The Dark Side of McMinnvillains

Living in McMinnville has made me feel like I’m stuck in an alternate universe where people don’t behave the way you expect them to, especially the adults.  Hippies aren’t hippies here (peace loving liberal people) they have M16s and 40 children and live on compounds so that they don’t have to be part of the rest of us.  Don’t be fooled by beardiness or hippie-style clothes.  Having tattoos doesn’t mean you’re a rebel soul up here.  In fact, having tattoos says exactly nothing up here except that you were bored and had enough money to get another tattoo.  Everyone has tattoos here!  Libertarians in California are all for smaller government and their approach isn’t particularly extreme but here in Oregon the Libertarians are a scary group of paranoid people who I’m pretty sure are all in need of anti-psychotic meds but would never get them because medication is part of the government complex BRINGING US ALL DOWN and besides,  seeing regular western doctors leaves a paper trail.

Finding people I understand and can really be myself around has been a huge challenge.  Then there’s the townspeople in general.  Shopping at Winco is like getting my weekly circus entertainment.  Everywhere I go I am reminded that the greatest danger of living in a small community is to let it make you smaller in the head and heart.

I am going to list some of the things people have said and/or done to me and things I have observed that I need to place on one big pyre of outrage to be burnt and my hope is that when I’m gone the stars of these stories* will learn to stop being so small in the heart and head.

Stories and anecdotes for the burn pile:

