About luckyotter

Recovering from C-PTSD due to narcissistic abuse from childhood. I was married to a sociopathic narcissist for 20 years. Proud INFJ, Enneagram type 4w5. Animal lover, music lover, cat mom, unapologetic geek, fan of the absurd, progressive Christian, mom to 2 Millennials, mental illness stigma activist, passionate anti-Trumper. #RESISTANCE

I love Kudzu!

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Closeup of kudzu and a few other native plants

I love Kudzu, an invasive vine common in the southeastern United States (but due to global warming, it now can be found in the Middle Atlantic states and even the northeast as far north as Massachusetts).  It grows most prolifically in the South, however.  Kudzu has even been dubbed “the vine that ate the South” due to its unfortunate tendency to “grab” hold of other plants and trees, and eventually cover them so completely they can no longer obtain sunlight and die.  It has been known to take down telephone wires and destroy property.

Chinese or Japanese Arrowroot (kudzu’s actual name) was brought to the United States from China (where it is not invasive) as an ornamental plant and a method of stopping soil erosion in the late 1800s.  But because in the United States, it had no natural enemies or feeding animals to keep its growth in check, the vine quickly took over cultivated gardens like a vegetable cancer and could even destroy property.   Today it is considered a weed because of its invasive and destructive tendencies.

In spite of its terrible reputation, kudzu is beautiful.  It produces lovely purple flowers and has big green heart shaped leaves.  In the southern states, where it is ubiquitous, you can sometimes see entire fields or groves of trees along the sides of roads covered by it. Although the smothered trees are likely doomed, the resulting rounded, domed shapes can give the scenery an otherwordly, eerie, even sinister appearance.

All pictures were taken by me in the Nantahala National Forest, Nantahala, NC.

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Kudzu gone wild.

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Cathedral of kudzu

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An opening in the kudzu

It was always fascism.

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Today I grieve for my country, which has become a brutal authoritarian state that has declared war on its own citizens.  It’s surreal and heartbreaking to witness my worst nightmare coming true, but my eyes and ears don’t lie to me.  This horror is real.  I have shed many tears over my country’s collapse.  We are a failed state, no better than some despotic banana republic.  But with a lot more military power. We’re a country that has slipped into fascism.

When the federal response to accusations of police brutality is more police brutality and demands for further violence to be inflicted on protesters who are doing nothing but exercising their First Amendment rights, we are dealing with a fascist government.   When we are called terrorists by Trump and his heavily armed minions who always seem to get a pass and avoid accountability, that is fascism.  When the paranoid malignant narcissist president erects hurricane fencing around the People’s White House (which our taxes support), it’s a message that we no longer matter.  That we are seen as the Enemy, to be shut out.    That is fascism.

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Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

Only now is the mainstream media and political pundits beginning to call what Trump and his hijacked GOP have been doing fascism.  What took them so long?

Perhaps if more of us had been willing to admit that what we were seeing was fascism, long before military police and Trump’s paramilitary thugs started physically attacking peaceful protesters (illegally) with teargas, rubber bullets, and fists, we might have been able to stop the decline.   We still can stop it, maybe, but it is going to be much harder than it would have been a year, two years, three years or four years ago, when this slide into the dark night of fascism began.  At least we’re finally beginning to flood the streets.  We need to stay there, for as long as it takes to take down this horrific regime of cruelty and chaos.

Here is a good article I just finished reading.

This is America’s Fascist Collapse. 

God help us all.

A picture that says everything about these times.

 

APTOPIX Minneapolis Police Death

Photo by Julio Cortez for AP

 

It’s hard to process what is unfolding in America right now, in the streets of every city, large and small and in between.   Seeing the images on TV feels as surreal as the footage  of the Twin Towers collapsing on the bright sunny morning of September 11, 2001.

For almost four years, America stayed silent in the face of impending fascism under a pathologically narcissistic reality TV star who will never rest until he is crowned King of America and can slap the word TRUMP (in golden letters, of course) all over our currency and maybe even our flag.

