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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 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 year I briefly worked for a start-up that was founded by a housemate of a friend of mine. (At the time I wrote in this blog that he was a friend of a friend. In reality the two of them share the same house. I didn’t want to go into too many details about my friend because I didn’t want his home life to be adversely affected by whatever I write in this blog.) Basically the start-up would sell disposable jumpsuits that were pre-sprayed with Sawyer Permethrin spray. I did the administrative tasks, including manually spraying these jumpsuits with the permethrin spray and packing them into plastic bags.

There were weird things about the start-up from the beginning, such as the owner’s insistence on using my Square reader card for all credit card transactions (even though it was connected to my PayPal account and not the start-up’s) instead of getting one for the start-up. But I had let my bullshit guard down mainly because he was my friend’s housemate. On top of it this person was dealing with his own struggles with Lyme disease while also simultaneously dealing with a partner with dementia. If it weren’t for my compassion and softheartedness, I probably would’ve walked out the door way sooner because I grew weary of dealing with the frequent reprimands for any slight mistakes while being discouraged from taking any notes on procedures so I can do my job better. (He expected me to just retain his instructions in my head instead of taking notes.)

Even though I tried to encourage the founder to get a free blogging account, he talked me into writing a post in this very blog instead and I foolishly went along with it. I wrote this post about what I was doing and I included a selfie of me wearing one of the jumpsuits.


We were preparing for formally rolling out the jumpsuits at the Loudon Lyme 10K/5K/1K Fun Run. When the founder asked me about other events, I mentioned the Greenbelt Green Man Festival that took place the weekend before the Loudon event. By that point it was too late to get a vendor booth but he talked me into wearing one of the jumpsuits to that event and sell them from a large Aldi recyclable shopping bag. Even though I got plenty of attention, I failed to sell a single jumpsuit. The start-up owner wasn’t too concerned about the lack of sales and he assured me that we would sell more at the next event.

I naturally assumed that we would have a vendor booth for the Loudon Lyme event where we would sell the jumpsuits. In fact I even helped out with designing promotional materials that I assumed would be displayed at the booth along with the jumpsuits. It wasn’t until two days before this event I was told that there wouldn’t be a vendor booth. That was how I found out that the founder had this sales plan where you never register for vendor booths at events. Instead you would just show up to these events wearing one of the jumpsuits while selling the others from backpacks—just like I did at the Greenbelt Green Man Festival.

Anyway we failed to sell a single jumpsuit and the person sent me a text message a few days later accusing me of self-sabotage. I was pissed at that point because I had written that blog post promoting the start-up and it was basically too late for me to delete it since it’s common knowledge that what you put online lasts forever. So I wrote a retraction post where I announced a new policy where I would no longer write about work I do for other people until after a project is finished and I provided details as to why I’m no longer with the start-up that I previously wrote about. I basically put that start-up behind me after I wrote that post.

I would occasionally hear from my former boss on Facebook but we didn’t interact very much. A few days ago he tagged my name to a Facebook page that was a sales page selling permethrin-treated jumpsuits. I took a look at that page. It looked like it wasn’t even completed and it didn’t look like it was a real business page. There was no email address, phone number, nor any other information about that business other than the name. There was one post on that page that said “Don’t tick me off” but that was it. Here’s is why this page raised my ire: This page was using my selfie as an avatar, implying that I was the owner of that company. Which meant that the one post on that page had my selfie next to it, implying that I was the one who wrote that.

I sent a message to my former boss asking him if that was his page but he didn’t respond. The next day I decided to send an email my friend asking him if he knew anything about this since they are still housemates. My friend promptly responded with an email where he said that his housemate had not mentioned reviving his jumpsuit business at all nor had he seen any evidence that he had done so (such as seeing an excess amount of jumpsuits lying around the house). I began to think that some unknown sleazy asshole was trying to start some bogus business on Facebook while using my selfie as the face of that fake business and that was why my former boss tagged my name.

So I reported that page to Facebook. After I did that, I sent a message to my former boss thanking him for letting me know about this page and I had reported it to Facebook for using my photo without even telling me. At that point he finally responded saying that, yes, it’s his page and he doesn’t know how to remove my photo that he uploaded on that page without even telling me. He offered to pay me for the use of my image.

Six months after I wrote my original retraction post, I made an update at the end of that post because the founder finally paid me the rest of the money he owed me and I wrote that update to reflect that fact. At the time I wrote:

Would I work for him again? I don’t know. It really depends on a lot of things (such as whether he would do things differently now or not).

After his latest shenanigans with using my selfie as the face of that Facebook page without even telling me fist, I have decided that there’s no way in hell I would work for him again. It was bad enough how he ran that start-up last year. What he recently did is totally sleazy and unethical and I want no part of that.

Every day I hear news about Donald Trump and they become more horrifying by the day. From his cabinet choices (such as appointing Rick Perry head of an agency that he once called for its abolishment) to Trump’s refusal to read the daily intelligence briefings on the grounds that “I’m, like, a smart person”, it is so obvious that he is the one person who had no business of ever running for president in the first place—let alone finding people who were willing to vote for him. Donald Trump is the first president-elect in history who has no prior political or military experience. If all that weren’t enough, there are already divisions within Trump’s organization and the man hasn’t even taken office yet.

