I believe I first met Lindsay Garinger a few days after Arlo was born, at an Occupy Ypsi teach-in. She was pregnant, and, if I’m not mistaken, she was knitting. I’d seen her around before, and always assumed that she was a local. That, apparently, wasn’t the case, though… Here, with the whole story, is Lindsay, who was kind enough to agree to be interviewed for our Ypsi Immigration Project….
MARK: Where had you been living? And why did you decide to move to Ypsi now? Was it the higher taxes that attracted you?
LINDSAY: I have lots of Ypsi pride. I’m ashamed to admit it, but I’ve been living in Ann Arbor, at the University Townhouses, since August 2011. I moved back to The Mitten from Columbus, Ohio. My best friend of almost 12 years offered to share her space with me, so I could grow some babies, and we could support each other. Things have changed with both of our lives since I gave birth, though, and I was invited to rent a two-bedroom basement apartment at the Yoder homestead in Ypsilanti. It was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up! Their space is similar to the homestead that I had been building in Ohio. More importantly, it will be the first time for my five year old son and me to have our own space since I separated from his dad. I’ve been going through this life transition since January 2011, and I’m ready to settle! My life is a happy mess!
MARK: There’s no shame in having lived in Ann Arbor. It happens to the best of us. The important thing is that you left when an opportunity presented itself… Seriously, though… There’s a lot to like about Ann Arbor. What, in your opinion, is the very best thing about Ann Arbor?
LINDSAY: The transportation system and the absence of Wal-Mart.
MARK: By that same logic, is the best thing about Ypsi the absence of black plague and robots that feed on human eyeballs?
LINDSAY: Where are those robots?! Really, Ann Arbor is great in much the same way that Ypsi is, but it just feels too big and too corporate for me. I love the small town local pride vibe in Ypsi.
MARK: I’m not familiar with the Yoder Homestead. Is it a survivalist enclave? Are the stockpiles of weapons?
LINDSAY: They’re steps ahead of most of us when it comes to surviving The Apocalypse. Grace and Jeff are armed with two amazing little humans, two dogs, lots of chickens, lots of raised vegetable beds, a root cellar filled with preserved food, a greenhouse, etc. The weapons are of life, and this is the foundation of Polliwog Farm… They still need to purchase a gun.
MARK: So, are the Yoder Homestead and Plliwog Farm one in the same?
LINDSAY: Yes. The homestead is the family, and the farm is the business. They are very full folks!
MARK: What brought you to Michigan in the first place?
LINDSAY: I first came to Michigan in 2000 to study at EMU. I took a year off school in 2003 and lived with my folks back in C-Bus. In 2004, I moved back to Michigan to finish school. Then, I left again in 2006, to live with my boyfriend. We separated, but we have five year old son. Now, I’m back to stay (hopefully) for longer than three years.
MARK: You mention that you lived with your friend in Ann Arbor these last several months, while you were incubating babies. It’s OK if you don’t want to, but, since you brought up the pregnancy, do you want to mention how all of that went down? I don’t mean to pry, but I think it’s interesting, and I think that others might benefit from hearing about your decision.
LINDSAY: My first reaction to a positive pregnancy test was shock, since I had taken the morning after pill. It was not an option for me to keep the babies. I knew that I did not want more children. The biological father did not want children either. After a series of events to try to induce miscarriage, including being denied at my first abortion appointment, I started to think of adoption. The seed was planted by my housemates – a lesbian couple. I started to ponder the idea, and the stars were all aligned. Another friend knew of a couple, and, after some hesitation, we were introduced. We met at the park on Prospect and hit it off really well. I had another abortion appointment a week after that visit. That was a really hard week to live through, as I looked for signs to tell me what I should do. My sister and I talked, and she mentioned that perhaps the signs had already shown to me. Once I chose to go down that road, I was committed. I knew what I would have wanted from the situation to begin with, which helped make it so successful. I didn’t enter it knowing how it would look or work out, but I knew what I wanted. The couple were flexible, and so respectful, and I was sure to not take more than they offered. I got to have an empowering home birth experience, and they got a family. Everyone involved received the gift of being part of the story.
MARK: Again, it’s not a questions that you have to answer, but I heard that you shared your story on the Oxgyn Network. What was that like?
LINDSAY: It was completely bizarre to me. I don’t consider myself an artist, and yet there I was, giving my creation story away to the biggest industry. I felt like it compromised my beliefs, but I think it shows that I’m willing to be intimate and vulnerable on an interpersonal level, just not in a traditionally public way… so, I had to have someone tell the story for me with their big cameras. Reality TV is staged, but the questions I had to answer for the interviews were genuine to some degree. I felt slightly coerced a couple of times, but I was firm about not saying anything that I didn’t actually feel. There was one day of filming me going about my daily routine, and then three different interview sessions. I also had to provide diary videos, which were the absolute weirdest things… sitting in front of a computer and talking to it, while looking at yourself. I hope it is okay for me to tell this much. The contract is scary… I appreciate how amazing the producers were with me given how difficult I must have been with all my questioning and hesitation.
MARK: If someone had just one day to spend it Ypsi, and they had no money whatsoever, what would you suggest that they do?
