Resetting Your Moral Compass

preamble 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 remedy

Continuing my numeric outline of your staff’s June House Meeting minutes, I’ve pulled aside this analysis of Seattle’s problem communicating its recycling/composting/landfill solutions to its intended audience because of the duration and volume and expanse of Delores’s rage stemming from three packets of tea:

3. My apologies in advance for the length of my analysis documenting the chain of passive aggressive communications, replete with Delores’s ongoing harassment, malicious harassment, and threats of bodily harm, circling around the the compost issue. After this, I’d like to not have to write, speak, or listen to anymore raging about compost for the rest of my life, which I still – perhaps unreasonably – hope is not more than halfway spent. I don’t know about you, but I feel exhausted by the combined total hours I have listened to people rage about compost, recycling, and landfill in Seattle, despite its national reputation as a green city. Those hours are subtracted from my job-seeking time. I have not experienced “spare” time for at least two decades, when I decided to value life perhaps more than your average couch potato. That is how I have been able to accomplish so much on such minuscule budgets. On the upside, this microcosmic conflict beautifully demonstrates how passive aggressive communication rationalizes abusive, or criminal, behavior, providing still further evidence of the value of Unplay to the global market:

From my first morning at Restful Peace Cottage, Delores disrupted my meditative tea and writing ritual with her rage.

At the June house meeting, Delores rudely interrupted my telling of my perspective on the compost issue at this point by shouting, “THAT’S A LIE.”

Followed by April sharing with everyone who attended June’s meeting her judgment formed on the basis of nothing more than listening to Delores’s martyr narrative during their executive smoke session outside May’s group meeting, openly accusing me of “vengeance” rather than recognizing the urgent need of placing healthy boundaries on her criminally abusive behavior. So, again, if Compass staff could be better educated to withhold their judgments while remaining open to hearing multiple perspectives and first weighing the preponderance of evidence, then may I continue?

Plucking my three paper packets of tea where I had left them in the countertop plastic bin that Hilary had indicated during my walk-through was to be used for kitchen compost, Delores announced, apropos of nothing as far as I could see from my position at the dining room table, holding aloft her fistful of tea-dampened paper, her tone shaking with rage, “We recycle here.”

Because none of her arguments against disposing food-soiled paper in the compost bin were logical, and her rage far out-sized to her perceived offense, I could readily see Delores’s conflict was internal, symptomatic of trauma, unrelated to her superficial complaint:

First, she argued, dictating at me that I must prioritize her rage ahead of my morning’s meditative practice, the paper packets of tea were not compostable because they were not designed and printed with the text “recyclable,” which to me communicated nothing more than her unreasonable expectation for the graphic designer producing the packaging, as well as her confusion of the separation between Seattle’s recycling and composting programs, where of course any food-soiled paper, including enormous, meat-greasy corrugated cardboard pizza delivery boxes, can be deposited in curbside yard waste/composting bins, as long as the paper consists of wood pulp or other natural fibers, no plastic.

Next, she raged that my three paper packets of tea took up too much space in the kitchen compost bin, and that I needed to be more considerate of the compost space needs of the five other women in the household, her argument made all the more illogical, or self-centered, after she dumped her basket coffee filter and spent grounds – scaled considerably larger than my petite three packets of tea – in the same bin. Clearly, then, Delores’s rage pertained to autonomy and sharing space.

Third, she spluttered onward about dyes and inks, which relate in some regions, again, to recyclable, not compostable, material. In Seattle, however, paper recycling is so comprehensive we do not distinguish between soy, oil, or rubber-based inks, all paper that is not food soiled belongs in the recycling bin if you cannot find other reuses for it. I suggested she better familiarize herself with Seattle’s recycling and composting rules rather than continue to disrupt my morning meditative practice. Instead, she unpinned the curbside pickup schedule from the kitchen bulletin board, and flung it in my direction on the table where I had been peacefully writing before Delores decided to disrespect my spiritual and healthy psychological practice, a clear violation of your Non-Discrimination Anti-Harassment Policy, which states:

Compass Housing Alliance will not tolerate harassment or intimidation of residents, guests or staff because of their protected class – race, age, ancestry, color, creed, disability, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, parental status, political ideology, gender identity, military status [minus Oxford comma] or section [lowercase S, sic] 8 status. [emphasis mine]

Further, Delores and your staff remain in clear violation of the same policy:

Compass Housing Alliance will not tolerate retaliation by staff or residents against anyone who complains of discriminatory harassment or intimidation or who asserts their [sic] rights under fair housing laws. We will not tolerate retaliation by staff or residents against anyone who provides evidence or participates in any such investigation.

Because I had asked her to stop disrupting my meditative writing practice, I had already followed what to me is civil communications, placing healthy boundaries on her abusive communications, or your procedure:

If you feel it’s safe, ask the person harassing you to stop the behavior.

Instead of respecting my verbal boundary, however, Delores continued to stomp back and forth between the kitchen and the dining area, her tone and volume by then in full-blown rage, while I practiced Buddhist equanimity.

“I KNOW PAPER TOO!” she raged against my expert knowledge of paper, with my archival works exhibited nationwide and included in Special Collections in libraries in two of those states, having successfully persuaded the Graduate College at the University of Idaho that paper manufactured with 100 percent cotton fibers is actually more archival than their minimum 25 percent cotton requirement; printing from movable type, with surviving samples from the 11th century in China, likewise, more archival than their contemporary photocopier requirement; and hand-bound folded mould-made signatures sewn on cords in a manner dating from the 14th century in Western Europe much more archival than the institution’s glued machine binding of flat, machine-produced 8.5×11 office paper, thanks to the support of their conservation librarian, despite the graduate school’s administrative staff’s initial resistance, their ignorance, hostility, and arguments every bit as illogical as Delores’s, I note for those higher education administrators and law enforcement still searching for healthier solutions to the problem of mass shootings and sexual assault on college campuses or random alternate locations nationwide.

