A Culture of Contradictions
Written by: elaine ossipov; June 02, 2012
[ Defined broadly; A visionary, is one who can envision the future. For some groups this can involve the supernatural. ] Wikipedia.org
Applied Conceptual Visionary:
“The reasonable man adapts himself to the conditions that surround him… The unreasonable man adapts surrounding conditions to himself… All progress depends on the unreasonable man.” George Bernard Shaw
2+2=5 and it is not my fault.
I’ve worked some pretty long hours the last few weeks. When I work long hours like this, I normally get quite focused and stick with something until it’s done or I drop. I’ve always worked this way which is one reason why I’ve worked for myself so much. I remember a very short stint of working at the prosecutor’s office when I was like 18 as part of a program back then when I thought I wanted to be a legal secretary, this was before the age of computers. I was filling in for a receptionist who was sick this one day, when my supervisor walked up to me and said “Common it’s lunch time,” “OK,” I replied “Where are we going?” I thought she was offering to take me to lunch as her way of welcoming me. “I’m going to meet some friends for lunch. Everyone in this office takes their lunch and coffee breaks.” “That’s Ok” I replied a second time wondering if she thought that was the only reply I knew, “I’ll, uh, I’ll mm, I’ll just stay here in the office, and get some work done.” “No you won’t, it’s lunch time and everyone here takes their lunch and their breaks there is no working through this.” she replied. Thinking to myself Ok, now what do I do, I didn’t even bring a lunch, you mean people really take lunch breaks? All I’ve done since I got here was sit on my rear-end in front of a desk, why do I need to eat, I’ve not used any energy yet, why do need to replenish it. I’ve never understood how people could only work for 2 hours then take a break (15 minutes – not paid) , 1.75 hours then take lunch (1 Hour not paid) , 2.5 hours take a break (15 minutes – not paid) , 1.25 hours done for the day. So let me get this straight you mean I’m there for 9.5 hours a day and they are only going to pay me for 8? That was the end of my thoughts on being a legal secretary. I think I went to Truck Driving after that. Driving big rigs cross-country. Remind me some time to tell you the story of unloading a trailer full of halibut. You. Won’t. Believe. Me. As it so happens no one told me when I had to take a break. Maybe at that point in my life I it wasn’t in my nature to be an office worker and perhaps it’s still not.
Working on a farm or as a waitress or at my dad’s gas station there was no such thing as a break. You got hungry you hid behind a display of oil cans and grabbed a bite of a sandwich on the run. At the farm we had big meals, but you were outside doing very intense physical work and besides we got paid by the day or season, meals included. How many of you remember going into a gas station or car repair which were both the same thing then only to see a napkin laid on the counter with lunch laid out on it? Everyone ate on the run then. There just wasn’t such a thing as breaks. Oh, Right! I forgot LABOR LAWS. Silly little Labor Laws. We lived in a Farming Valley, no one paid attention to those minor details. To this day I don’t take breaks, lunch or other I just keep moving until the jobs done or I call it quits for the day. Now there is a reason for me to tell you about this little quirk of my personality as you will see below.
As it so happened this was the first Saturday in June. That’s a big day on this small island. This day the Farmers Market opens for the summer.
The rain outside was still drizzling although the sun was starting to peak through the dark dense northwest Washington storm clouds as they made their way down our side of the Cascades mountains dropping rain as they came. The clouds move down the valley and across the bay over our little island and out to sea where the cycle then repeats itself. I was planning on going to the farmers market this morning with Jennifer (Jen). But with the rain clouds drizzling every few moments I checked that field trip off my list. Moving my hands from the keyboard in front of me to the keyboard beside me onto my phone I text’ to one of my oldest and dearest friends: “So .. next week if it’s not raining?” I waited for a reply, which is highly unusual when texting with Jen.
