Tuesday, September 02, 2014

So Why Even Be Married?

Life has been teaching me a hard lesson this weekend. The lesson is that a) I'm old and b) I'm old-fashioned.

Not hell and damnation if you look sideways at something sinful old-fashioned. No indeed. I left that type of old-fashioned behind at the Creek Church. More old-fashioned as I believe you should put the well-being of your children first before any selfish desires of your own. Example: there were times when I was a single mother going to college, working and raising my young daughter that I went without things just so Margaret could have them. Apparently very few folks in this generation do that.

I was fighting a cold all of last week and by Sunday morning had decided to take a day off from responsibility. Jim went to church, I stayed home, stayed in bed, ate breakfast in bed, watched a favorite movie adaptation of a Jane Austen novel and crocheted. By the time afternoon had rolled around I'd reached a state of complete relaxation I hadn't had since my last beach trip.

And then life threw me a crazy curve ball. My son in law, husband of my estranged daughter Margaret, messaged me that she was in the hospital with an infected leg. I dropped everything and immediately drove to the hospital in their town only to find that she'd been transferred to a bigger better facility in nearby Fairfax.

So for the last few days I've hovered at her bedside, she and I have both put aside our disagreements in the face of this thing. It's almost identical to the problem Jim had ten years ago with his leg. The difference is that Jim wasn't diabetic like Margaret is, and his infection didn't respond well to the first 3 days of IV antibiotics.

By late yesterday afternoon her white blood cell count had fallen, the drugs and surgery had started to take affect. So had all the pain meds. Yesterday under the influence of oxy-something she started telling me how she and my son in law have solved their marriage problems and made things much better between them by having an open marriage.

I nearly fell off the chair and onto the floor as she started to complain that she wasn't sure they would let her out by Thursday when she has a three-way planned with another couple. Margaret then proceeded to go through the text messages on her husband's cell phone and giggle over the text messages between him and his female friend.

It was one of the most triggering several hours I've sat through because this brings back memories of her father Dan. During our very brief marriage when Dan wasn't passing out drunk or playing musical gigs he was trying to get me to agree to swinging, that term back in the ancient days of the 1970s people used for open marriage. I didn't like the idea now and I certainly do not like it now.

It would be one thing if Margaret and her husband were emotionally healthy people that weren't going back and forth to the doctor for talk therapy and medicines for their diagnosed mental illnesses. But neither of them is what I would call mature, both have clearly demonstrated their selfishness and put each other and the kids last in most of their decisions.

Add in that they both use illegal drugs and have used them in front of the kids and I think this might be a recipe for disaster for the long term in their family.

The drug thing is why my family in Louisiana will no longer allow them to stay in one of the family homes when visiting. I don't blame any of them, who needs dopers using in front of their children and risking arrest.

Using drugs and taking lovers without bothering to hide it from their kids, one of which is a very depressed child diagnosed with bipolar disorder as well. Their family life has been chaotic since they first married and hasn't gotten any more stable, this isn't the answer to make it better.

Laura was there when all this was being said and she knew all about it. Her take was that it wasn't something she could ever do, but they seemed to be much happier now that they were both seeing other people out in the open.

I don't see any reason to remain married if what you want to do is have sex with a bunch of other people you aren't married to. Why bother staying married? Why confuse the already confused kids even further.

You want to see other people? Go to town! Do it! But don't make a mockery of the idea of marriage, at least separate or use some discretion. Don't act like it's a normal thing and inflict the knowledge of it on others you have to know are going to disapprove of your actions! It's just TMI.

I just cannot wrap my mind around it. Or accept it. I don't know what I'm going to say to Margaret if she mentions it to me again. I came home yesterday and talked to Jim about it. He is in agreement with me that this isn't a healthy thing for their already sick and ailing marriage.

The last nine months when we've not spoken (because I voiced an opinion that my granddaughter needed to be inpatient to regulate her meds and her aunt constantly telling her things I supposedly said that I didn't) have been blissful in the fact that I've not have to deal with Margaret's daily emotional crises, complaining and delusional thoughts and actions.

Today I'm feeling beat up, old, old-fashioned and very disappointed. I don't know what I'm going to say, but at some point when she's better I'm going to have to tell her that I think they're doing something incredibly destructive for their family.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why I Avoid "Christian" Businesses or What is Screwed up About a Home-Based Economy

As I have stated at NLQ and here, years ago I had a business making worship flags, the large banners that hang in churches, silk altar cloths, you name it. If it was something a sacristan would handle in the church, it was something I made.

When I first started making these things it seemed a perfect culmination of my years of sewing mixed with my college art commingled with my continuing artistic journey. It seemed like the natural outgrowth of my years doing art as a sideline, starting with the many fancy, fantastical and elaborate Mardi Gras costumes I churned out for customers starting back in my college days for extra money, right to the early days at my old church, when I made rather complex traditional style quilts to sell through the quilt shop in Williamsburg.

