February 8, 2014

READING RAINBOW.

I have about 150 pages to read tomorrow to catch up with my classes, but I'm not complaining. One, my time management skills involve including lots of unstructured time for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and selfies and cat snuggling and crying, so that means sometimes having a lot of work to do at once, but I can handle it. Two, the books I have to read tomorrow are so good, so I am more than happy to get down with them.


My Women's Studies class is all I dreamt it would be. I had the professor for Intro to Ethics last semester, and I love the way she structures her classes. I met with her during her office hours and discovered we have a lot of random things in common, least of which is a deep interest in ethics and feminism. It's so strange to be in a traditional classroom setting discussing issues that so far I've exclusively engaged in online and with Zero (who is as astounding and progressive and openminded and compassionate as ever). I love feeling everyone's energy and hearing different perspectives in person, especially in a community college setting that doesn't have the typical post-high school crowd. The older students- older than me (since I am also much older than some), like in their 40s and 50s- who have a kind of confidence speaking to their experience and an openminded approach to the class that is really beautiful to witness, consistently get me.


This one is for my Social Diversity class, and it is SUPERB. I wish every single person on the planet would read it. The class is all online, but the professor is very active and involved. Every week, we have a short, simple quiz on the readings, and then we have to answer a series of discussion questions in an essay, on the online forum for the class. The professor responds to each one individually and with care, and I kind of love her already. The class is all about understanding the social constructions that we take for granted, and it is what I am living for these days. Like, yes, please, let's try to understand where these injustices and social norms are coming from, let's study the history of them and the way they have been transformed over time and how they affect us all, and let's study the possibilities that exist outside the norm and open our minds and question everything and destroy our internalized prejudices and assumptions and instead empower the marginalized and explore our vulnerabilities and deeper strengths. We've covered sections on Race & Ethnicity, Social Class, Sex & Gender, and Sexuality, and every article just has me wanting to do a dance and sing from the mountaintops. Well, sometimes I also want to cry and rage and puke, because it is not fun to confront the terrible realities, but I am so excited people are writing and reading about these issues in such a real way. I feel more in touch with who I truly am than I ever have. A dancing, singing, crying, puking fighter.

My experience this semester is definitely serving to validate my intuition at the beginning of last semester. I have so many interests, and I'm sure I would have loved horticulture. I'm still interested in learning about plants and have plans to do so, but it makes more sense for that to be a hobby for me right now, because my passion is firmly placed in human rights and animal rights, and school is just fueling that passion. I'm so excited to be developing my knowledge so that I can be a better source for information, so I can advocate and educate with more confidence and skill. However my path develops after this semester, I know this is what I want to continue to pursue. I'm just so excited to think about what the future holds, all the ways I can help change the world for the better, even if those ways are small.

December 30, 2013

I KNOW HOW TO TRANSFORM.

Zero and I have decided to make some major changes to our lives beginning with the start of the new year. We're cutting out substances that do more harm to our bodies than is worth the temporary fun they provide, including alcohol and coffee, and we will not be indulging in those substances for the entirety of 2014. We're also only buying whole and minimally processed foods (like tofu and tempeh) for our home, and getting as much of our produce from the Farmer's Market that we can. We're not going to be strict about that one when we're traveling or out with friends, but it will be strict at home. The goal with this is not just to be better to our bodies and the environment but to experience something truly transformative. The harm of something like coffee and even alcohol for me has less to do with the stress they put on my body (though that is a real issue) and more to do with the way I become dependent upon them, the way they easily become habit and therefore are almost unconscious behaviors in my life. I want to be more conscious. I want to consciously form habits that will guide me toward my goals, and there will be more room for them when I eliminate the current habits I've had for years now, habits that don't seem to be helping me achieve anything but instead seem to encourage my lack of discipline.

I'm surprised by how excited we both are to do this for ourselves. If we felt we were giving up something precious, I imagine we'd be filled with hesitation and some dread. But we want to transform, and the only way to do that is to fully commit to real and lasting change. It's going to be so cool to experience something so different! I keep thinking about getting to the 6-month mark and wondering how different we'll feel, and then to keep going for another 6 months! It sounds amazing to me.

