Monday, May 02, 2016

An Open Letter to Tom Hauser

Dear Tom,

I know there's no way you would remember me. I'm just some random lady at one of the churches in Virginia that held a deliverance ministry weekend that you and the members of your church taught at many years ago. I'm the one who our pastor's wife forced to make all those fancy half round flags for your church as a gift from our church. Yeah, and I'm still several hundred dollars out of pocket for the materials. Yeah, I'm still annoyed at that even if you had nothing to do with that, it's all the overbearing wife of the minister.

You and yours pushed the deliverance ministry that your church did, getting people to sign up to come to your church, Vineyard, in Wilmington, North Carolina with your tales of people set free from all sorts of weird demonic infestations.

During that weekend I had the chance to speak to you several times. I found I liked you, maybe it was the fact that you walked away from a high dollar career to preach, I don't know. You are personable.

But I know you don't have a clue about the damage you and your fellow church members do. I suspect seeing that the name of the church and the deliverance ministry has been changed more than once that you have some small inkling that others think it sucks. Did you guys get sued by those you victimized while pretending others are demon-addled and need an exorcism? Something obviously happened.

For us the damage was limited. We just lost some time, hotel money, money out laid for gas and our family Thanksgiving. I feel pretty certain that your deliverance ministry likely did lots of damaged, wreaked havoc and killed a few families. Let me explain why I think your deliverance ministry that you're now calling a 'prayer ministry' at your renamed church Global River Church is a bad thing.

You preyed on my husband, who was going through a long horrible depression. Now with real doctors, medical tests and therapy we know his entire problem was that he had cancerous tumors on his parathyroid glands. He wasn't under spiritual oppression, he didn't lack faith and he wasn't filled with demons and in need of deliverance ministry. He was sick. With cancer. That would have killed him if we hadn't tossed aside the compete and utter bullshit that the church was saying to seek actual legitimate medical treatment.

Jim told me a few days before Thanksgiving in November of 2005 that he'd scheduled a weekend deliverance that weekend, that you'd arranged for a team of deliverance-ministry trained staff to remove our evil spirits and cleanse us. It meant we had to abandon our children to others for the holiday and make that long drive down from Northern Virginia to Wilmington North Carolina, stay at a local hotel for several nights while the deliverance was going on.

I remember mostly how angry I was, because even while at that time I was still a hard core believer I didn't believe in what you guys did or your claims of demonic infestation. I was angry at the ruined holiday, angry I could not be with my kids, angry that you guys had insisted that I get deliverance ministry too because you don't treat one spouse without dedemonizing the other spouse. I wanted no part of it at all.

One of my clearest memories of that weekend was waking up at 3 am on the Saturday morning before the first sessions, feeling fearful and angry as well as suffering from extreme pain in my right arm due to an injury I was waiting to have surgery on. I sat in that ocean front hotel room, contemplating the Atlantic ocean in the moonlight while listening to praise music on my Ipod waiting for the opioid pain pill to kick in. I wondered what the day would bring.

What the day brought was being met at your church by the team, separated and  the sessions started. I wasn't in Jim's so I can only imagine what happened in his session. But for mine I was confronted quite starkly over things the two 'counselors' had gotten during their prayer time that week. The information that the ladies claimed to have heard from the Lord was so wrong on so many things. They told me I was having an affair with someone named 'Walt', which made me laugh because at the time the only Walt's I had heard of were Walt Whitman and Jim Walter Homes, a dead man and a corporation.

No, I was not and have never had an affair.

I was also told that my husband was having an affair, again not true. I don't know much, but I know that about him. He's not the type and he didn't have enough downtime with his commute into DC on public transportation.

Imagine how that might have affected a married couple having problems? We both were told this and neither of us believed it about the other person. If someone was in a shaky relationship being told an outrageous lie like that would have blown apart the marriage. Somehow I don't think any of this is something Jesus would approve of.

The personal details and quote-unquote problems listed on both of our prayer sheets were beyond wrong, from the smallest details i.e. Jim was told he loves 'Star Wars' and fishing, both of which he hates. I was also told Jim had a 'demon of rage' in him that would physically kill me if they didn't it exorcised from him.