  • I was chatting with a bank teller and mentioned that I’d gone to San Diego last year for a conference.  She said wistfully that she’d never traveled but would like to some day.  I mentioned that my favorite recent trip had been to New York.  She told me she’d be scared to go to New York.  I asked her why.  She said “Because of all the diversity.”
  • I was working at a holiday fair a few years ago and naturally got into conversation with the people there.  One lady asked me about my relationship with Jesus so I told her I wasn’t religious because I was raised by wolves.  The next morning she comes up to me with a very concerned look on her face and says she’s been thinking about my comment that I was raised by wolves and hoped I didn’t mind her asking if I was Native American.  Erm-uh-????**  Once I disclosed that by “wolves” I really meant “hippies”*** she decided I wasn’t exempt from her proselytizing and proceeded to pound me over the head with her club full of Jesus.
  • I was getting my hair cut the other day and mentioned that one of the things I’m going to miss about this area are the u-pick farms because Sonoma County doesn’t have any.  She said “You’d think with all those Mexicans in the fields down there that there would be plenty of them.”
  • I was told this story by a man who knows I send my child to public school “When my kids and I would drive by the public school I would tell them that that’s where all the children go whose parents don’t love them.”  I wanted to punch him for that one but he could snap my neck like a twig so I stuffed my feelings as far down into my body as I could and will probably get stomach cancer because of it.
  • Remember the time I had a yelling match WITH A REAL LIVE YOUNG CHAUVINIST?  It was when we discovered that we were going to go bankrupt and we told our tenants that the house they were living in was going to be foreclosed on and they could stay as long as they wanted, rent free, until the bank actually took it.  And remember how the tenant was someone I considered a friend and her boyfriend called me up and asked to talk to the man of the house?  Cause I will never forget that horrible phone call.  That young man refused to talk with me, a woman, about my own business because I’m a woman and he didn’t feel comfortable talking business with a woman.  I lost my shit with him big time and my “friend” completely defended his behavior calling him “old fashioned”.  We ceased to be friends that day.  Maybe that’s rash of me but if being friends with someone means having to be exposed to such ass-holery then I won’t do it.  She married him and lived happily ever after and I’m happy for her because she’s a good person.  You know what’s stupid though?  That house took two years to foreclose.  Those two people could have lived in a nice house for two years without paying any rent.  Too bad they were too angry with us for being financially ruined and making them move to realize we were trying to give them something to make things easier for them.  There’s a lesson in there somewhere.
  • So recently I heard a young person mention an incident involving the night and a black person being stupid for doing something at night because his skin is so dark.  Apparently only white people can get away with doing stupid stuff at night.  Racism in young people is alive and well!
  • Here, just like on Fox News, being a democrat is the same as being a socialist.  I was called a socialist by a Libertarian welder.  While he was not complimenting me, I thank him for helping me to realize that the form of democracy I believe in really IS socialism.  The Nordic Model, as I’ve mentioned before.  And I DO take it as a compliment.
  • One time I lost “something”**** that belonged to a friend.  That friend called me up and yelled at me and was pretty much freaking the fuck out as though I’d actually stolen said “thing” and sold it to the pawn shop for a dollar.  I apologized harder than I’ve ever apologized before and explained that I didn’t mean to “lose” this “thing” of hers and pretty much didn’t even realize it was in my possession to lose in the first place.  She was having none of it.  She said “If  _______ doesn’t turn up I don’t think I’ll ever be able to look at your face again!”  Said thing did turn up again but we happily demoted each other from “friend” to “acquaintance” status from that day forward.  I admit that I’m still hurt at her reaction to something that was a genuine mistake that righted itself.  It was, however, very revealing of her character.
  • But that just reminds me of the other friendship I lost because I was tired of having my choice to send my child to public school be bashed.  Yeah, this is a different home schooler than the one mentioned above.  This one called my son cruel for making one of her girls cry and even her husband said she was way off the mark by calling him “cruel” and admitted he’d made a lot of girls cry when he was a kid and it’s called “being a boy”.  That’s what he said to me though I doubt he said that to his own wife.  This is the home schooling friend who said that sending kids to public school is abusing them, and she also believes being gay is a sin because of the bible.  The writing was on the wall very early on but I was lonely and she liked homesteading activities like I do.
  • The fallout from the above story is that another mutual friend unfriended me in solidarity.  We have since remained chilly acquaintances.  That wasn’t exactly surprising and honestly I was going to unfriend her if she didn’t do it first because I had had enough of seeing her and other mutual acquaintances exclude me from their circles out loud and in my face.  I felt much better when it was clear that we were really definitely NOT friends.  Pretending takes way too much effort.
  • Then there was the quietly religious acquaintance who cheated on her husband and then, I guess because he forgave her, she became obnoxiously loudly religious peppering every conversation with “hallelujah”s and “Thank you Jesus”s and Jesus this and Jesus that and the lord does this and that and the other thing until you’re so fucking blue in the face you know you’re going to die and Jesus isn’t going to save you because he’s too busy trying to get people to stop thanking him every two fucking seconds for shit he didn’t do.  Amen.
  • Max had a friend for a little while whose mom was really his young grandma who had all her teeth removed and fake ones put in because I suppose it was easier than getting the rot fixed.  She is one of those leathery women who have lived and partied hard and looks it.  So one day she tells me her daughter (a drug addict who keeps sending her children to their grandma to raise) is in surgery and I told her I hoped the surgery would go well.  She says “Well, I trust in the lord because he’s the real surgeon.”  ????
  • So the owner of Third Street books doesn’t like me and said shit to a mutual friend about me.  Shit that makes no sense.  I’ve never done anything but support her bookstore and what she said makes it sound like I’m a very untrustworthy person.  What the hell did I ever do to her?  I knew she didn’t like me but until I heard that I didn’t realize she actually saw me as a bad person.  I have tried hard not to buy anything from her store since but there have been a couple of gift emergencies.
  • At the downtown grocery store (often referred to as the “health food store” for lack of a more appropriate title) I met a person who didn’t know what eggplants are.  I also met a person who didn’t recognize basil when she saw it.  The eggplants I can maybe understand if I really really tried to imagine a world where people never learn what an eggplant looks like but to not recognize basil is unimaginable.  It is one of the most ubiquitous herbs in use in the United States.
  • Got stuck in a scary rickety van once for over a half and hour listening to two very conservative republicans tell me all about how much they LOVE Rush Limbaugh and even wrote a limerick to him about how he needs to stop dating that liberal chick he was dating and apparently they managed to get Rush to read it on his show.  I’ve never been tempted to jump out of a moving vehicle in my life until that moment.  Instead I interrupted them to announce that I’m a liberal democrat because it seems they mistook me for one of their own.  The older one broke out in laughter and said “Oh yeah, we’ve got a couple of liberals in our family.”  Like we’re lepers or clowns or something.
  • It still amazes me that my own kid got bullied in grade school by Christian kids because he doesn’t believe in God.  Know how to convert an atheist to the ways of God?  I don’t know but I know you can’t do it by BULLYING.  And haven’t you heard of that guy named Jesus who was totally against violence and mean behaviors?
  • I was hanging out in the lobby of the Kung Fu school I went to for two years and had to listen to a conversation between my Kung Fu teacher and the mom of some kid attending the school.  She was talking about all those people out there with “depression” who are popping pills because they’re too lazy to get off their asses and get a little exercise and eat better food.  My kung fu teacher could not have agreed with her more and they went on to say how people don’t really have “depression” and dissed everyone taking pills.  He knows I am a mentally ill person who takes medication.  How are people here so thoughtless of those around them and so fucking self righteous and ignorant?  I eventually quit the school because I was tired of paying more money than I could afford to be continually insulted and bludgeoned over the head about my choice to send my kid to public school, the fact that I take medications so I WON’T KILL MYSELF, and hearing Obama and all of government accused of unremitting EVIL.  It was so unhealthy for me to be exposed to so much hate and bashing and I took Max out of the school too because he was having huge anxiety issues every day that he had to go to Kung Fu class.  The severity of those problems cleared up almost immediately when he stopped going.
  • One time I was riding my bicycle and some teens shouted “Sexy” derisively from their car.  I know I’m fat and pretty ugly these days but that was just mean.
  • I’d like to say the yelling has been from teens only and only once but the truth is that I have been yelled at from passing cars in this town whether I’m walking, riding my bicycle, or riding my scooter more times than I can count on my two hands and it has been from adults more than from teens.  WTFF?!  I guess you can’t teach your teens manners if you don’t have any yourself.  I haven’t been yelled at from passing cars since I was a death rocker teen.

