Today I cooked for about twenty people on my Farm workshare. Man, I am getting sick of that scene. The vegetables, the fruit, the fresh eggs, the sun on my back and the earth on my hands – all good. The standards of order and cleanliness (or notably, lack thereof), the kid program (or notably, lack thereof), and the supposition that yes, we all want to share our personal lives with eachother first thing in the morning and sing quasi-spiritual songs in a minor key (I want to do neither) – things like that bug me. Some of these issues are just personal preference and snarkiness; others are systemic and I probably have a right to be irritated.
I have fallen into a trap, however. I am normally a pretty upfront person and I never have trouble contributing an opinion or volunteering my advice. OK, put another way: I can be a bossy bitch. But you know? I have put that aside for the duration of this work season and perhaps in doing that I have totally screwed up. There’s a reason I have thus far chosen not to speak up on these issues: the Farm is so challenging to me in terms of hygiene (scary), management (confusing), organization (low), and most specifically, the program they provide for the children of workers (this last one is the only true bitch I have; the others are likely from a rather shallow and threatened space) that I told myself from Day One to give it some time. I told myself to hold out, to meet my commitment, and to do my part as best I could. At some point the momentum shifted and I realize I should have said or done something; because I hate aspects of the experience right now and I find myself distancing.
There is the part that is my shit: I cannot believe the level of squalor the facilities are in. I cannot believe there are eight crappily-labeled tamari jars on the shelves, yet if flour runs out no one thinks to make a note for the kitchen manager (a job done as well as possible by my saintly and efficient friend Becca – a mom, by the way, who manages her own kitchen at home of course). I cannot believe the children at this farm – children from 2 to 12 or so – are expected to run around the disorganized facilities for about five hours, unsupervised. I cannot believe when I am cooking for thirty people I have the total knowledge my son is digging around in chickenshit and not only is no one stopping him, no one really knows where he is. Meanwhile – and this is the part that totally gets my fuck up – the very individuals who talk about how “wonderful” the children are and how *amazing* the experience is are some of the same individuals who never once volunteer kid-watching time or cooking time. Today, for instance, what kid duties AND what cooking duties needed to be done for ALL were done by myself and another pregnant Mama. Because, you know, we don’t get ENOUGH of that shit in our daily lives!
It’s all mixed up; the legitimate concerns with my judgments – judgments that have validity, yes – but judgments with a good deal of anger behind them because I have not addressed the issues earlier. I could have sorted them some time ago had I started speaking with management. Of course, we don’t know who exactly that is – the family that seemed to run the program is no longer on site. Do I trust those that remain to effect change? Sadly, I don’t. Would I volunteer my own time and energy to building a better program? Absolutely, yes, I would – if I had faith in the leadership to back me up. What about the irritating, fucking smug lipservice to how pro-family this place is? What a fucking farce. Pro-family my ass.
I’ve thought about writing an exit interview in terms of a letter to whomever is in charge (when I find out who that is) – I’ve thought about giving a Group Chew-Out speech on my last day. God Knows I have put the time in on all duties and surpassed even my own expectations in working hard at a program that is Fucking Over the Mamas of Young Children – the individuals included here at this Farm because, you know, everywhere else the world fucks them over.
I love so many things about the program*; I want to know if I can stay on – not just through this season, which I am almost done with – but on next year. Or if I will end up saying, “So long and fuck you very much!” and no one really will ever know why it “just didn’t work out for me”.
* And there are the lovely moments. Today, my husband came out to bring me food I’d left behind and as soon as he entered the sun room / kitchen / office / rumpus room (yes, it’s all one fucking room, and a huge fucking mess including random bird wings and things in the dehydrator and liquids in mason jars with masking tape and if you clean anything up someone is sure to wander inside and ask you if you threw out their whatever – urine or echinacea or whatever they were saving, unlabeled, in the common area) – anyway, as soon as my husband entered the room he was assaulted (in a good way) by one of our “comrades”, topless from the waist up and doing office work. Ralph knew about our sole female topless worker but this was his first actual sighting.
Now I know I should be “above it all” and no one should notice that we have a topless filly prancing about the Farm but – sorry, I grew up in the US of A and my knee-jerk reaction to free-range boobies is that they are either funny or sexy or both and the fact my husband got an inordinate amount of joy (more than, say, a bare arm or the sight of a pair of knees would give him) that’s good enough for me. I honestly feel like he got a bonus; kind of if I would have seen a couple of kittens juggling or something. Her breasts are that nice and really, we should be seeing more of breasts in real life, in general.
Yay boobies! You may say you want no more press than any other “non-sexual” body part, but you will always be special to me.