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  1. Grief sure seems to make a lot of people worse...more narcissistic, more crazy, more of whatever they are. I had a friend named Wayne, who was a gifted ceramicist and painter. He was also a fighter pilot in Vietnam and the agent orange and jet fuel exposure he got from decades flying and training pilots caught up with him via cancer, and the second bout killed him in early Dec 2018. He was a sweetheart of a man and had many friends. After his military retirement he devoted himself to art and was very prolific. He had a ceramic studio in a trailer he owned, took classes at the community college, and was very involved in many aspects of the art community. He was also very active at the community rec center, where he exercised regularly. He was friendly, kind, generous, and many people loved him. It was heartbreaking to us all to see him decline suddenly and die. I met Wayne at the community college in ceramics classes, and also saw him at the rec center, and we talked about all kinds of things when we saw each other and texted when we didn't. I loved him, as did a lot of people. At the college, there is a clique of middle aged and older women who have been working in clay for a long time. They socialize together to the exclusion of "new" women artists, but draw in new men, and seem to fawn on them. This sort of thing exists all over the place. You know what I mean... So this group is like a little bully clique at the college. The classes have beginning, intermediate, and advanced students all together, and so there are students who have been there for many years, who work on their own thing, socialize, and sometimes help the less experienced. The man who has taught ceramics at the college for many years - let's call him Tim - has tolerated the bullying in his class for the six years I have been involved there - and no doubt before that. I try to keep my head down, work on my projects, and stay out of their way, which is difficult, because they make demeaning comments and literally push people out of their way. They seem to see themselves as a "top tier" of privileged students who can boss and demean the rest. I usually do hand-building, but decided to give the wheel another try this semester because there is a new teacher, who is an amiable young man who is quite skilled. While Tim has been impatient with my repeated attempts to try to learn on the wheel, the new teacher has tried hard to derive ways to teach me what has alluded me. This is great, but it has been frustrating. Since I am rather relentless, I keep at it on the wheel. Meanwhile, the bullying has intensified in the presence of the new young teacher and since Wayne's death. Wayne had tons of stuff related to clay...finished wares, partially finished wares, clay, tools, glazes, chemicals, kilns, wheels, and so on. Apparently the same is true with his painting things. His son said at his memorial that he really wanted to give as much os Wayne's tools, wares, and so on to Wayne's friends. He as asked repeatedly didn't he want to be paid or have the money to to something, and the son kept insisting that he believed his dad would have loved his pieces and tools go to his friends and people who loved him and his work. But the bully clique descended and things got ugly. The son was in town early this week and the word went around the clique in whispers. I heard this and contacted his son, who encouraged me to come out to the trailer and he would give me a few or Wayne's pieces, which I did. When I got there the whole bully clique was there and they were nasty. One greeted me with, "did you come to pick or help?" I tried to avoid them and talk to his son and look at the trailer and it's contents, which was overwhelming, even after two days of it being picked over and hauled off. These women decided that that they should get all of the stuff together and sell it, and set up a scholarship in Wayne's name at the college. I had heard about this at the college and that they had tried to badger anyone who had anything of Wayne's to pay them for it. So, out at the trailer I talked to his son privately, about his dad, his work, and so on. He offered me some pieces and several times came over to me with a bowl or mugs I hadn't seen, asking me if I would like them. I ended up with four bowls, three mugs and a couple of other odd pieces. When I was walking to the car one of these women was following me, yelling my name. I ignored her, but she pursued me to my car where I couldn't avoid her anymore. She told me, "if you took anything you need to pay for it" and explained what they were doing. I told her that Wayne's son had been very clear about his wishes and how he felt about his father. She went on some thing about how the scholarship was taking things "full circle" and didn't I want things to go full circle. I ignored her and went back to the son, asking him if he wanted me to pay him or these women. He said, "No, no, I want you to have them and it is not my intention for you to pay for them". I told him what this woman had said and he said, "WHO said that?" I told him and he told me to take and enjoy the pieces. So I did. Later in the day I called the college and talked to the dean about the bully pack and their horrible behavior in class. The physical intimidation, pushing, demeaning comments that go on right in front of the teacher...it has been hard to go into class knowing I will face that, and I don't think the college wants that to go on. I told her six or so of the more flagrant things, including one woman who has shoved, dragged me along with her as she walked rather than walking around me. She has also pressed up against me in a group because she wanted the spot where I was and I couldn't move other because other people were standing in a tight group listening to the teacher. So she would stand there, pressed up against me, so I could feel her breast and whatnot against me. Ewww... I have not been silent in class, but protest, with no impact. She also goes up to the sink when I am using it and puts a bucket between the spigot and my hands to fill it, and if I say anything says, "I am just taking your runoff", which of course would be below my hands and not above. Another woman was particularly nasty to me one day (the same one who chased me to my car) and I said to her, "do you have kids?" "Yes, she said". I then asked her, "do you know I'm not one of them?" "Yes", she said. "That's good!" I said cheerfully and with enthusiasm. So, none of this had had any impact, which is why I went to the dean. She was sympathetic and understanding, saying that the new teacher was an adjunct faculty and probably felt uncertain about how to handle the situation, which he had really inherited from Tim. She also said that she had taken a class with Tim a year or so ago, and had been bullied in Tim's class in front of Tim, even though she was the dean. She said she would talk to him and possibly pay a visit to the class. I was late to class yesterday because I work two hours away and sometimes it's hard to get out early. When I got to class, the teacher seemed to be a little tense but didn't say anything - just body language, like a tensed jaw. The class seemed subdued, everyone was very polite, no one was pushing anyone else around, and the three of them didn't say a word to me. That was good. I know this was kind of long, but it seems so typical in a way, of how grief intensifies dysfunction and how people can get into the most awful behaviors struggling over the stuff that a deceased person owned. It is insensitive to the bereaved and disrespectful to the deceased person, whom they supposedly loved so much.
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