What I want to know is how I can meet so many people in one small town who have so little respect for the feelings and beliefs of other people around them?  I disagree with so many people’s beliefs that I’ve met here but I have endeavored not to shit on their choices, to listen to what they have to say and consider it.  Even if you know you’re not going to change your mind – don’t other people deserve a little space to make their own choices about things and to disagree with you?  Yes, it can be hard to do, but never more so when that respect and space is not mutual.  Not everyone in McMinnville is this way, not everyone here has guns or is conservative or religious.  Not everyone here is mean or ignorant or racist.  But unfortunately I was not welcomed into the inner circles of the more liberal crowd.  I just didn’t fit in with anyone but the recluses and the outsiders and most of them moved away because THEY HATED IT HERE.

The few who have let me into their lives and LIKED me and wish I wasn’t moving are the only reason I stayed as long as I did and hoped endlessly to see the lighter side of McMinnvillains.  And to those few good friends I am deeply thankful because they made it possible for me to deal with all the above stories without going postal.  Those good friends here gave me a safe haven where I could be myself and not be bashed for it.

Now I have collected all the stories in one place that have been burning holes in my heart and head – let them burn to the ground and become something better.  I don’t know if I brought anything good to this town but I know that  living here in an environment that is so hostile to my beliefs has made me a better person in ways I didn’t know I needed to improve.  I was shown my own darker side and have been forced to address it.

How weak my religious tolerance was before I moved here!  It’s so easy to be open minded when your mind isn’t challenged to remain open by people who believe differently than you and are loud about it.  Now every time I am chafed by some religious person’s fervor and want to scream I remind myself how many religious people there are out there who are open minded enough to not care that I’m an atheist.

For every home schooling parent out there who thinks sending my child to public school is proof that I don’t love him enough there’s a home schooling parent who respects that our kids are all different and no educational choice is right for everyone.