As I already explained in my grievance to Robert Bowery, all paper is biodegradable, which is what Seattle’s compost requires. While I respect the likelihood that Delores speaks from her experiences different from mine, from where I’m coming from, usually the question is not if paper will biodegrade, but how fast. What I further learned from her irrational rage over three paper packets of tea, it is very important to Delores to be right, to be an expert in something. She may well be a master gardener, but if she wants to be an expert in Seattle recycling, composting, and landfill law, then she needs to better familiarize herself with Seattle’s rules.

Apropos of nothing related to her composting complaint, but an indicator of long-running, unresolved household conflict far pre-dating my tenancy, she further raged, “DON’T LISTEN TO ANGIE!”

Not until many weeks later did I notice the neighborhood curbside pickup schedule’s taped edges had never been opened until I arrived in your household, with Seattle’s sorting charts printed on reverse. Perhaps that helps to explain some of Delores’s composting/recycling/landfill confusion-?

Still inexplicable to your trauma-uneducated staff, her monologic rage response to any perceived conflict, no matter how small.

Still oblivious to your trauma-uneducated staff, their denial, avoidance, and blaming the victims of Delores’s felonious rage.

When she exited the kitchen one last time that morning, pausing in the dining area to offer a passive aggressive nopology, not owning her rampaging behavior, but for “the confusion” before stomping back downstairs, I gave Delores the benefit of the doubt, thanked her for her “apology,” and privately hoped that meant she would better educate herself about Seattle recycling laws, and we could start our relationship anew. Instead, as I anticipated from observing her behavior during my house screening interview, wherein she frequently interrupted Angie to deny Angie’s perspective while declaring her own personal truth, their voices ever-rising in tone and volume as they competed for my attention, Delores’s “confusion” and rage over composting continued through summer’s growing season, exacerbated by your staff’s inability to maintain healthy boundaries on Delores’s criminal behavior.

Factually contrary to April’s amplification of Delores’s paranoid, falsely accusatory, narcissistic martyr narrative during June’s house meeting that Restful Peace Cottage residents had been adding kitchen compost to Delores’s personal garden project instead of leaving our kitchen waste for curbside collection until I came along in November and turned all of her housemates against her, by late January, Angie discovered that Delores had scooped cross-cut shredded paper bits from out of the curbside compost where Angie left them, into curbside recycling, sure to jam Seattle’s recycling equipment, thus violating Seattle law.

Yes, on your payroll, you include a program manager who defends, without question, the behavior of your client who neglects addressing the issues leading to her homelessness, employment, and education goals to prioritize going through our trash to redistribute cross-cut shredded paper bits.

What followed was a lengthy back-and-forth on the house whiteboard between the two of them. First Angie printed the applicable composting rule from Seattle’s website, then Delores avoided owning her peculiar behavior by changing the conversation to announce that the curbside green bin would revert from food waste to yard waste beginning in February, apropos of nothing to do with the terms of your lease or daily living for the rest of us, as of course Seattle collects food and yard waste in the same green curbside container.

As you can hear from this audio clip meta-dated 06 February 2016, with Delores still raging over three packets of tea nearly four months later. So much for her apology for her confusion, she returned to insisting the compost bin is the “wrong” place for tea-dampened paper, her intolerance for people who cannot admit when they are wrong, and she still assumed she knows my multiracial heritage better than I do:

After announcing, on Thanksgiving, “Today’s the day I kill the pilgrims,” as I already reported in my grievance to Hilary’s inappropriate response, Delores celebrated Valentine’s Day by raging at me, forbidding me from touching “her” kitchen countertop compost bin, adding to her seemingly never-ending personal kitchen inventory, boasting that she had made Hilary purchase the house bin specifically for Delores, and she would not allow my “poison paper” in “her” compost bin.

Yes, she actually used the term “poison” – typical of paranoia – to refer to three paper packets of tea.

That was in the midst of a lengthy martyred tirade, to which she responded to my request that she please stop raging at me by stomping on the deny station of her passive aggressive volvelle: “I’M NOT RAGING.”

Onward to avoid, if she was raging, then I would know about it, because she would be scratching my eyes out, she threatened, accelerating her rage. A moment later, she vigorously shook her pointing finger at me, not farther than six inches from my eyes. In self-protection, I raised a flat hand between her finger and my face, screening my eyes, and quietly told her to get her finger out of my face.

She shifted around her trauma narrative to blame, accusing me of her own aggressive behavior, darting away while squealing, “DON’T TOUCH ME!” At the blame station, thoroughly immersed in incoherent, disconnected events of rage, she accused me of previously calling the police to beat her up, a theme she returns to again and again.

Both proceeding to and propelled from the martyr station, next Delores raged into personal attack, describing my mustache as ugly, stating that I am a “retard,” and I have very low I.Q., more perpetual themes that Delores revisits in her raging inappropriately directed toward me. Angie she perpetually refers to as “fat bitch” and Linda as “nigger,” “psychopath,” or “baldy.” In addition to “retard,” as I already reported to Robert Bowery, some of her choice appellations for me have included “stupid,” “waste of space on the planet,” “bitch,” “cunt,” “lesbian,” “Andy Warhol,” “ugly,” “stalker,” and she enjoys sharing her psychologically uneducated diagnosis “psychopath” for me as well.