During those first months at our old church I was recovering from a spectacular bout of depression in the wake of the flood of July 1995. Jim and I owned and operated for over five years a small country store in the foothills of the Blue Ridge mountains, a mere mile or so from the hiking trails of the Shenandoah National Park. We'd done pretty well financially with the store and Jim had recently taken on a full time job with the federal government, leaving me to pull the 90 hours that the store was open between myself and a few part time employees.

In late July it rained and wouldn't stop, rain coming down at something like an inch an hour for a long stretch till the mountains could contain no more and water, mud, houses and beasts rolled off the mountains and ripped through the valley our store stood in. I'd just gotten a delivery of horse feed and mulch from the local farmers coop and managed to sand bag the doors with the feed and mulch, meaning that tho the water rushed around the building at 18 inches deep we only had six inches inside the store.

We were never able to recover from the flood at the store and we sold the place a few months later after both Laura and I suffered through bouts of illness. First her with ITP and meningitis and later I suffered from PSTD and the onset of fibromyalgia. We joined our old church in the middle of these crisis's.

One of the things that the ladies kept trying to pound in my head during those early days, besides telling me that I should use "To Train Up A Child" to discipline my very ill child, was that if I was going to be a good Christian submissive wife I was going to have to not work outside of the home. Which was foreign to me, I'd always had some sort of job outside of the home, even if it was part time, and mostly tried to work at a time when Jim could take care of the kids so that they didn't have to go to daycare.

This was the first time I'd heard of the family economy. I did this for a year or two, did the quilting, to make some money while I was incapacitated by the fibro. But eventually I did go back to working outside of the home, to the disappointment and derision of the ladies of the church. I just kept telling myself that they didn't know any better, none of them had college educations and it seemed like a waste of my own education to not work.

But like any good cult, eventually the messages being replayed over and over again went into my head and I started seeking a way to do the home-based economy thing, find something I could do. When I started making flags it seemed like the perfect answer, most of what I made was either an air-brushed design, or something like a 9 foot long half round lame flag with an inset of glittery chiffon or a special shaped, painted, stoned, flag that was one of the kind. One of the most popular ones I sold was a half round flag with a flaming sword appliqued into place and bejeweled and stoned with a hand-worked sword hilt on the flag handle.

What I'm trying to say is that the flags were one of a kind, hand made, designs I'd come up with, more like art work than anything mass produced. I charged accordingly, because, none of those things I'm talking about are quick and easy. Sometimes I'd have close to sixty dollars in materials alone in the flags.

At first I sold quite a few, and I'd get contacted frequently to make something special, or perhaps an entire set of flags just for a church. Did so well and had enough orders that I quit my job as a systems admin at an insurance company. Home-based economy, honoring God, etc.

And I wasn't the only one. One family at church the hubby farmed and tuned pianos on the side while the wife did his books. The pastor's wife sold Pampered Chef products, others did Mary Kay, Tupperware, or other sales from their home. One lady made cheese, another one bought and sold vintage things online, another did bookkeeping out of her home. Many of the men farmed or mowed grass, landscaped, were roofers or were carpenters. Lots of businesses run out of the home.

This was odd for me because I'd mostly worked either in corporate America or for government agencies in social work, all frowned upon by our church. With the flags and large banners I ran into a snag after a few months, a snag I've seen played out again and again and again in the Christian home economies in many different divisions.

It would go something like this. I'd be at a teaching conference, or someone would see my now-defunct website and start asking questions about one of the items. Most of the time this was about the half round 9 foot long flags with a half round center of glitter bedecked chiffon, not an easy item to make, but one that I'd managed to come up with a nearly fool proof method to make. I had my own pattern I'd made, and my own special technique for appliqueing in the center, while cutting away the solid lame in the center. It wasn't easy, but it was my way to do it that worked every time.

The problem with this particular highly-coveted flag is that you needed a minimum of 5 yards of very expensive materials. It was usually about sixty dollars for fabric in that particular one. The ones that contacted me proclaiming what Good Christians (tm) they were also were the very ones that demanded either a) a big discount or b) to know exactly how I made that flag so they could make their own. Why? Because the $90 I was charging was thought to be too much for this item that took lots of expensive fabric and the expertise to make.

Many times I'd give in with a sigh, sketch out how to make one if I was at a conference, or explain via email. Usually what happened is that the person would get so far into the project, screw it up and then demand I fix their mess. For free. Most of the time when I looked at what they'd done I'd have to point out that they'd mangled the delicate fabric so badly that they'd have to start from scratch again. Would have been way cheaper just to buy from me in the first place

Eventually I'd sell the pattern, but people would still balk at spending ten bucks for a pattern and demand I explain for free.

And the people who were whining and demanding were also screaming out what Good Christians (tm) they were so I owed it to them because I was a Christian.

I got to see that Good Christian (tm) dynamic at work in just about every place, public secular business or Christian business, people saying that since they were doing the work of the God they deserved a discount or freebie, who would not let up until they got their way. Vyckie Garrison and I have had discussions about the Good Christian discount whine.

To add insult to grievous injury every single freakin' time I'd come up with a new design, something I'd sketched out, made the pattern for and then made the sample and posted it on my website within a week I'd see a badly executed copy made from discount fabric of my original design up on Ebay for a cheaper price. To me that is what separates true artists from the artisans. Artists do it because it's inside of them, artisans are just looking to make a buck.

