“Rural life is wild. This sounds like a circular statement, but I think it’s the best word we have for a living system of constant surprises. There was the day the yaks escaped for a walk in the woods; there was the day the Nigerian Dwarf birthed quadruplets, each smaller than a fist, each needing to be bottle fed; there was the cow shed that nearly collapsed on top of us, the daily tractor repairs. Each of these pastoral events were completely unforeseen at the beginning of the day, and by darkness, each of these were resolved in their own way, just as I fell asleep every night to a different world than that in which I awoke. On farms there’s a necessity for flexibility and there is a reveling in the unknown and unforeseen. Animals conform to no one’s schedule; they birth and die and trample fences on a timeline all their own. The natural world’s disregard for the rules and schedules of humans appeared to me a confidence that I in my lifetime of people pleasing envied. I gained an appreciation for messiness, which enabled me to welcome and wander within my own queer identity.”
“As the plane taxis down the runway, Sam opens up a briefcase full of medical-marijuana-laced snacks. “Mention I have a vegan pot chef,” he calls to me. He holds up a container of strawberry cannabis lemonade and laughs. Sam punctuates most of his sentences with a distinct laugh. It starts out a big deep rumbling guffaw, which longtime Simpsons writer and producer George Meyer describes as “startling, like the squawk of a macaw,” except that it keeps on going, longer than you’d expect, “until it fades into a whoosh, like the last squeeze of a Sriracha bottle.” The laugh happens whenever Sam says something he knows is funny, which is often. And also when he says something that is dark and horribly unfunny. Like when he’s talking about an undercover PETA operation that recorded one of the roadside-bear-attraction owners talking about his bears.
“If they got a cub, they would kill the adult,” Sam tells me. “The cubs make more money—they’re cuter.” Then they’d eat the adult. “They said, ‘There’s nothing tastier than a bear raised on white bread and soda pop.’”