Donald Trump can’t take the time to read the daily intelligence briefings yet he can find the time to meet with people like Kanye West and Anna Wintour. He also finds the time to complain on Twitter about Alec Baldwin impersonating him on Saturday Night Live.

There have long been accusations of Trump being too cozy with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. Now there are accusations that Russian hackers may have somehow thrown the election to Donald Trump. These allegations are so serious that members of the Electoral College are demanding to see the evidence before they go to their scheduled meeting on December 19 to give the final vote on who will become the next President of the United States.

I don’t even know what to think anymore, other than the fact that I agree with the headline of this article that appeared in Teen Vogue (of all places): Donald Trump Is Gaslighting America. I am especially worried because I live pretty close to Washington, DC so I have a bird’s eye view of whatever fuckery will come down. Donald Trump is making me feel nostalgic for George W. Bush—and I thought Dubya was the worst president ever. If Donald Trump actually makes it to the White House (and that’s a big “IF”), I don’t know if the United States of America as I’ve known it all my life will survive. I’m especially not heartened by Trump’s history of multiple bankruptcies and his numerous failed companies.

By the way, I read this interesting article on on how Hillary Clinton’s campaign totally blew the election by ignoring working class areas like Michigan. I still maintain that if the Democratic National Committee hadn’t gone out of its way to deny Bernie Sanders the nomination, Donald Trump would be going back to being a full-time celebrity pretending to be a real estate developer working in Trump Tower.

Thanks for nothing, DNC!

Ever since Donald Trump was proclaimed the president-elect nearly a month ago this guy has literally gone off the rails. I’ve previously lived through the election of a brand-new president which marks a change in White House administrations. Normally the new president-elect is busy with making appointments while spending time decompressing from all those months on the campaign trail by spending the winter holiday season with family and friends.

Not Donald Trump. This guy has been busy taking to Twitter to complain about every single minor thing that he shouldn’t even be concerned about. But that’s not all, folks! He has also been doing things that a president-elect usually wouldn’t do. There’s nothing like attending the opening ceremonies of the month-long Festival of Lights in Greenbelt, Maryland while having my cell phone go off with this push notification from my Guardian news app about how Donald Trump decided to reach out to Taiwan while pissing off the People’s Republic of China in the process. It’s one thing if he had done this after he gets formally sworn in next month but it’s something else for him to do this while Barack Obama is still President of the United States.

Trump is also busy feeling butt-hurt every time Saturday Night Live does another sketch poking fun at him. He takes to Twitter complaining about how the show skewers him. Here’s the latest sketch that aired last night, which features Alec Baldwin doing a dead-on impersonation of him while making fun of Trump’s penchant for spending a lot of time on Twitter.

Once again Trump gets butt-hurt over Saturday Night Live‘s parody of him so, naturally, he took to Twitter late last night to complain about it. Alec Baldwin’s response to Donald Trump is pretty awesome: He said that he’ll quit portraying Donald Trump only if Trump releases his tax returns (which he has long resisted, unlike every single other presidential candidate in history).

But that’s nothing compared to the multi-part response that an activist named Danielle Muscato unleashed on Twitter. This link has compiled her responses in chronological order but it’s still pretty epic and I personally applaud her for this.

Of course the Internet has exploded over Donald Trump’s latest rampage over his feelings being hurt like a teenage drama queen. This link shows not only the snarky story about this incident but also the snarky comments about The Donald’s ultra-sensitive feelings.

I don’t understand why Donald Trump is so damned surprised that Saturday Night Live is making fun of him. That show has long made fun of presidents. I’m old enough to remember the first season of that show back in the 1970’s, when Chevy Chase used to impersonate Gerald Ford’s clumsiness.

That tradition has continued into successive administrations. The other presidents have mostly ignored those parodies. Sometimes they gamely went along with the parodies by appearing on the show, such as this clip featuring ex-President George H.W. Bush.

But these presidents have ignored the parodies of them because they chose to turn their attention on more pressing matters, such as running the country. This is the first time I’ve ever seen any president or president-elect actually complain about Saturday Night Live‘s portrayal of him.

Donald Trump’s Twitter-based jihad against Saturday Night Live only proves one thing: He is totally unsuitable for the nation’s highest office. If he gets his sensitive feelings hurt over how some comedy show have chosen to satirize him, I’d hate to see how he’d react to any perceived slight against him by a foreign leader. Especially since he has access to the codes that launch nuclear weapons.

The Electoral College is meeting in two weeks to formally vote on the new president. Usually this meeting is little more than rubber-stamping the elections. This year there are calls for the Electoral College to reject Donald Trump for the White House. If this happens it would be completely unprecedented.

