Only on Vashon- The Weekly Rundown 08/05/2022

We’ve all had struggles with the ferries and the postal service. We’ve dealt with everything from not getting time sensitive mail and medications to missing medical appointments despite queueing up hours early at the ferry. 

We deserve better. We deserve functioning systems. 

And we should be able to rant about it without being scolded for our negativity. 

We have this post, addressing the issue of how we respond to other people’s irritation at our failing systems:

“So tired of the incessant gaslighting from the Vashon apologists who insist that reliably and consistently receiving our mail and parcels or being able even to leave the island or come home (WSF) anymore is a privilege and a luxury we should all be simping for. The real privilege is in all the people telling everyone else to just ‘be patient’, ‘be kind’, ‘get over it’, ‘just move if you don’t like it’ etc.“

Many islanders commiserate. One says, “One of Vashon’s most annoying cultural quirks is to pass off bad behavior and failure to do one’s job as ‘island time.’“

I’ve always liked the idea of island time as a temporal anomaly in which time flows at a different rate, kind of like that one Star Trek episode, or that other Star Trek episode, or pretty much any Star Trek episode. But you need to be able to opt out of island time when you have a neurology appointment in Tacoma. 

A local islander took inspiration from Allen Ginsberg and wrote this: “Nobody gives a fuck about my righteous indignation, but as much as I love pissing into the wind, nobody cares. Call a wambulance for me; I’m in the ditch thrashing about, unhinged and apoplectic. I am right and they are wrong.” 

Some see this poem as mansplaining rather than commiseration. 

This leads us into the weeds of the topic of mansplaining. Strap in folks! We’re having a pointless semantic debate that distracts us from solving material problems! 

One commenter defined it thusly: “’Mansplaining’ – used to dismiss any differing viewpoint voiced by a person appearing to identify as male.”

There’s nothing quite like having the concept of mansplaining explained to you in a condescending tone. 

So another islander points out that, not only is the commenter mansplaining, but he kinda doesn’t know what exactly mansplaining is. She gives a more nuanced definition: “Mansplaining is kinda agreeing, pointing out flaws, giving history, reexplaining and agreeing with a woman and dismissing what a woman just said because he can say it better. Disagreeing is a totally different thing.”

Another islander adds, ““Mansplaining” has nothing to do with dissent or differing opinions but everything to do with the delivery. Often stating your opinion as fact and assuming a condescending and patronizing tone.”

I’ve been told I was mansplaining when getting excited about an idea and sharing what I know. I think people often jump to offense too easily in online conversations, assuming their interlocutor is taking them for unenlightened when in fact they’re just enthusiastic. But sometimes someone is being a putz. 

I was trying to figure out who was being referred to as the original mansplainer, and many comments deep, I learned that it was the commenter who called the original post ‘word salad’ despite it being totally cohesive and understandable, then restated the ideas in the form of goth poetry about asphyxiating in the gutter of the WSF incompetence or whatever it was. The ‘word salad’ comment was off base, but I don’t think it’s mansplaining when you reiterate someone’s ideas through the lens of psychedelic metaphor.  

Eventually, it came out that the commenter didn’t take issue with being told they were condescending, but rather that the condescension was assumed to be gendered. We’ve now changed the term to personspaining, and everyone is happy. I mean, we’re happy with the new word we coined. We still haven’t solved the ferry problem, and getting distracted by semantics didn’t help. 

We get back on topic eventually.  One person asks, “And sooo … Where do you all think the multi-Millions of dollars will come from, to build newer ferries to improve our ferry transportation ?? Are you ready to step up and pay extra taxes or fares to fund it ??”

I propose we divert funding from the military and police and use that to fund transportation, education, and social services. But many people assume any project must come directly from property taxes, and therefore they’d rather not have it.

Or, as many islanders point out, we could just bring back car tab fees. 

An islander reminds us that there’s hope for the future. “Jay Inslee signed a $17 billion transportation package that will pay for projects across the state, including $1.5 billion for the ferry system.”

Then there’s the whole, ‘If you don’t vote, you can’t complain’ rhetoric. I find this a bit irritating for a number of reasons. For one, we vote, but that only goes so far. Then you have to bring up issues to legislators. Then you have to form a Super Pac and outbid competing lobbyists with dark money.  And while you’re waiting for the gears of government to slowly turn, you need to have networks of mutual aid to help people in immediate need. 2. Even if you don’t vote or can’t vote, you have a right to basic services. 3. Sometimes people vote for absolute garbage, like lowering car tab fees.

Since we’re all stuck on the island forever now, we want to know  “Who is responsible for all the Tansy that is taking over and destroying Vashon Island❓🤷🏽‍♂️❓

First, we disagree about what Tansy Ragwort is.  One person says, “The OP‘s picture is not the tansy ragwort, it is common Tansey. “ The original poster then absolutely trolls her by saying, “I believe you are incorrect” to everything she says. It’s clearly a gag, but she’s at the point of ripping her hair out. 

Could we use bugs to manage the weed? The cinnabar moth feeds on tansy ragwort, but it also feeds on native plants, so introducing it could cause problems. This begs the question, why would a moth eat nontoxic plants when the toxins in ragwort protect it? One islander says, “I do not pretend to know the mind of a caterpillar. Just going by what the Noxious Weed Control Board says.”

But it’s unlikely we will ever get rid of the weed. An islander points to its true origins on Vashon. “Tansy seeds are included in some government chemtrail over-flights. I have heard that Tansy seeds also sometimes arrive embedded in the scat of Coyotes delivered by middle of the night Fish and Wildlife black helicopters (on loan from the UN).”

Now we’re talking. Our government can’t get its act together to run a ferry system, but they can develop and execute a bioengineering system with coordination from multiple government and international agencies. 

Tansy Ragwort is a darkops.

Finally, we spotted people eating raw oysters off the beach on Jenson point.

This is worrisome, as there have been reports of red tides, but people have been eating raw oysters from here for generations. 

One islander says, “I remember people clamming at Jenson Point in the 60s when it was WAY poopier.” 

Another replies, “I remember seeing actual human poop floating in the water of Quartermaster harbor in those days.”

“Vashon’s culture was better when we shit in the Sound.”

“Hahahaha. We were tougher. That’s for sure.”

Anna Shomsky
Author: Anna Shomsky

I'm a former teacher and a data engineer living on Vashon Island. My writing has appeared in Five on the Fifth, Women on Writing and on the Post-Culture Podcast. I wrote and produced the radio show Whispers of Vashon for 101.9 KVSH. I’ve had short stories published in the anthologies Island Stories and Chicken Scratchings, as well as through the Open Space Literary Project.

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