little islands

I moved MKs chair (formerly known as ‘The Lady’s Chair’), she likes it in the middle of everything, but turned slightly so it is like a little shelter. Unfortunately, this can make it a bit difficult to make it around my own cave. She just came in and saw its new position, I have yet to get her fanny of approval on it, so who knows?

Rhode Island, where I live, is a funny place.

It is…very small. I think one of the smallest states. You can drive across it in 1/2 hour. The joke is that once a tractor trailer gets its rear wheels into the state the frot tires have already left.

We are famous for our art schools, jazz festivals, costume jewelry, strange writers, poltical corruption and absolute rebirth as a state that has made several top ten living lists after being nicknamed “the armpit of the east” for decades.

It is a state of contradictions.

And oddities.

One of which being the strange sense of distance that people acquire when they live here. A trip to a town that takes all of 45 minutes becomes something you need overnight plans for. Going 4 miles on a bicycle across the border into another state is a shocking event of daring.

Town to town, there is a sharp difference between local style, dialect and accent that contributes to all of this. Then again, if you look at it historically, each major town (most of which are somehow tied to the sea) had sharply different minority populations. The southren points were hard scrabble fisherman, the southeast – where the fleet captains and owners lived, the capital city – a port of commerce and place of political and religious and scholary diversity, the northren towns the homes of the factories and mills, the northwest – bounded by marsh and mountain, the most land locked of all, home to farmers who really…didn’t have a lot to work from.

The French-Candiens settled mostly north of the capital. The capital saw more then its fair share of English and Italians. The sea towns were filled with Portugese immigrants, the finest boatbuilders and fisherman to be found. The eastern bloc countries came at some point, filling the cities with small pockets of peoples whose countries now no longer exist. There is a strong and diverse liberal and orthodox Jewish community. In later years, Rhode Island became a point of refuge for Liberians, Cambodians, Myung, and several Latin countries. Left over from its vaunted position on the Underground railroad, there is a strong African-American population here with a sort of “sister-statehood” with the Carolinas. The Native-Americans who were here first, the Narragansets, Nipmuc, Pequot and Wampanoag – of course – were more or less erased from the history of the State, although they are making gains in re-establishing their influence. If you follow the Supreme Court at all there is an interesting lawsuit about who owns the city of Cranston and who owes who back rent.

Add in 5 internationally known schools, and several nationally respected training institutions and you have…quite an odd mix.

Discounting the students, barely a million people live in Rhode Island. We are 43rd in the nation for population, and 2nd for population density. Almost half of the population lives in Providence (the capital), Woonsocket or Pawtucket.

Pawtucket borders Providence. It is barely 2 miles from the downcity area of the capital. Woonsocket is 15 miles away.

So anyway…

People in Rhode Island think it is a chore to drive from Providence to Pawtucket and Providence and Woonsocket treat each other like they are foreign countries. The funny thing is, they kindof are.

I was riding my bicycle to Woonsocket the other day, no small feat as it is 15 miles up a huge ass hill, and I got to ride through the main cities and towns and see how it changed with the unseen borders. I got to the top of the hill, all proud of myself and my phone range. The place I was going said, “Not today, come tomorrow.” So I turned around and pedaled home. It took me an hour and a half to get there and 45 minutes to get back to give you an idea of the elevation.

The next day, still proud of my feat but now tired, I took the bus. A two hour trip. And I opted to not listen to my headphones and instead to listen to the conversations around me – how the voices and accents changed as we took on and let people off. From the more urbane capital city dwellers to the rougher voices of the cities steeped in the history of cheap labor.

I got off the bus at the top of the same hill where I had ridden my bike and my phone rang again. It was the place I was going and they said “We’re so sorry, we promise this is the last time, but not today can you come Friday in the afternoon?”

Of course.

One of the things I have learned – all of a sudden – is the art of waiting. And being prepared. I have a feeling, instinct, about why everything is changing to Friday and I just let it go at that. After all it could be my own projection of meaning on a situation based in someone else simply not being prepared.

The important thing is not the interpretation that we put on events, the search for meaning in events and coincidence, but that we recognize the possibility of meaning and act accordingly.

I could decide they are just a mess and get all frustrated or, I could decide there is a great over-riding meaning that makes it all very special and lose sight of the fact that the people are a mess (and with good cause) and that should thread its way through my own preparations for the visit. As should the possibility of meaning that extends itself outside of the rational. Because, as I was reading the other day, there really is nothing that is outside of the rational. Its just that we are mostly still learning to see all of what is real.

So here I am, waiting to see if MK will deign to put her fanny on the chair or if I have to move it back into the center of everything again.

And just doing my thing…

c.2010 Cassandra Tribe. All Rights Reserved.

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About cassandratribe

"There are few artists that can do what Cassandra Tribe does. Whether with her poetry, her videos or her blog, Cassandra examines the truths that most of us can never come close to realizing and shows it for what it is, both beautiful and frightening at the same time. She exposes our inner-most workings like the cross-section of a powerful but flawed machine, our gears and springs, nuts and bolts removed and laid out before us. She is a true artist. Her new video, Requiem for a God, is the latest example of Cassandra's willingness to tear open and examine the very things that make us human. Shooting the film entirely by herself, she also eliminates all the little excuses we come up with to keep us from ourselves and our truth. You see, even when she's not trying to be, Cassandra Tribe is a beacon of truth and humanity in this darkest of worlds." (Michael E. Quigg, The Culture Network, June 2009)
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