My aunt raises marijuana. It’s legal to do so now in Oregon, for some years now. She has a small operation, it gets harvested in October. Or when it’s ready, which is usually October. Takes about two weeks for thirteen to twelve plants. There’s roughly two to three people working a day, on weekends it’s more. You sit and trim the buds off the branches. It’s tedious, mind-erasing work.
The trimmed buds are then ‘ground’ up. This cuts off the excess leaves and such, turns everything into a round green or purple or amber ball that is then dried in a sealed container. It’s all labeled. Every plant has a name. You don’t just trim the stuff willy-nilly! You don’t mix the Blue Diesel in with the Girl Scout Cookie, after all. Bad!
Okay. All righty. Let’s skip the boring part. How weed gets into your bong or rolling papers you can all look up. It’s a process. It’s farming. Farming is really boring stuff to those not farming. Or is it? Do y’all wanna know how onions get to your table? Ask me, I know.
So, as I’ve disclosed, I’ve been working for the US Census. That work was supposed to end in September. Yet a California court case said, no, you will continue through Halloween! We at the Census got many a conflicting order and hysterical message and now we’re going through Halloween; at least, that’s what I know as of right now. When I told my aunt I could trim for her, I thought my Census job would be over and I could work for her no problem, with no other job drawing away my attention and time.
Yeah. What is it about those well-laid plans? Something about mice?
Oh dear. I block out the conservations that go on around me when I strip the buds from the branches.
The racism. The sexism. All the isms you can imagine that deal with human rights and who should be counted as a human and who should actually have rights or not. Yep. In years past I don’t remember it being this bad or this loathsome.
My aunt has a new boyfriend. Her husband died of a heart attack. Her second husband. They were together quite a long time. It was very sudden and horrible and I actually liked him. She did quite badly with his sudden demise but now seems okay again. The new boyfriend, by the way…is a dead ringer for her deceased husband. Even his voice is similar. It’s a bit eerie, to be honest. Did she deliberately go alley catting for a replica or what??? Prolly not. I might be watching too many sci fi switcheroo bad aliens imitating humans movies or something. Mm.
I’ve been exposed to COVID. I’m seated at a table well away from my aunt, the new boytoy and the boytoy’s elder brother. None of them are wearing masks. I’m far enough away but still should be wearing one, yes. I try not to go near anyone that much but…I am careless and ill at ease and am just counting down how many hours I have to do before I can BOLT LIKE A RABID HYENA. I figure at least five to six.
I start itching by then, getting headaches [probably from grinding my teeth or chewing on my own tongue rather than start screaming like some demented suffragette in a town square full of mockers] and wanting out out out.
Social anxiety or just don’t wanna be there around these assclowns no more syndrome.
For the Census, by the way, I wear my mask religiously. Every time I approach a door or have to talk to someone. I want that on record.
So in walks a friend of my aunt’s. I’ll call him Percival. Not even close to his very ordinary common name but yeah. I’m petty.
Percival, to me, is the name of a small diseased dog rotting slowly away from the inside on a stained sofa cushion. Someone’s too pampered pooch on its last legs but with enough venom to bite you if really necessary.
So “Percival” swaggers in, with his cheese grater of a laugh. No, really. I feel my skin grated off every time he sniggers. Urh urh urh. I try to be pleasant and not let his presence ANNOY THE EVER-LIVING JIM DANDY FUCK OUTTA ME.
I am at the back of the shed, after all. I am head down, cutting away, filling my giant pan with buds, buds, buds. Snip snip, gloves getting sticky. You have to wear gloves to trim. Fresh Mary Jo is like handling syrup-sticky toddlers. Better done with gloves and protective gear.
Percival is jovial, radiating good will and has brought donuts. Yay. I didn’t have breakfast. So I have a donut. I’m polite but cool. I’ve made it clear before I am not a fan of his. So. Yeah.
And then…it starts. Percival makes some tired joke about trans people. And then descends into a truly angry outburst about knowing who you are based on if you have a dick or a pussy. Everyone laughs and nods and is having a good ole time with this. I am…speechless. I…miss a chance to correct this. To say something.
Anything. Say anything at all, really.
