so, this is what i found when i went out to check my back fence today. the boards you see on the right are the dismantled raised garden beds. something about the attacking vines so close to my prized garden beds just chills me…uch…
this is them sneaking, not only further along the fence, but even across the concrete into the actual yard…
yep. right through a solid piece of wood. broke it clean off and kept right on going. you can’t really tell, but this one was thicker at the top and had obviously been chopped down before…
and here it comes under the fence. so, either i may go crazy or i may indeed hire a goat. but i still can’t get past the idea (i know, you have assured me otherwise) that it will really hurt the goat to eat this nonsense. what i was unable to capture in photos was perhaps the most shocking sight of all, and that was from about 25 feet up to about 50 feet up, a giant hulking beast of vines curling over and through actual trees. woven completely into the entire canopy of several trees was such a mess of these i-can’t-even-say-the-word vines that i almost had to fight back the urge to scream. they originate from another property, but i am literally at a loss about what to do with these, short of napalm.
no, i’m serious.
but that’s not even what i want to blog about.
no, i actually want to blog publicly about a beast that’s even more insidious than these awful terrible vines, but i think even more choking.
that beast is my ego.
a while back an article about garden people appeared in a paper and i was mentioned.
the article wasn’t about me, but i had been interviewed for it, and i had spent some pretty considerable time discussing various things with the reporter, so i was very curious to see what the final article would be like.
and when i read the final article, i felt like i wanted to throw up.
i literally felt like i wanted to go to bed for a few days and just stay there.
the first thing that hit me was that something i had mentioned to him, but specifically asked him not to write, was included in the article.
the second thing that hit me was that one of the assertions, made by someone else about me (but never fact checked) was blatantly false.
but the third thing, and this was the worst, was all the things that were true.
so, let me disassemble this a bit for you and explain a few things.
the reason why i felt like going to bed was out of a deep sense of shame. it took me a good long while of thinking it through before i had enough clarity to realize that the best way to combat this sense of shame would be to just come clean and air my dirty laundry in public! yes- there’s nothing like outing yourself and all of your demons and holding them up to the light of day to see that they aren’t so bad or so horrid after all. so i committed to doing exactly that, and then backed out repeatedly over the last several months 😉
as far as my first issue: i realized that i really should be a bit more reporter savvy by now. you shouldn’t tell them what you don’t want published. end of story. there is no “off the record” and they are not your friends. it is their job to be nice to you and they do their jobs. BUT MY BIG EGO let me believe that i was different. i thought i would get special treatment because he genuinely liked me, so he would respect what i asked him. (gosh, why does this sound like so much of high school???) i was embarrassed by what appeared in print that other people probably didn’t even notice. for real. if i had been more grounded i would have been more reality-based and acted based on what i knew versus what i wanted to believe. okay, so lesson learned, hopefully, and permission granted to move on.
item #2: in the article, someone alleged that the charges against me for the garden were dropped because i left oak park and moved to seattle. (i’m not going to dig the article out now to see the exact wording, so this is my best recollection of what was said…) i was very indignant! the charges against me were dropped because they were bogus, but it has always been a sore point for me that i was never found not guilty and never actually vindicated of wrong-doing. oak park was wrong, and the whole way they went about dismissing the charges without really dismissing them was really smarmy, and it always really bothered me. i felt very impotent in court that there was no way i could force them to fight the charges to a conclusion or drop them forever. so to see it implied in print that they basically let me leave town in exchange for dropping the charges just mad me really mad.
but then i had to ask myself why. most people who know my story know it by now. but, more importantly, the article WASN’T ABOUT ME. so nobody was reading this to get the scoop on julie bass. and if someone got the wrong information, what consequence would it really have? would it prevent me from getting a job? a husband? does it impact my children’s happiness or well-being? so, again, here was my ego, inserted where it didn’t belong. i was so invested in this image of heroic me- and really- who even cares about that any more? if i want to be a hero, i need to be a hero NOW, not two years ago… and that brings me to the next point…
point #3- and this is the hardest to write about, and the one that’s kept me hedging about writing this post for the longest, so please cut me some slack. there were so many hard truths in that article. there were so many realities that i hadn’t faced that i saw all it once, in one place, in black and white. and i read them all at once and i couldn’t escape them because they really were true. i felt like someone who had gained 100 pounds but who hadn’t noticed and then all of the sudden was standing naked in front of 10 full-length mirrors and 25 flood lights. it was awful and there was nowhere to hide. i had moved so far away from where i wanted to be as a person, but i had done it in little bitty increments, so i hadn’t even noticed. i was this big garden person who had no big garden in seattle. i had some failed seedlings last year, and a holdover compost pile from the previous homeowners (the seduction of the city of seattle taking meat, dairy, and fish into their compost proved too much for me in my first year here. this, combined with their strict limits on trash, meant that i was really delighted to just let them have all my food scraps together…). i had failed garden beds, with failed attempts at lasagna sheet mulching. i had happy chickens, but even the chicken i was holding in the article was dead by the time the article was published, and looked sickly and half dead in the photo.
i had fought for the right to have front yard gardens in oak park, but then left a house with no front yard garden, a city with unchanged regulations, and a city planner still at his job. we had helped to get a new mayor in office, but then i had lost touch with her and in my swept-up-in-getting-settled-in-seattle-ness stopped corresponding with her and didn’t follow through about her great plans for community gardens. i had lost touch with ryan, who had been such an inspiration through so much of my garden struggle and had proven himself such a true friend. he was going through a rough time, and i was reminded that i had dropped the ball (ryan, if you are still reading the blog, here is my public apology to you, and my vow to try to be a better friend going forward…).
so, here i thought reading the article would be a pleasant stroll down memory lane.
instead, it was more like realizing that, rather than being the still-cute 20 year-old former high school football star who drives a mustang and impresses the cheerleaders, you are actually the 38 year-old paunchy and balding former high school football star with the too-tight polyester shirt, and it’s no longer cool to try to relive your glory days.
it’s time to play a new soundtrack.
and that’s when i kind of got it.
that’s when i got that if i could get over my own ego enough to not have to be a superstar, i could try to just be enough.
i might not be able to move to a farm, but that didn’t mean i couldn’t try again to have a successful garden.
i looked again at the front yard space, and guess what? there are some bushes we can pull up and make a space for some veggies!
and if we weren’t going to end up with livestock after all, it darn well wasn’t going to be for my lack of trying…
instead of moping around about having so few chickens, i’m proud to say (several posts after you already know this- hahahaha) that we have finally added to our flock!
instead of feeling bad about the substandard compost pile, i’ve started a new one in the front with the chicken bedding. sorry, city of seattle!
and instead of letting my ego tell me how important i should be, i’m trying to be guided by a vision of what a good person i could be…
i’m hoping it will free up a lot of brain space for more important things…