A kind of rewrite // The desert & her rain

art, writing

Photo: personal

The rain is falling. The melody of his decent permeates everything around. He pours down hard, with urgency, spilling into the earth, diving towards the ground, as if the two of them were epic lovers reunited after long separation. Long it has been. The desert has not seen her rain all summer, but there was another suitor. The sun has courted her without relief. At first he brought her light, then warmth, at last he gave her heat, then only grief, for he was not the one she yearned for. Scorned was the sun and scorching was his fury. Deaf to her pleas, he burned her flesh and did not spare her beauty. His final gift to her was death. Critters, birds, frogs scattered across her plains, all dead, bitter reminders of all that is unrequited in this world, all that we dread.

When earlier tonight the air grew still and thick, I knew rain had come back to her and readied for a flood. For hours nothing stirred. There was no wind or movement in the night, even the stars had hushed their glow while all the rest laid low in quiet anticipation.

At last he had arrived. He swept her up into his arms, as if no time had passed between them. He spilled across her body with abandon, covering every inch of her and leaving none exposed. He told her of his love and of his sadness, begged she forgive his absence, eased her pain, then pulled her back to life and clear of madness. He kissed her face, caressed her skin, nourished her wounds and wiped away the death, then he made promises again he would not keep and hushed her with the sweetness of his breath.

On writing blocks and killing mice

writing

I am having a hard time writing and by that I mean I am not doing it at all. I don’t want to join the ranks of those miserably irritating writer/blogger types who wine incessantly about their writing blocks, but ugghh if it’s not a block it’s a definite jam and it is sorely felt. The issue is that I really don’t want to write about nothing, so I am looking for something to sink my teeth into. Prattling on about the daily minutia of life is just not doing the trick right now . I am still mostly entertaining thoughts about nothing, i.e. Kim K’s butt, Kim K’s front, fat people eating Mcdonalds, Iphone vs. Droid, a virtual celebrity death camp app that I would like to develop, how I want to name all my future children “Todd” etc. etc…..Yesterday I did spend the better part of an hour thinking about the holidays and what they mean to people, especially those people who are without people; a short but meaningful inner monologue took place in the adult corner of my mind about relationships and how sad it is that so many seem to fall apart over just sex. That last one I might be able to develop into a sufficiently scandalous and substantive write up, but I am not holding my breath. In the end nothing cohesive materialized, brain chatter subsided and settled all dew like at the floor of my cranium. Can’t drink dew.

I am trying now to start writing again with a mind to stumbling onto something that is more than nothing and perhaps actually worthy of a few semi thought out sentences and their readers.

So, the other day I somewhat accidentally killed a mouse, my subsequent efforts to revive it proved in the end to be utterly futile and perhaps more harmful than not. I think I may have inadvertently prolonged its suffering and exasperated my own distress. Mice are the scourge of barns and tack rooms everywhere, and despite my best efforts to recognize all animals as innocent and deserving of life, I am prejudiced against them in the context of stables. As a barn person, I find it hard to see mice as anything more than galling, scurrying, pooping, manducating machines, undeterred by doors, walls or threats of violence and imminent death. My favorite sweater for example, that I still wear but only at home, had suffered complete disfigurement for their indiscriminate chewing, after I haphazardly left it on top of my tack trunk for a single night. Much of my tack, including pricy leathers and bridles had fallen prey to the insatiable appetites of mice invaders any time it was not properly stored or hung up. And actual feed? Forget about it, forget you know its name. Purina? Bran? Gold Standard? They will chew through every bag, every box and tunnel past most other containments, which wouldn’t really be that big of a deal, were they able to control their bowel movements. In case you didn’t know, they are not. They defecate it seems while eating, walking, sleeping and, I imagine, plotting. Mice are in this way just like babies… but don’t start me on babies. There is always mouse poo to be found ON my saddle, but this is only just gross and it merely vexes my delicate sensibilities. The poop they leave in the feed is a whole other issue, it renders the feed contaminated and often beyond use, it’s a real problem. Anyways, you can imagine how my relationship with barn mice is at best strained and certainly fraught with enmity, still my commitment to nonviolence means that I would never intentionally harm them or seek to displace them.

