Just Finished Slaughterhouse Five

My first exposure to it was in college: My freshman year, my boyfriend Peter and I took a Winterim class (one month) called Science Fiction for the Fun of It.  Along with reading a book of short stories, every class period, we watched a movie.  One of them was Slaughterhouse Five.

Over the years, I completely forgot what was in the movie or what it was about.  I forgot there was such a city as Dresden.

I may have learned about the firebombing in school, since I see references to the raids on German cities in my old German and History textbooks.  I do remember learning something about the bombing in German class, and feeling appalled at the destruction of historic architecture.

But I don’t remember hearing about how many civilians died in these bombings.  Maybe I thought they had evacuated; I don’t remember.  I may have learned something about it in school, but it’s been more than 20 years since I graduated college (argh), so I forgot about it.

Fast-forward to 2015: While researching my novel about a Nazi time-traveler, I stumbled across some webpages which I thought were Wikipedia, but were actually some neo-Nazi site, and learned about the bombings, including Dresden.

Cross-referencing through various other sources has proven that while the site may have given me some faulty or one-sided info about the war, it is correct about the bombings.  Of course, it doesn’t give the other side, how the Germans bombed European cities and ravaged civilians deemed “subhuman,” such as Jews, Russians, Poles, gypsies, homosexuals, etc. etc.  But yes, the bombings really did happen.

In the course of my research, I discovered that Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut is about the bombing of Dresden.  So I bought the book with birthday money and, these past couple of weeks, read it.  It’s such an easy read, and so short, that it only took two weeks.

Kurt Vonnegut not only hid in a meat locker with other prisoners during the bombing of Dresden, but had to help clean up the carnage afterwards.  Before the bombing, the beautiful city looked like Oz to him.  He saw the people there, with their translucent skin from having nothing to eat for years but potatoes, just trying to get here and there, go to work and home again.

He became a pacifist.  It took him more than 20 years to finally write about the experience, despite wanting to for so long.  He tried to find information for research, but they told him it was still secret.  Vonnegut writes that the government kept the extent of the Dresden bombing secret from the American public for many years, afraid of the backlash.

Because yes, there were many who would object to the bombing of civilians.  Even back then, before the 60s and the peace movement.  Even though today I find–in the comment section of Youtube videos and blogs–people complaining about modern generations who aren’t willing to recognize what had to be done to win the war.

Really?  Must we–in order to fight an enemy, no matter how evil–do the same things the enemy does?  Because that’s what Nazi Germany did: firebombed cities.

Must we look on an entire city–whichever city–as full of evil people, just as evil as their government?  Especially in a totalitarian, fascist government which suppresses all opposition?

There was no organized, wide-scale movement against the government in Germany, because everyone who tried was killed or severely punished.  But I keep finding accounts and interviews of people who lived during that time; they keep saying, “My father was against the government, but he had to keep it very quiet or they’d take him away.”

Especially in 1945 when the war was clearly lost, and refugees fled the bombings of other cities and the advance of the Russians, how many of those people honestly still supported the government?  How many just wanted the war to end and sanity to regain control of the country?

But the Allied bombings didn’t just kill civilians of the Axis countries.  According to For You the War is Over by David A. Foy, the relentless bombings of civilians put the Allied POWs in Germany in serious danger, especially after Dresden: The POWs could sometimes be victims in air attacks on cities or trains.  Germans began calling the airmen “Luftgangsters,” believing they were deliberately chosen from the American mob to inflict death on women and children.

In the latter part of the war, any airman who was shot down over Germany was actually safer in the hands of enemy soldiers than of the civilians.  Civilians were in such a frenzy of anger and revenge that our boys could get lynched.  Angry guards in POW camps could become trigger-happy after their families were bombed.

And Hitler made things more difficult for POWs, so attempted escapes were more likely to lead to death instead of a stint in the cooler.  Only Eva’s influence kept Hitler from ordering the deaths of all Allied air force POWs after Dresden.  According to one POW, Stalag Luft I was very nearly wiped out in retaliation for an attack on a refugee train.  The POW claimed that SS troops were sent to do this, but the Kommandant’s troops surrounded them and refused to let them do it.

I see a lot of extreme thinking about these bombings: One side ignores the atrocities of the Nazis, even explains them away or says the Holocaust is a hoax.  They say there’s an Illuminati; they say Hitler and the Nazis were just misunderstood.  They say the Jews really are a problem and that xenophobia is not a sin.  They say the Allied leaders were war criminals.

The other side says the bombings were absolutely necessary.  They scold the people who say we shouldn’t have done this.  They say there was no other way to win the war.

But maybe there’s a middle way: recognize that while we had to beat the Nazis, that doesn’t mean our side was always correct in its actions.  We do the same in looking at American history with various groups, such as Native Americans and black slaves, recognizing when our government committed crimes against them; why not with World War II?

Yes, the governments we were fighting were evil, but that doesn’t mean all the people were.  And it doesn’t mean our leaders were saints who could do no wrong.  We can celebrate our leaders for winning the war, but realize that they were still human beings with faults, not gods.

And remember, going forward, that we can change how we do things.  Vonnegut taught his sons to never rejoice over a massacre of their enemies, and to not participate in one, or even work for a company which makes massacre machinery.

He also wrote that it’s our babies who are sent to fight these wars.  These kids are 18, 19, 20, and getting sent off to kill or be killed.  Even his criminally insane character Lazzaro considers the bombing of German cities, and says that back home he never killed anyone who didn’t have it coming.

After decades of trying but failing to write his book on Dresden, Vonnegut finally settled on something that worked: science fiction/satire.  In the midst of a silly story about a guy coming “unstuck in time,” captured by aliens and put in a zoo, and mated with a porn star, is a profound story about the evils of war.  Apparently this was the only way Vonnegut could truly deal with the trauma.  And he does it brilliantly.

 

Trump is lawsuit-happy–common narcissist/abuser trait

Just read an article in the paper (though, of course, the online version is much longer) called Trump and the “I’ll Sue You” Effect.  It goes into Trump’s history of making threats to sue for defamation, few of which have actually gone anywhere.  While some people have been intimidated into backing down, some have not.

It’s yet more proof that Trump is just a thin-skinned, big bully, dishing it out but not able to take it himself.  He’ll call people losers and rip on their looks and their personal habits like a schoolyard bully, but if you fight back with comments about him being a bully etc., he goes into a conniption fit.

In fact, I’ve known people like this.  I’ve even gotten a threat of a lawsuit, but I refused to back down, and it never materialized.  As Bill Maher said about Trump,

“Plainly, the guy uses lawsuits as a tool of intimidation and doesn’t care how much he clogs the courts with nonsense.”

The article goes on to state:

“Donald Trump has repeatedly attempted to silence his critics over the years through frivolous lawsuits,” said Mascagni, citing Makaeff’s winning claim as one example. “If you really examine some of these cases, it becomes pretty obvious that Trump didn’t file these suits to seek justice. Rather, he filed them to intimidate, harass and silence his critics.”

This is a common tactic used by abusers and narcissists.  I’ve seen all sorts of abuse bloggers claim to have been threatened with lawsuits or even sued.

As for Trump as president–Are you ready for World War III–but with us as the aggressor this time?

Not that Hillary is much better.  Recent revelations have even liberal Democrats getting upset and saying, “Hillary lied!”  I have a little hope that, because of this, she’ll drop out and let Bernie take over.

Otherwise, get ready for President Johnson.  Or President Stein.  This race may actually make a third-party president conceivable.

 

On last week’s shootings of and by police

Yesterday, I read a blog post calling for white people to use their privilege and speak up about racial violence.  Okay, so here goes.

I have been sickened lately by all the violence by police against black people who haven’t done anything wrong.

I have also been sickened by the pushback against Black Lives Matter.  The proponents of BLM say they’re being misunderstood.  See their actual principles here: 11 Major Misconceptions about the Black Lives Matter Movement

This answers the charges, among others, that they hate white people and are anti-police.

Also, in the past week, I have heard African-Americans on Larry Willmore (and possibly The Daily Show) say that they’re not against the police.  They believe that most police are good people trying to serve and protect, but there is a problem with a significant minority who are racially motivated against black people, and with procedures which allow excessive force.  They need to be dealt with and police procedures need to be looked at critically, to see what needs to be changed.  Even Amnesty International says that American police procedures do not align with international standards.

Instead, I’m hearing–on Willmore, for example–that Black Lives Matter does NOT say that ONLY black lives matter.  It’s actually, “black lives matter ALSO.”  Because of slavery, which still has repercussions today despite being abolished 150 years ago, there is a unique relationship between blacks and the police which makes blacks feel as if their lives don’t matter.  They’re trying to make everyone understand that their lives matter just as much as everybody else’s, NOT that they matter more than anybody else’s.

