Wednesday, July 27, 2005

I am officially a "crafter."

Yes, that's right, folks. I have sold my crafts for actual money and that makes me a professional crafter. Previous to this point, I have always given away my projects as gifts. I tend to put so much work into things and often only make a few of each project, so I would have to ask for exorbitant amounts of money to make production of them for sale worthwhile. However, since I'm sitting at the Farmer's Market for free anyway, I figured I might use the time to make a little money. I sold my dharma bowls (I'd made three more since the ART show) and my little quote scrolls in re-used jars. I made over $60. I sold two bowls and quite a few jars of scrolls. Pretty cool, huh? Jeff's family is in town this week, though, and I had to read Harry Potter, so I haven't had enough time to replentish my stock. Ugh.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Arry Pah-er

So, yesterday, I read over half of the new Harry Potter book. It's good. I really like it. The realtionships are getting more real and more complex. The books are getting older along with its characters. The teenagers really act like teenagers, which is really hard to do in a series.

However, I'm very alarmed that I do not remember a single thing about the previous book. I don't mean that I'm a little fuzzy about the details. I mean that I looked up the summary of the plot on Sparknotes and cannot remember reading the book.

This does not happen to me. I am a reader. That is my identity before any other. I will claim that identity before being a woman, before being a Murphy, before being a teacher, before being a Christian. I am a reader. This is weird.

There is no chance that I did not read this book. I'm one of those that waits for the next one to come out and usually re-reads them all before taking in the new one. The only reason I didn't this time is because they're all in storage. Often, my mom will buy the book, read and then pass it along to me. All my cousins read them and we talk about it on vacation. I teach kids and talk about the books with them. It's a point of bonding with some kids. It's makes me a cool teacher. There's no way I didn't read this book.

So, why then, can I only foggily remember the new setting introduced in The Order of the Phoenix at 12 Grimmauld Place and the heightening tension between Ron and Hermione that was so realistic in teens who are becoming attracted to their best friends? Norhing else rings even the slightest bell when alluded to in this new book and I'm really good at context clues.

The only answer that I've been able to come up with is that I must have read it right after my husband left and although it occupied my conscious brain for a little while as an escape, my sub-conscious and thus my memory were completely engaged with processing the new reality of my life and had no space for something like the plot of a children's book. In fact, I remember hauling a Harry Potter-sized book with me to the church that next morning after he first left but I'm actually pretty positive that it wasn't Harry Potter. It was either a Neal Stephenson book or one of Tad Williams' Otherworld books. Probably.

It's disturbing. I am a reader. That his leaving would cause me to forget every single detail of a book and not even be able to call them up when prompted is, frankly, a little scary. I am a reader. I don't like it that I gave him to power to take that identity away from me for even a little while.

So, I'll read it after I finish this one. I'll treat it as an act of empowerment. However, know that this has shaken me a fair amount and I think I'll continue to sleep uneasily for a couple more days. Ugh.

Friday, July 22, 2005


Today I move around like an old, old woman, constantly aware that any movement (especially in an upward direction which would cause individual muscles in my lower body to have to bear more than their share of my body weight) will cause me great pain and thus I enter that inevitable pain slowly and carefully, like when you lower yourself slowly into the shallow end of a cold pool, allowing your body to get used to the unpleasant experience little by little.

"Why?" you say.

"Dodgeball," I reply.

My best friend Susan laughed quite a bit before she drove out of cell phone range when I told her that I spent last evening playing dodgeball. My mother questioned my judgement as if I'd told her I'd gotten a tongue-ring.

Andrew is a guy on the island who runs his own silkscreening company and who also has parents that own a large portion of one of the mountains on the island. He lives in an outbuilding there called the coop and runs his business out of the adjacent barn. Next to both of these buildings is a fairly well-maintained, fenced-in tennis court. Andrew is the type of quiet guy who does odd things in his spare time like study the official rulebook of competitive dodgeball. So, at some point I guess he decided to put that knowledge to use and start up a weekly dodgeball game. Last night was the second meeting. He invested in ten regulation dodgeballs and put out the word.

