Bernadette is certainly not a people person—in fact, she finds most of them boring, annoying, emotionally erratic, and problematic, and chooses to immerse herself in architecture instead. Or did, back when the world considered her a creative genius who asked the most interesting questions – like, “what are the problems I need my design to solve?” “What are the practicalities involved?” “Can we build this using only raw materials within a twenty mile radius, including rescuing things from the trash?” “What materials can I use that will be sturdy, lightweight, and have no waste?” At her best, Bernadette was an ingenious designer who came up with concepts that no one else had ever imagined, and even when designing the South Pole project, she likes to focus on the big picture, factor in all the immediate and future needs, and come up with ways to prevent any wasted materials. When her daughter was born, and the nurses thought she would not survive, Bernadette looked into her tiny blue face and knew she would not only live, but be her miracle — and she has poured all her love and creativity into her daughter since. She spent two years working on the 20 Mile House, and then quickly shifted her attention to a new project, but after its bulldozing, she lost the will to be creative and became a reclusive shut-in, angry, crabby, and anti-social. Bernadette needs to “see” something before she can begin designing for it, including the South Pole. She often makes accurate predictions or simply believes in them (she suspects her husband will turn against her, since his new assistant is pouring poison into his ear — a metaphorical reference to Hamlet) and uses a lot of metaphors and peculiar turns of phrase to express herself. It takes a change of environment and the recognition of a new possibility to make her excited again, and get her out of her depressive slump. Bernadette spends years doing the same things, going through the same motions, and simply being a “mom” (and largely content with it), entering a kind of Si grip where she thinks she can no longer be creative, that her daughter was her “last” miracle. She is happiest when working on a project and being an artist; the rest of the time… she is inferior Fe crabby in her avoidance of people, her purposeful antagonizing of them, and her refusal to accept responsibility for any of her mistakes. Bernadette neither knows how to make her neighbors like her, nor cares, but becomes defensive, apologetic, and emotional under stress or whenever someone confronts her. She passive-aggressively irritates her neighbors with an offensive sign in her yard, but then offers to pay for “everything” the mudslide destroyed. She has no real ability to know her own feelings or process her miscarriages, and winds up spewing all this information onto a former colleague, who feels shocked by it. She admits that when she isn’t being creative, she turns her restless energy into complaining about where they live and Seattle in general.

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Bernadette … is not a people person. In fact, she has no real interest in leaving her house. The notion of spending five weeks in total isolation appeals to her so much she blurts out, in total joy, “I have been training for this for twenty years!” She is socially awkward, detached, and does not like having anything to do with people – she avoids going to the pharmacy, she has a meltdown at the idea of having to rub shoulders with new people (she’s delighted that the tables on the small cruise ships only seat four; so if they all block the extra seat, no strangers can sit with them). Bernadette has always had fearful responses to things, and been hard to get to know – even when she was healthy and successful, nobody knew anything about her, and since then she has dropped off the grid. She avoids participating in anything, and sees the attempts of her neighbors to involve her as intrusive. Rather than confront or talk to people in person, Bernadette would rather put up a sign that keeps them out of her yard and peel out of a parking lot to avoid speaking to someone. She also tends to be a snob, who looks down on the common horde for their pedantic interests, who becomes emotional and reactive under stress, and who can be melodramatic on a daily basis.