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Today is Tax Day in the U.S. and I’m burning the stress candle at both ends between getting my taxes done on time, following up on some potential job leads, and doing some general spring cleaning of my home. The one fringe benefit of Tax Day is that it gives me an incentive to go through papers trying to find any documents I could use for filling out those damned tax return forms while I take that opportunity to throw old papers either in the trash or the recycling bin (depending on if the paper in question is recyclable or not).
In the course of sorting through old papers I came across a letter from last year notifying me of the death of my onetime divorce lawyer while saying that if there are any outstanding papers from him that I need I should go to the lawyer handling my late lawyer’s estate and get them immediately. (Luckily my divorce lawyer had given me all the documents I needed around the time of my divorce so I didn’t need to do that.)
Well, anyway, here’s a video break that’s appropriate for today. It was originally a Beatles song but the late George Harrison did a live performance of that tune during a 1992 concert in Japan that also included Eric Clapton on guitar.
A week ago or so a friend of mine who knew me when I was still married mentioned that he saw my ex-husband and found something disturbing about him. Yesterday I ran into another friend on Easter Sunday who also expressed similar concerns about my ex-husband after seeing him and his second wife at a local cafe.
I’m not going to elaborate on what their concerns are other than to say that I’m not surprised that they are shocked at what has happened to my ex-husband. Since he left me he has gone through a complete personality change that I can’t explain. (I’ve read plenty about personality disorder, psychopathy, narcissism, and sociopathy but I lack the credentials to diagnose my ex-husband or anyone else.) After all, my husband never told me he was unhappy in our marriage until he abruptly left me just three days after Christmas in 2011. (He left me three months after I underwent hip surgery.) He abruptly went from being a loving, caring husband to someone who became cold and distant. He refused to talk to me or to meet with me in person other than to bark out orders over email and text demanding that I adhere to a schedule where we would separate our finances and if I raised any kind of resistance, he would threaten to sue me. I found out from friends that he had left me for a woman whom I thought was a friend of mine but I now know better. She had been open about her mental health issues that became so severe that she had an experimental pacemaker implanted in her brain. She qualified for SSI disability just weeks before my husband left me for her.
If all that weren’t enough, my husband sent divorce papers in a .pdf format that was attached to an email message that was dated December 24, 2012. (Yes, he did this on Christmas Eve.) I later found out that he and the other woman got engaged just eight months after he left me. He married her two months after our divorce was final.
Sure I’m sad over what my friends have told me about him but here’s one thing I learned through both attending meetings of a divorce recovery group and seeing a therapist—the only person I can control is myself. I can’t control anyone else. Sure, I can give advice to someone but it’s up to the person to decide whether he or she will follow my advice or not.
I made the decision to have no contact with my ex-husband because of his cyberbullying threats of taking me to court if I didn’t do what he told me to do. My ex has never said that he was sorry for the pain he had put me through or even acknowledge his role in what happened between us. He once told me that it was my fault that he had to leave me so he could date that mentally ill friend of ours. (For the record, I never once told him that he should hook up with that woman. I would never recommend dating a seriously mentally ill person to anyone.) And the reason why he felt he had to leave: The day before my hip surgery I had gone to the American Girl Place in Tysons Corner, Virginia and I purchased this doll named Julie, who is part of the American Girl dolls’ historical line and she’s supposed to represent the 1970’s, mainly because her default outfit is similar to an outfit I once wore when I was growing up in the 1970’s. My ex wrote in a letter that he left behind that my purchase of this doll added to the clutter of our home and he had to leave because of it.
That’s right, my purchase of this doll is the main reason my husband cited for leaving home, hooking up with a woman whom he knew has serious mental health issues, getting engaged to her while still being legally married to me, divorcing me, and marrying her just two months after the divorce was final.
Unless my ex makes a sincere effort to make amends to me for the hurt he has caused me, there is no way I’m going to contact him to see if he’s okay or if there is anything I can do to help him.
I’ll admit that I haven’t forgiven him at all. I learned through my divorce recovery group that forgiveness is a process that can’t be rushed and that there are some situations where it’s impossible to forgive a person. I can’t say I’ll never forgive him but I am just honestly not emotionally ready to do that right now.