Jennifer Beam-Krovosky grew up as an honest-to-god Iowa farm girl. I swear you can still see it in her cheeks too. Always rosy, and mostly a pretty happy person I have only the utmost respect for this woman. She and I would decide one day we were going to get a booth at an artfair, and the next day we would be 150mi away, at the art fair enjoying the culture, getting henna tattoos. making contacts and networking with every booth owner there. Even if we didn’t make allot of money, yah yah, ok, even if we didn’t make any money, we always had a great time, pigged out on fair food and in general always made good contacts and great friends while we were there. One of the things I really admire about Jen is her ability to walk up to a perfect stranger and start a conversation with them as if she’s known them all her life. Another is her almost unwavering ability to look on the bright side of most everything. Jen is a pretty happy person these days. But she’s worked very hard for that happiness. It wasn’t too long ago when she was having a pretty difficult time with life in general. When she first moved to Washington State, gosh I guess about 5 years ago. Her and her husband were living on their boat. I met them when I owned my gem & bead store. Her husband came in to buy her a pair of earrings for Christmas. After Christmas Jen stopped in to tell me how much she loved them. We’ve been great friends ever since. If you’ve ever ‘lived’ on a boat you would know why they were having a hard time of things, Since her and Mark moved from their 48ft boat where they lived for about three years into their still-renovating-with-interior-see-threw-walls-home. It’s here where she, the love of her life, Mark, and their his and her matching cats one with a 2-shot-a-day-diabetic now can spend their quiet Sunday afternoons grilling outside without fighting off the dive-bombing-seagull-brigade. And since moving into their dry-land home, she’s never been late due to a full grown Harbor Seal on the dock between her and her truck! I have pictures of that seal.
While I was miss-spending my youth, she was also miss-spending her youth doing outrageous things such as becoming an expert sail boat captain on Lake Michigan, a certified Wagon Driver, the kind with teams of horses, and yes, that’s right our Iowa farm girl was home-coming queen. After high school she left that quite Iowa town and hasn’t looked back. After four years of back breaking work and getting her degree she put that finally tuned mind and education to work and promptly headed down to the Bahama’s. Blue sky, bluer water and sunshine everyday of the year except when they have a monsoon. Working for a touring company she would take out tours for days at a time. When she would bring the tour back in, she would then work in the front office and help to keep the maintenance up on the boats. Our Iowa-farm-girl-Friday was then asked her if she would setup their new office in Greece. Let’s take a moment here and pretend you are a young twenty something just graduated from a University and lived most all of your life where you had to wear 3 layers of cloths in the winter and plug your car into an electrical outlet in order to keep the head bolt heater running so your engine wouldn’t freeze. Oops, no the car head-bolt heater was mine. Hers was the three layers of cloths and something about a rowing team and captain of the sailing team and of course lots and lots of horses, and I could mentally never quite piece together the horses and the rowing team, at which point she lost me.
Nevertheless, lets think about her quandary for a moment: Grease under the nails, being on a boat at sea for days at a time normally with at least one snotty-head-up-her-ass tourist. Back into port to clean the boat, overhaul the engines and back out to sea again. Or Greece. Greece with all it’s glorious history; good food, great wine, hunky men and even better yet 365 days of sailing and of course the hunky Greek men. Greek Gods in waiting. Our young unattached All American Iowa Farm girl was soon on her way to the mystical isles of Greece.
As it turned out the job wasn’t all smooth sailing, Greek gods-in-waiting and great wine. Well, the wine was great, and the food was good. But soon our all out all american Iowa farm girl was headed on over to Washington DC where she landed a job really putting her hard earned degree to work for her as a Lobbyist. This is where she met her chemical engineer and adventure seeking husband.
They were married in the Bahama’s in a very quiet ceremony just the two of them. I know this because she gave me a pair of gorgeous Larimar earrings. One look at the Larimar and you know it’s not the Larimar they ship overseas. This Larimar has that incredible lighter than robin’s egg turquoise cool sky blue tones laced with very translucent white swirls. This is not the quality of Larimar you get anywhere but in the Bahama’s.
Did I mention I love gemstones, rocks, one of my many quirks which I’m sure you’ll read more of if you remember to sign up for my blog. Click that signup button in the column on the right. Probably should go ahead and do it now quick before you forget.