It was fantastic. We could indulge our competitive streaks by throwing rubber balls as hard as we could at one another but those same competitive streaks could not get ugly and out-of-control because the sport is so absurd. Are you really going to fight about a call in DODGEBALL? Actually, one guy cheated quite a bit and often claimed that balls bounced before they hit him and our team sort of collectively agreed without saying a word that he was so pathetic in cheating that we wouldn't even argue with him. We still kicked their asses.

I also enjoyed the sport dynamic of playing with guys. It's one I've always enjoyed. I know that I'm not as good as they are, but since I'm the one to point it out with a sense of humor and since I stick it out with a certain dogged perseverance, we all have fun, teasing and flirting. Of course, three of the five girls that showed up to play, ultimately sat on the sidelines and just watched. Of course, one had her baby with her and the father was the guy who cheated, so who was surprised that he never sat out a game to let her play, even though she wanted to. I just have never wanted to be one of those girls when it was a game I liked to play. Volleyball or water-skiing, sure I'll sit and gossip. But basketball, pick-up football, softball, dodgeball? I'll always be the only girl in the mix. I have a long history of it and I'm psyched that I can continue it out here. Woohoo!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

A friendly wave

I think that the main problem with the world is that it is hard to recognize the humanity in people that are far away from you. This distance can be geographical, cultural or simply emotional. If we do not interact with people on a personal basis, they just seem like "ugly sacs of mostly water," to quote Star Trek. Until we engage the part of them that is human, we have a hard time really believing that they ARE people, just like us. When we don't remember that strangers are human, we don't give them the benefit of the doubt and are more likely to treat them UNLIKE we want to be treated.

Being on this island community, the humanity of others is forced on you. You interact with people on so many levels and see the same faces in the background repeatedly. There humanity creeps up on your consciousness to the point that even hard-forged habits cannot deny their humanity and right to the benefit of the doubt.

Today, I was driving to work and had turned on my left turn signal while slowing down to make my turn. It was an intersection at which the perpendicular road (the one I was turning onto) dead ended into the road I was on, forming a T. I did not have a stop sign, while the perpendicular road did. There was a guy in a truck pulling up to the intersection from my left. I had that terrifying realization that he was not going to stop and the intersection and was turning left into my path after I had committed to turning left into his. He had done what we all do: he had rolled a stop sign that he stops at every day going home. There's rarely traffic on that road and he had gone on autopilot, giving the situation only a cursory glance before doing what he always does on a familiar route. We both slammed on our brakes and at that moment, we looked at each other through the windshields of our cars. In that split second, I saw that he was an islander, he saw that I was local and any tension about "that asshole" disappeared. I don't think I even honked. I recognized that I have rolled stop signs into people's paths when I wasn't thinking and know that since I performed that act without malice, probably he had acted without malice as well. I forgave him and, in fact at him in commiseration. he smiled back and gave me a friendly wave. Because I've seen his face around, at the post office while waiting in line, in a group of guys at a party that I didn't know, he did not seem distant and I could recognize his humanity, which allowed to forgive him. Both of our blood pressures stayed low and our days weren't ruined thinking about how inconsiderate someone else was and overexaggerating the near-death aspect of the encounter in order to justify my own bad behavior that was a split-second reaction. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

ART Show

I just got a CD full of images from our ART show at The Exchange in April. I wrote about it here but I thought I'd share some of them with you, so you could see what kinds of creative re-use we can make from garbage here on the island.