I would love it if the Electoral College would do this but I’m not going to hold my breath on this. I really think that the Constitution should be amended where a person should be required to undergo psychiatric tests if he or she shows any signs of mental instability either before or during his/her administration and if that person refuses to undergo these tests or the tests show that he/she is mentally ill, that person should be immediately removed from office. It’s outrageous and potentially dangerous that a person who has shown signs of suffering from an extreme form of narcissism is about to occupy the White House.

Donald Trump is little more than a big baby who should be living in a padded room in a mental institution instead of the White House.

Not too long ago I went to Starbucks where I ordered the Peppermint Hot Chocolate (which is only available this time of the year). I had it served in this coffee cup that, for some reason, has created controversy and led to this media uproar that you can read about herehere, and here.

The whole uproar is totally asinine. If your personal religious faith is so weak that you’re willing to let the design of a stupid coffee cup that’s served by a corporate chain affect the way you will celebrate the upcoming winter holidays then both you and your personal religious faith are totally pathetic. This is what the “shockingly controversial” Starbucks coffee cup currently looks like.

When you first get your cup, it’s served with the usual cardboard sleeve that has the Starbucks logo.


Remove the sleeve and you’ll see this really nice line drawing showing all kinds of people who are gathered together.


This crowd of line-drawn people spill out over the sides of the coffee cup.


Here’s the back of the coffee cup that have the notations where the barista marks the order.


Here’s another side view of the coffee cup showing the same large crowd of line-drawn people.


The door of the Starbucks shop features the same line drawing that’s on the coffee cup along with the message “Be good to each other.” How on earth could something like this be so controversial?!? This is insane!


Things are a total mess. I’m at the point where I have to limit my time on Twitter and Facebook because I see so many posts from people that basically says this:

If you voted for the candidate I voted against—UNFRIEND/UNFOLLOW ME NOW!!!

It’s totally emotionally draining to read posts like that. I wrote last week’s post titled A Message to All Those on Social Media Who are Blaming Jill Stein Voters For President Donald Trump because I saw so many posts blaming Jill Stein voters for Hillary Clinton’s defeat when, in reality, that’s clearly not the case because Jill Stein only got 1% of the votes. Even if the Green Party had decided against fielding any candidates for this year’s elections, Hillary Clinton still would’ve lost.

All I know is that there is chaos in the U.S. There have been an increase in hate crimes ever since last Tuesday. I can only imagine the fear that a Muslim or even a person of color feels ever time he or she walks out the door and that person starts to wonder whether he/she will return home in one piece.

Last Monday I visited the Trump International Hotel in downtown DC. I remember the streets were relatively calm and empty. Now, as I look back on that day, I have to admit that it was literally the calm before the storm. Today one of my friends who works in the William Jefferson Clinton Federal Building next to the Trump International Hotel posted some photos on her Facebook timeline of a protest that happened outside that hotel today. It turns out that the DC public school students staged a walkout and marched to the hotel to protest the election of Donald Trump.

Today’s protest is just one of many that have been breaking out all across the United States this week.

At one point I thought about fleeing to Canada if Donald Trump got elected. I’ve changed my mind for now. My Canadian friends have been urging me to stay and fight. (They are all spooked about what’s going on south of the border.) In addition I have to think about my mother, who’s struggling with multiple sclerosis and she has been in the hospital a few times this year with sepsis. There’s no way I can even consider taking her with me on an 8-12 hour drive to the Canadian border because I’m not sure if she would even survive the trip. And I would hate like hell to abandon her in the U.S. while I go off to Canada.

So I’m staying put while watching photos and videos of all kinds of protests. Tomorrow there’s supposed to be this new video by Keith Olbermann called The Resistance that’s going to premiere online at 8 a.m. Sounds kind of subversive to me. (LOL!)

Next week is the Thanksgiving holiday weekend so who knows what will happen.

UPDATE (November 16, 2016): Here’s the first episode of Keith Olbermann’s new video series called The Resistance.

Last year I wrote this rant on Why Kim Kardashian and Her Family Need to Just Go Away because I was exasperated over how much media attention this family has gotten even though none of them have actually made any kind of major accomplishments, with the exception of Kim’s late father, Robert Kardashian, who was one of the lawyers in O.J. Simpson’s 1990’s murder trial and Kim’s one-time stepparent, Caitlyn Jenner, who won the gold decathlon medal at the 1976 Olympics.

Since I posted it online that rant has become among the most-read Sagittarius Dolly blog posts ever. In fact I can tell whenever yet another major scandalous story regarding that family has broken because that rant will suddenly become among the top ten most read posts of the week. I’m not surprised that it’s gotten back up to the top ten this week considering the mainstream media suddenly went crazy over reports that Kim Kardashian was robbed in her Paris hotel just hours after she posted a photo of herself wearing this expensive looking diamond ring on Instagram. If you look on some of the gossip sites, you’d hear rumors that this “robbery” was either staged by either Kim herself or one of her associates or was an inside job that was perpetrated by someone who’s associated either with Kim or the hotel. Whatever the case may be, this will set off yet another round of Kim Kardashian’s face being plastered on most of the magazines and tabloids that are sold in the supermarket checkout line.