Even with brown babies being caged, families separated at the border, the Kurds abandoned, countless school shootings, our allies alienated, our planet’s natural resources plundered for profit, our healthcare threatened, racist dogwhistles sounded daily by Trump and his sycophants, and a criminal impeached president allowed to remain in office, Americans remained silent, voicing their concerns and rants on Twitter or on their blogs insread of congregating in the streets and demanding change the way people in other countries did.  Why were we such sheep? Was it laziness?  Fear?  Ignorance?  Apathy?  Exhaustion?  What was our problem anyway?

This week things finally changed.  Maybe it was due to cabin fever caused by the coronavirus pandemic that kept people cooped up in their homes for months on end, or maybe it was just the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, but starting with the brutal and inhumane murder of a black man, George Floyd, by a white police officer last week, the sleeping giant has finally woken up.  George Floyd will never know that his death set off a chain of events that coursed over the nation like a tsunami, and will culminate in either a People’s Revolution that could set America on a new, much fairer, more humane, and saner path; or the death of the Republic.   I’ll be honest:  I’m expecting the latter, but hoping for the former.

Last night, I came across a stunning photo taken by AP photographer Julio Cortez in either Minneapolis or St. Paul last week. This is the sort of iconic photo that will be shown decades from now when people talk about this time in history, especially if  American democracy survives.  It says everything about the times we are in.  It could be interpreted as a distress call, since the flag the protester is carrying is upside down, but I get more of a feeling of bravery and patriotism in the face of violent destruction and death.  But, more than anything, to me it shows hope.   The flag carrier here appears to be a young person.  Most of the protesters are Millennials.   If anyone is going to save America, it will be them.  It has to be them.   Even though they have been dismissed as entitled and given very little support by our society for most of their lives, they still love America and want to  revive it into a thriving democracy again, something it hasn’t really been since long before they were even born.

Our future is in their hands.

Drive along the Parkway.

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It was a gorgeous day so I took the car up the Blue Ridge Parkway again.  I never get tired of its views.   This activity is so relaxing to me.

The first picture (above) I took at Craggy Gardens, which has an elevation well over 5000 feet.  The trees here are stunted, short, and knobby looking, due to both the cold and the wind.  A little higher up, and deciduous trees disappear completely and are replaced by a spruce/fir forest, similar to what you might see in Canada.  This is the home of the Frasier fir, similar to the kinds of trees you find in a northern boreal forest, but native to the southern Appalachians.  The Frasiers were almost killed off some years ago by the wooly adelgid, a parasite that attacks balsams, hemlocks, and fir trees, but they have grown back.  You can still see the white “skeletons” of the dead trees here.  Contrasted against the deep green of the live trees, they give the scenery an eerie feel.

The next four pictures are from Mt. Mitchell (the highest peak east of the Mississippi, just a little higher than Mt. Washington in New Hampshire), in the Black Mountains, the range of the Blue Ridge having the highest peaks.  The sign shows the elevation I was at when I took the picture.

There’s a road that branches off from the Parkway and continues to climb until you get to the parking area, which isn’t far from the summit.   It’s interesting to observe the changes in both microclimate and the ecosystem as you go higher.  It was a hot day, in the low 80s, but at the top of Mt. Mitchell, it was a frosty 55!  It was also interesting to me that the last deciduous trees, just before you reach the all conifer forest (taiga) were not merely stubby and short, but were also only just starting to turn green.  At this high an elevation, it looked (and felt!) more like March or early April than the end of May!   They probably aren’t even fully green until the end of next month, and of course winter comes here early too.  The trees here are green probably for only about 3 or 4 months or so, maybe from June until September.  Brrr!   I wonder how high a mountain would have to be this far South for the trees to disappear completely and be replaced with tundra.  Of course, there aren’t any mountains that high here.  I remember back in the 1980s, when I climbed Mt. Washington in New Hampshire with some friends.  Mt. Washington is almost the same height as Mt. Mitchell, but the last few hundred feet or so was a stark, grayish tundra.

The last three pictures are from farther up the Parkway, near Grandfather Mountain and Linville Gorge.   As you can see from the tree types, this is not as high an elevation, though it’s still pretty high.