I grew up in a city of 100,000, in which people of various races were my classmates, teachers, principals, friends.  I now live in a city which is predominantly white.  When I moved here 21 years ago to be with my husband, the sight of anyone of color (other than Hmongs) was highly unusual.  Even pickaninny statues could still be seen openly displayed on lawns!  (See article here.)  I also still find people using the term “colored people,” which has been taboo at least as long as I’ve been alive (and I’m in my 40s).

I have also heard accounts of little black children being told by other children, “I’m not allowed to play with you because you’re black.”  Not only did I hear this from my ex-friend, whose stepdaughter is mixed race and was told this at school in 2008, but the newspaper reported this happening to another girl at the Children’s Museum just a couple of years ago!

Over the years, minorities have been moving in.  Racism is here, but if you point it out, people get all offended and say, “I’m not racist!”  When a newspaper article pointed out the racism of the pickaninny statues, people said, “If you’re offended by statues, YOU’RE the one with the problem/psychological issues.”

Today’s newspaper had an article–not about the Dallas shooting, since actual news is rare in anything run by Gannett these days–but about people responding to the Dallas shooting.  It started with describing a walk in Oshkosh to show solidarity with police officers and unity in the community.  Which is all well and good, and I’m not knocking that.

But as I read on in the article, I found a disturbing trend as local GOP politicians threw in their two cents: dog whistles blaming black people for the violence against police, while ignoring the senseless violence against two black men last week, and the issues which are driving black people to protest.  No, they never came out and directly named Black Lives Matter, but you could catch the inferences in this comment by Sen. Ron Johnson:

“Five of the finest among us, slaughtered,” Johnson said during a campaign stop in Green Bay. “Let’s be clear: there’s a movement … there are political figures in this country that are stoking the fires of people that are actually putting targets on the back of men and women who serve this country trying to keep our streets safe. This has got to end. We need political leaders that are looking for areas of agreement to unify us; to heal these divisions as opposed to exploit them.”

Essentially, blaming the protestors for the violence.  Yes, it is horrible that five police officers were slaughtered, quite likely good people just doing their jobs.  But along with them, what about the fine black men who were slaughtered last week for not doing anything wrong?

Then there’s,

State Rep. David Steffen, R-Howard, said he will introduce legislation to make targeting police officers a hate crime.

“I strongly believe that anyone who targets these brave men and women, solely because of their profession, should face serious penalties,” Steffen said in a news release. “This legislation sends a clear message that the despicable attacks we’ve seen against officers throughout the country will not be tolerated in Wisconsin.”

Fine and good, but how about also introducing legislation to make it a hate crime for a police officer to kill a black man for reaching for his ID?

It is good to support the police, yes.  In fact, one of my beefs with my ex-friend was him saying we should no longer have police, period, and let us all just defend ourselves with guns.  (He’s half-white, and looks white, so I don’t give him the kind of pass I would for a black person complaining about police.)  I mourn when a police officer is shot in the line of duty, or slaughtered by someone with a vendetta.

But we also need to actually address the problems which keep leading to unarmed and innocent black people being gunned down.  Or even if they’re not innocent, excessive police force which leads to death rather than the person going to jail and being properly tried.

What disturbed me about the newspaper article was that the only ones addressing that side were Russ Feingold (Russ 2016!!!) and the president of the Milwaukee NAACP.

I don’t think most people in this state are consciously racist.  Many are not racist at all.  It seems to be an ingrained racism where you don’t even realize it exists.

I’ve encountered such things in myself, and work to root them out wherever I find them.  I tell my son, everybody has racist/prejudiced attitudes of some kind, so if we’re defensive when somebody points it out, we don’t learn anything.  We have to be willing to address it.

 

 

 

Healing from abuse by friend: “Our movie” no longer stings

Yet another milestone reached in healing my heart from the betrayal by my former best friend:

A few months ago, I DVR’d The Trial, a 1962 movie with Anthony Perkins and Orson Welles, based on Franz Kafka’s unfinished work of the same name.  I wanted to see it again, but I wondered how I’d take watching it again: My former best friend and I watched it–dang, nearly 9 years ago now–back when he lived with us.  We loved it, and it sort of felt like “our movie.”

You see, I don’t know how it is for neurotypicals, but I attach sentimental value to movies I see with close friends.  That movie now connects to them, no matter how many years have passed, especially if I saw it for the first time with them.  Such as Addams Family Values, which I saw in the theater with my best friend from high school.  Or Wayne’s World 2, which I saw with my college roommies, or Lord of the Rings, which I saw with several old college friends along with the Hubby.

I watched many movies with my former best friend while he lived with us and after he moved out.  I don’t remember them all, but the ones I do remember, have attached to him.  So I have avoided those movies ever since.

Last year, I watched The Apostle for the first time since 2008, when I saw it with Richard, my former best friend.  Then, too, I feared that it would twinge my heart to watch it, but no, it didn’t.  Same with many songs which attached to him back then; I hear them now and then on my favorite Goth webstream or in my MP3s, but they no longer twinge my heart.  They used to be so painful to hear that I didn’t listen to them for years after Richard–who turned out to be a narcissist–betrayed me.

I feared The Trial would hurt to watch, while at the same time looking forward to watching it.

(First I wanted to re-read the book, which I first read in 2010.  I then lent it to Richard, but the betrayal happened, so I got it back from him, and it was covered in spaghetti sauce.  I thought I cleaned it, but found yet another stain before reading it a few weeks ago.  Yet more evidence that he wasn’t the friend I thought he was: He didn’t even have consideration for my books.  😛  )

I feared it would hurt to read, but it didn’t at all.  I barely thought about Richard while reading it.  Then tonight I watched it and–no, no pain at all.  Well, other than the typical purist reaction to a favorite book being adapted into a movie and things getting changed.  I barely thought about Richard while watching, except to think, “Hey, it’s not painful after all.”

I guess time really does heal, even when you think the hurt is too deep.  Think of how it would feel to Sam if Frodo finally threw him over for good: That’s how deep the wound was for me.  Only to discover later that Richard apparently didn’t feel at all the same.

Of course, I don’t know if actually physically seeing him again would hurt like it did back in 2010 and 2011, when he came to my church.  Maybe, maybe not.  Probably not nearly as bad.

When I saw him back then, after a year of healing and recovering, I came home and bent over crying, then was plunged back into a deep depression.  So you see, this is why I haven’t wanted to see him at church again.  (I haven’t wanted to see his wife, either, but that’s because she’s probably the meanest person I’ve ever known.)

I have worried about this for years, especially when the hypothetical merger of my church with his, became reality earlier this year.  But I still haven’t seen him there, so I doubt he wants anything to do with my church.  So I don’t think I should worry and wonder about that possibility anymore.  Which would be good, because that worry has been gnawing at my stomach for years now.

There are several movies which I haven’t seen in about 9 years, since I saw them with him, even though they’re old favorites.  I have avoided them on purpose.  Maybe it’s time to pull them out again.

 

Disgusted by neo-Nazi Holocaust deniers on Youtube

As I work on my novel, a time-travel story mostly set in Nazi Germany, I have to do a lot of research.  Just when I think I’m getting most of it done, I find some new book or website to read.  And before I’m done, I MUST slog through the massive Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

(I first heard of that book in college, while I was still rewriting the first incarnation of my story; one of my suitemates was using it for a junior-year class.  I wanted to read it as research for my story, but then I set the story aside.  Hubby has the book, and now I finally have a reason to pick it up and get to it.)

There’s just so much out there, so much to read, even when you’re narrowed on one place and time during that period.  I have to get into the heads of my characters, after all, and understand why they behave the way they do.

And one disturbing thing I’ve discovered: I’ve long known neo-Nazis are still out there, but there are a LOT of them on the Net, especially in Youtube comments.  😛  And that means being careful which websites you read and which comments to take seriously in Youtube threads.  I’ve even found them in comments to music videos which reference Nazis or war.

Much of the information I’ve come across has been substantiated in other places, which are NOT Nazi sources in any way, shape or form.  Yes, the Allies did indeed carry out a terrible bombing campaign, not just against Hiroshima/Nagasaki but against Germany, which took many civilian lives.  And yes, the Soviets did indeed terrorize Germany when they invaded it.

Heck, I even saw a Sophia Loren movie a couple years ago which showed her running from Allied terror fliers.