Not one of my flags, but one of the quilts I've made just to give you an idea of my mad sewing skillz and the way I put together colors and textures. Not my original pattern.

Even as sales were decent after awhile I got most burned out by the attitudes of entitlement, the begging, whining, demanding a discount and the general intellectual thievery. I stopped making flags for anyone but myself, or when someone who's seen one of mine and is willing to pay without whining. Just readied a big box of flags going on a missions trip to Cuba next month.

I am proud to say that there are some of my worship flags on every continent of the world, with the exception of Antarctica. Japan, Romania, Germany, Australia, Russia, Poland, the Bahamas and all over the USA. That is something I am proud of.

This is a air brushed flag I did make, it's five feet by 2 /1/2 feet gold lame. Not my original design. This was a custom order with the design from a photograph of a painting someone else did that the customer was requesting. Still one of my favorite simple rectangular flags.

One thing I started to notice during my years at good old Creek Church, the tendency of the Creekers and other Good Christians (tm) to take advantage of people, press every advantage and try to drum up business by means fair and foul. Example, just about everyone that sucked up to the Pastor's wife bought Pampered Chef merchandise and many ladies at the church signed up to sell beneath her every single time she started putting the pressure to people over being Good Christians (tm) helping out each other.

It was as if none of them thought hard work and conviction was enough, they had to press every advantage and try to game the system each and every time. Some of them still are, hence Mrs. 5 by 5 fleecing two different sets of the elderly she did the books for out of over 20K. Today I saw her with another new senior citizen that has a small business and I'm going to see if I can talk to her newest employer's relatives before she steals from this women.

I had originally intended to go on and on with stories of the complete fubared nature of most of the home-based economies that I got the chance to observe, but I'm running out of steam here. What got me started was that this morning I got a series of comments from another flag-maker that was upset that I'd used one of her photos in an old post I made discussing why I no longer made worship flags for the general public. A couple of months ago she requested I take down the photo I used, citing that I'd violated her copyright, even though her photos weren't marked as copyrighted or watermarked, and I meant no disrespect to her. The reason I used the photo is it was the only one even remotely close to some of the hand dyed and painted silk flags I'd made. I have almost no photos of my flags left as they were all on my old computer.

Long story short. I took down the photo from this blog and considered the issue closed. Too bad, because the photo was very pretty. Today she showed up again, still upset and still claiming I was linked to her photo or had the photo or something that I just didn't get. 

She behaved with typical Fundigelical whining and I exploded on her in a furious volley of obscene words. I've removed the flag post all together and purged that silly photo out of Blogspot photo archive I didn't even know existed til this morning. She's still sending me comments/demands, none of which I'm going to allow through to the blog here. I honored her request when she first made it.

Here's what I learned in the last twenty years plus years dealing with Fundigelicals and their businesses/home based economies.

1) If they can take some small advantage of you, then they will. If you call them on it they will claim it's their right as Christians to be entitled to more or they outright deny they've done it.
2) They believe if they can whine, beat you down, demand, threaten or haggle long enough you will give in to their sense of entitlement and give out something for free or deep discount. Why? Because Christian! Because Bible!
3) If you happen to not totally agree with their flavor of True Believer then they might refuse to serve you and/or jack up the charges.
4) They act like they have some sort of moral superiority over you all the while behaving badly.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Eating Pancakes and Riding The Boob-Mangler 3000

Last Thursday I spent the day with my BFF Joanie. Friday was her birthday and she wanted to go out to IHOP to eat.

I love IHOP, but IHOP doesn't love me. After eating there I always stagger out feeling like I just consumed a ten pound brick of solid lard studded with Xanax. After eating there I am completely incapable of rational thought or action, wanting just to lay down without having to employ my brain or body. Someone suggested it was a blood sugar reaction, but I'm not entirely sure it is considering I have the same reaction there even if I eat, like this time, a hefty chunk of protein too.

When I gave Joanie her gift I was surprised when she burst into tears. I'd wrapped the package with some gift wrap I had leftover from another birthday and did up a pretty bow with left over ribbon. She told me her tears was because no one had taken the time and care to do up a pretty package for her since she was a child.

I was pretty surprised at that because I always assumed that most folks wrap their presents and take some care to make sure it doesn't look like a crackhead wrapped it. It wasn't some super special effort on my part. I guess you just never know what will touch someone.

Joanie in my living room with her present

I had fun putting this gift together. Months before I'd spotted a huge wineglass at a animal rescue fundraiser and ended up buying it. I filled it with bottles of bath oil, bath salts, lotions and a couple of packets of frozen drink mix. A relaxation package on a budget.

Was so glad to be away from the house on Thursday since that's the usual day Jim works from home. The problem with him working from home is the fact that he curses and carries on when his computer acts up or he has other problems with technology, like dealing with the CMS platform he uses for work. I get to hear him say "Goddammit" so many times in a day that I fear that at any moment a bolt of lightning is going to pierce the ceiling and fry my beloved into a crispy critter. 