I would’t be surprised if this “robbery” is yet another attempt at keeping the Kardashian name in the headlines. Part of me hopes that if it is something that was faked that it would provoke such a huge backlash that it’ll signal the end of the public life of Kim and her family. But I’m not going to hold my breath on that one. After all, last year I wrote that rant because Kim’s younger half-sisters seemed to glamorize lesbian incest and that wasn’t enough to torpedo that whole family out of the media spotlight.

In some ways I think it’s not right that a bunch of no-talents like the Kardashians are now considered celebrities. The very definition of the word “celebrity” has changed since I was a kid. A few years ago The Washington Post ran this story about the demise of a museum in Virginia that was dedicated to Jeane Dixon, the famed psychic and self-styled “astrologer to the stars.” In the newspaper edition of that story The Washington Post published a photo of one of the artifacts from that now-defunct museum: a cover of a late-1970’s issue of The National Enquirer that prominently featured Jeane Dixon’s predictions of the futures of such stars as Burt Reynolds, Cary Grant, and Dolly Parton. All three of them were considered to be major celebrities of that era. But there was a major difference between them and the Kardashians—they were people who became prominent through displaying actual talent at either acting or music. They didn’t go to paparazzi-heavy restaurants and nightclubs being attention whores in the hopes that their photos will appear in some publication the next day. They developed a craft, worked hard at that craft, and gained a following from people who were impressed with their craft.

This is why all this media attention on the Kardashians is so frustrating as well as their frequent efforts to shove this family in our faces. Even PBS has gotten in on this by posting links to Kim Kardashian stories like this one on its Facebook page and covering her like she’s news is something that used to be beneath the major public broadcaster. Ironically I have yet to meet anyone in my life who has ever expressed admiration for anyone in that family. I can remember the time when I saw a rack of the Kardashian clothing line at Sears and I thought those outfits were so ugly that someone would have to pay me to wear them. I wasn’t surprised to hear that those clothes were a total flop. I see their perfumes and other beauty products just sit there on the store shelves. It’s almost like the mainstream media is doing some kind of propaganda to force people to accept them as celebrities and honor them as such while average people are doing their best to resist this.

I don’t mind seeing stories about people with actual talent but the mainstream media needs to have a moratorium on all things Kardashian unless someone from that family has actually done something worthwhile (like discovering a cure for cancer). I think people should boycott anything that is associated with any members of that family regardless of whether it’s their beauty products or clothes or any publications that have them on the cover or even episodes of their reality show Keeping Up With the Kardashians. If enough people boycott the Kardashians then that family will be less profitable to the mainstream media to the point where it’s not even worth putting them on the cover anymore.

We the people can do this.

I’m hoping that the craziness of the last two weeks will end as of today but in life there are no guarantees. This latest round of stress started when I signed up for an interview for this potential job that was located in Jessup yet the employment agency responsible for the hiring was holding interviews in its Glen Burnie offices. The night before my scheduled job interview I got word that my mother was in the hospital in Glen Burnie. I already wrote at length about that episode here and here so I’m not going to repeat it in this post.

Instead I’m going to pick up on the Thursday before the start of the Labor Day holiday weekend. It was the last day I visited my mother before she was released the following day. I brought along one of my paintings, which was my fan art tribute to My Little Pony, and left it in the car while I visited my mother. After that visit I drove straight to the Greenbelt Community Center where I entered it in the upcoming Labor Day Art Show. I wanted to enter it on the first day that entries were being accepted because I was scheduled to head up to Baltimore the following day.


So on Friday my mother was released from the hospital. I was invited to this closing party at the Escape Artists Gallery in Baltimore where I was participating in a show that was benefitting those who were affected by the recent flood in Ellicott City. The closing party wasn’t announced until just two days before the event but I decided to go any way and endure yet another commute from the DC area to the Baltimore area for the fifth day in a row.

I decided to go up to Baltimore a bit early on Friday to check out the Walters Art Museum that was located just a few blocks from the Escape Artists Gallery. I hadn’t been there since I was a teenager and it had free admission so I went for it. I spent at least two hours there until it was close to closing time but I found that one really needs to spend a full day there in order to see everything that the museum has to offer. I may make a return trip there when it gets closer to the Christmas holiday season since the mall parking lots will be filled with cars by then but it really depends on my schedule.

After the museum closed I was outside where I was enjoying the wonderful weather. There was this horrible heat wave where the temperature was in the 90’s with high humidity as well. I endured that heat wave as I commuted to and from Glen Burnie to visit my mom in the hospital. But then Hurricane Hermine made its way to the U.S. While it affected the waves at all of the beaches along the East Coast so swimming was strongly discouraged, the hurricane never went inland. As a result the outer edges of the hurricane blew away the heat wave and it was replaced by nice sunny weather in the 80’s with low humidity. It arrived just in time for Labor Day weekend.