 

Mount Mitchell State Park: 

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Grandfather Mountain/Linville Gorge area: 

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I have to say, I think these are some of the best pictures I’ve taken of Blue Ridge Parkway scenery.

 

I just saw my teenage self on Youtube!

That’s me in 1975 (on the right)

I’ve heard other people talk about stuff like this happening to them, but I never dreamed it would happen to me.   I always thought it would be the most surreal and cool experience, and last night I found out just how true that is.

As many of us are doing with so much free time, I’ve been browsing the internet a lot.   And as many other people probably do, sometimes I put names of people I know or used to know in my Google browser and see what comes up.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve Google’d this particular ex boyfriend’s name, but this time certainly was the most fruitful!   I dated this guy, let’s call him Steven, for about a year and a half from 1974 to 1976.  That’s a really long time ago, long enough that memories of that time have a grainy, shadowy, almost dreamlike quality, like an old filmreel.  We also had a pretty long relationship for people in their midteens, long enough to make some vivid memories, although we never became “serious” or talked about marriage.  After all, I was only 15 and 16 years old!

Eventually we broke up and he went off to college and we went in very different directions.   I’m not here to tell you about what became of him, but let’s just say he made better choices than I did and has become fairly well known in his field.  I regret nothing that happened to me though, even the bad things, as I was able to take away some valuable life lessons from all those experiences.  I don’t believe I would be the person I am today had my life been “easy.”

So, back on topic, last night my Google search yielded quite a catch!  Of course the usual entries for Facebook and a lot of those horrible “people search” websites came up, and a few news articles about his accomplishments over the years.  And a Youtube channel.   Now that was something new.    I clicked on the link…

…and almost passed out from shock. I WAS IN the first two videos!  OMG!

Steven went to an exclusive private high school for high achieving boys.  It was a “special” school in that it offered courses that you’d normally only find in a college curriculum, such as Sociology or Filmmaking.  Steven was in the filmmaking class and had to make his own short movies to fulfill the course requirements.  So during the 1975/76 school year, when we were in “puppy love,” he made several films starring the two of us, and I helped a lot with the stop motion and animated parts.  In fact, in one of them, I actually did all the drawings.  I remember how grueling that was, having to draw all those paper cutouts in slightly different positions to make the frames seem to run together smoothly, like a real cartoon (think South Park).

My initial emotion on watching myself (and us together!) as I was 45 years ago was simply amazed disbelief.  If something like this has ever happened to you, you will know exactly how surreal and cool it is.  It’s like watching your own memories in real time, and with more clarity than you ever had before.  You suddenly see things and details that were forgotten long ago.  Because there were no smartphones or even camcorders back in those days, Steven used a home movie camera to make his films, with that old super 8 film.   The grainy quality and little black moving squiggles that appear in old filmreels were there, giving the whole experience of watching the footage an extra air of the surreal, even a kind of eerieness, like a dream.

I sat there watching in utter disbelief, with my mouth hanging open and my eyes bugged out.  I’m sure I must have drooled on the floor a little, lol.  I think I actually screeched when I saw my own young face staring back at me from the recesses of time.  It was a good feeling though, really good.

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I’ve often complained (sometimes on this blog) that I have very few pictures of myself as a child and teenager.  Most of them got lost or thrown out during one of my many moves.  I really have no idea what happened to them all.  There used to be so many. I used to think my parents (particularly my mother) must have thrown them away, but I’m not so sure she did.  No one seems to know where they are.   I always wished I had more old photos, not to show others, or even to reminisce, but to help me remember parts of my distant past as part of therapy.   I never imagined I’d recover not just some old photos I hadn’t seen in decades, but myself actually moving, at times even in close up!  Unfortunately, the videos have no sound, as the audio part probably wasn’t able to be uploaded to Youtube, or maybe the sound got corrupted over the years. (They originally did have audio).   But I’m not complaining.