Once, she changed her “diagnosis” of me to agree with the diagnosis offered by one of Idaho’s gummy-eyed, white, male mental health professionals, who reenacts his thinly suppressed rage with his mother on women under his control, and in my case decided I suffer “bipolar disorder” because I was more knowledgable about Governor Otter’s campaign for reelection than the limits of his own familiarity, which communicates to me that Delores has very likely been diagnosed with one or both of these psychiatric labels at some point in her trajectory through our broken national mental health system.

Again, it is so important for the safety of all of us that your case, program, and clinical staff learn to hear Delores’s trauma, learn what she has very likely suffered throughout her childhood, so they can help her hear herself. Ultimately, the goal with trauma recovery is not just for the narcissistic subject self to be heard by an empathetic, listening other, but, where we all self-talk, for Delores to hear herself, to recognize the other inside herself, instead of lashing out in rage covering fear, and learn to build empathy for the other, all-important skills visibly unformed or broken in her early childhood, as she rages over the top of anyone whose perspective diverges from her own.

Just as important, for the safety of all of your clients as well as for the mental health of your staff, that they learn to recognize that raging trauma monologues are not based on facts of current events. Trauma follows the structure of memory, repeating, repeating, as the unrecovered traumatized subject self relives previous traumatic events by what Freud and later the philosopher Jacques Derrida described as nachträglich, belatedly, deferred, experienced more fully in the present than in the past when they occurred, when the child survived traumatic events by repressing them. Obediently capitulating to Delores’s raging commands is the very worst thing your staff could do on all counts.

An adult unrecovered from severe childhood trauma seeks boundaries, limits that her parents failed to establish in their neglect, or viciously bridged, in sexual slavery, because she needs to learn that she can depend on the safety of living without harassment, coercion, and threats, hence Delores no doubt follows early childhood role modeling and repeatedly tests the boundaries set by your lease agreement and companion documents. Each time she has abused those boundaries, your revolving door of staff have twang-TWANG-twang failed her, banjos rewarding or amplifying her abusive martyr narrative instead of establishing a world grounded in basic human dignity and mutual respect. Rewarding criminal behavior only reinforces the paradigm established by abusive parents, confirming for the victim/abuser that abuse succeeds.

I responded to her insults by complimenting her intelligence, “I think you’re a whole lot more intelligent than you give yourself credit for.”

Because Delores is not healthy enough to hear even compliments, let alone bask in them, she continued to rage, “I’M A WHOLE LOT SMARTER THAN YOU!”

“I’m not competing with you,” I kept my tone conversational throughout her tirade, “You have a terrific amount of energy, how about do something productive with that energy, instead of wasting it on me?”

Forbidden from touching “her” countertop compost bin without incurring still more of her daily foul-mouthed raging, ever-shifting limitations to compost found nowhere in Seattle law, but hearing that Delores wanted very different convoluted, incoherent, and indecipherable rules applied to “her” garden, two days later, while you were in the midst of revolving the door of your case and program management staff, I devised a temporary design solution to the house problem of no kitchen container for all of the compost she forbid from the yard: paper grocery sacks – or compostable bins for compost – like I used for three years in my apartment in Seattle’s Queen Anne neighborhood without raging, supporting healthier ecology even before Seattle made it illegal to dump compost into recycling or landfill, placed a note atop her countertop bin communicating to my housemates something like Delores’s garden compost here, compost for Seattle curbside law beneath the sink, and labeled the sack under the sink.

Problem solved, so Delores could focus her energies on her garden, and the rest of us could return to focusing on our educational and employment goals.

When I returned from the libraries later that evening, I found the countertop bin shoved inconveniently in front of an electrical outlet, in an unsanitary location adjacent to the kitchen knives, and my note communicating the new city collection location to my housemates had disappeared, replaced with Delores’s spidery, copious handwriting. Despite many times sneering her disdain at me for my educated expertise in visual communications, raging at me, “I’M AN EXPERT IN COMMUNICATIONS! I TEACH IT!” leaving me deeply empathetic for the suffering of her alleged students, you may notice her incomplete and incoherent instructions for separating what she defines as “yard waste” (though generated in the kitchen) and “garden compost” (while defining no distinction between yard and garden) with no direction to our four other housemates as to where they might dispose of their food waste she forbid from “her” countertop container, as this image meta-dated 16 February 2016 demonstrates:

cha compost feb2016Later, I noticed she had also gone to all the trouble to obstruct my communications to my housemates written on the paper sack, simply to follow Seattle composting rules, which are already posted on the house kitchen bulletin board, or available online. She had double-bagged the sack with my instructions inside another sack, ripped and torn, and left a jumbled mess under the sink.

Again, the narcissistic trauma monologue is never about the superficial conflict, as this situation clearly demonstrates, rather, the severely traumatized child’s urge to control the actions and communications of everyone in her immediate vicinity. Dissatisfied by the unresponsiveness of all of her housemates as we continued with our own individual priorities, by the next morning, Delores demanded acknowledgment that she had been heard:

cha compost stove

Restful Peace Cottage whiteboard meta-dated 16 February 2016.

While she is to be commended, for perhaps the first time since I have encountered Delores, for including “please” and “thank you” with her dictatorial commands ordering the entire household to obey her instructions, a demand prefaced with please is still a demand. The demand to follow her personal compost rules instead of Seattle law was left beneath her demand to clean up a scorch mess she herself had left behind on one of the stovetop burner pans, which I moved to the sink to soak in hot, soapy water for her, but did not volunteer my time further to either of her projects. As I have repeatedly communicated to your team, I will meet my contractual obligations plus offer a little bit more; beyond that, I will not permit my healthy boundaries to be further bridged.

That’s why healthy psychologists refer to these boundaries as boundaries.