I decided to take advantage of the longer days and nice weather by sitting in a chair near the Washington Monument so I could rest from trekking around the Walters Art Museum. I was starting to feel hungry so I looked around for places where I could eat dinner. There was a Subway that was located under the Escape Artists Gallery and there was a nearby local pizzeria that was slightly more expensive than Subway but it was still within my price range. I had enough money for Subway but I found that I needed to hit the ATM if I wanted to eat at the pizzeria. So I attempted to use the pizzeria’s ATM only to find out that I got an “Access Denied” message on the receipt. Never mind the fact that I had recently deposited my ex-husband’s latest alimony check just a few days earlier.

I ended up eating at the Subway then waited until the party began at the gallery that was located upstairs. When I came in I found that I was the first person who arrived. So I ended up talking with one of the people who ran the gallery where I learned that it had sold only half of the art currently in the show and the bulk of the sales happened on opening night. Since then the gallery had sold only one or two additional art pieces but, as a fundraiser, it was a bust. I also learned that my own art piece had remained unsold despite the fact that I chose it because it was 9 inches x 12 inches (23 cm x 30 cm) and it depicted a very accessible family-friendly subject matter (a begging dog flashing very sad eyes because he wanted to have a bite of that chocolate chip cookie that was also in the painting).


A few more people showed up to the party but it drew no more than around six people including myself. The gallery owner admitted that she had waited too long to announce that party and it was also scheduled for the Friday before Labor Day weekend. I spent some time checking out the other pieces on display in that show since I hadn’t been there before. (I wasn’t able to make it to the opening night reception a few weeks earlier.) But the party was a bit of a letdown so I decided to leave a half-an-hour before it was scheduled to end. As I was saying good-bye to one of the gallery owners whom I talked with earlier, she suggested that I take my painting with me since the show would close in just two days and it would save me another trip to the gallery. I took her up on that suggestion because, to be honest, I hadn’t been looking forward to taking yet another trip from the DC area to the Baltimore area for a sixth day out of the last seven days. Taking that painting kind of messed up that post that went live just a few hours earlier announcing that my painting would be in the show until Sunday, September 4 but I didn’t bother with updating it because I figured that there were plenty of other unsold art that would still be there and it was all going to a good cause. It’s too bad that my painting wasn’t sold.

The next day was Saturday. I went to the ATM machine at my bank I was able to withdraw some cash, which was great because I was scheduled to go to the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival. I arrived in the afternoon where I walked around enjoying the sights and sounds. Then I reported for volunteer guard duty at the art show (which is the one condition of submitting a work of art for the show) for an hour. After I finished that obligation I checked out the rest of the art show along with the photo show. I also checked out various tables from local groups because the first day was “Community Day” while talking with a few friends whom I ran into. I grabbed a cheese crab pretzel for my dinner then played a few rounds of Bingo as the sun set on yet another wonderful weather day with full sun and low humidity. I hung around after sunset for a bit while I took pictures of the carnival rides after dark until I grew tired then I sat at the bus stop waiting for a shuttle to take me back to my car so I could go home. While I was waiting at the bus stop I saw a couple pass me from behind and I immediately recognized them as my ex-husband and my onetime mentally ill friend whom he married just two months after out divorce was final. By then it was around 8 p.m. and I was leaving the festival while the Backstabbing Couple From Hell were just entering it. At least I didn’t have to worry about running into them. (LOL!)

The following day I decided to go to Sunday service at my Unitarian Universalist congregation for the first time in several weeks. I was surprised to see two onetime members who had since moved to Florida and they were up in the DC area for a visit. They are a longtime gay couple whom my then-husband and I visited in Florida shortly after I started this blog back in 2010. We chatted for a bit and I learned that they managed to evade Hurricane Hermine, which struck the Tampa-St. Petersburg area where they now live. One of them has a son from a previous marriage to a woman and it turns out that I recognized the son’s girlfriend from the fact that we both participated in the yard sale that’s put on by my support group for people who are separated or divorced. I also found out that the son had been attending that same support group’s meetings at its Columbia chapter while I attend the ones in Crofton. The son met his girlfriend through the Columbia chapter. So it was a cool coincidence.

After church I found that I hadn’t taken out enough money the day before so I decided to go to the ATM machine that was affiliated with one of the branches of my bank to take out just a few more bucks only to get a slip that said “Access denied.” This was reminiscent of what happened Friday in Baltimore! Worse, I wouldn’t be able to do anything about it until Tuesday because of the holiday weekend. So I wasn’t able to do grocery shopping nor was I able to spend any more money at the festival on things like food. I had just enough money to go to this local art supply shop to buy a tiny 3-inch canvas and one tube of black acrylic paint because I decided to take part in a local tiny art contest that I’ll write more about in a future post and I needed to get this piece done by the September 13 deadline.

I went to the Greenbelt Museum because it was having its free admission day. I briefly perused the craft tables because it was the first day of the craft show but I didn’t buy anything because of a lack of money.

Ultimately I went home where I started work on my latest project for the upcoming tiny art contest: an acrylic painting on a tiny 3-inch canvas based on one of my photographs I had taken at the Greenbelt Labor Day Festival the night before.