Even if I was still in contact with him as a friend, there are limits as to what I can do. Any advice I give would work only if he wants to take it. If he decides against taking my advice, there’s nothing I can do about it because it’s his life and he’s the only one who has a direct say in over how he’ll live it.
If my friends raise their concerns about my ex with me again, I’m going to have to tell them “Sorry but I can’t do anything about it.” Because it is the truth.
I’m only writing a post about this because I know that there are people dealing with loved ones who have their own level of dysfunction—whether it’s due to drugs or alcohol or they are in a dysfunctional romantic relationship or they have mental health problems that they refuse to do anything about or they tend to gamble excessively or they have some other problem that have seriously impacted their lives. Many of us were raised in religious traditions where you’re taught that you’re supposed to be your brother’s (or sister’s) keeper and you have to be the hero to save that person from self-destruction. What I’m telling you—which flies in the face of most religious traditions—is this: you have no control over that person or anyone else other than yourself. If that person wants your help, then fine. You should help that person. But if that person refuses your offer of help, you have no other choice but to just let that person continue on his/her self-destructive path.
This was a lesson I learned through my divorce recovery group and it’s a similar message that other self-help groups, such as Al-Anon, also convey. The bottom line is that you can’t help anyone else unless that person wants your help.
However you can educate yourself so you can learn how to respond to someone else’s drama without getting consumed by it. I’m going to end this post with a short list of books I read that helped me learn how to deal with and respond to my ex-husband’s actions without losing my own mind.
Runaway Husbands by Vikki Stark. This was the first book I ordered from Amazon.com in the days after my husband left and I did a Google search on “my husband ran away from home.” That book helped me prepare for what would happen next since my husband had followed the same path to our divorce that the other husbands Stark profiled in her book went.
Psychopath Free by Jackson MacKenzie. This is a book that was invaluable in helping me to decide not to have any further contact with my ex-husband until he makes a sincere effort to make amends with me for what he has done to me.
The Language of Letting Go and More Language of Letting Go by Melody Beattie. Both books are daily meditations that are designed to help the person with breaking away from a codependent relationship into living a well-integrated and independent life that’s free from codependency.
Last month I wrote a post after I learned that The Washington Post was no longer running its annual Peeps diorama contest. The editor of the alternative weekly Washington City Paper hinted on Twitter that her paper may pick up the mantle while providing an email address for inquiries. From there it snowballed into a new Peeps diorama contest. Today is Easter Sunday so The Washington City Paper announced the winners of its first Peeps diorama contest on its website. I have to admit that everyone involved did very well on such a short notice.
One fringe benefit of the City Paper reviving that contest is that my 2013 rant on A Warning for Those Who Intend to Enter This Year’s Peeps Diorama Contest has once again risen to the top five most-read posts in my blog. It’s too soon to tell whether The Washington City Paper will run this contest again next year although I have a hunch that it’s highly likely that there will be one in 2018. Even though a different publication is now running the Peeps diorama contest, it still wouldn’t hurt to read my original rant because some points I raised in it still applies to that contest.
In any case, here are the winners of The Washington City Paper‘s Peeps Diorama Contest. If you want to view the winners in person, you can travel to the Peeps store located at National Harbor (which had been running a separate unrelated Peeps diorama contest as a tie-in with its #ThisIsHowYouHarbor social media campaign but also decided to team up with The Washington City Paper as a partner for the resurrected Peeps diorama contest).
Since today is Easter, I’d thought I’d share these pictures of Peeps that were available in a variety of different flavors this year.
As a child I received at least one or two small packs of Peeps in my Easter basket each year. At that time Peeps only came out in the spring to coincide with Easter. They were available only in one flavor (the original marshmallow flavor) and one color (yellow). The only choices available were bunnies and chicks. Once Easter season passed, the Peeps would go away from the store shelves and I wouldn’t see them again until the following spring.
In recent years Peeps has expanded to other holidays (Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas), come out in other colors (like blue, orange, and green), come out in other shapes (such as snowmen for Christmas and jack o’lanterns for Halloween).
Peeps have even come out in different flavors besides original marshmallow. This year I purchased a few of these different flavored packs. I’ll admit that I liked some better than others. (I found the lemon lime Peeps to be way too sweet for my tastes.) Here are the photos of the Peeps flavors that I tried this year.