One of the many attributes my incredibly versatile friend has is that while she was a lobbyist in DC she learned to text a message in her sleep with her eyes closed, driving with one hand while holding the phone in the other hand under the dash board so the cop doesn’t see her text-ing with her thumb, while driving in down-town city traffic at noon on a Friday.Watching her do this is like listening to Beethoven’s fifth while staring at the Mona Lisa. You’re frozen struck silence for a time. You can’t participate, you can only stare in awe knowing you’re part of a great moment in time. To say anything would break the magic and I don’t mean the magic of the moment. I mean the magic of how she can do this while driving at 40miles an hour in downtown Seattle traffic and never miss a beat. A true one of a kind and a truer friend cannot be had.
I waited a little more then started thinking if I don’t get confirmation from her I have to meet her down at the depot. This is where the panic starts to set in because I still needed to get ready and didn’t need to hear “Couldn’ t pull yourself away from the keyboard again?” out of the mounth of one of my oldest and dearest friends. Seriously, just because I missed three lunch dates in a row, and the last one put it off for two hours before canceling does not give her the right to criticize me for it, or then, yah, I can admit, I am wrong there it does give her the right. But how many times can a person apologize for the same thing? Now I’m really breaking out in a sweat because I’ve had all this time to think about everything you’ve read and she’s still not replied.
“Jen,” I typed “You there?” I know she’s never more than six inches from her phone, ever. “Uh.. Rain, Next Week? :)” Jen replied.”
Thank the gods! I could quit sweating now knowing I wasn’t in for a tongue lashing which would make me feel about the size and height of the average garden worm and oddly enough, made me feel just a slimy as one too. As a matter of note I would like to add that out of the blue, Jen would stop at McDonalds and get two double cheese burgers and an order of fries. She would bring these down to the store and have lunch with me. I’m grinning to myself as I note, that for some reason I never minded her telling me I should take a break.
“Loyalty is a way of life.” This is a theme we both live by.
Pretty soon my thoughts began to drift to a conversation I had earlier this week with an online friend. I was talking with this friend and colleague earlier this week and we touched base very lightly on the subject of natural selection and cultural diversity in relation to gangs.” I live to have real discussions. To debate issues. To find out how others perceive a set a circumstances and what they believe or would recommend in the way of solutions. Sometimes even if I agree with them I will play devils advocate just to see if these convictions which they talk of are their real convictions or if they are repeating what they heard somewhere else.
I have to admit my surprise when I read myself typing “You know John, a person could consider modern day gangs akin to the warrior clans of aboriginal cultures. There is within most cultures a group which are dominate and more aggressive than those around them. They have been taking from and dominating the more passive sub-groups since the beginning of time.” While I’m not sure that was the perfect parable it certainly did make me think upon the process of cultural evolution and if we really have evolved or if we have merely learned to use technology and dress a little better. Well, some dress a little better, I work at home so I’m normally in like a summer dress sorta thing, always barefoot with a cup of coffee in my hand. Why dirty a perfectly clean pair of cloths just to sit at my desk when the only ones who will see me are the family of raccoon living under my deck, the rabbits who invaded my old vegetable garden, my best bud Symba.
Then as the night drew on I was viewing a friends website for the first time. The very first posting on his website was this tribute to Steve Jobs from the Webby Award Ceremony. I’m not sure what clicked or how my brain went from point A to point B but the next thing I realized is that somehow I had connected Steve Jobs to the leader of the warrior clan. Why not? So his weapon was his mind, his internal drive to leave his mark on the world another weapon. But a weapon his mind certainly was and will be long into the future and yet how do we handle our children that won’t take no for an answer? Those children who do not fit into the mold. I think most of the people on Google-plus can certainly identify with not fitting into the mold.
End Part 2 version 1; Look for Part 2.5 version 1 next week.
- Culture & Contradictions : Chicago and Gang Violence. (Previously Released Part 3 of Culture & Contradictions)