I debated posting the videos here, but decided against it because (a) there’s too much identifying information, such as my maiden name, etc.; and (b) while fun to watch (and certainly fun to make), these films are truly cringeworthy, haha!  And the fashions!  Oh. My. God!   But I still wanted to share them in some way.  I settled on taking some screenshots.   (The fortune teller screenshot is actually a sort of gypsy costume I put together; I didn’t actually dress like that!)

So, I know what you all are probably thinking.  Did I let Steven him know I saw his videos?  My answer to that is, no not really, but he could probably figure out it was me if he was so inclined.  Under one of the videos, I commented, “omg.”  He can always click on my Youtube icon from there, and figure out from my videos and the rabbit hole that will lead him down who I am.  He hasn’t forgotten about me or our time together, and these videos were only posted THREE WEEKS AGO!  How weird is that?  I felt awkward identifying myself, for several reasons. First, like I already mentioned, he’s very successful financially and professionally, and I’m not so much.  I’m not comparing myself to him; I just feel like we’re in way different leagues.  Second, it would just feel awkward after that long a time.  I can’t explain why, it just is.

The internet (and Youtube) is an amazing, incredible invention.

Sorry, I couldn’t make the screenshots larger, but you can click them on and they will appear bigger in a separate window.

Unpacking Donald Trump’s Psychopathology

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Although Donald Trump does not have an official diagnosis of a personality disorder, many mental health experts believe him to have some combination of Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy), and Paranoid Personality Disorder.  When these disorders appear together in the same person, we call it malignant narcissism.

Malignant narcissism is different from garden variety NPD in that, due to the presence of ASPD, the person very often has a blatant disregard for the law or the rights of others. There is also an element of paranoia, which lends itself to a toxic belief in conspiracy theories and a belief everyone is against them. The malignant narcissist will often seek retribution or revenge on others they believe have wronged them.   Often, they are sadistic and actually enjoy inflicting pain on others (I believe Trump is one of these).  Garden variety narcissists are toxic and usually unpleasant to be around, and they can certainly be abusive if you are unlucky enough to have to live with or be in close contact with one, but unless they are also malignant, they aren’t necessarily sadistic or likely to engage in criminal or deliberately cruel behavior.  A few might even have selective empathy, though their “empathy” could just be an act to get what they want.  A malignant narcissist has no empathy and no conscience, and they cannot change.

Donald Trump certainly appears to be a malignant narcissist, based on what he says and does.  The Dark Triad is another term for this combination of dangerous disorders.  Trump seems to have all 9 traits of NPD (per DSM IV, which I prefer to DSM V), and most or all of the traits of ASPD.  He also has some traits of PPD.   While most mental health professionals still stand by The Goldwater Rule and refuse to give Trump a formal diagnosis, some are so certain that he is a malignant narcissist that they chose to disregard this tradition due to the clear and present danger they believed Trump posed to the country and the world.  They believed it was their duty to warn others.  Their conviction resulted in a book that was published early in Trump’s presidency called “The Dangerous Case of Donald Trump,” a compilation of essays by 27 psychologists and psychiatrists describing what makes  Trump so dangerous and which serves as a warning of the existential danger of a Trumpian future.

Due to this book, as well as a number of other well known people, books, and groups openly discussing Trump and his likely personality disorder has broadened the reach of the narcissistic abuse community and made terms such as gaslighting, NPD, narcissism, and blame shifting household words.   We are all victims of narcissistic abuse under this man.  Before Trump, the concept of narcissistic abuse wasn’t well known outside of the online narcissistic abuse community. That is no longer the case, so in a way, Trump has indirectly helped to educate the world about narcissism and the suffering and chaos it can create in relationships, families, countries, and the world.

This article I’ve linked to doesn’t describe Trump’s narcissism so much as it explains how someone like Trump could rise to power and infect an entire country with his pathology.  A Trump (or a Hitler or a Stalin or a Duterte or a Bolsonaro) cannot rise to power without the cooperation and encouragement of a sizable segment of the populace who can relate to or share Trump’s rage or even his pathology, and a political environment that is rife for someone like Trump.  The United States, a country that has rewarded narcissism and selfishness and punished empathy in recent years (a good example is Border Patrol police arresting Good Samaritans who left food and water in the desert for  migrants), was a Petri dish for someone like Trump.   He could not have risen to power forty or fifty years ago or even twenty or thirty years ago, when the idea of the greater good and the values of democracy were still the rule, not the exception, in the top tiers of of government.  Trump isn’t the cause of our downfall, but he is the glaring sympton of a desperately sick society and is certainly helping to fan the flames of destruction.  We can either address the problems that led to a demagogue like Trump, and fix the things that made us so sick, or we can ignore the warning siren and fall even deeper into the abyss of fascism.