LINDSAY: Go to the Pleasuredome, find Thom Elliot, and ask him to show you how to have a good time. That guy rules! And he is super nice too… I find myself walking through the graveyard, or near the river a lot too. Oh, and I would suggest going to the Historical Museum on Huron and looking through the file cabinets to research all the old homes. I don’t know if you still can, but I did that once, years ago, and there are files for each registered house, with information about the families that lived in them, and sometimes pictures too. Also, the museum itself is packed with lots of artifacts. Depending on the season, you could forage for edibles, then trade them for some beer from someone sitting on their front porch. Ypsilanti is so friendly you won’t go wrong just hanging around chatting with whomever you run into. Lots of good stories to be shared!
MARK: There must be two Thom Elliots in town. The one that I know isn’t a “good time” kind of guy. He just wants to talk about obscure, long-dead philosophers.
LINDSAY: He loves to pick up trash around Depot Town, and, if you’re nice enough, he would probably get you food while you let him diagnose you! I have a lot of respect for that guy. He’s one of the first people I met in this town, at Vinyl Joe’s. His honesty is humbling!
MARK: Now, let’s say you met someone with a million dollars, who, for some reason, had to invest it all in Ypsilanti. How would you suggest that this person spend it?
LINDSAY: You shouldn’t let me ever be in charge of money unless you want to lose it.
MARK: Yeah, but this person has to spend it, right? What would you tell her to do with it? Should she give it to the Dreamland Theater so that they can build puppet museum? Should she set up a scholarship program so that Ypsi kids can attend college for free? Should she buy Water Street and turn it into an edible forest? Or, should she just buy everyone in town roller skates and have a huge roller disco party?
LINDSAY: So you may have mind fucked me with this question. Essentially you are asking me to realize my passions again, while I am at an all time low figuring them out. Sigh. Thank You. First I’d suggest giving some to the community of folks that I respect for their contributions to this great little town (that should be its own country), like Natalie and Kristen with Bike Ypsi or the Ypsilanti Co-op, the Growing Hope Community, Little Lake Learning Community, Trillium Midwifery, Dreamland Theater, Patrick Elkins Shadow Puppetry, James Mann of The Ypsilanti Historical Society, The Ypsilanti Farmers Market and Food Pantries, SOS Community Services, Ozone House Drop In, and surely many more organizations! I’d love to see market stands built all around the city sidewalks. No organization to run them. I’d just have them there as an open invitation for folks to bring whatever they want to sell, or trade, or share. I heard from a friend about a street artist in New Orleans that just sat with her typewriter, available to type up anyone’s story for them. I know it is naive and idealistic, but, if I could dream big and keep it local, I would love to see our town have more street artists. I think Ypsi is a place where people want to, and do, support the small businesses. I don’t want to think about the logistics just yet, and I don’t know how business is for this town, but I support them with my wallet. I’d also like to build a roller skating rink and a one screen movie theater like this place in Columbus, OH, and start a bike co-op and pedi-cabbing business. I think I am taking you TOO SERIOUSLY!! HA!
MARK: What’s the weirdest thing ever to happen to you in Ypsilanti?
LINDSAY: I’ve pondered this question, and, each story that I think of, I realize that I was the weird one.
MARK: OK, so what’s the weirdest thing you’ve done in Ypsilanti?
LINDSAY: So I had my first apartment on Adams St, living in the basement with my dear friend, Leggz. The other half of the apartment was home to this guy Roy who was an Ypsi drunk. He had this lady friend, Judy, who was also an Ypsi drunk. The Ypsi drunks are really awesome folks. I was friendly with them, as I am with most people… and what happened next is a story I am used to repeating. I had bad boundaries with these two, plus I was in school for women studies stuff, and quite the avenger for protecting all women. So, she came to me frantic one day, and said Roy was going to kill her. I don’t know if it would be possible, though, as the guy was always shaking, slurring and so sloppy. Apparently he was doing some drugs, and she said something about it to him. She cared about him! So, in a matter of minutes, I had all of her stuff moved into my place while he was gone to the store. Piles and piles of clothes and boxes of stuff that she never unpacked. Next, we camped out and just waited. Waited for him to come and try to kill her. I was all for protecting this lady, but I was nervous I might get taken out too, for being in the way. He eventually came, and was yelling for her to come out. All I remember next is moving her into some other man’s house far away. Sorry if that was anti-climatic. Most of my stories are… I also helped care for a prairie dog pet while its owner was on vacation. And, I’m doing this interview, which is especially weird! And, meeting Patrick Elkins, who has brought so much weird joy to my life. Define weird!
MARK: What do you do for work? You don’t have to tell us where you work, specifically, but I’m curious as to what you do.
LINDSAY: I am working for a small cleaning business based out of YPSI, run by my friend, Nature Maid – WON’T BREAK IT OR TAKE IT! I may have made up that motto, but I would like to shamelessly promote it now. Check out the website. I really love my job. It’s like, as my friend Grace explains, “chop wood, carry water”… good hard work that satisfies and sustains me.
MARK: What, if anything, do you miss about Columbus?
LINDSAY: I’m not far enough from Ohio to miss anything. Specifically, in Columbus, I do miss certain folks, friends, food places and my dad.
MARK: When you say that you’re not far enough away, do you mean in a geographic sense, or an emotional sense?
MARK: What should people know about Ben Miller?
LINDSAY: Ben Miller is a think tank of love. The kind of love that embraces and accepts and requires you to be respectful. He LOVES the library and YPSI LIVING! He has so many passions, and really great ideas, and he is living his dream. He could tell you more about himself so ask him out on a date!