The ladies with me gave me up after about two and a half hours, realizing I was highly skeptical, thought they and their words of knowledge were ridiculous and was not cooperating like they wanted. I was told by the staff to go back to the hotel and wait for a phone call to come back and pick up my husband. He was held and brainwashed a total of nine hours. He still hasn't told me what happened in that time, but when I picked him up he clung to me and would not let go for many days, either holding my hand or hugging me.

We went home, it was anti-climatic by that point. We spoke very little about what had happened and things continued on status quo up until the point where he got a diagnosis of parathyroid cancer and had the first of several surgeries.

I get it that you somehow think you're 'helping' people by doing this type of prayer. But you're not, you're confusing people at best, blowing up homes and families and/or causing people with serious medical conditions to die because they believe their condition is demonic at worst. You take advantage of desperate people

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Game of Groans

Today was sort of crazy, starting first thing in the morning when I popped one of the tires on my car. I'd had to pass a woodchuck (colloquialism for guys that chop and sell firewood)  hauling a woodchipper in one of the spots coming out of downtown where the road starts to go from one to two lanes. He was hogging the street, going slow and had his left turn signal on, I zigged around him on the right, rubbing my front passenger side tire against the curb.

It felt weird when I pulled around him so I pulled into the gas station just past him, pulling too close to the curb surrounding the store just in time to have my tire pop like a balloon. The tires aren't worn out yet, but when I got out of my car I saw I'd somehow managed to snag that same tire on a piece of bent metal curbing protector that jutted out. It had the instantaneous effect that stabbing the tire with a buck knife would have.

Stranded at the damn gas station on a rainy Sunday morning when I was supposed to be at church counting the offering money from all the services.

Lucky for me the gas station was next door to a mechanics shop that is open on Sundays and sells new tires. We left it for a new tire until late this afternoon.

I feel about like that tire today. Yesterday I made a pretty discouraging discovery, a new wrinkle in my asthma. I'd have a bout while out running errands, came home and self medicated with a couple of bouts of Xopenex in the nebulizer. Started feeling really weird and checked my blood sugar levels, only to find them sky high.

Since the first bout of mrsa I've been checking my blood sugar levels a couple of times a week or when I feel very odd and mostly they've stayed in normal ranges or slightly elevated. The only times they get out of wack is was that week I was eating Chobani Flips three times a day, meaning I was consuming something like three times the daily recommended amount of sugar or if the infection is crazy bad. I'd just checked the levels yesterday morning and they'd been normal.

After some digging around on the interwebs I find that some folks develop high blood sugars immediately after using Xopenex. I must be one of those.

Numbers were falling by nighttime but it still was pretty unpleasant to go through. I can see I am going to have to maybe go on Metformin again as long as I'm having asthma attacks. Which is good since Metformin seems to ease the inflammation in my lungs.

Don't start taking regular prescription drugs if you can avoid it. Put it off as long as you can because they can have some crazy unexpected side effects.

Saturday, April 30, 2016


Listening to and reading through the continuing coverage involving Prince passing on has been triggering in some ways and enlightening.

As the news emerged that he had a serious addiction to opioid pain killers I'm inclined to think several different things.

1. That his faith - Jehovah's Witness - likely played a different role in his death than I imagined last week. They did dissuade him from having a hip replacement that would have possibly brought him relief from chronic pain. Instead he didn't have the surgery and sought to mask the pain with legal opioids, likely leading to his death.

2. I still don't 'get' how anyone can possibly enjoy the stronger prescription opioids. I have been on oxycontin and other meds more than once for different types of conditions, some that were corrected by surgery, some that healed with medicine. I never liked the feeling any of those gave me beyond the fact that they killed the pain. You know what else they killed? Emotions and even positive feelings. Hard core pain killer use even blunts your sexual pleasure, making your orgasms like whimpering wet firecrackers instead of nuclear explosions. I always felt like a turnip or a rutabaga fallen off the truck and sitting next to the road, no thoughts or emotions.