He's been in a quite a bad mood for a few days so I spent most of the weekend quilting behind closed doors, while he chewed the scenery, cursed and rode his motorcycle. One of the challenges of being married is not being impacted by someone else's foul mood. Particularly when the mood is due to something you personally consider not worth getting worked up about. 

But not for much longer, last night was his first fantasy football draft of the season. This weekend brings a few more. I'm about to be a fantasy football widow until after the Superbowl. This is why I get the majority of the quilting I do done during football season.

Which would be good because this has been a sort of raw nerves week of trying to catch our accountant in the office, having an anonymous neighbor leave a nasty note on your front door about another neighbor that you are in no way shape or form connected with just because you sit on the HOA board, dealing with Jim's mother being in and out of the hospital again, dealing with my mother having issues again, finishing up clearing out the storage room and today's awful chore - riding the Boob-Mangler 3000, a.k.a the dreaded mammogram!

It's been awhile since I've had one and last time was awful. I don't know if getting your teat run through the mangler on an old-fashioned washing machine would have hurt worse or not. I was left with bruises for weeks. Not to mention last year when I had an ultrasound of my gall bladder and liver, after the test I had big purple bruises on my torso.

But this time it wasn't so bad. I made sure to scream out that I had Von Willebrands and had been bruised up badly the last few times and they handled me far more gently than usual. I'm sore but it's not too bad.

Now if the rest of my week could go so gently I'd be grateful.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Antics of Former Church Members

Hard to believe this is still a thing in modern society
One of the few advantages of living in a small Southern town is when members of your former church do stupid things you get to hear about it in nauseating detail ad nauseum.

One of my friends from the old church I'm still friends with, Leanna, who was also harassed by those at Possum Creek till she left along with others. Last week she shot me an IM asking me to pray for her. She's my age and she's not worked outside of the home in a very long time. She was getting ready to work for a mutual acquaintance that had a small printing company and Leanna wanted prayer that she'd be able to work full time again and handle her house and animals without having any more problems with her arthritis and other physical ailments.

Leanna has prayed for my various ailments that make it hard for me to work full time outside of the home for a couple of years now. We still regularly pray together. Plus we're able to be real with each other. I was telling her today that I was so done with sermons, completely over hearing anyone else's interpretation of the Bible. I'll read and form my own opinions, thank you very much!

Leanna was feeling very inadequate going into this job and she ended up only working a total of four hours. Why? Because Mrs. 5 by 5, the former church secretary (I sometimes refer to her as Mrs. Bz Body) who's office was gossip central at the Creek, also was working for this printing company along with another Creek gossip queen. They'd been ground central in getting Leanna out of the church, gossiping, cursing her out, slandering her, you name it, till Leanna and the other half of the church left. Then the tables turned on Mrs. 5 by 5 and she was given the same treatment, her and her family driven from the Creek.

Turns out as soon as Mrs. 5 by 5 and her pal heard that Leanna was coming on board to take over all the admin duties and data entry starting that morning that both Mrs. 5 by 5 and her minion left, quitting without giving any reason. I know it was because they hate Leanna.

Mr. Peter, the owner of the printing company found out after they left that Mrs. 5 by 5, her son and her pal, had been stealing from him once he tried to get into the books to start training Leanna. Because now he was short handed in the printing room and Leanna's husband is going into a slow time in his job Mr Peter asked if Leanna's husband wanted to come to work to help out with the printer jobs. Mr. Peter called in his retired wife, Miss Nancy to help he and Leanna go through the books and receipts to see if they could make sense of it.

By the end of the four hours Mr. Peter ended up sending Leanna home because he was going to have to bring in the accountant to see what was happening. Mr. Peter told Leanna that he'd call her in a few days to let her know when she and her husband could show up for work.

Turns out the thievery was so bad and the books so bungled that now Mr. Peter and Miss Nancy are going to have to work for at least six months with taking no pay in order to get the business back on stable financial ground. He cannot afford to pay Leanna to work for him. So she's out of a job, courtesy of Mrs. 5 by 5.

The whole time that Leanna is relating this tale she's begging me not to hold it against Mrs. 5 by 5 or be bitter at all towards that woman. Besides, she said, Mr. Peter is not going to have her prosecuted, in fact, he's forgiven her.

I have to say it. Mr. Peter is a fool! Mrs. 5 by 5 has a long reputation of workplace shenanigans and gossiping. She should be prosecuted! She's just about killed his business!

What he needs most is a good forensic accountant to sort all of this out and expose what she's done this time.

None of this changes my initial impression of the lady. My inner warning bells started going off just about the time she joined the church and morphed into super control freak mode.

My own history with Mrs. 5 by 5 goes way back to when she first joined out old church and she started campaigning to be the church secretary. She also took on the responsibility of organizing the high school senior honors banquet and all sorts of other thankless volunteer tasks.

The first time I ran afoul of her was when Jim and I had taken our turn providing the post-church refreshments. After everyone left we scrubbed up and left platters and other church dishes drying on the drain board only to get an angry phone call from Mrs. 5 on Wednesday night demanding we come back down to church and 'clean up our mess' right now!!!!