The first three images are of the Dharma bowls I made. They were a fairly big hit. Holly wants to trade some chai for one. My first barter. Awww.
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Jeff makes these boxes from old record albums. It's an old family pattern. In fact, his sister brought the craft, using old greeting cards to a "hooley" that a mutual friend was having as her shared talent. It was at that party that Jeff first admired me, even though I don't remember that he was there at all. :-)
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A real life prize goes to the first person who is not my dad but who comments on this blog and correctly identifies the garbage being re-used as art in the photo below. It'll be a good prize, I promise.
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Our friend Rachel is a super-quilter. Almost all of the fabric in this baby set that she made for her own Baby Owen was brought in to the Exchange by people that couldn't use it.
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There are several giant art installations on permanent display at the Exchange. This head was made by our friend Ian, who is also a glassblower and has two beautifully fey little girls. Try to identify all of the elements and what they used to be.
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Remember garbage made into art can reform our minds if we let it.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Why creative re-use?

We are going to begin selling many of the objects that we displayed at the ART show at my Famer's Market booth on Saturday, namely Jeff's record boxes and my Dharma Bowls. Since the booth is mainly educational, I felt that I needed to explain why creative re-use is important to waste stream issues even though it saves only a tiny amount of garbage from entering landfills.

The following is the essay I wrote, printed out, enlarged and pasted to an old cabinet door as a frame.

Keeping a handful of record albums, jelly jars, light bulbs or shipping pallets out of the landfill will NOT make a serious dent in the environmental destruction that our society is causing.

So why spend the time, energy and money on re-making this small amount of garbage into decorative objects?

Because creating whimsical beauty from garbage reforms our minds.

By using garbage as the raw materials for art, we slowly begin to understand that it has value. When we place that art on display in our homes, we give what was once garbage even more value.

Once we realize -through creative re-use- that even garbage has value, it begins to dawn on us that we are wasting something valuable when we participate in this disposable society that we live in.

This realization of our own wastfulness should spur us out of our current habits - that may indeed include some recycling- into life patterns that significantly reduce our initial consumption, re-use as many resources as possible and use our buying power and political influence to force corporations and governments to do the same. That WILL make a serious dent in the environmental destruction that our society is causing.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

Harvey, Part II

Well, because it's an island, I ran into Harvey again. It was early in the day at the Exchange on Friday and I was alone at the front. Harvey came through, paid for some stuff and went out to his van. Braxton, Jeff's dog, followed him out and I shouted at her to get out the road. Basic dog command that she obeyed. She's used to it. Harvey, however, has grabbed a bag of books and is heading back to give them to me. He says, "Wow, she must not have a man and you're bearing the brunt of it. Poor dog." I was going to ignore it but then as he got to the counter, he said it again to me! "You need to get a man so that you're nicer to your dog."

I was appalled. But I finally, consciously said out loud what I'd been thinking in my head. It didn't just pop out without intention. I looked at him and said, "That was totally innappropriate." I paused, realized something else that I wanted to say and added, "I need you to pack that bag back up and take it back to your car. You can donate it later when you're able to play well with others." I may not have said it quite so well, but the effect was right on.

He kind of sputtered a little but began packing up his books. Kind of feebly, he said, "I'm sorry, I'm sorry that you don't have a sense of humor."

"That was personal and rude. It has nothing to do with my sense of humor. It has to do with social boundaries."

As he walked away from me, he said, "We live on a pea floating in space. There are no boundaries."

Whatever. Every person I've told that story to has shared my disgust, laughed because it was Harvey and said, "Right on!" or the equivalent for finally stepping in to tell him he's out of line. Women often then compare him "men on the island" who generally think it's OK to talk to women like that. Other workers at the Exchange agreed with my asserting some authority over how we will be treated in our own environment. Yea!


Every once in awhile when I have some time to kill, I randomly follow links to other blogs. Tonight I ended up on a beautiful story about how Star Trek changed some little boys' lives.