3. Those that are prone to addiction must be getting some vastly different feeling from the opioids than I do.

During my years working at the Clinic of Crazy one of my tasks was opening mail, taking all the reports off the fax machine and retrieving medical records from the hospital. Part of that was when the print out came over from the state pharmacy board was going over it looking to make sure patients weren't copying their opioid prescriptions and taking them to different pharmacies. We also got records on how many narcotics prescriptions from other doctors these same patients were getting. I'd go over those lists, make notations and bring them back to whatever doctor or doctors had a pile of scamming drug offending opioid patients before writing the patient a letter firing them from the practice and letting them know that the reason was scamming for pain pills.

Apparently Minnesota doesn't have something like that in place on a state level to monitor the number of pain pill scripts individuals were getting from their doctors or possibly copying to get more. I understand that the law enforcement looking into Prince's death have already started going through the records of several local pharmacies looking for evidence that he had way too many pain pills being prescribed.

People hooked on those things will say and do anything to up their amounts. Once, when I was still working at the clinic, I had a list posted in my office above my desk with a list of the excuses I'd heard for early refill. Everything from 'I went swimming with my oxycontin in my pocket' to 'My dog ate my prescription.' and just about anything else you could imagine.

One lady not only had pain pills but she was getting klonopin and benzos from one of our doctors. She was gassing up at a local place, sat back in her car while the pump was running and promptly fell asleep. The gas station owner called the cops after their knocking on her windows failed to raise her after she was parked at the pump for twenty minutes. The cops busted out her window trying to wake her up, she woke up, started the car and drove off with the pump still attached to her car. The first day she was out of jail she immediately tried to hit us up for more prescriptions. This was after the investigating officer had already been to the clinic to question why she was on so many different pain meds and anti anxiety drugs.

Most of our problem pain pill patients were the patients of one doctor at the clinic. He owned the place and was super arrogant, even for a doctor, and he finally got busted by the feds for his pill prescribing ways. He now has no hospital privileges, or prescribing abilities and only sees a handful of elderly patients.

4. Treating famous patients can be very problematic if the doctor is star-struck or the patient is surrounded by those that make their every whim come true.

Several of patients when I worked there were local celebrities.

From the way the pill prescribing doctor treated the rich and powerful makes me think that whoever Prince's physicians were they likely did the same thing as Elvis Presley's did. They prescribed whatever he wanted because he was famous. Same thing killed Michael Jackson, who seemed to think propofol is a sleeping aid.

All of this sort of makes me sort of annoyed because I've seen what it's done in regard to the ability for people legitimately suffering to obtain pain relief. Our local community here has also had a huge heroin epidemic from those that started out abusing the pain pills before moving on to heroin. Just last week we had about a dozen ods in this little rural community. Law enforcement is blaming the readily available pain pills for hooking locals and sending them into the arms of an addiction to heroin.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Jesus Gets a Haircut

Days like today make me so damn thankful I left my old cult church. Yes folks, I've been lurking on Facebook on former church goers pages. I wanted to see what the status of my former friend Cathy is. The latest status her daughter posted said they were trying to find new 'wholistic' treatment options because the places they kept lining up for herbs and prayer keep falling through. In other words - end stage cancer with no treatment. Heads in the damn sand. I just hope all this Jesus-dilly-dallying won't make her time left even more painful and scary.

Jim thinks I'm turning mean since I've turned my back on most everyone I knew at the old church. He might be right, but mostly I see it as having healthy boundaries and self-care now. Example - we went to the grocery store this lunchtime for salads. Jim started goofing around with a Cinco de Mayo display of Corona beers. There was a large cut out of a pretty girl in a skimpy bullfighters costume with a place cut out to shove your face through. He stuck his decidedly masculine face through and begged me to take a photo so he could put it on Facebook as a joke. I did and just about the time I did one of the former members of our old church whipped around the corner with her shopping cart, eye balled both of us and walked past without a word.

He couldn't understand why I did not say hello to her. I had to point out that she was no more eager to see us than I was to see her. If the hello was so important she would have said it first and that I was in no mood for what conversations with these folks always degenerates into - a 'Come to Jesus' conversation.