The sour lemon lime Peeps. Despite the “sour” description, I found that these Peeps tasted way sweeter than the usual Peeps.
The triple chocolate Peeps took chocolate Peeps, filled them with chocolate filling, then dipped their bottoms in even more chocolate.
The bottoms of the vanilla Peeps were dipped in crème flavored fudge. These chicks were flecked with multi-colored sprinkles.
The vanilla caramel brownie ones had vanilla Peeps that were filled with a caramel filling then their bottoms were dipped in milk chocolate.
The chocolate mousse Peeps had bottoms that were dipped in milk chocolate.
Last fall I was doing some tidying up around the house when I found this fused glass pendant featuring a bunny rabbit that I made years ago when I took a workshop that was offered through Profusions of Glass. (I may have even still been married when I made this pendant. LOL!) Well, anyway, I found it back in November shortly before Thanksgiving and I now have it in the place where I keep all of my other jewelry. I waited to write about it until today because the pink color scheme along with the rabbit just seems more like it’s appropriate for Easter Sunday than last November.
Philadelphia museum showing glass bongs as high art. The museum’s directors say that this exhibit is less about potheads and more about allowing an underground community of artists to showcase their work without fear of being stigmatized or prosecuted.
As I look back on this, I have to admit that I really pushed my body to the max. That was because the night before I went to Light City in Baltimore, where I waited outside in the cold for over two hours waiting for my animation, The March of Liberty, to finally show on the big screen. I was so stiff and sore the following day that I ended up skipping church.
I still pushed myself to check out the first annual Kamecon because I like seeing cosplayers all dressed up, I was attracted by the $3 admission fee, it was held on the campus of my alma mater (the University of Maryland at College Park), and it was held just three miles from my current home.
Compared to other anime conventions like Otakon and Katsucon, Kamecon is relatively small. The entire event was held in one of the ballrooms at the Adele H. Stamp Student Union building. But the participants were pretty enthusiastic as they donned costumes and hung out. Here are some photos I took.
There was a line at the ticket office located next to the Hoff Theater but it wasn’t too bad. I think I may have spent about 15 minutes in line at the most.
I decided to bring my Canon Digital Rebel EOS camera with me to this event. Here’s a selfie I was able to take thanks to the restroom mirror. (Yes, I was wearing the My Little Pony Rainbow Dash hoodie in order to blend in a little bit with the cosplayers.)
Some people were waiting to have their photo professionally taken.
The entire convention took place in a ballroom, which included an indoor tent/lounge where people could chill.
There was a Jubeat video game that had a cool cube design. I didn’t see anyone play it mainly because it was directly imported from Japan and that machine required a 1 yen coin, which doesn’t do any good for the vast majority of Americans present.
There were other video games that people played.
I took a few shots of two cosplayers who were dancing alongside one of the dancing video games while it was playing Lady Gaga’s hit song “Poker Face.”
I even shot a short video of those two dancing cosplayers.
The ballroom was divided, with half of the room being reserved for Artists Alley. There was a photography ban of that area (unless the photographer gets permission from an Artists Alley participant) so I took only one wide shot of the entire area from the other side.
There were board games and card game packs available for attendees to play with.
Here are some more pictures of Kamecon, including cosplayers.
I also took a few pictures of the University of Maryland campus because it was such a lovely warm sunny spring day. But I didn’t take too many pictures because I was growing tired from both checking out Kamecon and Light City the night before. Here’s a long shot of the Jim Henson Memorial.
The cherry blossom trees on campus were in full bloom.
Here’s a shot of the Mall.
One of the terrapin statues that are located on campus.
March is Women’s History Month, which ended just two days earlier, but there was still this poster featuring the University of Maryland’s famous female alumni including Connie Chung, Dominique Dawes, Gayle King, Sarah Winnemucca, Judith Resnik, Adele H. Stamp, and Carolina Rojas Bahr.
I went to the Light City event in Baltimore on its second night, which fell on April Fool’s Day, but this event was definitely no joke. I wrote a previous post about that night where I wrote about what it was like to see my own animation, The March of Liberty, being shown on a giant screen at such a popular event like Light City while posting a reaction video I made. I’m finally getting around to sharing the rest of the photos. (I took a bunch of pictures that night so I ended up having to make decisions on which photos to use.)