We did a similar experiment earlier this year for a month, and by the end of it, I felt so much stronger and healthier, but then we just went right back to our old ways. A year will allow the kind of transformation we really want to experience, and I'm really just so ready. It's going to be awesome. I can't know what we will choose to do once the year ends. Perhaps we will allow those things back into our lives, perhaps not. I'm not concerned with that now. I trust we will do what's best, and I'm excited to see what best becomes after a year of living differently.

It should go without saying, but I know I should say it since I am a great judge in life: I don't think that drinking alcohol or coffee or eating heavily processed foods are immoral behaviors. This is an extremely personal quest. My body has very specific needs, and I have very particular desires for my life, and that's why I'm doing this for myself. You do you, get down how you like.

I certainly went hard throughout my 20s, and I don't regret it. I had fun, and I was living as honestly as I could. But it was a tumultuous decade, to be sure. I struggled to make sense of my feelings, and I made so many mistakes. I am so fortunate to have such a strong support system of friends and family that stood by me throughout it all. And ultimately, I know that everything in my life until now has led me to this moment and to the person I have become and am becoming, and I can only be grateful, because I love who I am, and I am excited for my future. I feel smarter, wiser, more aware and more compassionate than ever before (except maybe when I was 8 years old- that was a real peak time). My passion has not waned, but it has shifted focus away from just my self and my personal relationships to the world around me and everyone in it. I care a lot, and I only want to care more.

I am so ecstatic to have Zero partner with me on this. When he commits to something, he commits one hundred percent, and he is a force of nature. His support throughout this will be invaluable. I'm as excited to see his transformation as I am to see my own, and I think it's beautiful that we're doing this together. 2014 is going to be an extreme challenge, and we're going to rise to it. It's time to level up.

October 27, 2013

GOING PLACES.

I can't believe October is almost over. I'm sad to have spent a week of it sick in bed, which was so weird for me, because I haven't been sick like that since I can remember. I took away from that experience a greater appreciation for my health, though. I have a lot of chronic discomforts, and I have to be careful about what I eat and drink. No more candy for me on Halloween, which is a real tragedy of our time. I used to eat sour straws by the case, literally. But that's getting older for you. I used to lament it a lot more, and being the kind of sick that is debilitating was a good slap in the face.

Mercury is in retrograde in Scorpio right now for another couple weeks, which feels extra special. I love astrology and all magic, really. I am so bored by the magic that is only found in science and can not be called magic for fear of seeming trivial. Not to say that I don't love the magic of science, because I do, but I don't love at as much as the magic that is not tethered to dissection of proof. Anyway, I'm into this time of reflection and heightened intuition. Everything is moving faster than ever now that I'm in school, and it's hard to be sure that I'm moving in the right direction. I had such a specific plan of action, but my gut told me that it wasn't right for me. So now I'm trying to figure out what exactly is right. I think I'm close, but I have to get a lot closer in a very short amount of time, so I really gotta tune into the right frequency.

I miss my mom more than ever. Sometimes she is the first person I'm thinking of when I wake up, and it is gut-wrenching. She and I struggled from the time I was 17 until she died. My teenage spirit lasted well into my 20s, and my mom wasn't good with teenagers. Too many wild emotions inspired the same in herself, and she needed stability and comfort. I moved all over the place and traveled and was consumed with my friends. My mom had a very traditional life, and we just couldn't easily relate. This is the first time in my adult life that I'm doing things that would make my mom really happy. I'm living in the town where she and my dad both went to college, where they met and fell in love. I lived here once before, but I was too self-absorbed then to think of them. Now I have a million questions, and I want to hear every single story. I constantly imagine talking to her about school. Even though she didn't always like my choices, my mom knew me and appreciated who I am. During this time of uncertainty and motion, I wish for her insight most of all, out of anyone. Even before she died, I wrote to her often and tried to stay close, but I think she always felt too far away to connect completely. Of course it was more complicated than that. Her own life and feelings were changing in rather drastic ways, and it was hard for me to grasp the full weight of that then, when I could roll with the punches like they were nothing, and when I too often expected others to be able to handle life in the same way I could. I can't help but think that we would have been growing closer right now if she were here. I keep wanting to call her, to plan a short visit with her where we can drink tea and talk. And I'm so angry and sad that I can never do that.