But I think the difference is in approach.  I already knew a bit about the Allies bombing Germany, since we covered this decades ago in German class.  I didn’t know so many civilians died, however.  I also didn’t know about the horrors of the Soviet invasion.  It’s been 20 years since I studied WWII in high school and college, so I forget what all I knew back then.

But unlike the neo-Nazis I find on the Net, I did NOT start lamenting the poor, misunderstood Nazis or hang a picture of Hitler on my wall.  No, I took it as something to learn from, something to push our leaders to avoid in future wars.  Meanwhile, I find that 70 years later, this is still a controversial subject, people arguing over whether or not the bombing raids were justified and necessary to end the war.

This discussion must be had, must be continued, because if we don’t learn from history, etc. etc.  Despite the establishing of the United Nations to end all wars, wars just continue; al-Qaeda gets overshadowed by an even worse enemy, ISIS.

To me, learning about the human cost of the raids is on the same plane as learning about the internment camps to which Japanese-Americans were sent during WWII.  Do we hear about this, including from George Takei, and begin to say the emperor was the good guy and Churchill/Eisenhower/Patton the villains?  Heck, no!  Instead, we take it as yet another atrocity which our country has done, which ends the innocence, but we can learn from it, resolve never to do such a thing again.

I learn from all this that no country–no matter how justified the war or how righteous the cause–is free of blame during a war.

Neo-Nazis, on the other hand, take these things as evidence that Hitler was the good guy and that those of us who believe otherwise are sheeple who need to wake up.  Last night, while searching Youtube for documentaries on life during the war, I found terms in the comments such as “Holohoax” and claims that, with POWs, Germans were nice guys who followed the Geneva Convention to a T.

Hmmmmmm.

So, all those thousands of people who actually lived during that time, who were in the camps, or in Germany, or in occupied countries, they were just making it all up?

So Anne Frank is going to turn up sometime and say, “Oh, sorry, I didn’t die in the concentration camp.  The Germans were great to me.  I’ve just been hanging out in Croydon” ?

So my high school German teacher, who lived in Poland during the Occupation, was just making up those stories of life under the Nazis?

So all those people with tattoos and PTSD and many dead parents/relatives/friends were just making it up?

So all those men in the worst of the POW camps who died from disease, starvation, or a guard’s bullet, they didn’t really die?  Or the Polish or Russian POWs who were deliberately starved to death–they didn’t really die at the hands of genocidal guards?

I’ve read two books on life in POW camps run by Germans; their adherence to the Geneva Convention was attempted, yes, but dubious at best.  They didn’t want the many German prisoners in Allied hands to be mistreated.

There were nice guys among the German guards, yes.  They were human, too, and not all Nazis.  But there were trigger-happy guards, and guards who liked to throw their weight around.  Guards who would scream at kriegies and throw them in the cooler for failing to salute.

While officers and airmen were usually treated fairly well, and sometimes the Kommandants were honorable and not Nazis, still, they were under enormous pressure from the government and the civilians to not “coddle” the kriegies (prisoners).

The Kommandant at Stalag Luft III (the “Great Escape” camp) was under pressure from the Gestapo to push a button which would destroy the whole camp, but he refused to do it.  The Gestapo did not like this, so things went very badly for him after the Great Escape.

The Luftwaffe didn’t much care for the Gestapo, and ran their own camps for airman POWs.  But when the Gestapo was in charge (such as the concentration camps), that’s where the horrors happened.

But POWs in other camps weren’t quite so fortunate as the airman officers.  Enlisted men were forced to work; food was scarce for everyone, and if the Red Cross packages failed to arrive, everybody starved; medical care was practically nonexistent.  Living conditions were deplorable.  Even the airman officers suffered from substandard conditions, even though it wasn’t as bad for them.

Some guards were sympathetic, and some were amused by kriegies who tried to escape.  But some would shoot first, ask questions later, if they saw you by the wire or outside during an air raid–or even inside by a window!  Some took personally the killing of their families in bombing raids, and took it out on kriegies.

But all of this was just made up?  Is that what the Holocaust deniers are saying?  Is that the meaning of the people who say that Hitler wasn’t such a bad guy and was defending Europe from the Bolsheviks?

Bullcrap.  There is far too much evidence to the contrary, not just from our high school history books but from the memories of the still-living members of that generation.

My novel started out as a rewrite of a simple high school story of a girl stopping a time-traveling Nazi.  But this is getting much larger in my mind, as it takes on the psychology of a hypnotized country and the philosophical questions of war.  Now she falls in love with that Nazi, and starts to go under Germany’s mass hypnosis herself, as an escaped kriegie tries to break her out of it.

And it turns out this is not just a period piece, but deals with questions and actions which still go on today in this era of totalitarian governments and constant mechanized war.

 

 

My newest Industrial music addiction: Tanz Mit Laibach

First of all, preface this with John Oliver making fun of Laibach, a nearly 40-year-old band from former Yugoslavia which predates Rammstein and was chosen to go to North Korea last year:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yeygA-n7AEo

(You have to actually click on it because embedding is disabled.  And no, I did NOT find out about this band through John Oliver: My favorite webstream plays the band.  I found out about John Oliver’s clip through the video’s comments on Youtube.  😉  )

Now for the video John Oliver made fun of–and a link which explains this band is NOT “Holy Sh** Nazis!“:

 

 

FLASHBACK TO 2011: Grief that my abusers keep coming to my church but not apologizing to me

Here is an article on dyssemia, a word coined in 1992 to describe the trouble people with NVLD have with social situations.  Here [in an earlier version of the page on Wikipedia] you’ll find a quote from the back cover of Helping the Child Who Doesn’t Fit In:

We’ve all known children like this:
they stand too close and touch us in annoying ways;
they laugh too loud or at the wrong times;
they make stupid or embarrassing remarks;
they don’t seem to get the message when given a broad hint or even told outright to behave differently;
they mistake friendly actions for hostile ones, or vice versa;
they move too slowly, or too fast, for everyone else;
their facial expressions don’t jibe with what they or others are saying, or
their appearance is seriously out of step with current fashions, they don’t dress well for the occasion, etc.
they are known to stare at people, stalk people, or do something that annoys other people or makes them feel uncomfortable
they have problems dating and interacting with the opposite sex in a romantic way. Many dyssemics are love shy.

There are many more descriptions of dyssemia below on that webpage.  This sounds very much like me, such as with fashions, hair and makeup, difficulty fitting in, lack of punctuality, social awkwardness, a difference in ability between receiving and expressing nonverbal messages, growing senses of grief and despair over loneliness, saying things in a way I didn’t intend and suffering consequences, and various other things you’ll read here.

Which makes it all the more angering that Richard didn’t listen to me, that Tracy acted as if it were just excuses for bad behavior, that Tracy and, eventually, Richard became the adult bullies targeting me.

Tracy would probably agree with “they don’t seem to get the message when given a broad hint or even told outright to behave differently.”  But no, Tracy thought I just needed to “grow up and TALK” as if it were something I could just do on command like a trained puppy.

She made jabs at a “self-diagnosed learning disability” as if that invalidated everything I ever said.  Richard talked as if my social troubles with Tracy, or with anyone, were just a simple matter of willpower.

It makes me very angry with the both of them for thinking they could judge me like this.  I have seen the face of wickedness in a supposed Christian: It is Tracy.  I have seen the face of betrayal and unfair judgment in a friend: It is Richard.  He is dead to me.

For some time, I put a message on my Facebook profile for him, saying that I hoped one day we’d be friends again.  I have long since removed it.

Though a part of me still longs for him to recognize what he’s done and make things right, and a part of me misses that BFF to whom I told all my secrets and day-to-day stuff and musings.

Since Richard was my roommate for three months, he was that for so long that I grew accustomed to having such a friend in my life, after so long without one (other than Jeff, of course).

From this blog post:

I regained a degree of confidence, and was able to reclaim the narrative of my life.

She had stolen that from me, repeating to me over and over again during the countless all-night “discussions” she’d make me have about how I’d done something wrong again, that I “don’t get to” have a reaction, a response, a reason, a say, a thought, a feeling other than one that was dictated by her perpetually warping delusions.

I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if this is what Tracy’s “conference” would have turned into.

I had every indication from her that it would, not just from 7/1/10 but from the e-mails exchanged 8/1/10 and after, where she essentially beat me over the head for everything I ever did that she thought was somehow wrong–and also from the two and a half years before that, whenever I had an opinion about her actions towards me or anybody else.

I also know from the “conference” she had with Todd in June/July 2008 over that stupid game argument, that this is how it would’ve gone with me, because she did not listen to him at all, did not even try to understand his point of view, but just kept saying over and over again that he was wrong and childish.

