This week I started my Organic Farmer Training Program at Michigan State University. I have quite a few friends who have expressed an interest in organic farming, but they have jobs, money and security so they have decided that farming is not for them.
Since I have none of that I figured I could document the experience to include my buddies in this learning journey.
This week was all the first day stuff that you normally do. Tour the facilities, although we were able to try some winter spinach as we checked out the different hoop houses and it was delicious. Nice reminder out the gate how good fresh food.
As a slow reader I have been chipping away at the reading list for months and I’m just barely on track with it. Staying on top of the reading will most likely be one of my biggest challenges. The other is socializing and chatting in general. Meeting lots of new people creates fun times with crippling anxiety.
After our first day on the farm we went to our instructor’s house for a taco dinner. It was a great opportunity to get to know my fellow classmates. However, at one point I was sitting and chatting with 4 of my classmates. All four were in agreement how much they like quiet and aren’t in general chatters. Which means I took that as a cue to start talking in rapid fire mode where I ask questions then answer them, hold little space for others to chime in, and use Dutch words then translate them to English. My cheeks were also on fire, bright red, and took two full days to level back out.
So, yeah. Socializing. Nailed it.
I’m way too excited for next week and learning berry pruning. Y’all’s Sexy Unicorn (aka No Chill) is on her way to being an organic farmer.
Anticipation is a weird thing. When you sit at a point right before something new begins, it sits in an awkward and askew way in my body. Anything could happen.
Really good stuff could happen, or you could get caught in more of the same drudgery under a different name. Anticipation doesn’t feel warm and exciting to me it sits in me like a Doritos chip that was not eaten but inhaled. I want it to move down so I can continue eating Doritos.
Tomorrow morning I start my Organic Farmer Training Program at Michigan State University (my undergrad Alma Mater). At the end of last year I applied for a scholarship for the program and received a large one which makes it possible for me to join this program. As I sitanticipating what it will be like a million thoughts run through my head.
Maybe I’ll learn a ton and I’ll be like this cool hip micro farmer helping to bring fresh food to women who are victims of Domestic Violence (this is my best case scenario and why I applied.) Maybe I’m in over my head and I’ll spend 9 months looking like the shrug emoji.
I want to help other women like me. When leaving an abusive and violent relationship you can’t tell which way is up much less remember to buy groceries and make yourself a descent meal. Nourishing your body is so far from a priority. Hell, most of the time you are struggling financially (almost two years out and I still have nothing), so worrying about buying good healthy food isn’t going to happen. Also, I need to create my own path. No one is going to provide me one here in Michigan. Whenever I tell people I’m looking for work they laugh at me and wish me luck without offering any kind of help. y’know? It’s Michigan they say. I shouldn’t have moved back. I shouldn’t want to help. Michigan is past saving. They laugh that I would think I could move back and be a part of where my family has lived for a 100 years.
The other thing people laugh at me about is wanting to make friends. I have moved into my Mid-30s. I live in poverty, I’m single, no kids, and don’t have a career. Friendships aren’t available for people in my demographic. We’re allowed a pet that we obsessively love and that is all the more we are to expect from here on out.
I don’t fit in or have an ease in which to connect with people. I have lived all over the world and never worried about making friends, because, well, I like people. Friendships have not traditionally been difficult for me. Ever since my attack I have struggled to connect with people, often finding myself isolated and alone even when I’m in a crowd. I even struggle to message back old friends that I know get that I’m kinda odd and aloof. I don’t want to bother them by responding to their text asking how I’m doing.
The day before I start my OFTP (Organic Farmer Training Program) I can tell myself I’ll finally make some friends in Michigan. I’ll connect with people and we have similar goals so we can support each other as we go after these goals in our different corners of the state.
Then I remember…
I remember I’m a polarizing person. People’s response to me tends to fall into two categories. The first:
yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaassssss. This be-yotch SAYS WHATEVER IS ON HER MINDuuhhhh!!!
the other is:
yes. This BITCH says whatever is on her mind….
I’m aware of this. I might make some really good friends, friends that if I’m perfectly honest I really need at this point. Or I could make a bunch of enemies who can’t believe they have to learn about tomatoes with someone like me.
That’s why I have this lodged Doritos of anticipation in my throat.
Maybe I’ll be a great student and take to it naturally, but I don’t even understand my book about Soil. I genuinely didn’t give a shit in chemistry and 17 years later its finally catching up with me.
Maybe I’ll make some life long friends, or maybe I’ll be a weirdo eating cheese sandwiches in a corner by myself.
Anything can happen.
I’ll eventually be able to look back and tell you what happened. As for now. Well,as for now your guess is as good as mine.
The Appalachian Trail was a beast. When people ask would you do it again or when is your next long hike all I can say is, “I’m Good.”
Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I did it. I’m extremely proud of myself and Leo for making it. The worst was probably about 4 months in, realizing how much work I had put in and I still had two more months of struggle, of scrambling, of straight ups and downs.
However, that’s the thing about the trail. You know.
You know what’s coming.
You know how many miles you have hiked. You know how many states have been checked off and how many more you have yet to come. Guidebooks tell you about monster climbs, scarce water sources, and where you can grab a burrito. The hiking app GutHook will even pinpoint your exact location on a map of the trail. You can watch your dot slowly move towards Maine. Maybe you’ll meet someone new and interesting, but after months on the trail you have your bubble of people moving along at your general pace. You know who snores (they always find a way to set their tent up next to you), who has goals to sleep with a wide variety of people, who thinks they know more than you, who is always down to party, who will make you laugh if you run into each other while filtering water. You know.
Then one day its done, and you no longer know. You no longer have “angels” leaving you goods in the woods to brighten your day or to nourish you. You no longer have the simplicity of just walking forward and that being all you have to do to check off another successful day. You no longer have your path mapped out for you.
Some become obsessed with the next trail. Preparing for the next adventure. OR planning a return to the trail the next season. Reliving the experience as quickly as it ended. The draw of trail life too enticing to just be over one day. Some have jobs lined up and partners waiting for them, their lives quickly going back to safe and well marked. Then there are others, those like me, where the trail ends and there are no more trail markers leading the way. No waiting partner to help ease you back into normalcy. No job to throw yourself into. No books nicely laying our what your future ups and downs will be.
You may have goals. An idea of where you are headed. Scrambling up a mountain to realize its taking you in the opposite direction you want to go. Sliding back down to be trapped in a valley till day light. Another day of trying to find your markers. Trying to find your way.