I was reminded of my own childhood spent watching Star Trek, often with my brothers Paul and Daniel. The Next Generation was on Sunday nights at 10:00 and we watched it religiously without knowing that that was something people did. In our innocence, we only knew that Sunday nights at 10:00 were fascinating. My father would come into the family room halfway through and ask rediculous questions to drive us crazy, "Why does that guy's nose look like that?" "Who is she, Uhura?" "Why doesn't that guy fight back?" We used to get so mad because he was able to ask it in a tone that completely communicated that he was interested, so our first instinct was to share information about something we loved with him. However, the combination of the level of stupidity of the questions and our desire not to miss anything led us to yell and tell him to come back at the commercial. We fell for it every time.

Saturday, July 16, 2005


I used to work for Jane at the used bookstore on the island. It only paid $7.50 an hour, but I've always loved used book stores and have a secret dream to own one some day. So, when I moved to the island and that coincided with Jane needing someone to work, it seemed like Kismet. I liked it for a long time but ultimately became dispirited as my efforts to organize the store or certain bookshelves got ignored or even rearranged right after I did the work. I also hated that I had to disappoint customers who were made promises to by Jane, who could not follow through because of her utter disorganization and extremely traumatic, dramatic personal and financial life. However, by that point it was nearing the end of winter, so I needed the money because my other job had pretty much dried up. I could deal with it because summer was coming and I would have shiny new jobs that paid much more and provided more hours.

On the island, when an employer carries you through the winter, there is a certain amount of allegiance that a good person owes that employer. You can't leave them high and dry with no warning when the high-paying jobs of summer come. You have to ease out of it and be available to cover shifts to give the employer some flexibility. So, before I could leave Pyewacket, Jane needed to move the store because she had been evicted from the space she was in (I told you it was dramatic and traumatic). I spent 4 or 5 days in the middle of the chaos that she called a move. Before we started, I asked her several times which days were the best days for her to pay me to work. I phrased it that way because several people were volunteering. Since I had to turn away other, higher paying jobs to work for her, I was going to make sure there were no misunderstandings. Towards Day 3 or 4, I even reminded her that the hours were beginning to add up, when she asked if I would come in the next day.

So, she still hasn't paid me. For months she has owed me about $400. That's a lot of money to a girl earning hourly wages! I covered a morning shift for her on Monday so she could go to Seattle and she told me to come in on Tuesday so she could pay me in cash. On Tuesday, she did pay me $30 but being in the store again plus seeing just how much she is taking advantage of the Exchange brought back my feelings of hopelessness. So, I decided that I needed to say something to her on Tuesday. I had been mentioning the back pay once or twice a week in every conversation for the last couple of months. I realized on Monday that she has begun giving me her rote excuses when I bring up the subject just like she does to every other creditor that she has no intention of repaying any time soon.

Here's the thing: I've become her creditor and I never loaned her money. It sucks. So I used those words when I spoke with her. I told her that I wanted to continue having a good relationship with her but it would probably sour if this dynamic continued. I based most of the conversation around the concern for our relationship. I like the way I handled it but it still sucks because when I loan money, I do it only if I won't miss the money if it doesn't come back to me. I like to treat it as a gift that might surprise me later. I miss this money. It's back pay; I didn't loan it to her. In fact, I turned away work that would have paid me more ?(and actually paid me) in order to help her move. Jane is now one of two people that I don't expect will pay back the they owe me. The other is my ex-husband. Yuck.

So, I was explaining all of this to my dad when he called. He sympathized and then he asked what good things were happening in my life. Now, some days are harder than others and Tuesday had a couple of other elements. I couldn't think of anything for 30 seconds (it's gotten easier since then). I finally came up with the fact that I had just balanced my financial books and have started paying back my savings account for the bailouts I took out of there over the winter. It's a small savings account, but it feels good to have even that little buffer back. Now that I'm out of the red, I can start saving for the deposit on the apartment in Chicago and the work I will have to do on my car before I can drive it back across the country.