Later that evening, returning again from addressing the issues that led to this experience of homelessness and pursuing my educational and career goals within the maximum time limit of just three-and-one-half hours of library computer time, I observed what must have been a very busy whiteboard day for Delores. Still dissatisfied with the lack of acknowledgment of her irrational demands from housemates preoccupied with our educational and employment goals, she arrogantly presumed to add to our household chores, in brown, with my healthy boundary response to her abusive rampaging in blue:

cha compost boundary

Restful Peace Cottage whiteboard meta-dated 16 February 2016.

A short while later, and after typical office hours, your then-Interim Case Manager John Clark dropped by the house unannounced to check mail and dole out bus tickets. Delores bounded upstairs for his attention, whirled around the kitchen, enraged by my boundary communications on the whiteboard, and hastily erased my contribution to the discussion, hissing at me while I waited for the microwave and John went down the hall to check on Yenesulesh, “You wrote that on purpose! So he would see!”

Of course I had no way of guessing that John would drop by the house unannounced that evening, I simply communicated directly to Delores what she needed to do if she wanted my help with her garden, but her erasing is another example of behavior typical of abusers isolating their victims by obstructing or controlling communications with authority figures.

While I retired to my room to eat my dinner in relative peace, John permitted Delores to rage at him for well over an hour that evening. Curious if he submitted overtime that week for his inability to place healthy boundaries on her trauma monologue by simply scheduling an appointment for her with your clinical services manager and wishing her a good evening, or if he very generously donated an hour of his personal time to her rage-? The parts of Delores’s rampaging that I could overhear from behind the closed door to my room and above the music on my smartphone are typical of children traumatized by abusive parents who teach them “right” from “wrong” while neglecting or abusing those children, typical also of chronologically adult abusers, “I’VE TOLD HER ALREADY… SHE’S JUST WRONG…” As well as her martyred plaint, blaming her abusive behavior on the rest of her housemates, “THEY’RE MAKING ME DO THIS… THEY’RE PUSHING MY BUTTONS…”

Maybe that’s what Hilary meant by “triggering” victim/abusers blaming others for their own criminal behavior?

When I slipped out to the kitchen in the midst of her hour-long tirade to scrub off my dirty dishes and add them to the dishwasher, Delores had open one of the kitchen drawers, and was gesticulating wildly. She paused long enough in her rage at John to rage at me, granting her permission for me to communicate with your staff, “I’M TELLING MY VERSION. YOU CAN TELL YOURS.”


Kudos to John, for nevertheless offering the most emotionally intelligent response I have heard from any of your revolving door of case and program management staff, prior to his finally escaping to hopefully his own safe home that evening, I overheard his comment to Delores as she attempted to force his judgment of me to agree with hers, “Well, I can’t really say. I’ve only met her the one time.”

Can you blame him for fleeing to Mexico?

Two days later, Delores’s spidery English-only instructions for what she permitted in her countertop compost bin had disappeared. Likely the chain of communications remained unintelligible to Yenesulesh. Delores’s rage, unchecked, or worse, openly rewarded by your staff, had long since chased away Selam. Angie spends every chance she can get house- or cat-sitting elsewhere. Linda carts her compostables away from your property to donate to a Jewish community garden. Yet still Delores remains confused about the quantity of compost she has been able to collect from her housemates for her own personal garden-?

And yet, without hearing my perspective, by June’s house meeting, April openly accused me of “vengeance” for my unwillingness to “settle this” compost issue.

Since I had already described my behavior as maintaining healthy boundaries on Delores’s abusive communication, I inquired why April thought I was being vengeful.

She passive aggressively avoided answering my direct question, and instead repeated another of Delores’s judgments, like a mechanized doll wound during their executive smoke session, “So you’re being passive aggressive.”

Typically, Delores will rage a similar judgment as she goes storming through the house, slamming doors, cupboard doors, or windows open or shut, depending on her preference at any given moment, which changes moment by moment, or day by day, without regard for the preferences of any of her housemates, “NONE OF THIS PASSIVE AGGRESSIVE SHIT!”

During your early spring-summer 2016 era of revolving case management staff, Delores simultaneously began raging at all of her housemates to unload “her” ever-changing inventory of dishes from the dishwasher and stow them in “her” second kitchen storage cabinet, which she had commandeered when she moved in prior to my tenancy. At the June house meeting, Delores repeated her martyr narrative version that I had already heard her deliver many times already, demanding not only that I obey her irrational commands, but that I should feel grateful for her raging at me, “AT LEAST I TOLD YOU WHAT TO DO. WHEN I MOVED IN, NOBODY EVEN TALKED TO ME.”

To hear our other housemates’ versions of that same event, however, when Delores first moved in, she went through the kitchen, ripping off organizational labels, destroying graphic design communicating boundaries between yours/mine/ours, and raged at her more senior housemates, “YOU WILL ACQUIESCE TO ME!”

At which point two of our housemates added padlocks to their individual food cupboards.

By late February or early March, I saw no reason to keep her personal unsanitary compost bin on the counter where we prep food while the rest of us were already accommodating her change in the house composting bin location. Since she was then ordering all of us to leave “her” kitchen inventory in “her” second kitchen cupboard, when it was my assigned chore to clean the kitchen, I returned “her” compost bin there as well.

Instead of responding with gratitude, she raged paranoid accusations at me for “hiding” her compost bin.

Try as I might, I could not help but overhear her another time raging into a phone, either to her friends, the psychiatrist or physician who offered to write her a note to keep her out of jail, the back cover telephone book lawyer who advises her it is illegal for me to record her rampaging threats of bodily harm, or to your staff, “SHE DUMPED THE COMPOST INTO HER SACK… SHE DIDN’T DO HER CHORE… IF SHE TRIES TO FUCK WITH MY GARDEN, I’M GOING TO SCRATCH HER EYES OUT… CAN I DO THAT?”