My feelings are excruciatingly futile. I have no hope for any resolution. The only thing I can imagine helping me accept this reality is finding a constructive outlet for my feelings. But right now I have to make school my priority, so I just have to try and float on these feelings for now and look up, even though I want to swim down. And I do, I want to swim to the deepest, coldest point, because maybe there I'll find some magic, some bioluminescence that will help me see past the pain, some bit of beauty in the darkness.

September 4, 2013

SHIFT.

Three weeks into school, and I'm definitely feeling my ethics class the most. Not a surprise, I'm drawn to the topic of examining morality and being able to have critical, constructive discussions about moral values. Even less of a surprise, I'm constantly thinking about animal rights in the context of ethics. Maybe a surprise (but still not really): I'm seriously considering changing my academic path and going into philosophy and ethics instead of horticulture. I mean, this is the stuff that I think about and research on my own. I am very passionate about justice, which may sound silly to say, like, isn't everyone passionate about justice? I don't think so. Some people are really passionate about things which lead to injustice. And some people just don't really care. I think I could get passionate about science, and then I think, really, though? If I've already found something I'm incredibly passionate about, then why am I pursuing something else? I chose plants because they're cool. They fascinate me. But ultimately, I want to learn veganic farming techniques because I want to be able to show other people that it's possible to grow food sustainably without the use of animal products that result from pain and suffering. But that path is quite particular, and it involves a lot of math and science, which again, is cool, but I don't feel the passion there.

Already I am feeling so inspired by what I'm learning in my Ethics class. The first book we're reading has exposed so many of the problems I've had in trying to advocate for animals, coming across people who are not truly willing to have an ethical discussion but are dogmatic or using offhand self-justification or invoking the idea of relativism. Three people come immediately to mind as examples of each of those responses to me challenging the treatment of animals and proposing veganism. I wish I could have seen it at the time, instead of trying so hard to continue having a discussion with those people. These all happened on Facebook, by the way- a place where it's incredibly easy to avoid critical discussion. There's the farmer who believes the way he sees things being done as the only way they can be done and refuses to even consider the possibilities I present to him while simultaneously insulting my character. There's the friend who gets defensive and angry with me and simply excuses her behavior rather than examining it. And there's the friend who questions whether or not any moral truths even exist at all, which avoids the initial conversation entirely.

Obviously I feel like a little child to just be learning about these things at this point in my life. I wish Ethics was taught in high school, but that's not a time when adults really want you to be questioning anything. That's the problem with our society, though- questioning things is not embraced. Sticking to the status quo is encouraged, and simultaneously the idea that nothing can change is enforced. I see this plague even the most alternative, seemingly independent personalities. I'm certainly not immune to it, but I am aware of it, and I actively work to dismantle it within my own mind. Yes, even when it comes to veganism. I welcome critical, constructive discussions, and I've had many with people who are capable of them, and during the course of those, I question myself. But becoming vegan required I do that in the first place. I was raised in the same society as everyone who argues against me now. I know why they feel the way they do, because I've been there. I became vegan by examining my actions and really connecting with my true values.

It's a bit unsettling to be considering a change of course with school, and I'm not making any decisions yet, since it's still so early on in the year. But I am really trying to be real with myself, true to myself, and mindful of my motivations and intentions. It would be super badass to learn all about growing plants, but I am finding myself more drawn to the notion of speaking out about why animals matter morally. I am thinking of the animals when I think of plants. They are the core of my inspiration. I want to stand up for them, and I've wanted to do that for a year now, with not a hint of faltering. Perhaps it's in my best interests, and theirs, for me to learn how best to advocate for them and become a stronger writer and speaker. And the same skills can be applied to other moral issues that also inspire me to speak out. Hilariously, I've looked to my tumblr and thought, "What am I really trying to get into in this life?" And it's very clear that I'm trying to speak out against oppression in all forms. I started the thing to just post personal stuff, but my blog organically shifted into spreading awareness about all kinds of social justice issues, especially veganism.

Not as many obvious jobs open up to me in that course, but I think I can find a way to make it work for me. And I'm still staying open to my original plan, so we'll see. If you've read this far and you have any opinions, I'd love to hear them.