He was a doctor and should have been above board.  He repaid their trust by violating them and causing them unspeakable pain.  

I can't think of a more appropriate or fitting punishment for a man who abused his position to get his jollies.  Nassar no doubt knew what he was doing was wrong.  He did it anyway.  Now he has to pay the price and the punishment is going to be stiff.  I don't usually agree with shaming, but I think cowardly Larry Nassar deserves it.  Especially since hearing all of his victims speak out clearly bothers him.  Like I said-- He knows what he did was very wrong.  It's unpleasant for him to have to listen to this.  I'm sure it's a fraction of the discomfort these women literally had at Nassar's hands.

Fellow osteopathic doctor and father of two daughters speaks to Larry Nassar.

I think Judge Aquilina is an example of a judge who is using her power to do some good.  I wish we had more smart, tough judges like her, especially in cases of sexual assault.  I don't know if the threat of being forced to listen to endless victim impact statements will discourage other sex offenders from acting on their unwholesome impulses, but I do think this punishment fits the crime.  Bravo to Judge Aquilina for being a true credit to her profession and empowering all of these women to address their abuser.  It's too bad Larry Nassar couldn't be a credit to his profession... or his species, for that matter.

Off with you!