I'd already had enough of a 'Come to Jesus' meeting the day before when I went to get my hair trimmed. My hair is in a sad state, both before and after the trim. I'm having to wash my hair and sterilize it with the Hibiclens since one of the infections was in my hairline. It's drying out my hair as much as my skin. Five months with no trim equals too many split ends and crazy looking hair, but frankly I was afraid until recently that I've get there and infect someone else with mrsa, plus I've been feeling too lousy to go sit in the salon for a few hours.

This is the longest I've gone in years without professional grooming help.

My hair is in sad shape so I went. Didn't do anything new, had a trim and  deep condition. Usually when I go to the salon I get the whole enchilada, the works, right down to getting waxed and a facial if I'm feeling extra fancy.  I was afraid to get waxed or the brows threaded because I could just see getting a new infection anywhere they waxed or ripped.

Here's where it all went sideways. Shortly after sitting down in the stylist's chair she started talking about the Lord and trying to issue a 'Come to Jesus' on me. I don't know her, but she seemed sweet, if not a little demented. Seriously, who tries for a conversion while they're cutting your hair? I know I could have bitched to the manager, but I just smiled and talked to her.

One of the things she was the most upset about was that her coworkers were talking about smoking weed, celebrity bad plastic surgery and partying, yet they complained when she talked about Jesus. Yeah, well, none of those conversations were any more professional than trying to witness to strangers. But... this is a small Southern town filled with people who think professionalism is wearing a uniform and not spitting into the customers food. You have to take some of these behaviors with a grain of salt, realizing that they just don't know any better.

Please show me where it says in the Bible that you have to spread the word of God in such an inappropriate and obnoxious way? Things like this is why so many people are leaving the church and people are resisting most witnessing. We're just trying to go about our day without annoying religious folks making it even more difficult.

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Porn and the Amish, or Why I Watch Dance Moms (Things That Make No Effing Sense)

Every time I would go up to Toronto for conferences back in my old card-carrying Charismaniac days once we got near Amish country I'd notice the strangest line up of businesses along the mostly deserted rural highways. Quilts, Quilts, Amish store, XXX video store, Porn, Porn, Porn, Quilts, Porn, Amish store and so on. Just one big old long line up of porn, quilts and Amish. It made no sense then and it makes no sense at all now either.

But then again neither does my obsessive viewing of Lifetime television show 'Dance Moms'. I'm not a dance mom, hell I was horrified as a charismatic that my youngest child was insistent on being a cheerleader for one season at peewee football. Even my old feminist side was perturbed by the possible wrong lessons she could absorb at the hands of those that think gender defined roles were a good thing. Skimpy costumes and cheerleading moves with some sexualized overtones didn't endear cheerleading to me either. But I sucked it up, let her experience what it was like to be a cheerleader, just like I did when she decided to take up soccer at middle school age and other things she wanted to try that I wasn't wild about.

Allowing your children to have a variety of experiences, even those you're not that in favor of, is an education unto itself.

During my childhood I did take ballet, tap and baton lessons, along with piano and etiquette plus junior Junior Cotillion. Hey, it was the deep South and these things are just what was done back in the Mesozoic era I was raised in. But I repeated very few of these with my own daughters because somehow all these 'lessons' seemed antiquated later on.

I always enjoyed dance class and had the chance to perform in local productions like the carnival balls and gatherings near Mardi Gras time and at recitals. I liked dance.

What I didn't like at the time was some of the mothers, though none of them ever screamed the F-word at each other. At least not in front of the class.

My mother wasn't part of the dance moms that hung around the studios watching the classes. She'd drop me off and pick me up several hours later. She'd run out to the grocery store or the druggist or dry cleaners, taking advantage of that time to do those errands she'd put off.

One of the things that happened that I remember well is that the dance teacher tried to get her to enroll me in children's beauty pageants and my mother had the sense and grace to tell the instructor that she didn't think beauty pageants were something little kids needed to be involved in. She protected me from that and I'm pretty grateful.