I'm glad Dad asked and I'm glad it was hard to answer. Lots of people work at jobs when they're not completely happy with the world around them in order to make enough money to start the next stage of their lives. On days when it's harder, I can be like those people of perseverance who grit their teeth and bear it because they are making their lives better. I like romanticizing those people and associating myself with them. It makes me feel a little more authentic.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Bohemian Lifestyle

Yesterday, three of us were talking about our plans for the fall. When I said that mine included, "living the bohemian lifestyle with my brother in Chicago," he questioned, "What's the bohemian lifestyle?"

I thought it was a fairly funny question since at that moment, we (Ann, Gabe and I) were lazing around the lake at Moran State Park with a two-year-old that none of us owned. Ann is Jeff's roommate. Gabe had to drive his roommate from town out to Jeff's end of the island to work at Doe Bay at 6:00 in the morning. Since he and Ann are friends, he then went to their house to go back to sleep until 10:00. In the meantime, Jamie dropped off her two-year-old son Leoni (they made up the name so that it would work in French, Dutch and English, the languages of the parents) with Ann because she watches him in the mornings. I was going to spend the day writing at Jeff's house since there are no boxes there calling to me, "Unpack me and organize you life," so I could focus on actually writing. Ann took Leoni to wake up Gabe and as we were all milling around the living space getting our day started, Ann and Gabe asked me if I want to go to the state park with them. Ann is taking this opportunity because she does not have a car and would not normally be able to get Leoni that far. Her job with him (usually there's also another two-year-old, Indigo, who is on vacation right now) is to expose him to new experiences, to tire him out and to teach him French. I looked at the beautiful day, considered the prospect of spending time outside, with two very enjoyable peopl and a delightful two-year-old and said, "screw it" to my former plans and made new ones on the spot.

So I liked that Gabe asked the question then since everything about the morning was quintessentially "bohemian lifestyle." Community and socialization through simply hanging out. Being brought together by doing favors for friends. Very loose boundaries evident by letting someone else sleep in your bed and letting someone else use your computer. Open schedules that allow for all of this. International sensibilities. Outside of the mainstream situations such as Ann and Gabe's roommate lack of cars. My ability to change plans at the last minute, which has been very hard for me in the past. My original artistic intentions. The quality of our interactions with the two-year-old since none of us were his parent. The name Leoni.

Nothing about that morning would have been possible in my old suburban life. I might have had similar conversations with friends but we would have made the plans ahead of time and they would have been much more complicated. There might have been a child, but someone would have been its parent since most of my friends were higher on the career ladder than childcare. If they had chosen childcare for a living, it would have been much too structured and formal to take a charge to the beach with friends. All of my friends have similar suburban backgrounds and experiences to mine, so the chances of a child named Leoni and a husband named Fabrese are slim. Although the ends of the island seem distant to us, they are actually closer than any of my friends used to be when we all lived in different suburbs or the city, so the likelihood of ending up in someone's neighborhood with time to kill and people that you know there to spend it with was low. I worked so much at my job and at maintaining my home and my appearance that I would never have the time for such casual interaction.

Do I love the friends that I made in my suburban life? Absolutely. They will never stop being my friends, even though our social engagements have to be scheduled ahead of time. But, I am hoping to build a community in the city that is geographically close, like the island, in which I can have spontaneous days like these. If that means working retail for a little while longer, living with two roommates and reducing my standard of living, so be it.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Is it worth a fight?

I hate it when my brother Daniel is right. Actually, I don't hate it when he's right all the time. I just hate when he's right and I hadn't asked for any advice in the first place.

Here how things stand with my roommate Mindy: I've only interacted with her once or twice since she got back from her camping trip and it was very pleasant. I didn't detect any lingering resentment over my requests for some space in the kitchen or over my rearrangement of some of the cabinets. We moved in together because we get along and that dynamic has seemed to be in evidence. I think that Mindy simply has a different perspective on possessions. She is less deliberate about them. Probably, if I dig deep, I could find an argument for how her perspective is actually better than mine in some ways. But I don't really feel like proving myself wrong right now, even as an academic exercise. Maybe Jesus would, but I just don't want to.