The following day was Labor Day itself. I went to the Greenbelt Labor Day Parade then I went back home to eat lunch. Afterwards I went over to the Labor Day Festival because the Greenbelt Theater was having a free showing of the movie Briggadoon. The story was kind of hokey but I loved the music and dancing in that film. I ran into a friend after the movie and I socialized for a bit with her. I perused the craft tables and hung around the used book sale (which was giving away its inventory on the last day of the festival) while enjoying the continuing wonderful sunny with low humidity weather until 4 p.m., when I could retrieve my artwork from the art show. Afterwards I headed home where I ate dinner and worked some more on that tiny art canvas.

The following day I decided to confront my bank over the ATM situation. I went to the drive-through ATM first to see if the problem had somehow corrected itself. I still saw that “Access Denied” printed on the slip. I grew angry and I was all ready to park my car and go inside that bank branch to do some major confrontation.

But then something happened that I can’t explain. The ATM card was no longer in my hand. I assumed I had dropped it on the floor of my car. I looked there and I didn’t see it. I looked through my wallet and it wasn’t there either. I walked back over to the lane where the ATM was located and I didn’t see my ATM card anywhere. I went inside the branch and asked if anyone had turned in an ATM card but no one did.

I tried continuing my search outside. By that point the wonderful holiday weekend weather was gone and it was replaced by yet another heatwave where the temperature shot up to the upper 90’s along with high humidity so doing an extensive search around my car became intolerable. So I couldn’t confront the bank about my ATM card because I had somehow dropped it and I couldn’t find it plus the increasing temperature had made it impossible for me to continue my search either in the car or outdoors. So I had no choice but to return home.

I continued to work some more on my tiny art canvas while I did a thorough search of both my wallet and my purse in an air conditioned living room. I couldn’t find my ATM card. I searched through my wallet and purse several times and it was the same result. I waited until after dinner when the heat was slightly less oppressive and I did a thorough search of my car while I did some major decluttering. My car was cleaner but I still didn’t find my ATM card.

The following day I returned to the bank branch where I searched among the bushes outside and I even did a closer look around the drive-through ATM lane. I didn’t find my card. I went inside to inquire and found that no one had found my ATM card and turned it in.

The only silver lining is that it was the same card that kept on giving me the “Access Denied” message so anyone who found it and tried to use it as a debit card would have problems with accessing my account. But it was still annoying that I had somehow lost it while I went through a flash of anger over the whole “Access Denied” SNAFU in the first place.

Yesterday I went back to the same bank branch and did some more searching around the general area but I knew it was hopeless. Thanks to my flash of anger, I was very careless about my ATM and I dropped it in a place where I couldn’t find it and the further the situation went on, the less likely my ATM card will ever be found. So I broke down and ordered a new ATM card, which won’t arrive for the next five to seven days. I also wrote a check for “Cash” so I could have some dollar bills on hand. (I’m old enough to remember that in the days before ATMs became so widespread, writing a check payable to “Cash” was the only way one could access money in the checking account. Of course, one had to do this during banking hours.)

I was totally stressed out over the whole ATM situation so I went to the weekly Thursday night meeting of my support group for people who are separated or divorced just so I could vent. Luckily the topic that evening was the challenges of being divorced so I could explain my sob story about the ATM situation and the times when I miss having another person in the home whom I could confide in about various issues. I felt better after that meeting and I managed to get a good night’s sleep for the first time in a few days.

So I’m now hoping that the worst times are over but in this life nothing is guaranteed. I’m just looking forward to the upcoming tiny art contest that I’ll write about in a future post while hoping that no more major calamities strike me because I really need some time to get over the last two weeks.

Santa Claus

Four years ago today my husband came home from work and announced that he was moving out. I was shocked because he never told me that he was the least bit unhappy. In addition I was still recovering from hip surgery just three months earlier and I really didn’t need this.

Since then I haven’t spoken to him. I really can’t be friends with someone who, one day, pretended that he still loved me while he was secretly screwing a mentally ill friend on the side (at the same time that I was recovering from hip surgery and it’s possible that the affair might have started even before that surgery) then the next day announced that he wants a divorce and he started to treat me like he really detested me all those years while demanding that I adhere to this separation schedule that existed in his head or else he would threaten to sue me. On top of that, he refused to even talk with me in person or on the phone—I could only communicate with him either by e-mail or text and he would answer only if it was relevant to the separation schedule that existed in his head. (Otherwise, I might as well have communicated only with myself if he chose not to answer.) As of this writing he has yet to make any attempt to apologize to me or anything like that.

I can’t say for sure when his affair started. All I know is that I later found out after our divorce that he had secretly become engaged to the other woman just eight months after he left me (and while he was still legally married to me). Then he married her just two months after our divorce was final. So my ex-husband went from his first marriage to his second marriage in nearly 20 months. And he married a woman whose mental health problems had gotten so bad that she was determined to be eligible for Social Security disability payments about a month or so before he left me for her. (My husband told me at the time that he had gotten her to talk to his sister via long-distance telephone because she works for Social Security and he thought she could give that woman advice on how to apply for disability. I thought he was being a helpful friend and I didn’t realize that he was more than just friends with her.)