What I observed out of my periphery that morning was Selam, back at Restful Peace Cottage for a rare and brief day or two, trying to accomplish her assigned household chore that week. She maybe missed Delores’s whiteboard war on compost, or independently agrees with my opinion and the opinion of the Washington legislature that Delores is not in a position to assign new tasks above and beyond our lease agreements. Hauling Delores’s compost to her personal garden means either navigating a steep, rickety flight of outdoor stairs from the dimly lit garage, after wrestling with a door warped from humidity and locked with a stake that might once, years ago, have slipped into a hole drilled into the concrete floor; or circling the entire house from the front entrance to the back corner of the backyard; or running Delores’s rampaging gauntlet by carting her compost down the inside stairs and out the lower level back door. Or the rest of us could simply complete our lease obligations and obey Seattle law by leaving our compost in the appropriate curbside bin, just steps from the front door, on our way out to accomplish our educational and employment goals.

In any case, at the crack of dawn long before Delores typically comes flying out of her cave, while writing and sipping tea at the dining table, from my peripheral vision I noticed Selam dumped Compost A into Compost B, then returned through the front door a few minutes later with the full-to-near-overflowing paper grocery sack, unable to dump the combined total of Composts A and B into curbside Composts C or D, sighing that Delores had both full-size curbside compost/yard waste bins filled to overflowing with the energetic results of her early spring pruning. I commented that I noticed the situation when I tried to take out the compost an earlier day that week, also noting that Delores had neglected to take the house compost from the kitchen to the curb when it was her assigned household chore the week previous, despite adding to the general house paper sack all the material she rejects from her personal garden compost. As the biggest meat-eater in the household, her food waste can be considerable. Selam returned the full compost sack to its position under the sink, and we both continued pursuing our individual educational and employment goals, pace Delores’s illogical rampaging accusations against me.

One week when it was my assigned task to clean the kitchen, I observed Delores carelessly dump her coffee grounds so they spilled halfway into the compost sack under the sink, halfway onto the kitchen floor, followed by her raging dictation to me, “CLEAN THIS FLOOR!”

By the end of March, Delores discovered, to her narcissistic shock, that I am obeying Seattle law and upholding the terms of our lease rather than following her imperious compost commands, when she happened to come into the kitchen while I was in the midst of making cookies. (With the handheld mixer, the only mixer I have seen on your property.)

“YOU’RE NOT PUTTING EGG SHELLS IN THE COMPOST?!?” she shrieked disbelievingly, diving into the brown paper sacks under the sink after my egg shells.

“That is compost,” I explained.

“SEATTLE DOES NOT MAKE THE RULES FOR GARDENS!” she raged, apropos of nothing, from my perspective. Does Delores assist with my educational and employment goals? My therapy? Does Compass Housing Alliance supply me with a painting studio? The equivalent of the tools you supply Delores for her garden – brushes, paint, medium, paper, canvas, stretchers, gesso, tools for stretching, an easel, track lighting?

May we compromise with just a safe place to live, free from a criminally abusive housemate, as per our lease agreement, and the return of my therapeutic service animal – as per our Service Animal Contract, discussions at length with your staff, and Washington law?

Later, after I pulled the last tray of cookies from the oven, wiped down the counter, and stood waiting for Delores to finish her turn at the sink so I could wash cookie dough off my hands, she glanced over at me and raged, “WHAT DO YOU WANT?”

“Just patiently waiting—“


“—for my turn.”

Then Delores decided to launch another of her malicious harassment attacks over my hereditary skin condition, not for the first time in my experience, but a first for Yenesulesh and Selam, both of whom happened to be just on the other side of the sliding pocket door, unbeknownst to either Delores or myself. As winter waned and I began peeling off layers of clothes but before summer warmed enough to expose my skin to the healing rays of the sun, I had noticed Delores glancing ever more frequently and fearfully at psoriatic outbreaks on my arms. Typical of abusers, she usually tries to isolate the target of her attacks.


Imagine if our behaviors were reversed, and I had rampaged the same question at Delores. Would your case and program management staff continue their discriminatory behavior for her ancestry?

As Delores swept open the pocket door and stomped out, still snorting and grumbling, I caught a glimpse of Yenesulesh’s shocked, whitened, wide-eyed expression from where she sat at the dining table, a look on her face that matched Selam’s, as she glided into the kitchen to offer her support.

“You should report that,” Selam advised, “We heard that.”

I shook my head wearily, repeating a similar statement I had earlier made in my grievance reports first to Hilary and second to Jenn, “If I wrote down everything Delores says to me, I would accomplish nothing besides writing her life for her.”

“It’s harassment,” Selam insisted.

“I understand,” I reassured her calmly, “It’s illegal in Seattle. It’s also less important to me than the deadline that I am working on.”

Appreciating one of the rare opportunities to hear Selam’s perspective, I also asked, already knowing the answers from my in-depth knowledge of human psychology and observing the behavior of your case and program management teams, had Delores’s behavior been like this before I moved in? And what had she done to try to resolve the problem?

“Talked to the case managers.”


And what did they do to solve the problem?

Unable to respond verbally, Selam shrugged, her lower lip stuck out and shaking as if she was struggling not to cry.

“So you see how effective that is,” I observed wryly.

“We were witnesses,” Selam insisted.

“Thank you for witnessing,” I replied, finished cleaning up the kitchen, and returned to working on providing expert psychoanalytic design witness testimony on a triple homicide mass shooting case.