Long story made shorter, I found two mice in a bucket of feed, one jumped out and ran away the other ran in frantic circles around the inside rim of the bin, I deduced that he would jump out later, and if not, well I figured it wasn’t my problem and left him. When I returned 3 days later I found him still in there, he was apparently unable to find his way out like his buddy, maybe he was younger or white and unable to jump. For lack of water and excess of food he was in a terrible state, barely able to open his eyes or move. My heart sank, I did this and there he was such a pitiful thing, clinging to life. “God” only knows what he had gone through over the past few days. I imagined his dehydrated suffering, perhaps his fear, the dwindling of his hopes, and, honestly, became deeply sad. I don’t mean to dramatize. I realize that he was only a mouse, who was more likely to fall prey to a mouse trap or a barn cat than to live out his days into old age and retirement, but this seemed like the worst kind end for any living thing.I scrambled to get him out, scooping him up into a bowl, put a little water over his body then sat him down on a damp towel with his face resting on a little dish of water I fashioned out of an orange juice cap. I then put a tiny mountain of very wet feed right next to his face and covered him partially with a piece of cloth, hoping that he might feel more secure for it. When I came back in a few hours he had moved a little and was sitting a few feet away from where I left him. I was hopeful as his eyes were now half way open. I put him back into the safe zone with the water and the food and left for the day. The next day he wasn’t there. I thought, in my foolish optimism, that he had recovered and found the strength to rejoin his brethren, but a barn hand informed me that he had found him dead under a chair earlier that morning. My futile efforts to revive him probably only caused him more suffering and fear. There is something oppressive to any pointless loss of life. It’s like when you catch a glance of road kill or those skulls and bones in old paintings-the memento mori’, small but jarring reminders of how fine the threshold is between being and not being, how all things that are living must get dead. Life is always just a visitor who brings a gift, a gift which turns to dust when she takes her leave. I was there when he was so alive with a future ahead of him; there were many a bridles he could have laid tooth to, much feed to waste, maybe even baby mice to produce with Missis Mouse. I could have helped him out of that bin and spared him the suffering and the dying, but, for no particular reason, I just didn’t. 😦 I think the fact that I didn’t intend to kill him, but kind of did, is what’s actually upsetting here. I had never killed anything before via inaction, and I can tell you that it’s the worst and with an after taste of evil. Baring responsibility for that outcome without the preceding conviction or intent makes for an unexpected burden, miserable and surprisingly abject. Poor mouse.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

On the culture shock of Wharton, Texas & some of its subsequent charms

writing

At first arrival, I’ll confess I thought I might not be able to enjoy myself in Wharton. However over the last couple of days Wharton has grown on me just a little bit. It has its dubious charm. In Wharton, Texas I am looked upon as skinny. Repeatedly and much to my jubilation people have asked if I am a model. Whilst I battle the bulge in Scottsdale and Los Angeles, here I could stand to gain a few. This has definitely played a part in my recently improved opinion of the town. 😀

Disclaimer: It is always hard to speak critically or even just observationally about anything from the vantage point of privilege. Automatically shadows of snobbishness, conceit or arrogance are cast on the narrative. I do not think that I am better than anyone because of the advantages afforded to me in life. The place from which my opinions stem is not one of disparagement or disregard, I am aware of the difficulties faced by these areas, aware of why things are as they are, I do not discount the individuals when I speak in generalities, or underestimate the value of their characters and souls.

Although I realize that many areas in the U.S are much like Wharton, and it is by far not the worst or the most rural; to me, it presents with a real culture shock. This experience is akin to that of a person from a developed country visiting a third world country. I cannot help but be slapped in the face by first hand awareness of how different people can be, how varied their priorities, their tastes, their standards of living and ambitions.

Lululemon and Starbucks do not govern the lives of people in Wharton, but neither does what could be conventionally described as “good taste”, moderation, aesthetics, nutrition, fitness, health, education or dental care…etc. To me the lifestyle led by most here is starkly different from what I know. But admittedly, I had lived a somewhat insulated life, without having much need to ever leave my primary comfort zones. Where I thought there was an economic gap between south and north Scottsdale, I think there is a planet gap between Scottsdale and Wharton. Everything from the pace to the motivations of life here is different. In Wharton people seem to either work very hard or barely at all. Farming and fracking are the things putting bread on the tables of a vast majority, as is every fast food franchise known to man. Few here have heard of such luxuries as Trader Joes, Wholefoods,Tofu…. Organic, yoga or Crossfit are not terms widely used or understood. Ordering coffee at the single coffee shop in town is a strange and somewhat frustrating experience, it’s almost as if although we speak the same language we cannot reach an understanding. I realize this is because people here do not alter their orders and do not express arbitrary preparation preferences, like people in LA are accustomed to doing. It is not a realm for the pampered or the particular. I have done my part thus far in giving LA girls a decidedly bad name.

