Monday, October 11, 2010

anti-rant rant, overwhelm, radio silence.

I am back, earlier than planned. I am cranky, exhausted, over-stimulated, crowded, disgusted with people, incredulous that this is my life, that matt is not actually here anymore, hyper-sensitive to sounds, touch, sights, pretty much anything and everything. I left a tea mug and a couple of dishes in my sink before I left, and the sight of them makes me want to smash windows. Yeah. Too much. No respite. I mean, other than washing them and being done with it. Matt is not here to make me laugh, to cook dinner, to listen to the whole goat school adventure, to wonder with me about peoples' interpersonal skills and lack thereof, to - with no effort or explaining necessary at all -  understand exactly why I am fried and so tired of people I am seriously, again, contemplating vows of silence and social abstinence. That I know there is no comfort, and no one who is My Family here in this world, does not help, though it is true.

Anyway. Long hours of driving, not in my own space, a hyper dog, going through places where matt and I have been knowing how not here he is now, leaving said dog at my folks, more driving, and arriving at an Inn that made me want to drive the 3 hours all the way back home and scrap the entire thing. I was tired and hungry and in a region where the most edible things you can find for dinner are at the Rite Aid. I apparently made a huge assumption that the room I booked at the inn was the top of the line room, with private bath and balcony, as according to the website price list, I paid more for three nights than even that room's set price. Huge assumption. I got the bottom of the line room, top of the stairs, next to the shared bathroom, with a shared balcony. Prices were apparently jacked up for the weekend. The first night, there alone with no other guests, I was woken up (I think) some time in the night by a male voice (the innkeeper's teen grandson, I think) near my door saying "now, where will I sleep tonight?" I have a vague recollection of shouting "you are too loud!" before going back to sleep. The next night, the room adjoining mine was occupied by a woman yelling something about the position of her much quieter roommate's "pee bottle," and the blasting television. The other occupant must have said something about keeping her voice down, and she shouted "I refuse to be quiet just because someone else is next to us." Long, long night. I didn't bother staying for the third night.

Goat school was a mixed bag. I learned a couple of useful and interesting things. I also learned that I know quite a bit already. I learned that day long sessions, without my own home and my things and my routine to go to for comfort take far too much out of me, still. There were couples there of all ages, sweet little families discussing how and where they would build their barn together. I felt sick. There were little clutches of people making small talk and asking each other questions during breaks. I felt sick - and curious. Would there be any questions whose only answer would be that matt died, or could I get by without divulging that? I did not mention it to anyone the whole weekend, which was interesting. Interesting to watch myself give truthful answers to questions without actually giving any information, and to watch people stumble a bit or look expectant when I didn't give a lot of detail or respond as would be expected. I felt like I managed to be there without actually being present, which was weird in and of itself. I realized it was Sunday around 10 am on Sunday, Sunday #65, and I had to leave for awhile.

The two people running goat school were exhausting; well, the wife especially. Her rants against everyone and everything were highly dramatic with a lot of shrieking. Her husband's rants were more pointed, specific, and less dramatic. He is a Southern Baptist minister, and my favorite parts were when he blessed our meals, and when he spoke gratitude to god for everyone assembled with him. Prayers were one of the very few times neither one of them was slamming someone else. A partial list of the people and institutions judged, criticized, slandered, and flat out insulted: anyone raising goats commercially in the entire state, other than them; the entire population of the southern part of the state; poor people; people on food stamps; artisan cheesemakers; the under-educated, and then hours later, the over-educated; people who mix their own grain for their animals; people who bring their does to another farm to be bred, those who bring a buck to their own farm to breed their does, and those who use artificial insemination; the university cooperative extension; the Maine organic farmers and growers association, and their annual fair; people who let the public come to their farm (though there were 45 members of the unsanitary public sitting outside their barn); the state licensing department in general, and several specific, called-by-name individual inspectors. People who raise Nigerian dwarf goats. People who give wormers by injection; people who don't know what a wormer is (even when you are at a class to learn these things). People who eat cabrito (kid goat); and anyone, anywhere, at any time who does not agree with their practices, judgments, or assessments. Oh, and my very favorite, in the last chapter of their goat school handbook, they spent several paragraphs ranting about how people who couldn't spell and had no knowledge of basic grammar had no business being in the goat business, let alone writing about it anywhere, at any time. This after pluralizing nearly every word in the preceding chapters with an apostrophe (ex. "chapter's"), and ignoring most basic grammatical rules.

For them, the whole world is stupid. Though I will admit I often share this very same view, it is not the bulk of my teaching style. They had no idea who might be in their audience - the cousin of the dairy inspector maybe, or a colleague of the extension educator.  From personal knowledge and relationships, I know that much of the damning evidence they gave against certain individuals is completely untrue, and only shows their ignorance.  They could have offended large swaths of people and never even known it - those people would have just walked off, angry and disappointed. Several hours of this lack of gracefulness - well, sucked. By the end, when they were staunchly not answering someones very legitimate question - if we're not supposed to go to someone elses farm to breed our does, and we're not supposed to let anyone elses animal on our farm, and you feel artificial insemination is an over-priced guaranteed failure, what are we supposed to do to get our animals bred - I finally interrupted. Because I am also bossy and opinionated. Because I am also a teacher, or I have been, and you ALWAYS have an opportunity to teach with kindness and respect rather than meanness and exclusion. Because it is never okay to ignore someone because they don't understand what you've said, especially when your double-speak is confusing to your audience. I answered the guy's question, and gave my own little rant about self-education and the importance of relationships in the farming/breeding community. The goat school instructor loved it, and thanked me. Weird. Later he told me how much he hates it when people judge others. Oy. I have a heavy dislike of ignorance and un-gracefulness in people in general, but I do try to keep it to myself.  Or at least, I try to keep it down. But then, maybe I am just as self-clueless as he was. Maybe I do all those things I hate in other people, without realizing I do. If I was clueless, how would I know?