Following May’s house meeting, your case and program management team finally delivered a plastic composting bin for the entire household to use, along with April’s garbled meeting minutes for a topic not discussed in open forum until June’s meeting. I thanked Delores for negotiating a household compost bin from your team, as you can see from this whiteboard image meta-dated 16 May 2016, despite her vigorous denials at June’s meeting that she did not realize anyone else in the house might like to garden too:

cha compost roses

Restful Peace Cottage whiteboard meta-dated 16 May 2016.

Perhaps April assumed I am motivated by “vengeance” because vengeance is what she and Delores put out into the world, thus vengeance is what they reasonably expect to receive-?

Despite her raging harassment and threats of bodily harm, still I communicated a willingness to forgive and negotiate to peace. And, no, the offer of roses was not a trick, as you can see from this image of more generous neighbors offering potted flowers well within my zero budget limitations, meta-dated the same day:

rosebushes zero budget

Rosebushes in Seattle’s open-air market. Price: $0.

This point in our household composting dispute reminded me of the summer before grad school that I spent building a site for a local judge’s law firm and slapping out ads for The East Oregonian, which required placing healthy boundaries on the raging narcissism of their visually illiterate sales staff, before trying to start our relationship anew by paying for a delivery of flowers to their Hermiston office.

Of course the bouquet did nothing to change the raging behavior of their sales staff, but my subsequent letter of resignation prompted the publisher to encourage his Advertising Services Manager to clean house. Pulling me into her office, she privately described my floral delivery as “a class act” and wished she could persuade me to stay, but unfortunately could not afford to let go her abusive sales staff, citing the difficulties of finding qualified sales personnel in rural areas.

You shouldn’t have that excuse in an urban area.

So what is preventing you from upholding your own contract terms and Washington law?

As you can see, even all these years later, their paper remains every bit as much an eyesore online as it is in print, comparing their masthead, page layout, and interface design against, say, The New York Times, or The Seattle Times. Except for those weeks when the urban papers allow their banner surround ads to be art directed by certain clients.

And the only thing that’s changed about my “class act” is the depth and breadth of my knowledge and skills have increased exponentially while my budget has shrunk to zero, and the criminal abuses I have experienced have accelerated in direct opposition to my budget.

Perhaps Delores just despises roses as much as she despises innocent woodland creatures that fly or wander into your yard?

It’s not that I’m so hot on roses myself, but beggars can’t be choosers.

As this image illustrates, meta-dated 27 May 2016, by fascinating Jungian coincidence, the 16th anniversary of my wedding to that state prosecutor son of ex-FBI parents, and now my second anniversary of my first appearance in Idaho’s Kangaroo Court in shackles and chains, where those factual relationships were reported on the court record as “delusions” by mental juridical health professionals too incompetent to try using 21st century technology to ascertain matters of publicly accessible fact when a victim and witness reports crimes as serious as trafficking and homicide, here is the aesthetic that Compass Housing Alliance adds to the neighborhood in the same week when Delores volunteered for again-missing Selam’s recycling/trash/composting chore:

cha compost litter

Restful Peace Cottage, meta-dated 27 May 2016.

Delores will probably try to blame my paper tea packets – you see there scattered on the ground as well as atop your curbside bin – for her violation of your lease Section 9. Tenant Duties, as follows:

“D. Tenant shall properly dispose of all rubbish, garbage, recycling and waste in a clean, sanitary manner…

“E. Tenant acknowledges this is a shared living space. Nothing shall be done by the Tenant in or about the premises which will interfere with the rights, comforts, and conveniences of other residents or neighbors.”

As well as your Good Neighbor Policy:

1. “No littering on the Community Transitional Housing premises or in the surrounding neighborhood.”

As well as my rights according to your policy on Safety, Security, and Non-Violence:

4. You have the right to live in a clean and healthy environment.

Her martyr narrative accusing me of lying will probably again appeal to April, except that Linda described observing this same mess when she left in the morning, and before I left the house at midday to go to a neighborhood park for my daily workout, since Delores makes your yard off-limits to me with her rampaging. And the bins were full and turned away from the curb when I left, which means this litter is not the responsibility of the Friday utilities collection crew.

From the park, I tried to call “At,” catering to his demand for weekly attention from one of his mother-substitute-objects in exchange for six bus passes, since he had not delivered them by Friday that week either, as well as to alert the house case manager that his case might need better managing, only to be forwarded directly to a Verizon automated outbound message that sounded like he might have been in the midst of trying to set up his voicemail box, not accepting incoming messages. Call to his supervisor, April, resulted in the following conversation:

(Snarled tone.) “This is [something garbled] – What?”

“Did you say April?”


“Hi, April, this is Jana from the Restful Peace Cottage.”

“You decided to go for a walk while we were in the midst of resolving something at the house,” another accusatory snarl.

“Excuse me?”

“Oh, sorry, what?”

“How are you doing?” I asked cautiously.

“Good, except I’matthehouserightnowinthemidstofanemergency – Can I call you back?”

“Thank you, I’ll have my mobile with me.”

April has yet to return my call from late May. Well, it’s only October.

Not sure if she meant she avoided conflict resolution at Restful Peace Cottage by answering her codependency device in the midst of a challenging conversation, or if another of your properties simultaneously reached meltdown under April’s mismanagement?

Further adding to the household chores of all of her other housemates, Delores frequently leaves both yard waste bins in the backyard, so we have to go in search of them, instead of more mindfully leaving one at the curb in front while she engages in her gardening “therapy” in the backyard, as you can see from this image meta-dated 30 May 2016:

cha curbside bins

Restful Peace Cottage backyard image meta-dated 30 May 2016.