We got to the church and yes, there were a lot of dirty dishes and plates, but I pointed out to Mrs. 5 that we'd not used those things and that all the stuff we did use was still drying. Mrs. 5 started screaming at me, all insults and demands and I walked off lest I say something to her that I would regret.

Weeks later she came to me to say how sorry she was. Turns out there was a teen meeting on Tuesday night and all the dirty dishes and food grime was left from that. But in my mind the damage was already done since she's loudly shared with many people that she thought I'd not cleaned up after refreshments and she made no move to spread the word that some other group had done it. After that I always had to deal with random church goers reminding me to make sure I cleared up after refreshments and not do what I'd done before, which I hadn't done.

One thing she did that I did have fun sitting back and watching the consequences of was that she tried to enroll her daughter Mini-5 in the local Jr. Junior League. She wanted Mini-5 to be a debutante here in this small Southern town.

The funny of it was that Junior League here doesn't work at all like it does on Long Island, New York, where she's from. I heard through the grapevine that she made numerous attempts to join and didn't realize there wasn't one lady who is a part of that organization that was going to allow her entry. She doesn't have the correct pedigree, isn't part of the right social class, and as obnoxious as she is I could see that the local Old Guard would freeze her out for being in their view, a loud uncouth Yankee without manners.

The guardians of the Old South can be brutal.

They were to her, not actually banning her but making Mini and her so uncomfortable that they finally got the hint. She was upset and moaned about it quite a lot. It didn't help when she found out that Laura had been asked to join without me having to do or say a thing. I said no, because while proper manners are a good thing Laura already knew what fork to use and how to handle social situations without being part of the Cotillion.

Laura had no desire to do it, but one of her friends mother was the head of the local organization. That was the reason behind the invite, that and the fact that I'd been a member years ago. I absolutely hated it, but my mother forced me to go. In my day there was way too much snobbery and social class exclusionary hi-jinks going on. It was a giant drag in my mind. I hated wearing that stupid crinoline to learn how to waltz (which I understand they don't do any longer). I hated the over the top manners. I hated the tea dances. I hated the small talk. I just wanted to stay home and read or listen to music. To introverted me it was torture. Actually, no, I would have welcomed physical torture over Junior League shenanigans.

I'm glad Leanna shared with me what happened, because it means I must really avoid going to the local Starbucks now. Mini-5 has been bugging me to hire her to clean my house and do some painting of trim and I've waffled on it, saying maybe. The reason I haven't wanted to hire the girl, even if I like her, is that I don't want the mom anywhere near me or knowing anything about my family or me. If Mini starts pestering me I'm going to have to tell her I cannot hire her because of her loathsome mother.

This is why the unity of the body and forgiving someone that has wronged you doesn't mean you have to be in close fellowship with them. You're not called to martyr yourself for people that will hurt you again if they could. Forgive from a distance if you must, but do not allow these folks access into your life again.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Heck Of A Shitty Week

....  or women who poop their pants and the depressed men who love them on the next all new Maury show...

Haven't had the heart to post since the shocking news came out on Monday about the suicide of Robin Williams. I wasn't a huge fan of all of his movies, but there was just something about that guy that made you feel better knowing he was in this world.

I loved his turn on my old ex favorite television show "Homicide: Life on the Street". He played a grieving husband and father who's wife was gunned down right in front of him by a local thug. It was the first time I'd seen him play a dramatic part and it was impressive. It took him in my eyes from a one note guy, a comedian, to someone with depth and range, a whole canvas of different colors.

Hearing through the week the ignorant views of various folks in the world of Evangelical Christianity on suicide and depression put me on edge all week. It's a world I know way too much about considering Jim had bouts of major depression before it was discovered his depression was all because of a set of tumors on his parathyroid glands. Stones, bones, groans with psych overtones is how they teach it in medical school.

One day soon I'm going to sit down and detail all the different unhelpful nouthetics, criticisms, platitudes and judgement we dealt with in those years and how they made everything about the situation so much worse. But not today. I have too much on my plate to do that.

This week I've been dealing with doing a slight remodel/redecorate of my bedroom, dealing with some small plumbing issues and canning the massive amount of produce from the garden.

The fun part of all that was finding things like this photo of me from one of the Mardi Gras carnival balls dressed up as an angel fish to take part in the dance entertainment at the krewe ball. If that beehive hair do didn't cause it's own massive hole in the ozone layer I'd be surprised. The hair don't was the way my mother wore her hair in 1970 when this picture was taken and for every big event she'd drag my reluctant ass down to the hairdressers and have my long hair teased and tormented into this dreadful shape. I hated it then, I hate it now.

I took dance lessons for many years and this photo is, sadly enough, one of the few I have of my dance kid years. I tease my mother about my dance years, asking her why she didn't scream, yell and curse at the other mothers and the dance studio owner, telling her she was clearly 'not' a proper dance mom, like the ones shown on "Dance Moms" and then we both laugh.