I used to say I wasn’t much of a feminist.  I mean, I have never seen the world from the man-versus-woman perspective.  We’re in it together and I have been lucky enough to know mostly awesome men who see the women in their lives as equals and, where appropriate, partners.  Before I moved here I thought most chauvinism was only in the 50 year old and older crowd.  Encountering my first ever young chauvinist and being in a situation where I was refused as an equal I discovered, to my surprise, that I’m a raging feminist.  I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually had a screaming match with another adult.   I don’t scream at adults when I’m angry.  Unless they are refusing to discuss my own business with me because I’m a woman, apparently that wakes the beast.  I’m not proud that I screamed at this man but it did show me that I am as much of a feminist as I need to be depending on how I’m being treated.  And now that a whole set of politicians and their fans are attacking women’s rights all over again – I’ve never been more ready to fight this stupid shit.

Time to light a match to this pyre full of ugly.  Excuse me while I go look for some matches.

*If you recognize yourself in any of these stories and become flaming mad – I can’t help that.  I can’t undo your behaviors or change our interactions.  I can only go forward and to do that I have to let go and to let go I have to express my own anger and hurt.  If you need to “unfriend” me on facebook (if you haven’t already) I won’t mind at all.  That’s your dealio.  If you decide to retaliate by saying more mean and disrespectful shit about me to other people you will only be dirtying yourself.  Whatever you do, don’t bother talking to me personally about any of this because the time for that is past.  If I was mutually hurtful in our exchanges (as I definitely was in two instances for which I was genuinely ashamed of myself) I have already apologized to you for my unnecessary meanness.  Ask yourself this: have you apologized to me?  (Here’s a hint: the answer is NO.)  The end.

**Seriously?  I couldn’t look more white even if I wanted to.  Someone maybe needs stronger glasses?

***The real kind, not the fake Oregon kind.

****The details are being smudged in hopes that I don’t start a war with this story.  But it really hurt me and bothered me so much I had to put it on the fire with the rest of these stories.


  1. Kathy says:

    What the fuck?!! There is no excuse for the behavior of these people, none! I’m so glad you’re getting out of that shit hole and to a place where people use their minds for something other than shooting their guns and thumping their bibles!

  2. Shanta says:

    Just think of the next great book you can write with all the characters you have met 🙂 great info gathering. Sometimes I feel like I exist in a tv show, I mean I didn’t realize not everyone was born with common sense and a sense of community and compassion. Your time here and getting to know you has been a highlight in my life. I loved seeing you wearing red lipstick and ride your scooter around town. Thinking of you brings a smile to my life. All your donations to those you don’t even know, validated the existence of people that society wants to forget. You’ve made a difference I love the way you write and express yourself. I wish we had made it to go forage elderberries, you totally saved Rob by passing on that knowledge to me and I will never forget that. Thank you for your friendship and accepting me as who I am.

  3. Kayleigh says:

    I am so sorry that what I had said was so misconstrued, and that it hurt you. I wont bother to debate what I said but I think it is good for people to let things out like This. It is healthy for you but also for other people to read things and hear them in another persons perspective. I have been raised in rural conservative areas the majority of my life and its funny because I was always the token liberal kid growing up, even though I clearly am not super liberal. Lol. I think you are an amazing woman and one of the things that I most disagreed with in reading this is that you said you are ugly. Which you are not. You physically are a beautiful woman, and your spirit is beautiful, so please don’t hate on yourself like that. I am excited for this new adventure you guys are on. And I hope that you will be very happy there 🙂 thank you for sharing 🙂

    And kathy: we do use our minds for things other than shooting gins and thumping Bibles thank you very much.

  4. angelina says:

    I wish we got to foraging elderberries together too! If you get around to doing it this fall you can find a good supply up where the Kung Fu school goes shooting. Also – if you like – I can show you my favorite tree to forage from in my neighborhood. It doesn’t seem to belong to anyone and it usually has a good supply. I hope we get together again before I’m gone! You’re comments are so so kind! You know that you’ve been a big inspiration to me – the way you give so much of yourself to those around you. When I have things to donate to the people you help it makes me feel a part of something really good.

  5. Nicole says:

    Pack your bags and get your ass back to California and if you don’t do it soon I will be at your house with a truck myself!

  6. angelina says:

    Kayleigh – what you said didn’t hurt me – it just surprised me and disappointed me to hear you say something that sounded so racist. You’ve always been so sweet to me and I appreciate that so much. Philip really likes you too and enjoyed having you be part of his working life. You’re starting your own new adventure too and I hope your move goes smoothly. Portland is an awesome city!