There is no shortage of plump cows, languidly parked under shady trees and in fields, living their lives beneath the Texas sky on God’s green earth. As all animals should. Such sights feel to my heart like hugs. People are extremely nice, kind, polite, they appear to be quite united in their communal humanity. This is the advantage of a small town, without a great socio economic discrepancy. Considerations of wealth, ambition, vanity, competition, city stress, do not afflict these people or divide them in the ways that they do in other areas. It is a simpler world that I think breeds a kinder folk. As far as I can tell racial tensions don’t prevail here, people seem to live on equal footing, healthily intermixed. I can’t be sure, but from my limited observations, humans are less divided by race in this small town than in many other liberal, more cosmopolitan areas on the west coast, which is ironic. On the west coast although equality is a highly esteemed and hailed aspiration, it is not necessarily as much of a reality as it appears to me to be in Wharton. Again I think this is because socio economically everyone is in a somewhat same boat here. They occupy their small world together, they farm the same land, frack the same ground and drink the same beer in the only bar in town.

P.S. Lena, is the little Polo pony I got to ride on the 30000 acre ranch which is home to the Polo farm, and it was a truly beautiful thing. Not only is the scenery expansive and robust, but I have arrived at the conclusion that Polo ponies are perhaps the most fun to ride of all equine athletes. They are alert, very forward, have excellent endurance and listen very closely to their riders.

photo 2-1

On Hell & other people…

humor, miscellaneous

…in heaven’s clothing. It’s 100 F.

Riding out and amongst people is not exactly a private or modest endeavor. I always shelf my misanthropy for the Greenbelt park, because I am not an asshole. I realize that a giant horse galloping through a people park is a glorious sight, I wave at gawkers, slow down for children and say hello to everyone who says hello, with a big smile.

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But even at this, my most social, most pleasant, I am reminded of how icky people are.

1) There was the requisite dumbass who honked his truck horn, just for the shits and giggles of startling me & spooking my horse. Little did he know we’ve seen it all & are well acquainted with his special & commonly inbred subspecies of human.

2) Whilst quietly walking along the narrow area of the park where only a bikepath offers passage, a jogging prune ran past us & uttered “this is a jogging path”, giving me a decidedly dirty look. To which I said “then keep on jogging”. She stopped whipped around and glared at us intending to make a scene “what was that?”… There was no reason for me to engage further, so we walked on and away, I heard her squawk a few more words at my back. How do you instruct a middle aged woman in the ways of amiability. It’s a losing proposition, can’t force a soul into an old hag. What’s especially ironic is that it’s more a bike path than a jogging path. In short, she can eat horse poo and die. Let’s hope she hadn’t had occasion to procreate, lest my future children have to live amongst her children. 😛 😀

3) Then of course there are these people, shockingly always adults, who will both chase me on foot and pull over in their cars to take video with their phones?! This one is tough, a part of me wonders if, like a celebrity, I have forfeited the right to privacy by climbing on a wildebeest and riding her in civilian areas? Obviously I am not the subject of their awe, she is, and i can’t blame them. Still, we are not a public circus, I am a human being, albeit attached to a horse…and i have the same reaction to people disregarding my humanity & privacy as i would were i on foot. Imagine, you’re jogging, and some guy starts pacing next to you with his camera phone unabashedly extended into your face. It’s kind of infuriating. Thank the god i am not a movie star or a rock star, as i would surely be serving a life sentence behind bars for assaulting some hapless paparazzo. 😛 Conflicted as this situation makes me, I direct all my energy into not letting my middle finger pop up in profane indignation...I don’t want to ruin their video. That’s the kind of person I am. A NICE person, a beacon of hope in a rude, cold world. 😛

Just to clarify when people ask if they can take a picture I usually say yes, but turn away. Like members of some native american tribes, i subscribe to the notion that a poorly angled or otherwise unflattering photograph can steal my soul. 😛

Alas, can I really complain about anything when kisses are so readily received & tolerated.