Since that time I’ve had many of our longtime friends tell me that they either haven’t seen him at all or they’ll see him with the other woman but he keeps his distance from them. It’s like he’s gone from being a very friendly person (at least when he was with me) to being more reclusive. It kind of reminds me of the lyrics to the Creed song “My Own Prison.”

It’s sad because I never expected my marriage to turn out like this. Sure my marriage wasn’t perfect but we had basically gotten along well with each other until the night he left. I’ve had so many of my friends tell me that they were shocked that my marriage ended the way it did because, based on what they saw, they thought we seemed very happy together.

I really envy widows mainly because when they lose their spouses, they generally still love them and continue to have fond memories of the happier times they had before their mates died. In my case I’ve seen a complete personality change in my own husband and it’s jarring because it contrasts with the earlier memories I have of him. It’s like his old self is dead yet his body is still alive with a new self that’s more unlikeable and unfriendly than before. It’s almost like someone had flicked an internal switch inside of him or he had been kidnapped by aliens and replaced with a lookalike pod person. (The latter is actually the plot of the film Invasion of the Body Snatchers.) To me seeing something like that is far worse than being a widow.

Since that time I’ve tried a whole bunch of things in order to get my life back on track. It’s hard because I had two major bad things happen to me back-to-back (hip surgery and divorce) and it’s taking me much longer to get over it than if I had to deal with only one of them.

If all that wasn’t enough, I’ve had to deal with a very tough economy. My craft sales have declined because people are either unemployed or underemployed and I’ve gotten plenty of people telling me that they couldn’t afford to buy anything from me. I’ve tried getting more steady work (like a day job) but it’s been very difficult because I’m competing with so many other unemployed people as well.

This fall I went through a bunch of unexpected drama that was so non-stop that I didn’t realize that Christmas was coming until after December 12 (when the six-week Artomatic show ended).

In late September I applied for a job for tutoring children which supposedly required computer skills. I went for it and I was surprised when someone called me back just two hours after I e-mailed my resume. It was a private for-profit educational company that had just gotten a contract with a local public elementary school to provide before and after school classes to the students who attended that school. And they wanted me to submit to a background check so I could begin teaching immediately. I initially felt thrilled with the possibility of having a steady job to offset the unsteady job of being an artist and crafter.

That pleasant surprise went downhill for me pretty quick when they began to pressure me to accept teaching jobs in cooking and fashion design—subjects in which I had no experience in. (I cook simple meals mainly for myself using recipes but one would be hard-pressed to call me a chef. As for fashion design, the closest experience I have is when I made doll clothes using patterns. Otherwise, most of my knowledge of fashion design comes from watching episodes of Project Runway.) What was worse was that there was no curriculum or anything and we were expected to plan our own lessons. I told them that I had no experience in these subjects but they refused to take that for an answer and they kept on pressuring me to accept those assignments. (Never mind the fact that the original job announcement never mentioned cooking or fashion design and it said that it wanted people with computer skills.)

I was prepared to walk away when they offered me the chance to assist another teacher for a digital photography class. I leaped at the chance because it was a subject that I knew all about (and have tried to demonstrate in this blog). I was told to call the instructor. I did so. I learned that, like the other classes, there was no curriculum and we had to make up our own lessons as we went along. He told me that the digital photography class was a before school class that would be held from 8:15-9:15 a.m. so I was expected to get up at the crack of dawn and make the drive around the notoriously clogged Capital Beltway in order to arrive at the school on time. He also told me that the class would begin the very next day.

So I was thrown into a class with less than 12 hours notice that had no formal curriculum and literally no time to develop any kind of lesson plans or activities and it was a total disaster. (Basically the instructor I assisted gave an hour-long college-level lecture to elementary school kids that was way too advanced for them and they ended up completely bored and confused. They complained to their parents, who then complained to the school and, well, you get the picture.) After my first day on the job I had to go to the organization for a job interview (which is pretty convoluted). From that time it was total chaos where my original co-teacher was replaced with two other teachers and I would be relegated to be an on-call substitute teacher only to have one of those other teachers get sacked a week later and I ended up being back in the classroom again. I got along with the other replacement teacher pretty well and, in a different situation, I would’ve loved to have continued working with her. But that organization was way too full of behind the scenes dysfunction and drama for my taste.

And then there was the issue of getting paid. I didn’t get any money for the first two months. In fact, I began to turn down other tutoring jobs from that organization because of the paycheck issue and the fact that I was not very impressed with them at all. (They would call me with tutorial opportunities with not much notice. They called me about one such gig only two hours before it was supposed to begin.) I finally got my first paycheck after I assisted in teaching eight one-hour sessions and, based on the eight hours I had worked at that point, the breakdown was that I was paid little more than $5.93 per hour! Ironically I could’ve made a lot more money working at McDonald’s or Walmart (two places that are notorious for paying their workers very low wages). The gas alone ate up whatever I earned so it turned out to be not even a profitable gig for me and there’s no way I could support myself on such a low wage (especially not in the Washington, DC area). On top of it this organization was expecting us teachers to come up with our own lesson plans outside of class in addition to teaching in the classroom and all for only $5.93 an hour!