The only family at the studio that went after the beauty pageant scene hammer and tongs I remember well. The little girls in the family were with me in dance class. They always seemed to be grubby looking, as though they didn't bathe or wash their pink tights often enough. The little girls were also rather plain looking to me as a kid. But the worst of them was their mom, yelling at them or else ignoring the family toddler who liked to try and eat cigarette butts. I remember even at that young age thinking there was something somehow very wrong in that family and with kids beauty pageants. My mother didn't even have to say a word.

I realize now with the benefit of adult hindsight and wisdom that some of the things the mother did that I found off-putting were all things someone stage managing their children, living vicariously through their children instead of putting the children's needs first.

My guilty pleasure 'Dance Moms' is filled with many such women, except most of them have very foul mouths, jealousy of each other and all sorts of entitlement issues. I don't watch because I like them, I hate-watch. There's only one of the mothers that even comes close to being a good mother on the show.

Jim picks at me when I watch and gripe at the screen when they indulge in bad behavior. I tried to explain to him that it is my personal UFC, but instead of watching guys pummeling the stuffing out of each other in the Octagon I'm watching grown women air complaints and insults better suited to middle school.

I cannot explain why I do it, because these are women I would seriously avoid if I knew them in real life. This season has been particularly satisfying to watch as the dance studio owner Abby Lee Miller has had to deal with the public humiliation of being charged with trying to rip off the government by hiding assets and filing for protection in federal bankruptcy court. There's something so grandly ultimate karmic realignment about Abby facing jail time and watching her stress over it.

But when I call my mom up sometimes I tease her about her sedate behavior and lack of all crazy dance mom actions during my years dancing. I laugh and tell her she was a complete failure as a dance mom those five years because she never called another mother a nasty name and never fought with the instructor. We always laugh over this. 

Fading Memories and Former Friends

Last night I was outraged that the daughter of my dying former friend Cathy was asking for roughly 10K. She claimed that the money was to fly her kids and husband out of New England to spent time with Cathy in her Montana home.

This morning after a little more reading through the pages connected with Cathy and her family I feel sort of ashamed to have been startled and annoyed with the monetary begging.

I've forgotten, forgotten what it's like in those old high-demand quiverfull cult churches that force women to stay home and raise a multitude of babies and men to work menial low-paying jobs because of their lack of education. I'd forgotten that it is a system that runs on poverty and poverty mentality. Sheer grinding poverty.

Even when I attended my old cult church I'd been effectively insulated from much of that type of poverty. My husband and I are college educated and we've both worked jobs with decent salaries. During my years trying to do it all, be a quiverfull momma, I also worked most of those years. We've also been careful with our money, which meant when the time came we were able to pay for all of our children to go to college.

I used to be nasty remarks, pushback, and be lectured by most of the stay at home and have babies crowd at the old church. I'd just state firmly that my husband wanted me to work and doesn't it say in the Bible that you're supposed to submit to your husbands leadership?

What I never said, the unspoken thing, is that I also loved getting away from the home and being around other adults in most of my work situations. I liked having enough money on my own that if I wanted to go to the beach for the weekend or buy a new set of shoes it was not going to wreck the budget and take food out of the mouths of anyone in the family.

We weren't rich then and we're not rich now, but we are comfortable. I still practice thrift most of the time. But we do splurge when the occasion calls for it. Last night as Jim and I lay in the bed drifting off to sleep I was telling him that I'm leaning towards a big purchase for our son's 28th birthday next month, a new paddleboard for surfing. I've been pricing them. I know he wants one badly to go with his new wetsuit.

Conversations and plans like that are beyond most of the families at my old church. The reality is that they are caught on a wheel of just existing, making do with whatever little they can earn.

To me that's tragic. You limit yourself and you limit all the possibilities of your children when you deny education and limit yourself to a small slice of the American pie by only being self-employed in a handful of acceptable occupations.

Back to Cathy. When I knew Cathy and Mike he held a good IT position with a large corporation that handles worldwide digital financial transactions. He made a very good salary. But they always struggled financially. More than once I brought groceries to Cathy because she would not spend money on food, or cook for Mike. I suspect Mike ate out many times.