This week has made me go into my 'dealing with stress' mode. Whenever I'm agitated I've always found that throwing myself into weeding, turning the soil, getting good and tired and dirty is better than any therapy or drug for me. And oh boy, have there been some stressers besides the death of Robin Williams. Yesterday was all sorts of crazy.

Jim has a cousin who's a member of the John Birch Society that makes the Tea Party people seem rational, loving and sane. He's recently decided to try and force me to see things his way on Facebook. He comments on many things I post in a hectoring, put-down, 'woman obey me' sort of way. It's been highly triggering because it's very much like the things that were done and said to me back when I first left my old church. Every single time he comments on something of mine I find myself grinding my teeth and sometimes deleting his comments. Last night he went into a crazy mode and I ended up telling him off and then unfriending/blocking him. I hated doing that to a relative, but... I do not tolerate abusive in the name of Christ any longer from anyone.

And while that was going on someone I worked with twenty five years ago started sending me very flirty private messages. I knew when I worked with him that he had a crush on me and that he was a dirty, low-down, cheating dog of a man. He's newly married and trying to score with me on the side. I haven't replied to any of his messages and yesterday evening I just went ahead and blocked him too.

These things didn't make what happened yesterday any more fun. My colitis is back, in the worst way. After I'd picked a five gallon bucket of grapes and did some major scrubbing of our deck and gazebo I decided to make a run to the local McDonalds for one of their frozen yogurt cones. Picture this, if you will, I'm sitting in the drivers seat of my older old lady big sedan, Grandma's Bitchin' Buick Burnout, dressed in a cute sundress and sandals, hair nice, slight makeup, pretty sandals, waiting to pay in the drivethru line.... when suddenly I shart myself! So I'm sitting there, in what feels like a full diaper, trying to keep a straight face while I'm paying the kid I know in the drivethru cash stand and pulling up to the pickup window fervently praying that the smell isn't seeping out to smack these kids in the face. I drove home, almost wrecking twice, thinking how horrible it would be if I did or I got pulled over because it would be obvious to everyone.. when I got home I did something I almost never do, pulled the car into the garage, furiously punching the button on the garage door remote to lower the garage door completely before I jumped out screaming, throwing aside my froyo to run into the laundry room from the garage to strip my clothes off and put them into the washer to soak and running down the hall to the downstairs bath.

One shower later and scrubbing the seat of the car both of these guys decided to mess with me, not knowing I was already pretty messed up.

Remember all those commercials for Colitis meds where the guy is keeping track of where the restrooms are? That's my life.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Evangelical Good Christian Men Are So Fragile They Cannot Handle Pushback Of Any Kind?

Homemade Mojito Jelly from mint in the garden

Over at NLQ in the past few weeks it seems like many of the pieces I'm publishing have to do with not asking for your needs to be met, not disagreeing with your husband's financial decisions or anything else or they will cease to love you or fall victim to the devil.

I really don't get that. Especially when it comes to spending money, major and minor purchases. Debi Pearl has stated in her book "Created To Be His Help Meet" that you should never ever under any circumstance voice an opinion on the spending of family funds. According to her the question below is one no wife should ever ask her husband....
1. Do you feel comfortable spending that much money buying that ____?He begins to doubt his ability to make wise decisions.
What? Are all the males she knows so emotionally delicate that the mere act of asking a simple question destroys their ability to make decisions?

And from the same book a question from a reader and Debi's response. First the question:
 Last week my husband went to buy a new stove that we badly needed. He picked out a top-of-the-line stove and was willing to spend too much money in order to have the best. He called and asked me to go look at it and let him know what I thought. I shared my deep concern that it was simply too expensive. We do have the money, but I saw no need to buy the best, when the next scale down would do just as well. He called and told me that he had canceled the order and bought the one I recommended. We both felt better with what I picked out. Should I have kept my mouth shut? I didn’t tell him NOT to get it. I just thought it unwise to spend money unnecessarily. Do wives have to submit in everything? For example, what color to point the walls or what kind of furniture to have? Are we to be just mindless robots?
And now Debi's answer:
Your husband’s choice of stoves is a statement that he is trying to express his great appreciation of you and to please and delight you. Your countermanding his choice, even if it were a better choice, speaks to him about how little you value him, more than it does about how you value the dollar.
This speaks more to the fractured and sick relationship Debi and Michael Pearl have, not to the day to day realities of living in a partnership with another human being. In healthy marriages there are discussions, moments of disagreement and compromise, not slavish bowing down to another while burying your resentments and later taking out your frustrations on others who don't deserve it. Debi takes out her frustrations that come from bowing to the petty unwise tin-plated dictator of her husband on all her readers. Her advice is like toxic waste and will destroy everything it touches.

I thought about her advice this weekend when Jim and I went to do our monthly Costco run together. Before we got to Costco Jim wanted to stop at Best Buy to look at a few things. When we got there he decided he wanted the auto stereo guys to take a look at the ancient stereo in my car. It could not be fixed and they quoted him a price of about $200 dollars to replace it with an upgraded model.

