Saturday, October 30, 2010
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Sunday, October 24, 2010
Friday, October 22, 2010
Despite the dizziness and nausea an inner ear infection has caused me for the last few days I had to get up and write this. It’s been percolating through my brain all day...This is a lot of text for a blog that is mostly about vintage clothes and visiting places but sometimes I like to have deep thoughts, and you know, it's a personal blog so I can post what I want! I promise you pretty photographs and fashionable content in the next few days - I am, after all, heading to San Francisco this weekend!
In science class today there was an off topic discussion about dissecting and preserving animals. As a few of you may know, I’m a vegetarian and have been for the past thirteen years. My commitment to animal rights wavers and is conditional upon circumstances a lot of the time, but I do know, when all is said and done, it’s a personal choice I view as compassionate. Now, vegetarianism, to me, is a lifestyle choice that has it’s roots in alleviating the suffering of a small planet, and making a difference in as many places as possible. The choice is similar to the choice I make to purchase as much local food as possible, buy fair trade when I can, and give a portion of all the money we bring in to various causes like small needs and political parties we deem worthy. We want our lifestyle to be a direct reflection of our values.
That being said, I posted, rather haphazardly, that I was grossed out by the topic in my science teaching methods class, and that I didn’t need to hear about the way to clean dead animal skulls and the results of inexperience on taxidermy. During the discussion I chose to leave the room and re-entered when it was over. [note: this is a class on how kids learn science, not a particular branch of science itself - this was not a necessary discussion to the content.]
An acquaintance of mine took this post as an opinion on limiting academic speech. I could see how they misconstrued it as such, but when I re-explained that I make a deliberate choice to limit what I expose myself to he expressed this:
“I'm sorry you limit what you see and listen to. I have the biggest phobia of blood and needles, but I've still managed to: [he goes on to list things he’s done...] I'm not trying to be all high and mighty, I'm just saying I'm glad I haven't let my fears get in the way of learning and experiencing new things. I guess my view is every nugget of information is valuable and I'd hate to see my irrational fears get in the way of learning as much as I can. So buck up [...] embrace that education you're paying so much for... all of it.”
I stopped posting at that point because it was obvious that this was not going to be a productive discussion, but it really got me thinking about limiting the things that I see and view, and why I do it.
I am a great self censor - I watch very few movies that are rated beyond PG-13, I am careful about the material I read. I do not watch pornography, and if something or a conversation is unnecessarily violet or gruesome, I turn it off, turn the page, or tune out. I never watch the news. I wanted to get to the root of why, exactly I do that.
After a half-days worth of thinking I figured it out: I do not want to unnecessarily desensitize myself.
As a child, I saw a lot of sadness, and the worst of the world, really. I have early memories of destitution that a westerner would have a hard time believing. I remember vividly little girls in swimsuits on the side of the street with numbers tacked to their swimsuits - child prostitutes, some only a few years older than I. I remember hearing adults talking about people dying of simple things, easy things that a dose of penicillin would cure, or a few dollars of food a day would have staved off. I saw first hand the effects of callousness towards the environment and the living beings it contained. I saw greed, hunger, people shooting at each other, religious intolerance used as an excuse to harm. Hell, my neighbors even ate my dog. I kid you not. It ached, it hurt - and it was meant to be that way.
For survival, you try to get used to it - and then you have to unlearn that callousness or it will stop you from experiencing the fullness of life.
I never want to see so many violent movies that when I see it happen in real life it no longer triggers a reaction to want to stop it.
I never want to see so many naked people that I lose a sense of wonder and awe about them.
I never want to be so callous about the ache of the human heart that I no longer feel the desire to comfort and protect.
I never want to over think suffering to the point where it is meaningless and pain is normal.
I never want to find myself in a position where I have no empathy, where awful things no longer trigger a need to figure out how to stop it, where beauty becomes a common thing. I WANT my heart to hurt and cry out and quickly go to work trying to fix whatever is causing pain, I DON’T want to normalize these things. I want to keep my compassion in tact, and if it means limiting my exposure to the things that would tear that down then so be it. I will surely sacrifice learning the nuances of it.