All of these things have taken me over - the ugliness, the food, the inn, the people, being in part of the state that shows what often comes with poverty and low education rates, being surrounded by all of it. The coarseness of people - to each other, to animals, to anything - has always been overwhelming to me. Matt was/is the same way. Fortunately, being so overwhelmed with the grossness of human actions usually took one of us at a time. The other understood, without speaking, without explaining, without trying to fix it or change it. Now, when it takes me, there is no one who knows, I feel surrounded by ugliness, and matt's gigantic hole in the world gets bigger and bigger and worse and worse.

Just writing this out calmed me down a bit, so at least nothing has been broken. I do seriously wonder if complete radio silence with all other humans is a legitimate path for me. I have had one beautiful moment, one, in maybe even the whole 65 weeks, where I stood inside someone elses barn, watching such pretty cows stand out in the yellow sunset mist eating their hay, and knowing how beautiful the light was. If it was mine, if I could have gone in, right then, to my own home and my own woodstove and sang to myself and the dog, knowing my own herds were safe and contented, no other people around, I might have even been happy. So hard to have any kind of life, to care about anything, to want anything, to believe in anything, to not be so beaten down by people who are not matt, not the life I lived before, to be overwhelmed with the coarseness and meanness of the world, knowing I have no home here anymore, no comfort, no one who is my family. I am just so tired of carrying this weight, drinking from this cup, slogging through with this backpack on - to use a whole lot of images to just say that I am tired and I want to go home.


  1. Whew! Sounds like a large lesson in tolerance. I find it interesting when people have become so disconnected to the world around them, or that they become the center of the universe, that they forget to check themselves at the door. I don't really understand why people need to be so judgemental. Can't they just share the uniquesness of their experience without needing to take away from someone elses?

    As you say, you learned something about yourself here. Coming away from an experience like this tells you what you are able to tolerate, and what you might choose not to in the future.

    In general, glad to see that you are out there keeping yourself busy, and trying to keep involved.



  2. Ugliness, discord, bigotry, intolerance, selfishness. I know in my head that these things exist, but my coping method largely involves avoiding them altogether or running away when I do encounter them. They make my head hurt, my stomach churn and my eyes well up with tears. I cocoon myself in my little world of niceness and beauty up here, and either zone out completely from arguments and harsh words or high-tail it out of there as quickly as I can.
    It isn't very brave or realistic, but it is how I cope, and I do appreciate how fortunate I am to be able to do it.

    You lasted a day longer there than I would have done! I hope you are gradually regaining your calm.

  3. Oh man - you did well to stick it out by the sounds of things.
    ...and the "not here-ness" sucks. I'm hearing that!

  4. god, megan, people are awful. and 65 is way too big a number. it all just sucks, and i am so sorry.
    with all of that, your rant was beautifully written and very clear. not that that helps in the overall scheme of things.
    it makes me want to come over and wash the offending coffee cups.

  5. J - I usually do a good job of avoiding ugliness. Then I feel like I should go somewhere and do something, and There It Is. Cocooning in niceness and beauty is exactly what I need. Critters, gardens, nice light. And, this particular ugliness makes me want to teach, in small numbers, with goodness and patience. In theory.

    C - dishes washed. Odd wee little bits of relief.

  6. Sorry to be so late in commenting, but i've been pretty far beyond the reach of the Internet for several days.

    I'm sorry to hear that the goat school experience turned out to be crappy rather than enjoyable. Just reading your description caused me to cringe. The goat school owners would have hated me as I mixed my own feed, learned to do artificial insemination and used it quite a bit with our herd, let other people bring does to our bucks, occasionally took doe's to fellow breeders' bucks, let the local goat club and goat 4-H club visit our farm, etc.... We would probably have seemed like devils incarnate to them. (-:

    The first year or so after Don died, I had a very hard time associating with the human race. A few pwoplw came down to visit at the rentalnplace in Arizona and most times that went not too badly! But a couple of visitors practically drove me over the edge. I think that, when we have suffered a loss such as ours, it causes us to look at the world through different eyes. Those who are already sensitive, caring people, may become even more sensitized to the ugliness that is often floating around in the world. Even now I'm having problems with that. I just spent a couple of days with old friends and found myself tiring of the husband's almost continuous ranting over one thing or another, always delivered in an angry voice. I finally gently told him that he should try not to BE so angry as he retells stories of things that annoy him as it is not good for his heart - but also not good for those who are listening. He also went on and on about how there must be some greater thing in the universe, and that various events are obviously spiritual manifestations, and that Don!s death is part of some grand scheme in the larger picture. When I finally got tired enough of hearing this and reminded him that I'm an atheist and don't believe that Don's death serves any useful purpose, that just seemed to inspire greater attempts to convince me that there's some spiritual reason that he's gone. that got me pretty pissed off, but I remained calm. I think that's become my mantra -- Remain calm. I would make a good flight attendant. "We're about to crash, but please remain calm."

    Anyhow, I don't think there's anything wrong with seeing things for what they are, and sometimes people are ugly and annoying and do shitty things. We don't have to be spectators to this. It's not our role. Fortunately, it's still pretty much a free world and we can leave when we want to (thank goodness).

    Well time to get on the road for the day. take care.