More from the above link:

Finally, one thing that this exercise [the author blogging about his abusive ex] also helped me with was confronting false nostalgia.  “Maybe it wasn’t that bad. Maybe I was really to blame after all.”

For me, it’s been the same: the constant feeling for quite some time that maybe she wasn’t so bad, that I was the one who was bad–quickly diminishing as I write about what really happened.

They rarely come to my church, but they have a couple of times in the months since the Incident.  I felt a distinct cold shoulder, as if not only were they avoiding speaking to me, but their children had been instructed to avoid me as well.  (I might add that this is an extremely small church, so you can’t just melt into the crowd.)

It’s very much the impression that because I refuse to let Tracy yell and scream at me and dictate to and scold me like a child or an idiot, she’s decided to freeze me out and treat me like sh** on the bottom of her shoe.

Not at all Christian behavior, yet there she is at church taking the Eucharist like she’s right with God even while she’s treating those around her like crap.

But the reality is that she refused to accept that I’m not like her, that I’m my own kind of person, with a brain that seems to work differently than most other people’s, and will not change myself just to suit her, that she might as well ask someone who’s bad at math to be an astronomer, or a ballerina to be a truck driver, or a dog to be a cat.

Tracy treats me like sh** at church because I objected to her demeaning, belittling, cursing, verbally violent, deliberately hurtful behavior.

So now Richard and even the children cannot even say hi to me, or e-mail me or talk to me on Facebook, because:

  1. I demand to be treated with respect, kindness and understanding.
  2. I refuse to let her vilify me for believing my communication and social problems with her are not from stubbornness or meanness or childishness, but from either introversion or NLD/Asperger’s or (at the very least) selective mutism (or, even more likely, from her own crabby attitude).
  3. I can’t figure out what she’s so upset about all the time.
  4. I refuse to listen one more time to her grievances while my own are ignored or ridiculed or tossed aside yet again.
  5. I will not accept abuse for my brain processes being different from hers.  (I got quite enough of that in elementary school, and dealing with her is like dealing with those childish childhood bullies all over again.)

Why she comes to my church at all if she’s going to act this way, I can’t say, since they have their own church, do not like mine, and almost never came to it before the falling-out.

Is it to twist the knife in further?  Is she such a sadist that she’s not satisfied with going our separate ways?

How can I even want to be in the same room with her after she posted, “I’m having a GREAT day!” on Facebook because she was screaming at me and cussing me out? because she no longer had to sit back and be “quiet and nice”?  (That was quiet and nice?)

She was happy because she was allowed to scream at me and cuss me out and make all sorts of accusations.  From FAQ about Verbal Abuse:

Why does it seem that after he abuses me verbally he is happy, like he feels relieved? Also, he will act like it never happened. It’s like he has no memory of it….

This is what verbal abusers do. Verbal abusers almost universally act like nothing happened, like they feel fine and the relationship is fine. This is because they feel they have more control.

Maybe they got you to back down, believe them or doubt yourself. If you doubt yourself then you might go with what they tell you, be more compliant and more slave-like. This makes them happy.

And from What Makes Your Control Freak Wife or Girlfriend Tick:

When does she come close to being in a good mood or smile with pure pleasure? When she feels like she’s in the catbird seat because she’s gotten her way, pulled one over on you or pulled the rug out from underneath you. The size of her smile is in direct proportion to the number of times she twisted the proverbial knife.

 

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

FLASHBACK TO 2010: I see Tracy hanging out of the window of their minivan, like a crazy woman

Tracy did not accept responsibility for her anger and abuse, but put it on others.

She accused others of being “childish” and needing to “grow up,” but was the pot calling the kettle black.

She wouldn’t respect others, not even clergy if they said something she didn’t like, but demanded respect from others, kept complaining loudly about how they weren’t respecting her–but how was it respectful for her to scream at adults and children who annoyed her?

And oh, how she criticized me for finally standing up for myself by cutting her loose!  How offended she acted when we broke off the friendship with them because of her, as if we were the ones being childish and throwing tantrums!

I thought she would be happy to have me out of her life, that I was doing her a favor and showing her respect.  But apparently it just made her angrier.

For some reason, she wanted Jeff and me to stay friends with her.  I really haven’t a clue why.  Why on earth did Tracy get so angry at me for ending the friendship?  I thought it was what she’d always wanted.

Was it the loss of Jeff as a partner in D&D?  Was it the loss of the support and free babysitting (at the drop of a hat) we’d given them? free taxi service? free meals?

(We were never reimbursed for the extra expenses incurred while they lived with us, or for the broken couch.  Jeff’s parents told him he should have ended things long before this, that they sounded like moochers, that as soon as Tracy started complaining about the food, we should’ve politely shown them the door.  One of my friends said they sounded like manipulators who were using us.  My pastor friend said that when thinking about what Tracy said about me, I should consider the source and disregard it.)

Was it because she didn’t get her way?  Because normally a jealous person is very happy to see the subject of her jealousy end a friendship with her husband.  This is the most baffling part.

There is another possibility I can think of: She had already cost Richard several friends.  He had often said how much he liked us, that I was a very dear friend to him, that I did so much for his family, that Jeff was fun to play D&D with, etc.  Maybe Tracy wanted to deflect responsibility and Richard’s anger onto somebody else for the loss of two more friends.

We heard through a third party that they miss Jeff at D&D, but Jeff wondered if they missed me.  He told me he won’t play with them until they stop holding grudges against me, his wife.

In order to not be a hypocrite, doing the same thing I found wrong in Tracy, I have told him he can be friends with them, play D&D with them, if he wants to, that I will not put restrictions on who his friends can be.  But he’s disgusted with both of them and doesn’t want to.

The trouble is that the city where we live is too small to avoid each other entirely.  Not only do they come to my church occasionally (oddly enough, more often now than they did when we were still friends), but I sometimes see their vehicles on the street.

Tracy drives her company cars, and their other vehicle has bumper stickers on it, so if I can see the back of the vehicle, or see who’s driving the company car, I know who it is.

Once, either October 5, 2010 or December 7, 2010, I set off walking past my house to fetch my son from elementary school, when who should I see driving past me on the street?

It was a residential zone and between a middle school and college, so the speed limit is 25.  I was near the middle school and its football field, where there were no trees or cars in between me and the street.

It was a long stretch with no obstructions before or behind it to block my view of them.

They passed just a few yards away from me, so I had time and opportunity to make a positive identification.

Since we’re in the same school system, they were probably out for the same reason, but a different elementary school, so they were going the opposite direction, facing me.

Tracy was hanging half her body out the window of their van–head facing me, shoulders turned so they were above and below, arms and hands dangling in the air.

She was hanging out the window by the entire upper part of the torso, possibly down to about her waist (which struck me as extremely odd and dangerous behavior)–while Richard gave her an upset or angry or scared look.

It was hard to define the look in only a few seconds while they drove past, but I figured he was upset with her for hanging out the window.

I thought Tracy, at least, must have seen me, since she was hanging out the window with me just a few feet away from her passenger-side window, and she was facing me.  So you see she was close enough to identify.

If she tried to say anything to me, I didn’t hear over my Discman.  I turned and saw her from the back as they passed, and most likely looked for the license plate and bumper stickers at this time.

There was no explanation for why on earth she’d be hanging half out the window, just yet more bizarre behavior from this woman.

I thought it was a psychotic episode.

Maybe they’d been arguing.

Maybe she threatened to jump out, which from what I’ve read, is common among people with borderline personality disorder, both the threatening and the doing.

Maybe she saw me from a distance and wanted to yell at me.

In any case, this incident proved to me that I was not crazy, that Tracy had something going on with her psychologically or mentally, that her problems with me came from inside herself.  I saw it as a gift from God.

Another time, Jeff and I were driving down one of the major streets of the city, while I looked out the passenger window, and who should I see unloading a big van at the local political headquarters, but Richard.

I saw out of the corner of my eye (trying not to look directly at him) as he saw us and stared after us.  He’s such a big guy that he’s easy to spot.

I have no respect anymore for either Richard or Tracy after all this.

It’s been a struggle just keeping in the same denomination as they are, especially when they have demonstrated that they will still come to my church on occasion–meaning I can never consider them to be completely out of my life unless they relocate.  

I came close to giving up on church because it reminded me too much of Richard, but I had too much strength in my beliefs to throw them away.  

I sometimes feel that the only way I can truly go on in Orthodoxy is if they either apologize for their crimes, or leave me alone to disconnect the Orthodox Church from Richard.