Jim wanted to immediately replace my stereo but I told him first of all I'm not that concerned with having a working CD player in my car since I listen to the local classical music radio station in the car and would likely would still spend 90% of my time listening to the same station even if I had a working CD player. Plus I didn't think spending $200 dollars right now was a wise decision since we're just now recovering from the tight financial circumstances of paying two children's way through college. Last month was the first month that my entire paycheck didn't go to pay living expenses for our daughter. I'd rather use that $200 towards getting our new dishwasher installed by the plumber. I did tell him that when a birthday or Christmas rolled around and he was stuck not knowing what to get me that the stereo might be a good gift.

I know he really wants it in my car. He mentioned it a couple of times on our trip. I'm indifferent. I'd just as soon listen to WETA on my radio.

I didn't say no, I just pointed out that it wasn't a very wise use of funds right now. According to Debi Pearl I was all disrespectful and rebellious. Nope, I was practical. Just like I'm practical and thrifty when I grow the big garden and can every summer or this week when I took care of three small plumbing situations that would have cost around $150 each to get an plumber out to fix.

Jim is usually much more tight with a buck than I am, so this offering to spend some dollars to put in a new stereo system was a big thing. But he did realize that I have our combined financial health in mind. That's healthy, that's not disrespecting your husband.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Karmic Alignment Coda #1

While I was out picking my garden and buying canning lids apparently Lynette has been venting again. Newest.

"You are not going to believe this one!!! My step-fathers family just contacted me and asked me if my step dad had insurance that paid off my car in the event of his death. I hit the ceiling. I said what kind of idiot are you to think that he had anything to do with my finances or my car??? I financed my car, I pay for my car, who the hell do you people think you are? They are pure evil. They disgust me and make me feel like I can't trust anyone."

And this part makes me almost laugh..
"They disgust me and make me feel like I can't trust anyone."

Unfortunately I know how she feels on that one after she basically shredded the lines of communication between myself and my eldest child. 

Karma is really a bitch. The kind compassionate side of me wants to contact her and tell her how sorry I am, but the evil side is saying "Ha-Ha!" in Nelson Munce's voice. I'm staying out of this but am getting ready to make popcorn and sit off to the side watching. This is why you don't fuck everyone in your world over. You end up alone and up that creek with a termite-ridden paddle.

Edited to add - 8:00 pm est: Now Lynette is starting to scare me! Irrational folks like Lynette have no business with weapons. 

they emailed actually. I'm trying to wait until I move and then change all email accounts, phone numbers, everything.

tried that blocking, then they just use a different phone. these are sick people. that's why I have a gun and will use it to defend myself.

Fear Looks Very Different With Time and Tide Part 2

So last night I was talking about my fears as a child of being taken to Madame Lalaurie's home with the spooky haunty nature of it. I know I didn't say very well how that related to watching a relative get spanked with the karma stick and how realizing I had to cut them out of my life earlier because they were toxic and stirring up fear and what not.

The relative is my ex-sister-in-law Lynette.

Let me backtrack here and explain my first, short, ill-fated marriage.

When I was all of a over-developed sixteen year old girl living for rock and roll and good times I fell in love, or at least I thought I did, for the first time. His name was Dan and Dan was a trombonist/banjo picker/guitarist/bassist with a local rock and roll band. I should have known better because at one point during my adolescence Dan and I attended the same school and Dan would tell very tall tales, like the time he showed up swathed in bandages claiming that there had been a cougar under his bed that popped out and mauled him in his sleep. But lust, hormones and teenage stupidity ignored the the red flags the size of Bermuda and we eloped a mere twelve days after my 16th birthday. Yep, I married the guy that lied about a swamp cougar mauling. Plus a few other things and continued to lie like a cheap threadbare rug.

Example: While I was giving birth to our daughter he was out getting drunk with pals, came back to the hospital reeking of cheap booze and tried to give me some story about a never ended Monopoly game with pals. I had to ask him if it was 'do a shot' Monopoly. He stuck to his story but I knew better. Dan hardened me to liars, manipulators and game players by his actions, like the time he disappeared for a week and blamed it on some sort of long acid trip he did because he found out he had cancer. He had cancer like I have a scrotum.

I guess I thought at first that the red flags were celebratory. Later I realized they were more like that Lost in Space robot trying to keep me out of the clutches of life-sucking aliens.

I was very quickly pregnant and tried to settle into his family. There was just one problem. His widowed mother, the lady that always enabled him over his wild claims and musical profession, hated me with the passion of a million super novas. I was 'not good' enough for her only son. Mix in my general lack of any maturity that wasn't physical and the fact that I'd been pretty much abandoned by my parents for several years before, Dan's 'creative' handle on the truth and teenage love and you have the potential for some pretty crazy goat rodeo happenings. Which did, regularly.

One of the good things to come out of our marriage was my friendship with his younger sister Lynette. Lynette and I were good friends for much longer than Dan and I were married. But we drifted out of touch until the advent of the internet and Facebook.

Dan and I didn't stay married more than a couple of years. Which was unfortunate because after years of barely seeing his daughter he suddenly morphed into the doting father once our daughter turned 14 years old. Which turns out to be the exact moment when Margaret, our daughter, started rebelling against me.