I say that she has a different perspective because when I get to the house, I find things in positions that I would not prefer them to be. For instance, there's usually some sort of food item left on my refridgerator shelf. It's a paltry thing, but the point of having my own shelf is so that they don't eat my food. If they're used to getting their own food from my shelf, what's to stop them from mistaking my food for theirs again?

However, I am trying to keep in mind Don Miller's book, Blue Like Jazz, in which his pastor convinces him to live in a group house after years of living by himself in order to challenge his skills at loving people like God loves him. It's disasterous. He's so self-centered after living by himself that he gets up and leaves the room in the middle of conversations and dumps his roommate's clothes on the floor when they've been left in the dryer. He's not being mean, he just doesn't realize that he'd being offensive. He is the epitome of the word inconsiderate: he does not consider the needs or motivations of other people.

I do not want to be Don Miller in this time in his life. I want to be considerate and loving. Also, I know that when you let little things like that bother you, you turn into a character from Seinfeld. So, right now, I'm just quietly moving whatever is on my shelf to another shelf. I don't think it's done with an intent to annoy, so I'm trying not to get annoyed.

When I moved in, I put my DVD player on the floor next to the TV with every intent of making it a communal DVD player. Mindy said to wait to hook it up because she had a bigger TV that she had been meaning to put in that required a different shelving arrangement. Totally fine. However, she put together the new set-up last night and simply stacked the big new TV on top of my spindly little DVD player. I've taken these things apart at The Exchange to recycle them and I can tell you that they are not designed to support a lot of weight. However, I tried to approach it like the food on my shelf: she didn't set it up that way to break my stuff, she just didn't think about it.

I said, "I tried" to think about it that way. However, I called my brother immediately upon coming home and seeing this and asked him if HE thought it was a bad idea to put a big heavy TV on top of a flimsy little DVD player. Instead of aggreeing with me that my roommate had made a cataclysmic error in judgement, he had the gall to say that it probably wasn't a big deal. In fact, he pointed out that DVD players were actually pretty cheap. I began to argue with him on that point, actually near tears, citing the ferry ride and my financial circumstances. He paused, shifted the tone in his voice and said, "Is it worth a fight?"

He tells me that he doesn't read my blog. So, how did he know I had been fighting perpetual frustration with my roommate? Was I projecting that much? Is he just that good?

So, I calmed down. It wasn't worth a fight. She didn't do it out of blantant disregard for my personal property. I actually did move the DVD to the top of the TV, using a tray that I found in her office in a rediculous set-up. However, I did it with a calmer heart and a different intention. Also, I did not leave a snarky little note pointing out the change which would have been blameless in its word choice but accusatory in its tone. I feel pretty good about that.

We've interacted more since then and I'm not sure that she even noticed. Or, if she did, she's also decided that sometimes keeping it to yourself is a good roommate policy.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


A few weeks ago, I was driving from The Exchange to the ferry landing to get lunch. It's only one long road and it's fairly smooth: a few hills, a few gradual turns. It's easy to race along it like a NASCAR driver. However, as most of us know, I'm on "deferred finding" for my second speeding ticket since moving to the island, so I creep along this stretch of road, but enjoy the pastoral beauty as I go. I've actually gotten pretty good at relaxing into going the speed limit. It's yet another suburban trait that I've left behind: the anxiety of feeling like I'm not doing enough to make sure I get someplace fast enough once I've left the house. It feels good to stop worrying about it since I can't really affect ETA once the launch time is final.