What Cathy was passionate about and did well was buy and sell antiques. She filled their 18th century converted log cabin with all sorts of antiques, but I knew she was seriously straining their budget to do that. I don't think she really knew how to budget and plan.

In so many of these fundamentalist churches filled with people living hand to mouth it might be a good thing for classes in financial management would be a good thing. But then again most of these places pressure everyone to spend large chunks of their budget on the church itself.

Last night after I was busy acting like a judgmental cunt I saw evidence of how dire the financial straights are that Cathy and Mike find themselves in during her final illness. Their home is on the market, and so is a lifetime of carefully collected antiques. They are moving in with their youngest daughter, being effectively homeless. Now that is tragic, all the work that Mike has done through the years has come to naught.

Cathy is still alive the last I heard. She's gone from one faith healer to another many states away. She and her daughters are proclaiming that she is totally healed due to prayer and Chinese herbs. I hope they are right, but I fear that like the way fundamentalists handle their finances that this is willful ignorance.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Shaken and Stirred

After another day running around and wiping every surface in the house humanly possible with an assortment of disinfecting wipes and bleaching the crud out of my towels, sheets and clothing I had to run off to see my pulmonologist for my quarterly visits for the asthma.

Which I happen to be frustrated with yet again. I'm just about out of treatment options again. We discussed my possible return to Xolair injections, but before that happens I'm being tried on a copd drug I tried nine years ago with no success. Just have to wait out the mrsa first, no immunio suppression when you've got an infection.

Did tell my doc that if the drug has an ---one or a ----oid at the end I'm not taking it. No more steroids. I don't tolerate them well and have so many side effects, the biggest one is that it causes my asthma to get worst. We'll see.

The funniest part is that when I went into the office and they know I have active mrsa is that everyone, and I mean everyone, in the office that dealt with me gloved up and I noticed a lot of wiping down with disinfectant wipes as I was leaving. Just call me Mrsa Sue, or Typhoid Mary.

Then I had to go home and call my Infectious Disease doctor because I'm feverish again, on second round of the antibiotic the culturing swears will kill the mrsa and I'm running a fever.. again.  Another visit with her, and likely a different antibiotic and another visit to the infusion center. This shit just never ends.

You know what else never ends? 'Good Christians' with their hands out asking for money. I was a sent a link to a Go Fund Me page for the former friend with cancer who is dying. Not for her exactly. It's a fundraiser to fly her three grandkids and son in law out to see her. Okay, so that's a reasonable request, and I nearly clicked to donate until I saw the amount they were aiming for. They're asking for a very large amount, much much more than the costs of flying out, renting a hotel suite and eating out. They're asking for so much, sums large enough to buy a new car or equivalent to a partial years salary for most folks! I was surprised by the amount, especially knowing that none is going to go towards my former friend's cancer treatments in Utah or to bury her. They claim the amount is for living expenses. I guess if you are aiming to live Donald Trump or Imelda Marcos it might be appropriate.

I've gotten hit up for donations many times this year and I've given to a fair number, like to the Alzheimer's Society after one friend passed from it, or so people can participate in various healing things. I've given to fund mammograms and food for shelter animals. We've given extensively to the local soup kitchen, food closet and homeless shelter among others. When Jim's friend Glenn died bankrupt leaving his elderly parents on a fixed income to cough up the money to bury him we gave to the fund someone set  up to pay for the funeral.

But... when you're asked to give ridiculous amounts when you know what it should cost you have to wonder if that family member is exploiting the tragedy to line their pockets.

One of my friends in Australia is dealing with avarice relatives right now after her sister was brutally murdered earlier in the year. One of her sisters and her mother, people her sister hadn't spoken to for many years except for at their father's funeral, have set up all sorts of Go Fund Me accounts begging for money to put aside for the deceased lady's children to go to college. Now that the funeral and memorials are all over it's come out that the mother and sister have zero intention of turning over any of the money they raised into a legitimate trust fund for the kids. They claim they are holding it for the kids until they turn eighteen. I seriously doubt they'll hang onto a penny of it. I'm sure they're spending it freely and will concoct some ridiculous reason why they cannot have it if the kids ask.

