asheville

Leaving Asheville makes me feel strange

My roommate Chad cautioned me to do what I have to do, but don’t get bitter about it. He usually says things like that to me. And it flipping annoys me to no end. I’m a verbal person. I handle my problems with a heavy element of talk. It’s how I process. I find it difficult to take seriously people who dismiss someone’s frustration as idle bitterness. Granted, I’m no Jesus, but even he aired his frustrations. Heck, I think he spoke very snarky to the disciples half the time, so maybe Jesus is a bad example. I’ll make Asheville happy and say “I’m no Buddha.” Things get to me, and then I want to talk about them. But lately I think I’ve been handling my situation very very well.

I’m nearing the end of packing my things and leaving a town I’ve called home for 6 years. I felt like I was done moving when I arrived here in 2004. I figured my next move would be to wherever my (as yet hypothetical) wife found work, or wherever my illustrious plush career took me (L.A., perhaps to launch my cartoon series.. whatever’sville). Alas, I’m leaving Asheville because I’m taking an unexpected, unusual (for me) job with a wilderness camp. I’ll be shutting down my studio and closing a chapter on working as an artist for who knows how long. I could be spewing flame with every word. But I’m not. I’m rolling with the circumstances, accepting them, and learning what’s good about them and how I can find unknown purpose behind these changes.

But today I’m really irritated with Asheville and its citizens. Maybe the stress of the move is just rearing its ugly head. Or maybe I’m totally right about our American state of comfort that has turned many of us into excuse-making, flapping, flopping, mushmouthed, lazy idiots.

Whether it’s a popular Ashevillian, progressive, modern sentiment or not, I think producing more trash is not helpful to our world. In my efforts to reduce trash, I have used primarily post consumer fabrics to make my Stupid Creatures. I have also provided pickup services to people who have burdensome fabrics they can’t bear to throw away. I’d pick it up and take it all away, and then decide if it was something I could use or if I had to take it to Goodwill myself. I’ve made many Goodwill trips over my years in this town because I thought it was the right thing to do.

So here’s where I think I should probably stop expecting people to have the same morals and ethics, or even the same applications of those morals and ethics, as me. When I put out a cry, via Facebook, Craigslist and the Asheville Artists list serve that I was getting rid of bag after bag of really good crafting/plushing/quilting fabric, I figured crafters and artists from all over the region would be glad to get their hands on free supplies and come lift my burden. I was wrong. I received several phone calls with iffy arrangements to come to my studio (or to my home) and pick up my stuff. Most of those callers rang later to push back the appointments again and again. That annoyed me. One who actually did come to investigate my supplies dug through my stuff, tore holes in bags I’d tied shut, made a great mess in my studio (kept saying sorry, which was just a meaningless, shaped exhalation), hemmed and hawed, then declined to take any fabric. Who cares if you don’t like the fabric. Something needs to be done with it! Life isn’t just about what you like or want! It’s about doing what needs to be done! If you saw two puppies covered in mud, would you wash only the one you thought was cute?

It makes me not want to be a Good Samaritan for recycling. Perhaps I should reevaluate where I get the impression that Ashevillians actually give a drat about environmental concerns (check that.. a drat about CARRYING OUT environmental concerns) in their day to day lives. I see posters, flyers, speeches from the Mayor and organizations like Quality Forward casting a recycle-y glow over this region of WNC. That, and prevailing sentiments throughout our culture, is where I got the notion that to live in this community, in this city, it would do one well to help out with the various green-movement efforts in place in all their myriad forms.

So, end annoyance number one: Individual Ashevillians probably don’t care about recycling and reducing garbage unless they can complain to someone in public for filing his plastic container in the paper bin by accident, where many people can see and go “aww, she’s such a trooper for mother earth.”

As for annoyance number two: Don’t say you’re going to come claim what I’m giving then not show up. Don’t look at a freely given supply of great stuff and refuse it. Don’t say things like “I’ll swing by sometime after 11,” and call it “making an appointment.” Don’t lean on having a cell phone as an excuse not to make an appointment. Don’t assume that just because you call to cancel or reschedule that it can be done. Appointments and arrangements are made for a reason. If we arrange to meet at 9 in the morning, I’ll assume we’re going to do that and schedule the remaining hours of my day accordingly. If you call at 9:10, when I’m very nearly ready to consider the appointment missed, don’t ask “can I just swing by at 3?” and assume you’ll get your way. Don’t tell me when you plan to swing by and assume that fits my schedule. And lastly, don’t effing ask me which dumpster I’m going to stick my stuff in after so many times trying to connect and arrange.

That’s all. I gotta keep packing. But I really want to call it a day and watch Star Trek.

Bye!!
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A letter to an Asheville City Council Candidate

Hi, Everybody..

My acquaintance Jenny Bowen is running for city council in Asheville. I think she’s a hard working, creative lady with lots of energy and drive and she clearly loves this town. But before I vote the progressive party line, I had to ask her some questions. Here’s what I wrote to her. Feel free to comment.

Hi, Jenny..

What does being progressive mean to you?

I'd like to think that I'm one. Many of my opinions and thoughts on government and culture are left of center.

Some problems, though, that I have encountered with progressiveism fall along this theme:

Most of my liberal friends (who now call themselves progressives) would prefer that people agree with them, and rather than letting it be (each to his own) when someone has a different opinion, they argue and try to change that person's mind when it's really none of their business. Some even go as far as to openly vilify people who disagree with them.

I don't know you very well, but I have enjoyed our encounters. You and I are on the same page about many things, especially this town and all it's unique potential, local economy, entrepreneurship, and not being lazy. I can totally get behind someone who wants to motivate the citizens of a town to higher standards of living, working, producing and consuming.

I'm a Move-On member, and I get their emails. In a nutshell, they tell me what to believe and present articles and news reports with a slant. They tell me what to vote for, and where, when and why to organize events for whatever cause. Often times I agree with them anyway and sign their petitions. But Move-on, being a primary voice for progressiveism in America, gives me the impression that to be "progressive," I have to believe certain things or I'm an enemy. And friends of mine have in recent years become similarly emboldened to look at me aghast and argue at the opinions I've, by my own life experience, wrestled long and hard to develop.

I became a Move-On member because I felt our country had been hijacked by Dubya and his administration, and I wanted our democracy back. Similarly, I voted for Obama mainly to get the country out of the grips of what I believe has become a totalitarian party. I didn't vote for him because I think being a republican is in and of itself bad. We've just had bad luck with republicans lately.

I want to live in a culture that allows healthy disagreement. I don't believe that laws have the power to determine what's wise or moral. I don't believe that because something is legal, it's by virtue good or right or even wise. I don't believe that creating new laws will change what is and isn't moral/good/right.

I don't believe the government is the heart and soul of our culture. If, for example, same sex marriage becomes legal, will religious practitioners have the freedom not to officiate a same sex marriage if they disagree with it? If abortions wind up being covered by Obama's health care plan, will doctors who disagree with abortion be free to decline performing them? Will freedom of religion and conscientious objection be preserved or diminished?

I believe in creating laws that preserve fairness and freedom. I don't believe in creating laws that tell us what to think and believe and whether or not it's okay to practice those beliefs. Does progressiveism mean that we get to change the government in such a way that we can punish people for having different points of view?

Could I simply be seeing the other side of a pendulum swing post Bush?

I think it's great you're running for city council. I hope I can talk to all the candidates and get to know them as well..

Thanks!! Best wishes for your campaign. You've certainly developed quite a supportive following

Yours truly,
John
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