  7. angelina says:

    I’m coming as fast as I can!! We can’t move into the whole house we’re renting until July 1st so that’s when we’re coming. Philip is already there – looking for work. Can’t wait to come home!!!!

  8. Lisbeth says:

    Well I am glad you are able to move from such bigotry….Write a book this is the kind of stuff that is almost unbelievable until you experience it for yourself. Best of luck to you and your family 🙂

  9. RushLimbaugh says:

    How about you get back in the kitchen and bake us all a pie, followed by a nice heaping mug of shut the fuck up.

  10. RvB says:

    All we have to do is see your waistline to see how much you love that pie, Rush. Want some Oxycontin for dessert?

  11. Ann says:

    Not only a great post, but oh, the comments! It is all good fodder for writing. Keep up the good work, as always!

  12. Anthony says:

    I just came back to your blog again, because I did not see any of the mentioned fb comments, it was my first time here. I then noticed that there was actually a spot that I had to click in order to see comments. Everything I wrote earlier on fb was before reading any of these comments. Before I finally read them, I kept thinking of some things that I wanted to say to you; however it was just too much to post on fb. Then I finally found and read these comments on your blog… Wow! I too thought some of the very same points some people touched on. One of them is why the hell are you calling yourself ugly? I have not seen you in years but you were never ugly, you have always been beautiful! Please… You are not ugly! Personally I also don’t think of people as being ugly by their bodies alone. What I do consider ugly is people whom are judgmental and quick to make it known and without any regard to hurting people; they are truly the ugly ones. I am so glad I noticed your post on fb. I am going to continue reading your blog from now on. I also just found your book too” Straight From the Jugular”. So Awesome! Keep on going you are very smart and you have a lot to say. I love it!

  13. Robin says:

    I’m so sorry you have had to deal with these people. Small towns can be so narrowminded. And you deserve much better As many have said you area beautiful woman both inside and out. Don’t let anyone change who you are. And to those who must still try to bring you down.SHAME ON THEM! Especially if they can’t even sign their own name!

  14. angelina says:

    RvB – for a second I thought you were talking about MY “waistline” which is pretty impressive – then saw you were referring to Rush. So now I’m just laughing at both me and Rush! What an awesome comment. Thank you.

  15. angelina says:

    Thank you Anthony- you are so sweet! I don’t judge other people for being overweight and I certainly don’t think beauty is just about body size. But I have become obese and I’m really sensitive about it and hard on myself over it. Some of it was not my fault (broken hip and then additional serious weight gain from a med I was taking) but it IS my fault that I’m still huge. Being constantly stressed and depressed without having the level of emotional support I needed for so many years has really undermined my ability to do what I need to do to lose the weight. I know I can do it and now that I’ll be moving it will be easier to find my feet and a routine that works again. I feel ugly because I also have rosacea now so my face looks diseased. I’m applying some cream to it and it’s improving but I just hate how I look right now.

  16. Grace says:

    Darling, I know you know this, but I PROMISE this isn’t a cross-section of the whole state of Oregon. I’m sorry your experiences have been so very bad. I hope things will be leagues better for you after your move.

  17. angelina says:

    I have made a HUGE effort not to be too revealing of the things that were going on on my blog because I wanted to protect the people I was trying to get along with and in some cases be friends with. I was trying to be as respectful as I could but over the years that respect has not been returned and it started making me feel extra bitter that I was protecting people who HURT me and protecting them was hurting myself. A little bit like an abusive relationship. Anyone who knows me knows I can lash out and be mean, I’m not perfect, I don’t think I’m better than these people because I know how flawed I am but I do know I’m not as ignorant and I’m more tolerant and I’m much NICER to my friends and enemies alike. And, more importantly to me is that I have apologized to those people I lashed out at with meanness.* I just finally had to write all these little snippets and the bigger stories. I don’t want to hurt them back in retaliation and my friend Angela says she was surprised how much restraint I used in this post. There are so many more stories like these and comments from townspeople that made my jaw drop and instances where people who were supposed to be my friends were just assholes (they wouldn’t recognize themselves as such, obviously) but I chose the ones that were most illustrative and the ones that were really eating away at me.

