Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Signing Off

Well, it looks like this blog will unfortunately be very short lived. I don’t know how many of you have heard by now, but I am no longer on the Blue Ridge. Basically what happened was this:

Those of you keeping up know that I’ve been looking for a new place on the Blue Ridge since my living situation has been less than ideal. The house was great, but the housemate/boss (Jennie)...not so much. Luckily, I had finally found a place that was ten minutes from Sparta and had cell phone/internet reception (woo hoo!). I was in price negotiations and my plan was to just tell Jennie that I wanted to move to be closer to civilization. She never had to know the real reasons! I called my superintendent to tell her about the possibility of me moving and I, of course, had to also explain why. I was told that my problems with Jennie were nothing new and that the superintendent needed to know that she was still “up to her old tricks”. The problems with Jennie were thus:

1. We were spending nearly every waking minute together. We drove to and from work together, then worked for over eight hours together, and then lived together. A bit much and I was always on guard because she was, as mentioned before, my boss/supervisor. I wasn’t even allowed to talk to the visitors casually! That left me with no one to talk to!

2. She would go into my room when I wasn’t there. For the first few days of me living there she did this to turn off my fans (there was no AC) because the wiring of the house made her nervous. I found that a pretty poor excuse because the house was in remarkably good shape (especially for gov’t housing), but I decided to choose my battles and turned my fans off when I wasn’t home. However, it was obvious that she was still going into my room even after this and I was never certain why or what she was looking for.

3. The whole telling me to get personal stuff out of her room for her and having me wash her dishes. Those are both big ‘no-no’s’ in my book. She was 51. I think she had plenty of experience doing her own bloody dishes.

4. Jennie was not a big sharer and it was pretty damn obvious that she was used to and preferred living on her own. Often she wouldn’t even say ‘hi’ to me in the house and only talked to me when it was to talk at me about something to do with yarn, linen, or the Blue Ridge. We shared a bathroom and I found my stuff on the floor more than once because I guess it was her sink and my contact case was just taking up too much room and don’t even get me started on how much me asking to move her dulcimer case off the dining room table upset her! It was either move the bloody thing to the floor or I was going to put my bowl of cereal on top of it and I’m certain that wouldn’t have gone over well.

5. Basically, Jennie just did not respect me whatsoever. She didn’t train me at all and any time I tried to ask a question about the history of the area or what something was called she would say, “I already told you that!” and then it was end-of-discussion. THAT got old really fast because if she had told me then I a) would have remembered in such a short time period or b) been willing to admit I had forgotten it. It wasn’t even until a few days ago that I realized I didn’t even know how to call-out on the radio!

So all this being said, I told the superintendent the problems I was having with Jennie, but I obviously didn’t tell her all the problems. I didn’t want to be a snitch and get Jennie in trouble so I only touched upon the “spending too much time together” and “Jennie ordering me around at home” stuff. The super did mention mine and Jennie’s age differences, which was a bit annoying because I felt she just thought I wasn’t used to someone older and that really wasn’t the case. Had Jennie been my age I still wouldn’t have been fond of the stuff she was doing. Nevertheless I asked the super to please not tell Jennie any of this stuff because I just wanted to move out with no hard feelings (Jennie was still my supervisor after all).

Well I think you can all predict what happened next. The super told Jennie everything. Or at least Jennie reacted like the super told her everything because I got home Thursday night and doors were being slammed in my face and it was like prying teeth to get Jennie to tell me why she was so angry (picture a pre-pubescent teen when they throw a temper-tantrum...literally). When she did she was INCREDIBLY hostile saying, “Please tell me how I’ve been invading your space! Please educate me on how I’ve been smothering you.” Whoa. No wonder she’s never had children. She’s like a very large child herself.

I tried telling her about the various things that had put me off/made me feel unwelcomed (the fans, the dishes, etc), but everything I said was just met with a defensive comeback and how I was wrong and yadda yadda yadda. Finally I just grabbed my stuff and apologized to Jennie once again because the super was not supposed to tell her any of that stuff and when I said I was going to go out for a few hours to give us both space she snapped, “Yeah, I think that would be good.” (Again, picture all her dialogue as just dripping with vehemence because that is literally how she sounded.) I went up to the ranger office and ended up turning in my letter of resignation a few hours later after I realized that now, even if I moved out, there would be no working with Jennie.

The next morning further proved this fact when, as I was packing, Jennie came pounding on my door and told me that she had to check me out (collect my badges and whatnot). I looked down the stairs and there was the Chief of Maintenance, John. Jennie said (nose in the air), “John’s here as a witness.” I asked, “Do you mean for, like, protection?” She responded, “Maybe.” I asked, “Do you think I’m going to hurt you?” She threw her hands into the air and said, “Well I don’t know, do I?”


She then went into her room to grab something and BOLTED her door behind her. I repeat: WHAT?!?!?! This from the woman who bashes mice in the head. I could tell that, in John’s mind, he wasn’t really there as a bodyguard and that he hated being dragged into all this as much as I did. I told him I was a Buddhist and didn’t hurt anything and he just gave me a sad smile. Jennie then checked me out, which was stressful because I think she was convinced I was going to take something. As I searched in my bag for my second badge she snipped, “You’re supposed to have two badges. You can’t keep one! That’s a federal offense!” It really took a lot of self-control for me not to hand her the second badge with the pin sticking out...she then freaked out because we couldn’t find a book on linen she had lent me two weeks ago even when I reminded her that we already went through this ‘where did the book go?’ the day she lent it to me. My god. Finally John made her move on and said, “I’m sure we’ll find it.” What the hell do I want with a book on linen?

The rest of the morning was spent with Jennie practically running anytime I was near her and her bolting herself into every room she entered...wow. Did I forget to mention that a few nights previous she was in her room moving furniture, slamming things and yelling at herself? Or that when I got home after evacuating the house I found a broken wine glass on the table that looked as though the actual cup part of it (the part that holds the wine) had been squeezed? Oh yeah. And I’m the one to be scared of? The other odd thing was that everyone else was EXTREMELY nice. Like, even the superintendent, who I had heard really chews people out for resigning, was super nice and apologetic to me. I was a little taken aback and I think Jennie was too because was practically giddy when she told me I had to call the super and even hung around by the phone as I made the call (because the only portable phone was locked in Jennie’s room – what a coincidence). I know that Jennie has run-off four other housemates previous to me so I have a feeling that people understood what had happened. I think the superintendent was probably also sorry because she knew that this all came as a result of her telling Jennie my confidential information...

So now I am home and back on my little island. I thought I’d come back going, “Oh god what did I do?? I should have stuck it out!” but I’m actually a LOT happier than I’ve been for the past few weeks. I didn’t even realize what an emotional toll that situation was really taking on me. I am glad, however, that I did it and that I was able to have some new experiences. I am especially glad that I was able to spend my last “weekend” in Asheville at my aunt and uncle’s place. Compared to my hovel at the bottom of the mountain that place was absolute paradise! The house, the room I got to stay in, the company, the town – everything was fantastic! I never realized Asheville was such a hippie haven and it reminded me a lot of Ann Arbor. I got to explore the shops in the downtown area, go to the Folk Art Centre, and the Biltmore. So cool! And Starbucks. I got to have my first Starbucks in weeks!

And there you have it! The last blog post of “Lost in the Woods”. I wish it could have lasted longer because I was getting some great writing material out of all this, but leaving was definitely for the best. And this is a whole new experience! I haven’t been unemployed since I was thirteen. Damn. And at least now there’s no worry of getting lost and ending up in Virginia again ;) Thanks for reading!

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