I arrived before sunset because I wanted to find where the On Demand area was located. As you can see in the pictures, it was a very cloudy day.
I took a few pictures of Camden Yards when I was on my way to transferring from the Camden Yards light rail stop to the Charm City Circulator heading towards the Inner Harbor. Opening day would take place just a few days after I took these pictures.
Here’s a statue of Cal Ripken’s retired number.
Here’s a statue of famous baseball player Babe Ruth, who was born in Baltimore.
These painted baseballs on the sidewalk near the statue leads the way to the nearby Babe Ruth Museum.
The street banners proclaim that this year is the 25th anniversary of the day that the Baltimore Orioles began playing their home games at Camden Yards.
I ended up traveling way out to Pier 6 in the Inner Harbor. I took a few pictures while I was blundering around, starting with one of the Harborplace pavilions, which is currently undergoing remodeling and renovation.
Here is what one of the Light City art pieces looked like in broad daylight.
I walked past the Power Plant, where I noticed the guitar-themed railing that’s currently located outside of the Hard Rock Cafe.
Located opposite the Power Plant is a tropical-themed bar known as Dick’s Last Resort.
Some lights resembling birds roosting in trees outside of the Pier 5 Hotel.
A whimsical display that looks like something out of the film Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory outside of an office building.
McCormick & Schmick’s restaurant at its Pier 5 location.
Three umbrella-filled boats floating in Baltimore Harbor.
I decided that I needed to take a break so I found a bench where I ate my dinner. (It was a fried chicken dinner with thick fries and a roll that I purchased at a Royal Farms store located in Linthicum before I took the light rail into Baltimore.) While I was eating this immigration rights protest march had arrived at the Pier 5 area of the Inner Harbor and the protesters walked right past the bench where I was eating my dinner. I took the opportunity to take some pictures.
The marchers made their way to the Inner Harbor Lighthouse, which was being used as a display area for a Light City exhibit about immigrants. A post-march rally was held next to that exhibit.
I finally found the On Demand area. I took a photo of the sign.
I even took a closeup of the area of the sign where my name was printed.
Here’s a shot of the On Demand screen, which was showing another video, along with a glimpse of the backs of the adirondack chairs that were provided for people to sit in before sunset.
Here’s another shot of the On Demand screen, showing a different video, at night.
Like I wrote in a prior entry, I waited outside in the cold for over two hours until my film was finally shown. When it finally appeared I got very enthusiastic. I shot a short reaction video. I also shot stills of my film being on screen. Maybe I shot too many stills but it was such a rare opportunity to see my video being shown in a public venue like this that I felt like I had to document it from all angles (including some shots of people sitting in the chairs) so I can prove to other people that one of my videos was actually shown in public like this.
As for how the people who were there responded to my video, I wasn’t able to get any kind of an accurate gauge as to whether people liked it or not. I didn’t get any boos. But I also didn’t hear any cheers. I saw a few people sitting in chairs watching it when I was there. By the way, you can view that animation, The March of Liberty, right here.
After my film was shown, I left the On Demand area. I had sat in the cold for so long that my body felt stiff. I also had to start making a move towards the nearest light rail station so I can catch one of the last trains out of the city. I managed to take a few more pictures of the other Light City exhibits as I made my way back to the light rail station while wading my way through the massive crowds at the same time. (Yes, the second annual Light City was just as crowded as the first year was.)
Even a few Baltimore police officers blended in with Light City.
Here is one of the bar tents that were set up at the event. As you can see in the picture below, it drew a lot of people.
The last photo shows one of the Light City exhibits being reflected in the back of a bus stop terminal.
There were more to Light City that what I shot but between fatigue and trying to make the light rail, I wasn’t able to see it all. I had planned to making one return trip but the first night I had scheduled—which was two nights before the final night—rained very heavily. So I put it off until the following night, which was the night before the final night, only to have a very cold front with heavy winds replace that heavy rainstorm. I wasn’t able to make it the last night because I went to the annual Sakura Matsuri festival in Washington, DC and I really couldn’t physically handle two festivals on the same day.