My only time down the rickety outside steps leading from your garage to your backyard occurred sometime in late February or early March 2016. I did not document this instance of criminal violence in my journals, during a time when my writing thoroughly focuses on a triple homicide case, but I remember it clearly. It occurred sometime in the week after a friend returned my computer and unwashed clothes and bed linens that had been in storage in her basement for over a year, so I laundered everything, as per basic hygiene and the terms of your Bed Bug Heat Treatment Information sheet and your lapse in staff, with my phone call to John Clark’s voicemail unreturned as of this writing.

One of my aging goose down pillows fell apart in the dryer, billowing feathers out the vent and down the steps into the backyard, unbeknownst to me, though I did the best I could to clean out the dryer and the lint trap. After my downstairs housemates noted my attention to the larger problem via our whiteboard communications, I did what healthy communicators do to repair our bad behaviors: I immediately apologized, and promised to clean the stairs. In writing. In advance of cleaning the outside stairs and downstairs back porch.

By the next day – if I remember correctly – or I may have waited ’til the weekend – when I went to access the stairs via the door in the very dark corner of your poorly lit garage, I nearly cut my hands on the teeth of a blade-up jigsaw that seemed to be very deliberately wedged in the doorframe of the door between garage and outside stairs that requires wrestling with a metal stake drilled into the concrete floor to force the door open in best of circumstances. I did not accuse Delores, as I have no proof that she booby-trapped the doorway.

If Delores would prefer not to be suspected of criminal violence toward me, however, best apologize for her past threats of violence and cease threatening criminal violence, as none of my other housemates have threatened me with bodily harm, leaving her the most likely suspect.

Later, I noticed the jigsaw was removed from where I left it on the shelves – flat, teeth facing the wall – adjacent to the door. Where are your outdoor tools typically kept?

If Compass Housing Alliance wants me to contribute rotting fruit and vegetable waste to your backyard, then you will first apologize for your retaliatory threats of eviction, begin upholding the terms of our crime-free lease agreement, restore your previously promised transportation services, and return my therapeutic service animal.

At the 16 June 2016 house meeting, like a wind-up doll incapable of listening to multiple perspectives or thinking for herself, April repeated two versions of the illogical martyr narrative that I have already heard Delores raging many times before.

First it was recycling rather than composting. Then I was taking up more than my fair share of space in the composting bin. Then her martyr narrative changed to I was poisoning the earth with my tea-dampened paper. Then Delores forbid me from touching the bin that she made Hilary buy for her and her alone. Next she didn’t need my help with her gardening anyway, because there’s plenty of compost without mine. Then she blamed me for all of the other housemates, herself included, not being mindful that my temporary design solution to the problem of no shared plastic container and inadequate case and program management meant taking the paper compost sack to the curbside bin on a daily basis rather than waiting for it to overflow and attract ants. By June’s meeting, Delores had revised her martyr narrative yet again to whine that the household was not generating nearly enough compost, for all the yard work that she does for the house – on your property that she does not permit me to enjoy without enduring her raging criminal threats of bodily harm – so she needed topsoil and compost, playing your current set of banjos, “It’s not expensive, but again, it’s a big fucking yard.”

The hostile glare on April’s face matched the expression on Delores’s, like a black April, a white Delores, in stereo vision, sitting together across the table from me. I didn’t get a glimpse of Charlotte’s expression from where she sat in my peripheral vision, but all three broke in to interrupt, in typical passive aggressive fashion too eager to insist on “rightness” over “wrongness” about minute details rather than listen to the perspective of the other, how wrong I was about the dates when Seattle prohibited food waste in its landfill, last July, or the year before, whichever – all three diverting their attention to a point of fact immaterial to the problem or its solution – “This July,” Charlotte insisted.

In researching Seattle’s municipal code for you, actually, Charlotte was off by a year and a half. I was wrong too, but since the date is immaterial to Delores’s argument that the house composting had been upset by my arrival in November 2015, I note the dates here only to help you better educate your staff to obey local and state laws rather than reward delusional rampages from your criminally abusive client in their efforts to coerce or force me into performing labor outside the terms of our lease agreement.

The law changed effective 01 January 2015, a full 10-and-one-half months before my tenancy at Restful Peace Cottage.

By as early as 01 October 2014, the Director of Seattle Public Utilities was to have begun a program of customer outreach. In October 2014, my labor was still being trafficked in rural Idaho.

The deadline for your staff better educating themselves about the change in Seattle law without incurring fees for violations was 01 July 2015, still over four months prior to the start of my tenancy.

You’re welcome, Compass. Are 10-Day Notices to Comply or Vacate how you typically communicate “thank you” to your destitute, homeless tenants doing your case and program managers’ jobs for them, sans paychecks?

Only 17 months after Seattle law prohibited food waste or food-soiled paper from its landfill containers your staff finally delivered a solution beyond tiptoeing our eggshells out to the curb after each batch of cookies or violating Seattle law by dumping our kitchen food waste into the trash after Delores forbid us from using “her” compost bin. In addition to publicly shaming me for correctly identifying the problem and devising a temporary design solution for the entire household, potentially saving you between $1–$50 weekly collection surcharge – depending on whether Seattle Public Utilities views your operation as residential, or, as a nonprofit corporation, commercial – while you juggled your case and program management staffing decisions, in her May meeting minutes, April sounds like she also could not understand Delores’s incoherent ranting dictation affecting compost, the time of all of your other clients, and your real property, yet nevertheless adds to all of our household chores, once again in violation of RCW 9A.40.100, trafficking in the first degree, recruiting and harboring homeless women in full knowing that we have run out of options beyond tent cities or dirty mats on dirty, overcrowded church floors, fraudulently describing your property as safe and free from criminal violence, while attempting to force or coerce additional labor beyond the scope described in your lease terms:

“A compost bin has been place [sic] inside the kitchen area. Refrain from using a paper bag and start using the bin provided for compost needs. Place all compose [sic] in the large garden compost bin in the backyard.”