The only issue I have with this article (and it’s a small one) is that I’m pretty sure more than 1% of the population (at least in America) suffers from NPD.  But as a society that rewards narcissistic behavior and punishes compassion, it might just seem that way, as such a society encourages even non-disordered people to emulate the traits of narcissism.

Unpacking Donald Trump’s Psychopathology Helps Explain the Toxic Reality Facing America 

*****

Further Reading:

Narcissistic Abuse in Trumpistan

We Need a Lot More Awareness About Narcissism and Psychopathy

Sociopaths Rule America

Trump’s Personality Disorder Brings Out the Worst in Everyone 

Hypermasculinity and Trumpism 

I love it here.

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I never get tired of the scenery here in the Blue Ridge Mountains. During lockdown, I keep myself busy with long car rides where I don’t get out of the car, and just feast my eyes on the scenery.  I took this just outside Chimney Rock, NC today. 
I have to return to work next week.  Boo.   I think it’s too early.

He was “just joking.”

It hasn’t been a year yet since I posted this article, but in light of Trump gaslighting America by saying his advice to ingest or inject cleaning chemicals into the body was “sarcasm,” I’m reposting this.

Lucky Otters Haven

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Some of Trump’s aides and enablers have been excusing Trump’s threats by insisting he was only joking.

Here’s a tweet I saw from an anonymous source:

He’s “just joking” when he says he’ll pardon aides for illegal acts, just like he kids about staying past his term

Trump himself regularly insists he was only joking when he’s called out about some of his threats to do things that are illegal, immoral, or cruel.   His flying monkeys back him up on this and then blame our side of having “Trump Derangement Syndrome” when we don’t fall for these lies.   This is gaslighting.

But Trump is a malignant narcissist, and malignant narcissists have no sense of humor.  They do not joke, and therefore Trump does not joke.   The only kind of “jokes” sociopaths and malignant narcissists understand are mocking or making fun of the  weaker and more vulnerable.   Unless you’re a fellow…

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Drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway, 4/14/20

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I wanted to kill some time, and the day was too pretty to stay cooped up indoors.  So I took the car out for a spin.

I took these photos from the highest part of the Blue Ridge Parkway, in Jackson County, near Sylva.   It still looked like winter up this high (around 5500 – 6,000 ft).  Most of the trees are still bare, though a few are starting to bud.  A little higher up, and deciduous trees give way completely to Fraser firs (a type of conifer native to the Southern Appalachians that grows on the highest slopes).

The microclimate at these heights has been compared to that of states much farther north, and even southern Canada.  It never gets very hot here, even in the summer, and it gets a lot more snowfall than we do in the valleys and lower elevations.  I don’t think anyone actually lives this high up, though.

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I hate “soft” toilet paper.

Hahaha! Here’s a little something I wrote back in 2015, in those halcyon days of yore when we could still be picky about toilet paper brands.

Lucky Otters Haven

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My roommate went shopping yesterday and brought home a 12 pack of toilet paper, which was a good thing because we were just about out.

But the toilet paper will be gone in less than a week, and it’s not because either one of us have some…uh, problem. It’s because the toilet paper she bought is the soft, puffy kind where one roll lasts about one day. Maybe less, if you ate a big, rich, greasy dinner the night before or come down with some bug.

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It’s annoying to me. It’s not even worth putting the damn roll on the toilet paper holder, because it won’t last long enough to make that effort worth it, so I just set it on top, like this:

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The toilet paper companies dupe you into thinking you’re getting a bargain but you’re really getting ripped off. A four-pack of cheap one-ply lasts about 4…

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