I still care about him and miss our friendship, remember the good times, and miss telling him all about the happenings at church or the latest news about local churches of various denominations.  But I can’t deal anymore with the crap that came along with it.

I don’t miss Tracy one bit, and don’t care to ever see her again.  Jeff doesn’t miss her, either, and doesn’t want to say anything to her when he sees her.

They are welcome to apologize at any time, though whether or not a friendship would be reinstated, after so much time and childishness on their part–would take a lot of reflection first.  Who knows what could bring on Tracy’s venom next time?  Abusers go in cycles:

If we reinstate a friendship, like a year before (after 2009 discussions) there will probably be a honeymoon period for a while.  But then she’ll start building up her anger yet again, and something else will set her off a year later.  You know, just like what had already happened.

So what’s the point?  Who knows; maybe at some point in the future, things will somehow come to a point where a friendship is possible again.  But I’m not holding my breath.

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

FLASHBACK TO 2010: Grief over being abused–and the abuser getting away with it

I believe Tracy’s husband should have taken swift and decisive action to end her verbal and physical violence at home,

because by staying with her and not forcing her into counseling or some other thing,

he essentially taught her to believe it was okay for her to assault people and expect them to jump to her demands, accept her assaults, and not demand an apology or kindness from her.

That’s part of the trouble with Stockholm Syndrome.  How he can stay with someone who not only verbally but physically abuses him, and claim to still love her, I do not know.

How he could tell me that he deserved the way I saw her treat him during the weeks they lived with us, I do not know.

How he could blame her jealousies and rages on hormones, stress, or whatever, and not walk away, I do not know.

How he could endure all this crap from her, see the crap she threw at me, see what she did to the kids, and still call her “awesome” and “sweet,” baffles my mind.

How can he not be scared of her?  How can he not find her meanness a huge turnoff?  I didn’t even want to be in the same room with her most of the time!  Why would he want to be anywhere near someone like that?

I just don’t understand it, because if a man ever hit me, I’d lose any attraction and love I felt for him, real fast.

I was once with a guy who was emotionally and verbally abusive with the threat of physical abuse to come; we were together for less than a year, and it took only several months afterwards for me to realize he was no good, to move on and find somebody better.

But then, I should take care not to blame the victim, since Stockholm Syndrome is quite common among abuse victims.  Also, men especially have trouble with leaving or reporting abusive women because society, the police and the courts tend not to believe the man is the victim of domestic abuse.

Richard kept telling me how he was trying to get her to stop, how she’d act sorry and talk about changing; he kept telling me it was pregnancy hormones or whatever else was going on with her at the time.

But I saw this cycle going again and again, even when she was not pregnant.

And then for her to treat me like, my wanting to be buddy-buddy with her was a test to prove how trustworthy I was with her husband–it was just ridiculous.

I just don’t understand how Tracy can be so cruel and abusive to another person, then blame that person and shun her at church for ending the friendship.

Or how she can treat it all like it’s all about her and her being offended, when the truth is, Jeff and I both threw up our hands, decided that she and Richard were both being too violent and ridiculous, and apologies were not forthcoming from them, so we had to leave to protect ourselves.

For me it was finally a reason to stop being obliged to hang around with an abuser, someone who bullies everyone around her (except for the ones on her “approved” list) until they either leave or cower in submission.

(Before, our two families were so intertwined that I saw no way to extricate myself from her.  Forget the usual advice to just see your friend without the spouse if you don’t get along: She wouldn’t allow it!)

My husband and I finally decided we were better off being alone and lonely than having ungrateful and unkind friends like these.

I just don’t understand how she can live with herself, let alone take the Eucharist.  You’re supposed to confess at least occasionally–has she confessed these things?

And if so, then why doesn’t she try to make amends with me and be kind instead of carrying on this ostracism of me from her family?

Why doesn’t she come to me and apologize for all the things she‘s done? the barbs, the false accusations, the knee-jerking, the ridicule, the ingratitude, the verbal abuse, the threat of physical violence?

I never even got so much as a thank you from her for providing her family with shelter and food despite great inconvenience to us.  I tried so hard to be nice to her, even while breaking off the friendship, but got venom back from her.

I said as little as possible to her during the breakup to try to avoid arguments because I knew I was no match for her abuse, but her angry words just kept coming and coming.

It’s hypocrisy like this that turns people away from the Church, and even I with all my strength of faith have had to struggle to hold onto it–and not abandon the Church completely–while dealing with this.

Richard, after all, had much to do with me finding my way.  He was my spiritual guru, my spiritual idol with clay feet, someone to look up to.  I thought he could show me the way to religious enlightenment.

I thought he was devout, but instead he was violent.  I thought his violence was in the past, tamped down by religion, but it was still there, waiting dormant.  I saw the verbal violence arising in political comments he made on Facebook.

(You’ll note from what happened to Congresswoman Giffords that such political verbal violence leads to crazy people carrying out physical violence.  This article has a disturbing resemblance to Richard drawing a middle finger on a letter he received from our senator Feingold, then returning it to him.  Is that any way for a Christian to act?)

With the way Richard and Tracy both are about politics, actively working with their favored parties, and Richard’s attitudes to the opposition (actually using the word “hate”), and how upset I am at what is going on in Wisconsin since the last election put their people in power–

–how all the things I love about my state government are being yanked away and civility is now dead–

–I think being friends with them now would have been impossible anyway.

I think they would have been unbearable, that they would have looked down on Jeff and me for disagreeing with them, called us “sheeple” and “socialists,” all that crap going around these days which is making me start to look at their parties as the Enemy because they have acted out of anger and set up my side as their Enemy, rather than working together.

The following clip from a website of personal abuse stories, reminds me of Tracy telling me I needed to “grow up” and get over hurt feelings from her verbal abuse (according to her, caused by my behavior), rather than breaking off relations with her, and of Richard telling me that saying little to her was somehow worse than so-called “harsh words”:

After I confronted her about her having no right to lay a hand on me and my fear of what she would do to our future children, she replied, “if you’re going to get your tiny feelings in a bunch over a little slap, you need to keep going to therapy TO WORK ON YOUR PROBLEMS.”

I bet Tracy says this to her children and husband as well when they get zinged by her for stepping out of line.

This sounds very much like how Tracy acted at the end–and Richard was getting this way as well near the end, which is where the problems between him and me started.

I am so fed up with all the cattiness, abuse and bullying Tracy has thrown at me over the years in return for all the ways I’ve helped her and her family (sometimes at great personal trouble).

I am so fed up with how I was expected to just take it and try to befriend her, and if I complained about how she treated me and her husband and children I was a horrible, horrible person who was “biased against” her and didn’t “respect” her and interfered with how she dealt with her husband (because I didn’t think she naturally had the right to treat him like property and act jealous) and was too lax with my son and wanted to steal her husband.  (I have a good one of my own; why would I want hers?)

I tried so hard to quell my resentment, to do nice things for her, to spend every Lenten period trying to forget it and her lack of apologies.

Meanwhile she just kept nursing her grudges and the things I had done that were supposedly so horrible, and saying things to Richard like, “Did you just spend a couple of hours chatting with that woman online?”  (What?  Since when were we not supposed to chat online?)

While blaming me for not being all open and outgoing with her, she kept ignoring the crucial things that would’ve changed everything: her apologies, her changing her own behavior not just with me but with Richard and the children.

I could never be close friends with a child abuser, a spouse abuser, an aggressive person, a mean girl.  Yet Richard complained to me that he couldn’t go get coffee with me, as if it were my fault.  Jeff was very angry with Tracy, and often got annoyed with Richard as well over the whole thing.

Three unexplained incidents happened.  I will present only the facts so you can draw your own conclusions.

The first incident, was the five disappearing e-mails.  We were all on the same forum and I would often send Richard private messages that way, about life or issues or books or movies or whatever.

He hadn’t been on the board for a while, so there were five messages waiting for him from me.  This was in early 2008.

I had gone to visit Richard and Tracy; I told him the e-mails were getting backed up and had been waiting for weeks so please check them.  Tracy was sitting next to him at the time.

A day or two afterward, I went on my account and the e-mails had vanished.  They were not in my sent box.  There was no trace of them in the message tracker, which would tell me if they had been read.  Richard said he never got them.

I feared my account had been hacked, and changed the password.  The owner-administrator, Todd, didn’t know what happened; we figured maybe it was our usual board stalker/troll, who had a bug in his butt about Todd and kept causing trouble.

But this guy would get blamed for everything that went wrong there, and I knew of one case (the forum hack) where he was blamed for something Richard did.