    *I did not apologize to the chauvinist though. I should probably apologize for yelling at him. I will not apologize for being righteously angry – but I should probably seek him out because losing my shit like that was not the best way to deal with the situation. That’s not the person I want to be.

  18. angelina says:

    Grace – I do know! We were discussing that this morning on FB because my friend Fala was concerned that maybe I thought all of Oregon was like this. I lived in Ashland OR as a kid and I loved it there. Loved it so much I considered myself an Oregonian long after returning to California. Since living here I have also discovered that Portland is my favorite city in the world. More than San Francsico – my birth city which I love. We did give very serious consideration to moving to Portland but the thought of having to start all over again in a new city and the lack of jobs there turned our attention back to Santa Rosa. I really need to be surrounded by people who let me run wild in their house and drop in on them at any hour and who always have time to hang out when I need them. I think McMinnville is just a dark hole. I needed to come here to have these epxeriences – it’s what got me to finally crack the fiction code and become what I have wanted to be my whole life (novelist). I honestly think I had to leave Santa Rosa and get so far out of my comfort zone that I had to turn to writing to keep afloat. There have been other good things about living here as I wrote about last week. This is just the post where I put all the dark shit so it can float away.

  19. French Knots says:

    Burning up the narrowminded, racist and sexist crap you have encoutered leaves you less weighed down by it all as you move on to, or back to, a more positive place. The smoke from it drifts away over your garden.

    You strike me as unfailling open minded and tolerant, your writing often makes me stop and think.

  20. Karmyn R says:

    WTF? Angelina – I think these weird people must just gravitate to you. (I’m laughing right now with sadness and disbelief that there are that many kooks in McMinnville) I live in Albany and there are plenty of small-minded people here too and I definitely don’t have as many stories. (or maybe I do, I’ve just blocked them from my mind in some sort of defense mechanism).

    Of course – there is the time I asked a lady on my street if she wanted some fresh green beans and she gave me a look of horror, “Why would I want fresh beans? I don’t know how to cook them.” HA! (so, I guess these people live everywhere – you just happen to have found a little nesting pool of them)

  21. angelina says:

    It’s true that I seem to attract such people! And it’s not like there aren’t similar people in other places I’ve lived but I’ve never encountered so many in one small pool of people. That’s awesome – I didn’t know a person under 20 could NOT know what to do with fresh beans!! There are so many cool open minded Oregonians like you it makes me sad I chose to live among what has turned out to be the least so. But this post is about the dark side and there is also a light side. I just really needed to get these things off my chest. I feel better now that I have and I definitely still love Oregon and having spent 8 years of my childhood in Ashland and now 6 years up here I will always consider myself both an Oregonian and a Californian. A real natal mutt, if you will.

  22. angelina says:

    Thank you Jo! I’m less tolerant than I want myself to be – that’s what I’ve discovered living here. So it gives me something to work towards. I had to let all this out to move on and I’m glad I did. I’m ready for my move!!

  23. Ann says:

    I had words for that particular troll, but thought about feeding such and just let it go. You are a remarkable woman, Angelina. I’m glad to know you.

  24. angelina says:

    Lisbeth – I’m so sorry I didn’t respond to your comment! I only just noticed it now. Thank you so much. I did write a book inspired by some of the crazy shit I’ve heard in this town – now, to get it published. But that one doesn’t really illustrate small town life. I will consider this fodder for another book!

  25. Jay says:

    Angelina are you still in the area?? I could sure use to know you about now!!! I KNOW what you’re saying about this place, and I have stories of my own! As a local business owner there I have to be careful what I post here. I feel bad that you’ve had to experience these types of situations, because IVE EXPERIENCED them too!! I know how it feels. Uuuuuugh. Difficult to find people there that I even want to know better.

  26. angelina says:

    I moved away from McMinnville five years ago. I’ve never looked back! I’m sorry you’re experiencing the dark side of McMinnville too.

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