Because I was taught to be the good girl and be quiet rather than cause a fuss. I was told I was nasty or mean or awful if I questioned what was said around me by the men of my family.
I learned women are quiet or go along with whatever flows from the lips of the menfolk…and take them apart in private. Rather like slaves would. Slaves who pretend all is well and good, then clutch at each other behind the scenes, when they don’t have to perform, exclaiming their actual opinions. Letting their real voices chime for a bit, when it’s safe to do so.
Oh. I learned this too well.
I speak out at the wrong times, say the wrong awful cutting things and stay silent when my voice is needed. I am ashamed of this tendency. Ashamed.
I am the good girl. The good German who does what’s told and doesn’t cause problems. Oh yes.
So from bashing transgender folks, it went to, yes, the coloreds.
The coloreds. The N word wasn’t said. There’s…that. I guess.
I got to hear how any road with MLK in the title of it should be avoided. Because you knew you’d get murdered for your shoes on such a road going past such a neighborhood.
I learned that there’s crime in big cities, and that the crime is them coloreds stealing everything as they killed you dead! Usually for your Nikes.
Yeah. I probably had my lips scaled back by then and my teeth bared. New boyfriend of aunt is also popping off with remarks about the coloreds. It’s hard to breathe. Hearing this sort of thing said so casually. The hate in the air like wildfire smoke. Hard to breathe, hard to breathe in this now.
And I failed to speak up.
I am the only liberal in my family that I know of. Everyone else is an avid Fox News junkie. It’s…stomach-turningly hideous. I hear it all around me all the time. It’s that dream where you’re drowning but you never quite drown all the way.
I bolt. I see it’s near noon. I’ve been there since eight or so. Enough. Boytoy is outside, with the cart to go cut some more MJ. I have to drive past him, his steady glare a sign they will discuss me thoroughly, have discussed me thoroughly already…
I don’t wish to hate my aunt. She agrees with whatever man has spoken last. I’ve heard her say women are not as intelligent as men. I’ve seen her make up drunken Christmas songs about her own kid and then call that same kid a traitor…her drinking an epic family cringe-worthy festival in years past. Yet she is one of the kindest people I know. A hard worker, she…ugh.
Family is complicated, says the poets and playwrights and homeless guitar player singing about his brother.
It was like attending a mini klan rally or maybe the part afterword where they all meet for some fellowship. And I wanted no part of it. I want no future part of such sentiments and expressions and beliefs as theirs. I have no wish to nod along to Percival’s garbage take of race or gender or anything else, really.
I keep waiting to fit into my own family. I realize I never will. I realize I will never accept that and keep waiting. Keep waiting. I cannot mouth the things they do. I cannot endorse their casual hatreds and ignorances but I can be the good girl, go silent and hope I win their approval at last.
But I never will.
I am the odd duck. The not-pretty one. The fat one. The one without a man. The loser. The writer who’s not Stephen King level. The…yep. The list of negatives extends well into and past eternity here.
2020 is an awful year. It might be the year I break with my family, avoid them from now on. I can’t flee anywhere, not with…well, maybe another post I’ll go into that sad pickle of a situation I could have avoided by getting knocked up at seventeen, getting into meth real hard, then turning my life around or not.
This has been a perhaps too-honest post. I have learned not to share anything of myself with anyone. I seem to get rejected bigly when I do. People don’t like me when I’m sad. Or I get told I’m just attention-seeking. Or I get called a bitch or a cunt or that I’m mean and nasty…When I can’t control the confusion and fog in my head anymore. Hello, depression. Ain’t you fun.
So I hide the sadness, the rage, the pain…until I can’t. And then I’m usually alone anyway, with a razor blade in one hand. Considering some stuff. Considering.
And tamping it all down again. To be that good girl my mama so wanted. And never ever really got.
After all, my family already barely tolerates me. What more harm can I do to my family’s image of me by making it clear such talk as I overheard is not okay with me? Lots.
There’s the rub, aye. But it’s not okay. I am not okay with such shallow shit as Percival and the two dork brothers bleated out all morning with my aunt playing anxious drums in the background. As she tried to not be so bossy. Her words.
Her words. I guess there were two good girls trimming buds today.