Tracy and Richard were both admins on that board.  Richard never got the messages….From what I recall, the messages were about books and some other things, nothing that would cause a wife alarm.  And I never heard of e-mails or any online communication being forbidden, never had any reason to think this.

The second incident, at the end of May and the beginning of June 2010, which was also right after Memorial Day, when Tracy was snarky with me about my backpack, and then in the following few weeks she continued to be snarky in response to posts I made on Facebook, and also there was lots of drama between her, Richard and the children whenever Jeff and/or I would visit–

All of a sudden, Richard’s Facebook account had blocked me and hers had unfriended me.  I don’t remember if Jeff had been unfriended by her account, but he was not blocked from either.

I kept trying to send her friend requests, but they didn’t seem to be getting through–some weird glitch, I thought, due to Facebook doing a major change in privacy settings.

I’d see “Awaiting Friend Request” keep changing back later on to “Request as Friend.”  So I kept re-sending them.  I certainly had no reason to think she was denying my requests.

Richard told Jeff he certainly wouldn’t have blocked me, and he couldn’t find my account either, so I should look at my account to see if there’s something weird on my privacy settings.

I sent him messages through Jeff’s account, saying that nothing was amiss in my settings.  I also tried setting up a new account with my business e-mail, on June 2, but even then I could see that Richard had an account, but I couldn’t look at his public profile or send him a friend request.

Then a few days later, he discovered he accidentally blocked me somehow, unblocked me, and my latest friend request to Tracy finally resulted in re-friending.  I thought it was because FB changed settings, but I did not have this problem with any of my other FB friends.

The third incident, on September 26, 2010, a few months after the 7/1/10 Incident, my innocent little boy went into Tracy’s cafe on Cafe World on Facebook.  He did stuff to help her out like people can do in their neighbors’ cafes, even after they’ve blocked your account.  (This time, not only was Richard’s account blocked from all three of us, but hers was too for a while.)  The game left traces of my son being there.

The following day, September 27, my son’s account was suddenly shut down.  The message said he was too young, but did not explain how they found out, who told them.  (We kept track of his account, who he friended, his privacy settings, so he was in no danger.  He was there so he wouldn’t keep using his daddy’s account to play Cafe World and the fish game.)

It hurt to hear my little boy cry.  🙁   (I later discovered that this was 6 days after Richard choked his eldest child, and 5 days after that child reported Richard to the police.)

 

Table of Contents 

1. Introduction

2. We share a house 

3. Tracy’s abuse turns on me 

4. More details about Tracy’s abuse of her husband and children 

5. My frustrations mount 

6. Sexual Harassment from some of Richard’s friends

7. Without warning or explanation, tensions build

 
8. The Incident

9. The fallout; a second chance?

10. Grief 

11. Struggle to regain normalcy

12. Musings on how Christians should treat each other

13. Conclusion 

Sequel to this Story: Fighting the Darkness: Journey from Despair to Healing

Reblog: “40 Years of Goth” video

This is a fun little video, in the same vein as the “history of fashion” videos which have been put out on Youtube recently:

40 Years of Goth

An interview on Goth follows with the filmmaker.

I’m more of a Romantic Goth myself.  As I get older it gets harder to keep up with the fashion, what with a middle-aged body that doesn’t fit into the stuff I used to wear, and lack of $$ for Goth clothes.  But I still have a few Goth outfits I can still wear, and I do occasionally wear them–to church.  Yes, church.  😀

But the music is still my thing.  My favorite station is here: Sanctuary Radio Darkwave, Industrial, Goth, EBM, Synthpop, much of it coming from the Germans.  And this station–which runs on donations–occasionally uses “torture time” (ie, the pop music everybody else listens to) to get us to donate so the station can go back to our regular format.  Fun, fun, fun!

A few of my current favorites:

 

 

 

And one which my brain now connects with my novel:

 

 

 

 

 

Former FBI special agent on right-wing extremism–and my ex narcissist-friend

This morning, I found this opinion piece by Erroll Southers in my local newspaper.  It sent up little flashes in my memory of a blog post written back in April 2009 by my former friend Richard, the narcissist.  A little bit of research–including re-reading Richard’s blog post–confirmed my memory.  No, I won’t link to Richard’s post, because it uses his real name, and I will not identify him here on my website.

Southers writes,

Another homegrown attack involving an American killing other Americans.  This comes at a time when police officers are being killed, government properties occupied, and immigrants threatened. And the response is predictable. We are fixated on a foreign threat instead of the diverse ideologies breathing life into their adherents, and we ignore the fact that American citizens have committed 80 percent of the terrorist attacks in the U.S. since 9/11.

…Research and reports on anti-government movements have documented trends and forecast events. However, they have been all but ignored and even rebuffed.

In 2009, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) reported that white supremacist and violent anti-government groups, leveraging the real estate environment, unemployment and the election of the first African American president, could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past. Amid an aggressive political attack on the report from the right, the DHS report was withdrawn.

Richard saw the DHS report referred to here by Southers (which you can find here), and took offense at it.  He complained that “This is a crime against Liberty, my friends.  The Statists are seizing control while we watch Liberty get strangled in the name of National Security. ”

To quote his exact arguments would mean quoting the entire blog post, which is two paragraphs; not only would that violate copyright, but make it easily searchable through Google.  But basically, he complained that because he and some family/friends didn’t vote for Obama, or are returning vets, they are considered racists/extremists and being watched.  That he is now on a watchlist because of blogging against the government.

I just read over the report, and Richard’s post sounds like a huge spurt of paranoia.  What I see there is nothing like the way he characterized it.  The report was not stigmatizing all vets or all people who voted against Obama or disagree with the government.  Click on it and you’ll see what it’s really about: radical extremism, which has already led to terrorist acts.

But should Richard have been concerned about being on a watchlist?  I’m sure the government was not aware his tiny blog, with only 8 posts ever, even existed.

But the report does refer to the same kinds of conspiracy theories I heard from both Richard and his friend “Chris” during the late ’00s: anti-government fears of race wars and cataclysmic economic collapse.

Richard once warned me on the phone that white supremacists were planning a race war if Obama was elected.  (Was this supposed to frighten me into voting Republican?)

Chris warned me of a coming economic collapse; he even went to New Hampshire to join an anti-government group and live off the grid.  Chris believed in aliens and secret groups controlling all governments.  I first heard of militia groups and conspiracies about our government setting up new concentration camps, from him.

Richard also hated gun restrictions and Social Services.

The DHS report also speaks of stockpiling weapons; I’m not aware of Richard doing this, but I do recall wondering if he would eventually hole up in the woods with an arsenal.

And yes, Chris is the friend who soon replaced me as Richard’s bestie, taking up all his free time, causing all sorts of jealousy in me.  I guess I was just too liberal and statist for Richard’s taste.

As I read over the report and the warnings it gives about right-wing extremism being fertile ground for home-grown terrorism, and remember events of the years since 2009, I see that IT WAS RIGHT.

But because of pushback from the right (and, I saw in one of the linked articles, Democrats too), the report was withdrawn and not used.

Richard took offense at the report, but we have seen it borne out in recent times–including just last week in Orlando.  As Southers writes,

Among other elements, the DHS report described the Sovereign Citizens, a movement based on conspiratorial beliefs about the legitimacy of the founding of the United States. The report contained valuable law enforcement training information useful for officer safety.

Unfortunately, the report never reached West Memphis, where Arkansas officers Brandon Paudert and Bill Evans were killed by sovereigns during a traffic stop.

Over the past decade, officers died in the line of duty at a rate of one every 59 hours, and many of those murders were precipitated by a violent ideology.

And now we have lone-wolf shooters influenced by ISIS–which encourages lone wolves to help their fight–terrorizing the land while Congress refuses to pass more restrictive gun laws.  Yet more “moments of silence” with nothing done to stop the rise in shootings.  And people saying that common-sense restrictions on automatics/semi-automatics are restrictions on our constitutional liberties, while–get this–it’s legal to buy 50-caliber weapons which SHOOT PLANES OUT OF THE SKY!

Tennessee’s new official state rifle is so powerful it can ‘destroy commercial aircraft’

Little could we know that a man born on Long Island would enter a nightclub in Orlando and come close to matching the domestic terror death toll for an entire year in one night.

As we continue to focus on the threat of ISIL and its alleged nexus to immigration and concern regarding returning foreign fighters, perhaps recent events would suggest otherwise. The cold hard truth is that America has a homegrown terrorism problem, and holding up a mirror to our country offers a sobering notion of who tomorrow’s suspects may be. Without data, you are just another person with an opinion.