Maybe she does not wash dishes or compost or perform simple tasks of daily living in her own home-? Maybe remind April that trafficking in the first degree is a class A felony?

To her compost bins (plural) that Charlotte decided to commandeer in June, she added graphic design art-directed by Delores via April, dissatisfied with Seattle’s visual communications of its own laws, tightly leaded text-only, English only – from your “expert” in housing the “refugee population” – ever so carefully Scotch-taped to the top of each under-the-sink bin, with the instructions to condense gigantic pizza boxes defying the visual design principle of scale:

cha compost undersink binsOr physics.

And no one in her right mind is going to try to empty a cross-cut shredder into that tiny bin.

Or another example of what I mean by the correlation between visual illiteracy and abuse.

Yes, of all of your tenants and your staff, I confess, I am the only person who listened to the perspectives of all of the stakeholders, correctly identified both the surface and underlying problems, and provided a design solution for the compost problem, using your available materials budget, instead of merely complaining about or avoiding resolution.

That is because I am a psychologically healthy, visually educated designer.

If you want my trauma-educated help with the underlying problem, however, you’re going to need to pony up an apology and a professional wage.

Better communications design: pretend for a moment that we could scroll back or page up to late January when Delores first began dreaming her garden plans, here’s how her note on the whiteboard might have gone:

garden healthy communications

Healthier communications of changes in compost/garden/yardwork chores.

Perhaps your paycheck-earning case or program managers could help Delores brainstorm a healthier solution to the problem of acquiring adequate quantities of compost to fill her heart’s desire, once she had pushed away all of her housemates with her rage, instead of twang-TWANG-twang rewarding her criminally abusive martyrdom requiring the rest of us to obey her contradictory, raging commands? If she only wants produce scraps in her garden compost, maybe shift her diet to vegetarian away from spluttering grease from dead animals? Maybe hop into that vehicle of hers and drive on down to the nearest food bank? Or now that she’s negotiated return of her bicycle from the “thief” who “stole” it, maybe put that ecologically sound transportation to good use? If she asked really nice, I bet the food bank would supply her enough rotted fruits and vegetables to meet her demand.

The key is asking nicely.

And why, as a humble designer, would I already be so well-versed in Seattle recycling/compost/landfill law, you ask?

I thought I already thoroughly answered that question in my post coincident one year precisely prior to our lease signing. Maybe you could recruit and hire case and program managers with reading comprehension, basic math, and 21st century technology skills?

Another experience since returning to Seattle further underscores the global market value of Unplay:

In September 2015, I dropped into a panel presentation at Seattle Public Library. Another gathering of some of Seattle’s elite designers, architects, and city planners who have given such little thought to communications design that they neglected to consider how their poster was going to attach to a telephone pole – and is that the best way to attract an external audience interested in solving Seattle’s ever-deepening gap between wealth and poverty, by hosting a design festival? – and yet these are the folks responsible for designing the future of Seattle:

seattle design for equity

After having spent a month of my life locked up by a judge who described just one of my job-seeking efforts at a similar conference as a “grandiose delusion” and accused me of “talking nonstop” after I briefly summarized the event where one of Boeing’s engineers wondered what do you do when management says “collaboration” but then sends the design team back to working in their individual cubicles, I took great pride in taking up the least amount of verbal space in the room when the Design for Equity group rearranged their chairs into a circle, taking turns describing our efforts toward a more equitable, sustainable society.

When the time came for my turn, I courageously asked, “Show of hands, how many of you have been locked up without access to competent counsel or fair trial for the strength of your design portfolio? How many of you do not know where you’re going to sleep tonight?”

More of Seattle’s elite designers and their hastily averted gazes. No hands in the air other than mine. No offers of a room at the inn.

“So then you are all here to design for me,” I finished my contribution before ceding the floor to the next participant, “While I’m here, do you have any questions for your client?”

How many more billions do you suppose Seattle will pour into the misidentified “homelessness problem” before Seattle’s designers figure out how to conduct direct design research of their target audience instead of chasing around Seattle’s city streets in search of preconceived, stereotypical homeless personas?

Shortly after the turn-taking monologues proceeded around the circle, a woman arrived late to the workshop. Let’s call her Julie.* I scooted my chair over, widening the circle, so she could fit in next to me. After the circular introductions and workshop concluded, I learned she was not a designer herself, but worked for a city department, and was interested in how design could improve her workplace. She missed my contribution to the group, so I handed her my business card, explaining it is also a healthy communication model based on the structure of trauma.

Julie gasped as if a lightbulb had turned on for her, “Ohh, this makes so much sense.”

I further explained that trauma is the reason we communicate in passive aggressive ways.

Her eyes opened wide, “But nobody in my department communicates in healthy ways!”

Based on what you have read so far, would you like to make an educated guess which city department employs Julie?

Yes, I could already see the passive aggressive communications in Julie’s department, simply by visually analyzing the graphic design of their print and web collateral, and knowing as I already know the correlation between visual illiteracy and abuse, failing in their “customer outreach” attempts to communicate changes in Seattle law to their intended audience ranging from Delores to your case and program management team to Bill Gates.

Design research, done.

preamble 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 remedy

2 thoughts on “Resetting Your Moral Compass

  1. Pingback: Resetting Your Moral Compass | journal6other

  2. Pingback: Resetting Your Moral Compass | journal6other

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