From that moment on Dan would tell Margaret things like I'd broken up the marriage and divorced him, purposely breaking up our happy home because I wanted someone with more money, or other wild claims.

I tried telling her the truth when he'd spout lies, like I'd realized I'd never loved Dan, our marriage was a huge mistake and I wanted more out of life than rock and roll hootchie coo. I was tired of catching Dan in groupies beds, tired of worrying he would give me an STD, tired of his drinking and drugging, tired of his lies. Having Margaret had forced me to grow up, take life more seriously and start moving towards a future, knowing if I stayed with Dan I'd remain stuck in this nightmare.

The day that Dan came home from a gig so drunk that he hit his head on the toilet, cracking it in two before passing out covered with vomit and then promptly shit his pants was the day that I decided that this was it. I could take no more.

Margaret was under two years old when we split so she has no memory of our marriage, she only knows all the rotten things Dan said about me. That's done a number of my relationship with Margaret, it's been fraught with all sorts of accusations and drama from Margaret. Nothing I've said or done has helped. She still blames me for everything that has gone wrong with her life. Several years ago it was discovered that Margaret was bipolar. The medication has helped but she's still in the "blame everyone else in my life but me for my mistakes" mode.

I admit I've made some mistakes raising Margaret. Everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect, but I'm not the egotistical monster she's made me out to be based on the lies her father tells. I've offered to go to counseling with her and other solutions but she has refused, preferring to blame me for her life even if I've always been at her beck and call. I babysit my grandkids when she was in the bind, missed work to take care of her post-surgery for several days and countless other things.

So... my point. yeah, what was it? Okay. Last fall once Lynette and I because internet pals she and I had a conversation about Margaret and Margaret's eldest daughter she has custody of, Sindy, Sindy is also bipolar, 12 years old and had started giving Margaret all sorts of grief, behaving like her mother does towards me. Karma is such a bitch.

Sindy and Margaret were struggling with med levels and talk therapy and this and that. Several times last fall I dropped everything I was doing for work to be there for the kids while Margaret and her husband dealt with school counselors and IEP, social workers, psychiatrists, etc. I even supported Margaret when she started wanting to put Sindy in a kids residential treatment center because I believed and still believe that some space and distance between Margaret and Sindy would help defuse the situation.

One evening Lynette and I were talking on instant messenger. She asked me about Margaret and Sindy and I shared my thoughts and concerns, mostly that I was worried about the escalating physical violence Sindy was showing towards her mother and younger sister. Nothing earth shattering, nothing I hadn't already said to Margaret, right? Then Lynette and I went on to take about all sorts of things. I thought we'd reconnected again.

Three weeks go by with no contact from Margaret. I call her up and she cusses me out saying we cannot have a relationship if I keep 'gossiping' about her. I can't figure out what she's talking about until it comes out that Lynette has been calling her, exaggerating everything about our conversation and nagging Margaret about things, talking trash about me. I've never said one negative word about Lynette to anyone in all these years.

I was pretty upset that Lynette twisted everything about our conversation, pulled up a copy and emailed it to Margaret. She calmed down and started telling me that Dan and his other sister are having issues with Lynette, that Lynette is mentally ill, on disability for mental illness and controlling all access to their dementia-addled mother in a nursing home. Lynette will not allow them to see the mother or talk to her. Plus Lynette was living in the house with her elderly step-father Timmy sponging off him, controlling who he talked with.

I took all this information with a huge boulder of salt because, well, really, Dan has told so many lies and exaggerations that this sounds like just more of the same. I stopped speaking to Lynette at all, because the last thing I wanted was to make my unwell daughter even more unwell.

Didn't matter, Lynette started copying and pasting my Facebook statuses to Margaret claiming that they were all about Margaret, which none of them were. So Margaret called me, said a huge number of things that were completely untrue and very hurtful before telling me she did not want to ever speak to me again.

By this time I've reached a level of fatigue in my relationship with Margaret and said while I didn't agree with her decision to have a nice life. That was back in November and the ensuing months since last speaking with Margaret have been blissfully drama free. No fear, no dread every time the phone rang, sweet peace. Laura still stays in contact with Margaret and has told me that the situation with Sindy is much worse. I'm staying out of it all since I'm the designated bad guy all the way around.

If you had ever told me there would come a time that being in relationship with my daughter would be too painful to accomplish I would have never believed it. Yet, that's exactly what has happened. I've spent many a long night searching my mind and soul to see where I went wrong and I've had to lay much of the blame for her turning against me at the feet of my ex Dan.

This week I got to see Lynette reap what she'd sown in the worst way. Timmy died and within hours his natural daughter got an eviction notice from the courts tossing Lynette out, turned off all the utilities and took legal steps to keep Lynette from inheriting anything. Lynette supposedly has a will that says she gets the house. Court has ordered her out. I'm sad she's going to be homeless if she doesn't get into an apartment in the next week but I cannot help but feel like the universe has dealt out some small measure of justice.