Would Richard himself be a terrorist?  I doubt it.  I also don’t know if he still is into right-wing extremism, which included anarchy and anti-police rhetoric.  But reading this opinion piece in the paper this morning is yet another reminder of why I’m far better off without this narcissist in my life.

PS: Kudos to Congressional Democrats, first the Senate and now the House, taking protest measures to force votes on gun control.  Even if the measures fail yet again, at least they’re making Congress vote rather than just another “moment of silence” and ineffective prayers!  They are my heroes!  😀

 

 

 

 

Life is good now: Looking back at 6 years ago

Around noon today, I reviewed an old post describing my depression nearly 6 years ago, caused by breaking off relations with my narcissist abusers, Richard and Tracy.  I hadn’t forgotten how bad it got, but I did note a huge contrast to how my life is now.  For example, I was deep in a funk, probably suffering from a type of PTSD caused by emotional abuse, and having trouble connecting to people in my town.

Another thing is, the older I get, especially as another birthday looms, the more my mind keeps balking at how many years have passed and my aging body.  I’m not old, though my age says I’m going firmly into middle age–but I could swear I don’t feel a day over 25.

The calendar says it’s been nearly a decade since Richard first came to my town, while I could swear it was only a couple of years ago at most.  I see the cool young rock stars of my youth–Prince, Henry Rollins, etc. etc.–with gray hair or, occasionally, dying.

Instead of Gen-Xers, everybody now focuses on Millennials.  We’re not the cool youth fighting tradition anymore, even though I could swear my musical taste gets harder and crunchier the older I get.  (Love that German Industrial.  😉  )

But then this morning I thought, “Hey, wait a minute, when I was 6 years younger, still in my 30s, I was going through this nasty depression.  When I was even younger, the depression was still in my future.  Now I’m over it.”

Another thing I thought: When I was 6 years younger, I wasn’t in the Writer’s Club.  I didn’t join it back then because it was more of a class, and I didn’t want another class or assignments after getting a college degree in Writing.  I already knew how to write, and just wanted to get better and get feedback.

Anyway, it has a different president, and now I’m in it, meeting people and making friends.  One young friend nearly quit, but changed his mind, and that made me happy.  He’s always arguing with the club president, who doesn’t “get” his youthful spirit and writing, but he makes me laugh.  Another friend, in his 80s I believe, writes short memoirs for the local newspaper; when I walked into the meeting on Monday, he said I always look pretty and have this big smile on my face.

And I have friends at church as well.  I’m making friends through Greek School, along with coffee hour.  Then there’s the one I consider my best friend here, a fellow introvert, writer and German-speaker, and also a goofball.

Then this evening, I got a new thing to add to the list of what didn’t happen when I was 6 years younger and still in my 30s: I never rode in a 1929 Model A before.  But now, on the edge of my 43rd year, I have ridden in one.  After Greek School, I walked outside the church and there it sat in the parking lot.  It belongs to a member of the church and her husband, who took out a few of us.  He took us through Lakeside Park and honked the horn (yes, Ooga Ooga) at anyone who stopped and looked.  😀

And we have a family of skunks living nearby, one big one and three little ones.  They’re cool to watch, though don’t get too close!  Tonight they chased a rabbit.  I guess rabbits don’t want to get sprayed, either.

I also didn’t have the formation of a new novel filling my head 6 years ago.

Another thing is glancing through the obits and seeing somebody my age, or younger, and realizing it’s not so bad to be just about to turn 43.

So yes, those of you going through the aftermath of abuse of some kind, it does get better.  I saw in my old post that I wanted to die.  But I didn’t, and now look how things are.

 

 

 

 

The Novel Form of “Metropolis”: Review, Part 2

by Thea Von Harbou

This isn’t a full review of themes and social issues and Von Harbou and Naziism such as I see in other reviews, but simply a reader giving her impressions as she goes along.  I have linked to reviews which do go deeper, which I have also consulted for help understanding this book.

Part 1

Spoilers Below!

There are various things which are different, or which delve more deeply into characters.  For example, when Rotwang works on giving Maria’s face to the robot, he’s described as lonely.  And that’s a difference: He gives her the face as an artisan, not as a magician/mad scientist throwing switches.  Though, of course, that scene in the movie is my favorite, what with the magical transformation of the robot and–yes–Rotwang looking so hot as he throws switches.

Another difference is the Paternoster machine.  In the movie,  Freder/Georgi-11811 work as one part of a larger machine which looks like a clock, eternally moving hands from one place to another.  In the book, the Paternoster (Our Father) machine is kind of a child-sized elephant-like thing with an appendage that hooks up to your brain and uses what it finds there.  Freder is eventually reduced to saying Our Fathers.

Another difference is Josaphat’s role.  He doesn’t just help Freder, but has a whole subplot of his own.  The Slim Man (the translation calls him this instead of the Thin Man) tries to bribe him into leaving, even throwing in a woman Josaphat badly wants.  Before, she has refused him, but the Slim Man has bribed her into giving herself to Josaphat if he accepts the offer.  But on the little plane out of Metropolis, Josaphat kills the pilot and parachutes into the countryside.  That’s how loyal he is to Freder, because he does this to help Freder as he promised.

Georgi’s escapades in Yoshiwara are not fully shown in the movie.  He takes a weird drug, Maohee, in a seedy lounge and ends up reducing all the club’s women (probably showgirls and prostitutes) to tears and hysterics.  Guy kinda went crazy.

A good description of what happened is here, describing how the drug worked and why it gave everybody a nervous breakdown: Basically, everybody tuned into one person’s thoughts while taking the drug, that person being Georgi this time, and all he could think of was working the Paternoster machine.

After Rotwang captures Maria, he holds her in his house even after the robot has taken on her face.  Freder goes into a feverish state after finding his own father making out with the doppelganger, who he thinks is Maria.

The robot doesn’t just do a weird-sexy dance in Yoshiwara: She is first introduced in the house opposite Rotwang’s by an “old man” acting as her father, probably Rotwang.  We don’t know for sure because we get the story from Freder’s friend, who doesn’t know Rotwang, but we can guess.

She does a strange shaky-trembly thing in front of the guests, a mix of men and women, then leaves.  Yet somehow she makes everyone feel naked and ashamed, full of hate toward each other–even between a young married couple who adore each other.  That “unbearable, cutting coldness” radiates from her, while the guests feel like they’re breathing fire.

Afterward, a young man, full of desire for her, begs to have her (as his wife, I assume).  He begs her “father” (again, probably Rotwang), his father begs them both, but she and Rotwang refuse.  Then she causes havoc by saying to the young man’s father, “You have no son.”  This reveals that the son was another man’s.  When the son overhears the confrontation between his parents, he kills himself.

And, of course, you wonder what happened to Freder’s robot.  At first you might think it’s gone over to Rotwang and become Maria’s doppelganger, except that Rotwang apparently built his own, so it must be a different robot….

As Freder suffers from heartsickness over Maria and the actions of her doppelganger, the robot with her face, Maria is catatonic in Rotwang’s house.  She will not move or speak, just sits in a chair, refusing to answer Rotwang.

Rotwang seems to have fallen in love with her.  In a long, melodramatic speech (typical for this book, which has been accused of purple prose), he says he’ll let her go, but begs her to stay of her own free will.  He doesn’t beg for her love, but for her pity.

He tells her that he’s doing this for Joh, a Will that forces him into being evil.  He thought any good inside him was dead, but no, he realizes that if Maria helps him defy Joh, he can be good again.

Unlike Joh’s mother, he doesn’t think that Hel loved him instead of Joh, but that Hel only pitied Rotwang–but that pity made him good.  Joh made him evil by taking his Hel away, but he longs to be good again, and begs for Maria’s help in that.

After saying he implores her pity, he changes his mind and says he does not implore her pity, but rather her fidelity.  I think he’s referring to the workers, who go to hear her but she’s not there to preach hope and peace.  She needs to show loyalty to them.

He even feels sorry for her, and hates that Joh has made him create a doppelganger to stir up the workers.  He tells her that Joh is using the doppelganger as his own mouthpiece, but the workers won’t know the difference, so they’ll trust the doppelganger.

I’m not sure why Joh wants to stir up his workers like that.  Is it all about not wanting to lose his son to Maria, not wanting to let his son grow up and find his own way, so he’ll resort to causing violence to make his son think Maria caused it?  Or is it to give him an excuse to wipe out the human workers and replace them with robots?  I think both are going on here, that Maria was a last-minute convenient addition to his plan to wipe out the workers, now that Rotwang has successfully created a robot.