Unfortunately I foolishly signed a contract with the group during that job interview (yes, it was the one that was held after my first day on the job) that stipulated that I had to stay on the job until the class ended on December 8 or I was fired—whichever came first. So I had to sit there and keep on helping with the before school class until it finally ended. (As of this writing, I have yet to receive a paycheck for the last three weeks of the class that I actually taught.) I could write plenty more paragraphs about that teaching job, believe me. Let’s just say that this job has given me a glimpse into the whole for-profit education system and it’s not a pretty picture. Fortunately it was a public elementary school that hired this outside for-profit contractor for only the before and after school programs so the kids still had their regular public school teachers during the day. I’d hate to see first-hand what goes on in those private for-profit charter schools that I hear so many people complain about.

In the meantime Artomatic was announced. I decided to get involved as a filmmaker rather than a visual artist like at past Artomatics mainly because I couldn’t afford the $125 visual artist fee. (The filmmaker fee came to only $15 because my film was less than 30 minutes long.) It was a really neat thing being a filmmaker because people really took me seriously whenever I declared myself as one and they asked me about my movie (Saving the Enchanted Forest) and when I would be showing it. I had people see my movie and respond positively to it, which was really cool. In addition I also volunteered as a blogger for the Artomatic site and that was a cool gig as well.

I pretty much immersed myself into the Artomatic experience at the expense of not paying any attention to the upcoming winter holidays until after it ended on December 12.

In between all that, I had volunteered to staff a table on behalf of the new non-profit Greenbelt Theater cooperative during the Festival of Lights craft show in Greenbelt on December 5 just a couple of hours after I did the second showing of my Saving the Enchanted Forest movie at Artomatic. I liked talking to people about the Greenbelt Theater but, boy, was I tired after that full day!

The day after Artomatic ended I took part in my church’s annual Holiday Craft Fair, which usually begins after Sunday service ends and goes on until around 12:30 p.m. I didn’t announce it in this blog ahead of time because I got so tied up with Artomatic and, in addition, I’ve never got much response from announcing my church’s craft show in this blog in previous years mainly because the show begins once Sunday service ends and the schedule tends to benefit members more than the general public who either aren’t religious or attends a different house of worship at the same time. This year the person organizing it decided to try running it for two Sundays in a row to give people who couldn’t be there the first week a chance to buy handcrafted items. I was selling the superhero coasters that I’ve been selling since the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire and I earned $30 each week for a total of $60. Sweet!

So I promoted the Greenbelt Theater on December 5, my crazy drama-filled one-day-a-week teaching job ended on December 8, Artomatic ended on December 12, and I was selling my wares after church on December 13 and December 20. So I had a pretty action-packed fall.

I’m also on the verge of starting something new that I hope will earn me a better income than that before school teaching job. I can’t go into details at the moment other than to say that, based on my job interview, this new company is way more professional with far less drama than the organization behind that teaching gig. (At least they did the job interview before I was expected to start working for them—like a normal company would do.) It’s a job that’s completely different and has absolutely nothing to do with teaching or tutoring kids. I’m looking forward to it and I hope everything works out.

Tonight I’m going to the annual holiday party that my support group for people who are separated or divorced holds each year between Christmas and New Year’s. It’s a potluck where we bring a meal to share. They have a White Elephant gift exchange where we could either bring an unwanted gift or we could buy a new gift (as long as it costs less than $10) and it has to be wrapped. That gift exchange is pretty fun and it’s the third year that I’m participating. (I purchased this wooden table top miniature bowling game that I found at Five Below, the store where no item is ever priced above $5.)

I just want to put the trauma of December 28, 2011 further behind me. I want my future to be just like the lyrics to Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone.”

I recently came across this unique online art gallery that sells art with a special twist. Explosion Luck is a site that sells art that’s supposed to be in harmony with the ancient Chinese philosophy of Feng Shui.

Prices start at $75 and there are a few items (such as this Inuit art sculpture of a dancing bear) that’s over $500. The majority of the art range between $150-300, The art on the site is higher end than what you’d find at a local Target but it’s still more reasonable compared with purchasing art from a Sotheby’s auction or a high-end art gallery.

Regardless of whether or not you personally believe in Feng Shui, much of the art is really lovely to look at and would go well in any home or office. There are tapestries featuring the Buddha, such as this one. There are photographs mounted on stretched canvases such as Hummingbirds and Orchids. You can easily browse through the art that’s currently on sale at:

With the winter holiday season coming up in a few months (like Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa), there’s even an online catalogue that you can peruse while deciding on what unique items you can buy for your friends and family.


Here’s a video where you can learn more about the art that Explosion Luck sells.

So, in conclusion, whether you believe in Feng Shui or not, Explosion Luck has a lot of nice art that would look nice in anyone’s home or office.

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