Limiting my views does not mean I am scared of trying new things - I don’t cower in my room running from the sound of anything foreign and scary. I have had great adventures, I’ve stepped out on more limbs than I care to recount, I face the circumstances that I need to face with as much bravery and courage as I can muster. I could list all the uncomfortable things I’ve done, but that’s not what this is about - I just want to point out that my limiting of what I listen to or view does not mean I am running away from these things.
When I walked out of the room, I knew I knew enough, growing up in a country where slaughter was very public. It’s the same reason I leave rooms when there is a discussion about war - I have seen it, I have been there, my heart aches and that is good.
Lastly, on occasion there is no reason to visit it cognitively when you have been there in person. I find that people think academically about things they never expect to experience in a very serious way - this thinking helps them to attempt to understand things, broaden their views and form steady, serious opinions on them without getting their hands dirty. This is healthy, good, and I hope that they always stay snug and safe, but it’s difficult to say “look, no, this is how it was.” I don’t have a PhD on the topic so I have no authority. It isn’t enough I was just there, being tiny and scared and throwing up from heartache so I just stay out of those discussions. It seems you have the least authority on things that you experience in first person and it is good because sometimes you become unable to think academically about them - you begin to think with your heart, and there is often no place for that in academics.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Sunday, October 17, 2010
Friday, October 15, 2010
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Saturday, October 09, 2010
Thursday, October 07, 2010
Monday, October 04, 2010
Saturday, October 02, 2010
- Buy the best ingredients you can afford. What's the difference between my cake and the cake next to it at the potluck? It has the most amazing almond extract, and lots of it too! And, it's completely gone by the end of it! I used to be the girl with the $50 every two weeks grocery budget. I ate a lot of things boiled to death and doused in hot sauce. I've learned that allowing myself to spend a lot more on groceries gives me the wiggle room to try out that new cheese, pair a bottle of wine with my dinner, or buy some over the top gourmet ingredient. (I spend about $150 every fifteen days now...).
- Eat seasonally. And Locally. A tomato in February tastes terrible. A tomato in june fresh off your friend's vine eaten with a little salt is a slice of heaven! Eating locally means you'll be eating seasonally, and you may even get to know a few of the farmers around you! I shop at the farmers market a lot and I also get a lot of produce for free from the world around me - If you can, try to take advantage of the surplus of other people's gardens! I've gotten things like batches of fruit for canning from freecycle, squashes from friends, and peppers and herbs from neighbors!
- Get professional grade tools (or as nice as you can afford.) This is a huge one for me. I always made do with ikea grade thin aluminum pans, knives that barely cut, and appliances I purchased for $20 and failed six months later (or barely did their job!). When I got married, I registered for obnoxiously over the top kitchen equipment I wasn't sure if I would ever use and sure enough, people purchased it for us! We received a Le Creuset sauce pan which is used almost daily, a giant stock pot that's used weekly, a kitchen aid mixer, and indirectly, a set of J.A. Henckels knives. I would never have been able to afford these things on my own, but we do make sure we try to buy quality over quantity. A little upfront investment does a lot - I expect to be using those things until my 25th wedding anniversary! Finally, a lot of things can be found at thrift stores. I've found most of my mixing bowls, measuring cups, and some random kitchen appliances there and they have served me well. This winter, a friend of mine purchased a $175 swiss cast iron enamel pan for a few bucks!
- Keep the kitchen clean! This is huge! I'm on a modified flylady system and it's taught me that doing the dishes and tidying up the kitchen before I go to bed motivates me to want to use the kitchen. I don't have to wash the dishes just to cook - everything is clean, in it's place, and ready to go! It doesn't have to be perfect but I do my best to keep it useable. I only have a limited number of dishes so I can't afford to have my single sauce pot dirty or I'll be scrubbing it as part of the prep work!
- Be Adventurous. I'm a picky eater. I have always had a list of foods I don't like. Often, I've made up my mind about them before I've even tried them. I made a deliberate decision to be adventurous with my eating and another to come to the table with no preconceived notions of what's good or bad. I'm still gluten free, and a vegetarian so that limits things, but I've been trying lots of things as the opportunities present themselves. I even put vanilla in my squash soup this evening. I was a little scared, but it turned out delicious! Thanks Clotilde!