In the movie, Rotwang tells Maria that Joh wants to incite the workers to violence so he can use force against them–which fits with my theory, except that the movie says nothing about Joh’s request for robot workers.  In the movie, Rotwang tells himself that Joh’s plan will lose him his son, which Rotwang must want.  Yet he tells Maria the robot is working for him, not Joh.  Except that his plan doesn’t seem all that different from Joh’s.

No wonder this confuses people, who wonder why Joh wants to incite his thousands of workers to violence, instead of letting them listen to the nice lady who tells them to be docile.  I’m danged bewildered.

In any case, in the book, Rotwang tries to stop Joh by begging Maria to come with him to the City of the Dead to speak to the workers, warn them of the doppelganger, and find Freder again.  So Rotwang isn’t so evil after all, assuming he told Maria the truth, rather than secretly wanting to frustrate any plan Joh makes.  But Joh is in the room, overhearing, and strangles him.

This wakes up Maria, who escapes through the trap door into the catacombs, despite Rotwang’s metal arm lying over it.

Meanwhile, Josaphat helps get Freder out of his fever and back to lucidity.

In Chapter 16, we finally get Joh’s reason for letting the doppelganger stir up the workers to destroy the city: The city is go to ruin so Freder can build it up again, as its savior, a Christlike figure.  Also, he ordered the destruction of the heart machine controlling the city so that Freder can redeem the ones who committed that crime.  Of course, this makes less sense than my own theory for why he did this, except maybe as a kind of crude metaphor of sin and redemption.

He says that he doesn’t fear the wrath of the workers against him because only one person could find him–his son–which leads to a Christ-metaphor.  The earlier death of Georgi is another Christ-metaphor, as he willingly dies in Freder’s place, stretches out his hands as if being crucified, and–in his death throes–leads Freder to warn the city.

Joh also lies to Freder, telling him that Rotwang died because he dared to stretch out his hands toward the one Freder loves.  He makes it sound as if he rescued Maria, probably to inspire Freder’s gratitude.

The next part of the book is especially chilling and powerful.  After Joh strangled Rotwang, Maria finally woke up from her catatonic state, and escaped down into the catacombs.  However, Joh dammed up a river to allow him to build the underground city for the workers.  And the workers’ destruction has allowed the water to start spilling back into the city.

As the water starts lapping at her feet in the catacombs, she imagines it speaking to her, telling her things like, it won’t let her get away, it’ll caress her curves and take liberties Freder never had a chance to.  She’s in the catacombs, full of the city’s 1000-year-old dead.  The “water” tells her all about the skeletons which are now moving around in the water, such as two skeletons “arguing” over whose skull is between them.  But the true owner of the skull is a third skeleton now rising up and falling on them both.  It is horrifyingly descriptive.

Maria gets to the underground city of the workers, but it seems deserted, even by the guard who should be the one to send up an alarm.  She tries to send it, but the siren only whimpers.

She discovers that the children are alone and neglected down there with her, so she tries to take them up and out.  But their parents, while going berserk on the surface at the doppelganger’s leading, have toppled trains and wreaked such damage on the machines, that the only exit to the surface, which opens upward, is covered with tons of wreckage.  Yes, there are piles of trains lying over the door.  PILES of TRAINS.  It’s impossible for her to get herself and the children out.

Finally she hears Freder up above, calls to him, and he finds Grot to help him clear the way with explosives.

You feel her claustrophobia, and her suppressed terror as she tries to calm the children, telling a young boy whose sister was hit by a stone that she’s only gone to sleep, that she’ll wake up in a much better place (Heaven).

You also discover that Grot feels betrayed by Joh, who told him to let the workers destroy the heart machine.  He spews all sorts of curses against Joh.  When he hears the underground city is flooding, and the way out is blocked, he wants to let the workers drown–until he hears it’s actually the children trapped in there.

You soon discover that blustering Grot has a soft spot for children.  Even as he rescues his two own children, he cusses at them.  But he does it with sobs, so you can tell he doesn’t mean it, and they probably can, too.  He wants to let Maria drown, mistaking her for the doppelganger, who led the destruction of his beloved heart machine.  But he’s easily subdued by the children as Freder rescues her.

Maria takes the children to the House of the Sons, where the female playthings of the city’s rich sons have been left on their own.  They didn’t know whether to flee or stay, so ended up staying.

Maria gives the children over to their care, where “the troupe of loving little harlots became a troupe of loving little mothers, burning with a new fire in the execution of their new duties.”  As the drink-mixer takes a sponge and begins to wash Grot’s daughter, the little girl takes the sponge and washes the drink-mixer’s face instead.  The drink-mixer begins to cry, and finally takes the little girl in her arms, full of love in a touching scene.

As Maria leaves and goes out into the street, she finds her doppelganger leading a group of insane, whirling dancers from Yoshiwara with torches, screaming, “Dance–dance–dance–Maohee!”  The dancers are a mix of men in evening dress and half-naked women.  One of the dancers, the friend of Freder’s who told him about the doppelganger’s effects on men and women, begs for the doppelganger’s attention, but she sets him on fire.

Then the monks of the cathedral finally get their turn, as the organ plays and the bells toll.  The monk Desertus leads a procession of his black-robed disciples, scourging themselves, and Gothics carrying a black cross.  Desertus hangs on the cross, staring at the dancers, and yells about Doomsday and Babylon the Great.  This pulls in the cathedral and the pictures of the book of Revelation, which seem to have little importance in the movie, but much more in the book.

The doppelganger tears her gown from her shoulders and breasts and goes around topless, telling Desertus to dance with her.

I have to wonder if this reflects the German landed aristocracy’s view of the sins of the city infecting the purity of the countryside.  Von Harbou, after all, was born to the German nobility.

Maria turns and runs away.  She runs into the workers and their wives, who have now turned on her, blaming her for everything.  They call her a witch, and seem to think that if they burn her, they won’t drown.

She runs to the cathedral, apparently because cathedrals have been traditional places of refuge, where you’re not supposed to kill anyone.  She collapses and doesn’t see the dancers collide with the workers and their wives.  The two groups fight as the doppelganger is grabbed and stamped to the ground.

After she collapses, the mob wants to burn her, but Josaphat fetches Freder to save her.  Freder is so determined to get to Maria before she burns that, in a car brought by Josaphat, he actually drives over the steel frame of a tower which fell over the street.

Only Rotwang is not dead, only thinks he’s dead, and, when he gets to the cathedral to find his Hel, thinks that Maria is Hel.  He sees his robot getting burned, and thinks they’re quite right to do so, because it was such a poor job of imitating Hel.

In fact, all Rotwang does now has nothing to do with Maria or Joh, and everything to do with his imagining Hel.  When he dies, it’s because he sees Hel in the clouds, waiting for him.  He wants to be with her, so he lets go of the cathedral’s Gothic ornamentation, which has been holding him up.  So even as he terrorizes and chases our heroine, we can still feel sympathy for him.

The ending is also different from the movie: Maria has collapsed again, exhausted, and Freder fears she is dying.  Instead of Maria putting Joh’s hand into Grot’s, speaking of a mediator, we have Joh coming, in his heart, to a realization of himself and what is good and right.  He reassures Freder that he has seen the face of death in his Hel, but Maria is only asleep.  Then he leaves them to see the workers, looking at him wondering if he will lead them.  Maria wakes up in Freder’s arms; she asks him to be the mediator.

Joh goes to see his mother again, who hears his confession and repentance, and reassures him with a letter from Hel.  Hel wrote the letter before she died, and told his mother to give it to him when he found his way home to his mother and to himself.  It tells him that she loved him and will always be with him.

So his mother says that he has three standing by to help him act on his change of heart.  He said two (I’m not sure whom he means by the two, since there are several possibilities, including Mom), but she says three, the third being Hel.

Now after re-reading this, I just watched the movie again, the one restored with most of the deleted scenes.  First of all, I wonder how anyone was supposed to follow the movie with half of it cut out.

Second, I note how vastly the movie has changed the storyline, with Josaphat’s role diminished, the monks gone completely, character motivations and scenes completely changed.  So even back in the 1920s, and even when the writer of the book also wrote the script, moviemakers mangled books!

Full review here.

[1/29/11 to 6/4/16]

Thea Von Harbou

Wikipedia on the novel

The Metropolis Overview, comparing/contrasting the book with the movie

Some reviews of the movie/novel:

The Unaffiliated Critic

Notes on Metropolis

Metropolis Bits n Pieces (includes information on Hel in mythology)

Metropolis