So, I'm enjoying the baby lambs as I drive the speed limit to get my lunch. I'm also thinking about wind drag on car-top carriers since the mini-van behind me with the car-top carrier is obviously going slower than I am since the gap between us keeps widening. As I'm keeping track of this situation in my rearview, this hatchback comes racing out of nowhere, passes the mini-van and gets right up on my ass. Very uncool, especially since there are just enough curves and hills on this stretch of road to make it a double yellow center line, no passing zone all the way to the ferry. So, this guy continues to ride my ass for the next ten minutes. I'm dealing with this in my usual way by first tapping on my brakes to indicate that he's too close (just like the manual says to so that I can have the higher moral ground for having followed the rules first) then by slowing down, slowing down until he gets the hint and backs off. This guy does get the hint, but as soon as I resume the speed limit, he rides my ass again. So I slow down again. I'm thinking this pattern is pretty funny by the time we get to the landing. I was also thinking that he was hurrying in order to catch a ferry. However, he continues to ride my ass as I pass the entrance to the ferry parking lot and travel 50 feet down the hill to the little deli. In fact, although he does not park in the parallel spot right in front of me, he pulls up to the spot 3 or 4 car lengths ahead of me and parks. Interestingly, although I gave him time to get out of his car, he waited longer for me to get out of mine. I went in, got our lunches and as I was talking to the cashier, the subject of tourists came up. I then told her this story of this tourist who rode my ass all the way to the ferry landing. I talked about him as if he were a tourist because I couldn't imagine that someone who actually lived here would drive like that. It's too small of a community and we're all here because it's NOT the rest of the world.

However, the guy comes up to the other cashier and she starts talking to him like she knows him. I recognized him because I'd been watching him during our little trip in my rear-view and the big, black eye-patch was pretty unique. This is when I learned his name was Julian. So he leaves while I'm still talking to my lady and I say, "I totally think that was the guy that rode my ass all the way here from the Exchange." The woman that had been talking to Julian said that I should say something to him. On my way out the door I said, "I think I will." However, as I hit the light of day, I changed my mind. The potential for that to get ugly was too great and I'd been having too good a day. I felt back about that, though because I'd just had several interactions with people who had pissed me off because they avoided confrontations by being snarky and passive-aggressive. To back away froma confrontation just because it might be ugly would be acting like they had been acting. Damn that golden rule! But, I figured that there was nothing I could do since the guy had gone out the door ahead of me. So I went across the street to the public bathroom and then came back to my car.

His car was still there! So, now I pretty much have to go talk to him. I quickly brainstormed an approach that would not necessarily put his defenses up but that would also lend me some authority. The fact that he was leisurely eating his lunch when I walked up decided me, since that meant he had absolutely no justification for edging up on me like he was in a hurry. I said excuse me and hello, then offered my hand, "My name is Rebecca. I live back in Eastsound. I wanted to ask if next time you wouldn't drive so close to me. It really stresses me out."

"I don't know what you are referring to." The smooth lie started to put me into teacher-in-the-hallway mode.

"I think you do. Almost the whole way from the Exchange to here you were riding my ass."

"I disagree with you. I was not that close." Notice that he swiftly shifts from denying the situation to arguing with my assessment, thus admitting that he DID know what I was referring to.

"You were that close and I'm just asking you not to do that. That's mainland driving." A big insult to islanders to imply that they don't actually belong here. I didn't mean to insult but it was what I had been thinking.

"Well, I live here too."

"And most of us that live here moved here for the slower pace." All of my dialogue was in conversational tone while he kept getting more and more desperate sounding.

"It was only after the big hill when you sped up then slowed down that I caught up to you."

"Actually, it was right after you passed the mini-van with the car-top that jumped right up on top of me."

"Well, you could have moved over to let me pass." Notice that he never disagrees with my statements, he just tries to find a different way in which I'm wrong.

"It was a double yellow line the whole way."

"Well, I have a right to risk getting a ticket for speeding if I want to."

This is where my teacher training kicks in because I didn't let him take the conversation away from the one specific behavior that was inappropriate. "I don't deny your right to speed; I'm just asking you not to ride my ass when you can't."

After that, he really didn't have that much to say except to sputter a little more about how he disagreed with the fact that he was too close.

