Today I worked for garlic: 40 bulbs, for 5 hours of labour. Given that organic garlic bulbs cost around $3 each, this means I was making $24 an hour. Tax-free! The labour was the sort I enjoy, with lots of different parts to it but a definite overall pattern and visible result that provides satisfaction: The garlic itself was my focus, because it needed to be harvested, cleaned, bundled, then hung to dry in the shade tent. Good work, and aesthetically-pleasing too, making me wish I’d had my camera with me so that I could document the just-pulled bulbs lying in long neat rows, and the patterns made by the hanging bundles. Once they’ve cured, I’ll bring home my wages, and photograph them instead.
Some of the garlic we’ll eat as is, and some will no doubt make it into pickles. The largest heads, though, will be set aside for Sum and I to plant in the fall in our new garden. Various folks associated with the farm have been doing this for over a decade now, sharing this garlic and using it for seed, I mean, both on the farm and elsewhere… It’s reached the point where no one seems to know what specific variety the garlic is, because it’s simply always been there. We joked today that we could double the price at market, if we dubbed it Salish Garlic.
I’m writing about this happy part of my day in an attempt to distract from the annoyances: One, my lungs are letting me down again by getting all asthmatic on me, and two, I think I’m being offered back my old job at the construction site.
The lungs, I can roll with, but they hamper my ability to be an effective farm labourer. The doctor hasn’t got anything new to say about it, except to give me another inhaler. Poor Oats has her own lung infection going on, which makes us a wheezy pair of companions indeed. At least we can cut expenses by sharing drugs!
As for the construction job thing… Well, I don’t have all the details yet, but I ignored a call yesterday from a union guy asking me to phone the hall, and then today there was an email from my buddy who was laid off on the same day as I was, saying that “they want us back”. Checking my phone messages, I found another one from a different union guy, saying that there’s work available with the company that laid me off. I’m annoyed, because losing that job has been quite the trip. I vented a little to Oats, who simply asked me if I wanted to go back. “No, of course not,” I replied without a thought. Then I hesitated, and began to list reasons why I should, but she cut me off. “Then don’t,” she said. “It’s fine.”
And that, ladies and gentlemen and everyone else too, is why I love this human being and want to publically declare so to the whole world.
It’s not like I’m in *lurrrrve* with farming, because my farm job is no picnic. It’s hard on my body, and dirty as hell, and the pay is crap. Also, I’m driving out there instead of riding a bike, and that’s kinda making me sad. But really? I had no fucking clue how shitty that construction job made me feel until I stepped away from it. In fact, I feel like it’s still creeping up on me, the little ways in which I’m happier now that I’m not spending my days building that hospital. It’s a pretty obvious conclusion, I realize, that being surrounded by homophobic, sexist, ignorant bullshit can really wear a person down, but you have to understand how much I steeled myself to withstand, how hard I worked at being stoic about it all.
Fuck, it was exhausting.
So now my heart sings when I’m on my way to work, and I spend my days with rad queers, and we plot out nefarious schemes for effective positive political and social change while we weed the brassicas or harvest the strawberries. I’m not satisfied in terms of my career goals, but for now, this is pretty much where I want to be. And maybe even *need* to be, a little, just to heal from the wounds caused by 3 months of construction-site-induced damage.
Doesn’t bode well for my future career in the trades, does it?
The thing is, I’m an optimist. A cynic too, it’s true, but I also have a lot of faith in some things. For instance, I refuse to believe that there’s nowhere I can work through the apprenticeship system and also avoid sexual harassment. It simply can’t be true: I just need to find the right jobs. I also refuse to believe that there’s no space for an electrician like me. The facts are that I’m queer, and a woman, and have ideals about oppression and sustainability… These should not be hurdles and I refuse to see them as such. If anything, these things are assets that’ll make me a better tradesperson, dammit. I’m not sure how, yet, but that’s what I’m spending this summer trying to figure out.