Wednesday, March 5, 2008

NOLA: Workday 2

Power tools are pretty amazing. I'm just gonna put that out there. I feel silly when I hammer because I'm not very good at it--I'm too timid to whack the thing for fear of smashing a finger and my arms have never been one of my strong points in spite of lifting weights for months--but power tools I can do. I was actually surprised at how easy they are to use. The only problem is that when you saw something to pieces you had better make sure you've made proper measurements because you can't put pieces of wood back together with a glue stick or excessive cursing either. But apart from the no-margin-for-error-factor there's something really cool about using power tools. Maybe this is just my feminist GRRRRL factor creeping in on me.

The work is tedious, slow, and heavy, but you know what? I love, absolutely love, physical labor. This is what first attracted me to goat farming. I used to work in a coffee shop. And that's nice. Quaint, you know? But when the heaviest labor you do is carrying around large bags of coffee beans you get sort of physically inept unless you have a gym membership, which I don't have unless I'm at school and can use the gym. My first day working on the goat farm was a lot of lifting--five gallon buckets of milk (which, I think weighs five pounds a gallon), bales of hay, buckets of goat feed, shovels full of goat shit...lots and lots of lifting. I got sweaty, dusty, smelly, and achy, but it was the best work I had ever experienced. I felt like I was actually doing something useful and productive (because, let's face it, do we really need vanilla lattes and skim triple chocolate mint mochas with extra whip and cinnamon?), and more importantly, something that made food taste better, my bed more comfortable, and life generally better. The satisfaction I derived from my first batch of goat cheddar was almost absurd.

That is the same sort of satisfaction I am getting from building this house. I look up and see particle board that I measure, sawed, and nailed up on the side of a house. My legs, arms, and muscles ache. I fall asleep before 10 p.m. and don't wake up once. I feel truly hungry when I eat dinner. It's marvelous. And even better, I am helping someone. I am helping to fix what has been broken, neglected. It makes me happy to be doing this for my spring break instead of lounging around. I must be honest and say that I enjoy it because it feels good physically, but that isn't the only thing I'm getting out of this. I honestly care about people, and I am disappointed that community is often less important than individual concerns. This is something I can do for my (national) community that will strengthen it. Because I have been given so much in my life, I feel I owe my community my time and strength. It is not too much to ask. In fact, I don't feel enough has been asked of me. But I will give until I have nothing more to give.

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