I felt good about that confrontation. It didn't escalate for to a fight and even though I don't think I won him over, I know that he heard my point. I know that he heard it because every response he had screamed, "I did it! You caught me! I'm embarassed and going to try to cover it up!" I feel like I contributed to the Orcas community by doing that. Also, it reaffrimed to me that I'm not a mean person because it never even occurred to me to point out that his lack of an eye might affect his depth perception when he was disagreeing with me about how close he was, which would only be a form of name-calling. I only thought of that later when I was telling the story as something funny I could have said if it were a TV show.

A couple of days ago, I saw Julian again. I was in the parking lot at the grocery store on the Fourth of July. Most islanders don't venture out of their property on the weekend of the Fourth because there are so many oblivious tourists on the island. If we do, we know that it's our own fault that everything takes longer because we didn't have the foresight to get what we needed before the weekend. When I saw Julian, however, he had honked at someone backing out of their parking space at the grocery store. This wasn't a friendly tap to let them know he was there. He laid on the horn and as I turned my head to see the commotion, I distinctly saw him mutter, "F---ing moron!" I looked at him long and hard to make sure he saw me seeing him. I'm astounded that anyone could have that much anger and road rage on an island that only has one road and has no stoplights.

Julian just doesn't get it and that baffles me. Why move to a beautiful place with a specific sense of community if you just want to keep living your life the way you did before? Why move to a place that entails a certain amount of inconvenience if you don't want the benefits?

Monday, July 04, 2005


On Saturday night, I got a chance to wait tables with a guy named Josh. This was the first chance I had to really interact with Josh and I found him to be a little bit of an enigma. When first talking to him, I thought he was like me and my people: tongue firmly in cheek. He has a definite hippy image and energy and he works at one of the local farms, but I have met a lot of educated, ironic hippies. However, as the evening went on and we cut more and more fava beans, I wasn't quite sure that my initial assessment was correct. I realized his statements were a weird mix of cynicism and earnestness. It was like he knew that what he was saying might be seen as a little dippy, but he believed it anyway. It was charming. He also said some extremely odd things.

While we were prepping fava beans (an hour and a half at ten dollars an hour per person; those are expensive fava beans), we were doing a little life-story talking and I said that a lot of my time on the island has been spent healing.

"That's really interesting, especially since there are so many deer here."

I cut in silence for a little while since I could not for the life of me figure out what this meant or how to ask the question tactfully.

Luckily, he picked the conversation back up, "I mean, deer are always symbols for healing in Native American beliefs."

"Oh," I said.

"Which is funny," he continued, "Because I really want to kill one with my bare hands."

"Huh," I said. "Why is that, do you think?"

"I don't know but it's just something I've been wanting to do. You know, snap it's neck and feel the life force flowing out. . ." He made an illuminating hand motion, with the paring knife still in his hand.

I tried to fish around for a little bit and give him the chance to attach some spiritual motivation to this somewhat disturbing confession of violent tendencies. It was additionally disturbing because he said it all in a conversational, but passionate tone of voice, like it was completely normal to want to do this. I asked him if he would eat the animal.

"Yea, but that wouldn't be why I killed it."

Then Shelley joined in. Shelley has trouble keeping up in conversations and she says things that tend to embarass the rest of us because she is so rediculously nice but has a phenomenally small world view. She began talking about her "half-Indian" cousin who had been required to tear the heart out of an animal that had just been killed and he had to eat the heart. Those last three worlds were delivered like a 12-year-old telling a ghost story. "And the hook was hanging from the car door handle."

Josh got even more excited. "That would be great. To hold its still-beating heart in my hands!"

Shelley and Josh continued in this vein for a little while until finally, I talked about someone telling me that if deer get into a fenced vegetable garden, they were legally considered varmints and could then be hunted. I had thought this was a way to change the subject and it mostly succeeded, except that Josh then told about the owner of the farm, George, and how he hates the deer that get into the farm to the extent that he takes of running after them with the gardening knife poised in his hand. "He hates them."

A gentle, touchy-feely, sensitive hippy guy talking about killing deer with his own hands. All in all, the perfect island conversation.