There should be a special place in hell for those family members that will use tragedy to exploit others for money.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Everything I Need to Know in Life I Learned Playing 'Exploding Kittens'

The Oatmeal's card game 'Exploding Kittens' is now available for Iphone and other platforms. I got to play the game quite a lot over the Christmas holidays, the real card version that I'd bought for my son when it was first being crowdfunded.

If you've never seen Mr. Oats site or looked at his comical take on everything I'd recommend you stroll on by. 

The game is a simple one, sort of like Uno with comical cards with cat cartoons on them. The objective is to be the last one in the room that hasn't drawn the exploding kitten card. You get a card that will defuse the kitten and there are a couple more defuse cards in the pack. There are cards that let you skip a turn, look at the top three cards, reverse direction of play, slap others while forcing them to take extra turns, cards that let you take cards away from others and one that lets you draw from the bottom of the deck. There's even a shuffle the deck card.

The game is part luck and part strategy. 

Now I'm pretty addicted to playing the game with strangers via the miracles of my Iphone. But I have noticed something about playing with strangers, strangers you cannot interact or talk with during game play. In some ways the playing the game resembles real life.

Important things I've learned playing 'Exploding Kittens' against strangers online 

1 - Nobody likes jerks!

People that tend to burst into the game and biatch slap everyone around them with 'slap' cards (which give you extra turns) or use their steal cards tend to get ganged up on by everyone in the room until they are out of cards and forced to draw the exploding kitten card before leaving the game.

Too bad real life people don't deal so directly in a gang to stop bullies and jerks.

2 - Planning pays off!

Sure you could be so cautious that you don't  ever make a move without consulting a peek at the top three cards or deploy a shuffle card, but you're not going to build up an arsenal of needed cards for the merciless play towards the end of the game. This is particularly true with the 'slap' cards, which are really vital towards the end. Some smart ass decides to give you three or four extra turns if you've got slap cards stockpiled you can cat slap them into 9 or 10 moves, guaranteeing they pull the wrong card and blow up.

3 -Always drawing cards towards the beginning when your odds of exploding are low and stockpiling them for later always pays off.

The players that consistently win tend to accumulate lots of cards, hang back without attacking others and go into defense mode against the jerk players.  Just like real life where saving, being cool with others instead of an asshole and having enough money to insulate yourself from some of the bullshit of life makes your world run just a little bit smoother.

4 - Some people are sore losers and will ditch before admitting failure and defeat.

There's always one idiot in the bunch of players that when they get backed into a corner instead of taking their lumps and manning up to take cards when the odds are bad they cut and run. They will log out of the game before being forced to pull a card they know is an exploding kitten.

Just like real life! How many times in life do we see people that drop out of situations or relationships the second things get a little bumpy? Don't trust those people and definitely do not play games with them because they'll overturn the board and cry.

5 - The unknown is sometimes nerve-wracking and nail-biting, but always at least a tiny bit exciting.

One minute you're slapping some nasty player that slapped you first and the next you're trembling trying to figure out if the next card will blow you up. You just never know.

There are those in life that always try to mitigate any risks in their lives. But that's too boring sometimes. Surprises, good and bad, are part of life. It's how you deal with them. Don't run away and hide.

6 - Watch others behavior very carefully because they reveal what they are.

If someone peeks at the top three cards and then plays a skip card to avoid picking up a card is a pretty sure tip off that the next card is an exploding kitchen. Someone playing a lot of slap cards and steal cards is likely to pull dick moves like putting the used exploding kitten card back into the top card of the deck. Don't be fooled with self invented monikers like 'Mr. Nice Guy'

You can apply that to any social situation or relationship. Don't automatically believe someone that screams out what a great vegan or Christian or Rasta Stand Up Comedian they are while they're kicking a puppy down the street.

7 - Play in such a way that you know you're playing with good sportsmanship.

Sure, you can be sneaky or start attacking everyone, but do you really want to do that? It makes the game more interesting when everyone isn't trying to be an aggressive dick.

That translates to life by being good without having some weird deity threatening you with eternal punishment or not being influenced to do crappy things just because everyone around you is doing them first.