As previously mentioned in earlier posts, I’m spending a month working on a small organic farm in Ferndale, WA– a couple of hours north of Seattle.
In my last post about that, I was weepy and despairing. I’d just arrived, and it was one hell of an adjustment. I mean, that’s legit. I flew across the country, by myself, to live with people I’d never met. It was a lot to swallow.
That was three weeks ago. I’ve now been here a while, and adjusted to it. That doesn’t mean I’m madly in love with every aspect of life here, but I have come to accept it. Although I do miss the familiarities of home (my cats and Bell’s Oberon beer, especially), I don’t really feel homesick anymore.
So, I’ll make a few statements, and then elaborate on them in detail below.
1) Holy fuck, does it rain a lot here.
- Like, I know you hear that about the Pacific Northwest. But nothing will teach you that more quickly than moving here in the springtime to live in a tent. Let me remind you: I am living in a tent. Luckily, it’s solidly waterproof. And I have a kickass sleeping bag and polar fleece liner for it. But again, holy fuck does it rain a lot. I almost miss Michigan’s summertime heat– if only because I’m tired of feeling cold and damp all the time.
2) I’m just as much of a child magnet here as I was in Michigan.
- Surprise, surprise. 🙂 I actually love it because, unlike when I was a babysitter, I can just enjoy the kids around here without having to worry too much about the minute details of their days: feeding them, bathing them, etc. I’m especially thrilled that the little girls here have taken to me as well as they have. I get real pissed off whenever adults talk down to children; they’re young and small, but not stupid. And I get especially upset when this happens to girls, because, due to their gender, they’re bound to face a lifetime of bullshit that boys won’t have to deal with as they get older.
3) Let me tell you a story about the creepy conservative Christian lady who lives here.
- So, a little background first: I’m living on a pseudo-commune. There are three buildings on this property: a large community house, a cottage where the landlord stays on the weekends with his kids (I use the bathroom & kitchen in there), and this other little shack-like building where a single woman lives. She’s totally unlike anyone else here, by which I mean that she’s a conservative Christian with a fucking poodle named Peaches (seriously) who wants nothing to do with the community. I straight up asked the landlord why she moved in once I realized how much she doesn’t fit in; he told me that basically, she found the place on Craig’s List & he needed someone to move in, so she took it.
- But wow, what a weird disaster. When I moved in, she tried to “warn me” against the people in the community house. That just gave me a bad vibe immediately. I came here to find community, not to be pitted against others.
- And it just got worse from there. She talks to herself a lot (which is fine; I do that, too). But because she does that, I’ve learned a lot about what’s on her mind. And it really creeps me out. Mostly, she just prays for the people in the community house to go away. And she prays that their children will be safe, because she thinks they’re bad parents (they’re not). Once, when one of the little girls was nearby and saying something about monsters, Creepy Christian Lady muttered under her breath, “At least my babies believe in God.” Her tone scared me. It’s as if she was trying to resign herself to the fact that not everyone else can be just like her.
- And she’s said some very offensive things to me personally, too. Everyone here knows that I was sexually assaulted. I was very open about that, because being here is part of the healing process for me. When she found out about that she asked, “Were you a virgin when you were raped?” I said no and she sighed and said, “Oh, thank God. It couldn’t have been that bad, then.” Like, WHAT? You should not be putting my experience on a severity scale as weighed by your heteronormative “Christian” values.
- Then, for whatever reason, she asked me if I wear underwire bras. I told her that I do not wear bras at all, because I find them uncomfortable. From there, the conversation went on to makeup. I don’t wear makeup, either. When I told her that she just looked at me, totally exasperated, and said, “Honey, don’t you like yourself?”
- I’m not trying to stir up too much shit with her, because my being here is temporary. But I’ve managed to get on her nerves a million times anyway. Since I got here she’s called me “irresponsible,” “disappointing,” and “a know it all” (which is especially hilarious because I’m plagued by crippling self doubt). I’ve decided to measure my success on this farm by how often she reprimands me.
- I’m going on and on about her, but it’s not because I’m especially bothered by her. I’m really just fascinated. Because, as a radical feminist, I’ve been told, many times, that most Christians are not loser jerkwads. And I’ve tried to believe that; I have friends who identify as Christian who are compassionate and fun. But this lady, who could easily be a caricature of the right wing, is a living, breathing human who actually, physically exists. And she lives on a commune full of hippies. And that is a lot to wrap my head around.
- Her antics would be endlessly entertaining if they didn’t have real repercussions for the people she interacts with. And her poor dog, oh my god. She yells at him whenever he does typical, normal dog things like scratch himself with his hind legs or lick his butt. And she puts him in the sink and bathes him once every couple of days.
4) Non-GMO food tastes really, really good, you guys.
- I mean, I know that, intellectually. I try to eat organic as much as possible at home. But I’m also a slacker with a chocolate problem. Here, the hippies in the community house are very, very strict about only eating non-GMO food. They won’t even buy Cheerios. I’ve had several meals with them, and I feel so, so good as a result. Down with GMOs.
5) I wish I was learning more.
- That’s my own damn fault, I guess. I’m frequently given odd jobs: mowing the lawn, weeding, etc, because I’m only able to stay here for a little over a month (my best friend is getting married in Marquette, Michigan on June 22). I arrived on the farm on May 11, and fly back to Detroit on June 15. So it’s not really worth it to train me, because by the time I gain the skill, I’ll be gone. But still, ugh. I am not going to come away from this experience with too much farming know-how.
- Then again, I’m the first WWOOFer to ever come to this farm. I’m sure they’ll learn, as the years pass, what they want, just as I will learn as time goes on, too. I am awesome at blaming myself for everything.
It’s been a tremendous experience anyway. I met some amazing people who share my values. I got to spend some time with some really cool, smart children. I also engaged in several activities of the illegal variety that I shouldn’t be blogging about– but suffice it to say that I’ve tried to spend a lot of time outside of my comfort zone, trying and doing new things.
See you in a couple of weeks, Michigan. I miss you. You will always be home.