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WordPress, I have become bored with you. It is not your fault, I have the attention span of a squirrel and do a lot better up in a tree than on the computer. I bid thee farewell. But since I cannot commit to anything, my hiatus is likely to be over well before my absence is felt. I’ll see thee in two days time. Do not despair.

miscellaneous

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Desert & her Rain

miscellaneous, writing

It’s 3 am and rain is falling. The melody of his decent permeates everything around. He pours down hard, with urgency, diving into the earth as if the two of them were epic lovers, reunited after long separation. Long it has been. The desert has not seen her rain all summer, but there was another suitor. The sun has courted her without relief. At first he brought her light, then warmth, at last he gave her heat, still he was not the one she yearned for. Scorned was the sun and scorching was his fury. Deaf to her pleas, he burned her flesh and did not spare her beauty. His final gift to her was death. Critters, birds, frogs scattered across her plains, all dead, bitter reminders of all that is unrequited in this world. When earlier tonight the air grew still and thick, I  knew rain had come back for her and readied for the flood. For hours nothing stirred. There was no wind or movement in the night, even the stars had hushed their glow and all the rest laid quiet in parched anticipation. At last rain had arrive. He swept her up into his arms, as if no time had passed between them. He spilled across her body with abandon, covering every inch of her and leaving none exposed. He told her of his love and of his sadness, he begged that she forgive his passing madness. He kissed her face, caressed her skin, nourished her wounds and wiped away the death, then he made promises again he would not keep and swayed her with the sweetness of the breath.

Chapter 9..or..The chapter that tripped me up

writing

“Who is it?” I asked surveying the treeline.

“Not sure, usually we get some stalking rights, a little time to check things out, haunt if you will, but this one is an unscheduled drop in.”

“Were you watching me long?”

“Since you got off that plane.”

“That’s a long time, that’s days!” I exclaimed, surprised at the idea that as I was getting off of the plane, blissfully ignorant, this pair had me in their sights.

“It’s not the longest we had, but it’s nice for us you know, technically we are working, but really it’s more of a loitering situation…in which we eat hot dogs and milkshakes, no such thing in this place.” He motioned around himself with his tiny doll like hand.

“So do you know anything at all about this person?” I really wanted to understand what and whom to expect.

“He won’t be like you, he is an “intentional” He looked at me meaningfully “It’s going to be a rocky arrival.”

“They call it suicide, Dog” chimed in Peotr.

“But it’s a man?” I wanted to keep the conversation on track, before it veered off on another of their bickering tangents.

“Yes, what’s with all the questions, give it a rest will you.” The kid waved me off like an annoying fly, but over the days I had gotten used to his lack of patience and bouts of moodyness, so it didn’t discourage me. I had more questions, I redirected them more specifically at the dog. The animal had become as common to me as a tree, I hardly noticed his uglyness anymore, and the fact that he functioned more like a grouchy uncle than a dog had ceased to rattle me.

“Dog, can you please add anything.”

“We rarely have more than one charge at a time, it has happenned exactly two times so far, but nothing in this realm happens by accident, there must be a reason they want you to meet, there is a lot of pain with this one, a lot….but lets just wait and see.” This channel of information was closed as well now. It was as if in the hours before the arrival of this mysterious person, the dog and the child had gone into a trance, they hardly stirred at all come sun down and sat motionless, staring into open space. A warm wind started to blow some time after we stopped talking, it lifted a web of leaves off the ground, but curiously rather than getting blown away, they swirled around and above us in what appeared to be a kind of halo. Heat picked up shortly after, followed by an intensifying humidity. Within a few hours the climate had changed drasically. Becoming unbearably hot and humid, it closely resembled a sauna or a steam room or Florida. Breathing in that hot, dense air, I could taste the granules of salt landing on my tongue. An opaque wall of dust and leaves formed around us, drowning out much of the light, still my companions remained calm. I tried again for an explanation.

“Is this normal?” But my words died as soon as they exited my mouth, the space around us was no longer conducive to the circulation of sound. It was quite like being under water. Stubbornly, I raised my voice and yelled out as loudly as my physiology permitted. My words floated slowly but steadily, reaching my companions with a palpable delay.

“Not really, this is unusually bad, I had not seen this sort of thing……..” Dog paused and glanced at Peotr as if not sure whether he should continue “….. since Peotr’s arrival.”

“Does this mean anything?”

“Anguish I think, usually the weather phenomenon is a reflection of the one it carries with it …..” Mumbled Peotr under his breath, and even though I couldnt hear his voice, I heard him.

Thunder cut through like a giant slapping enormous palms together right on top of our heads. In a moment everything went quiet and all the wetness in the atmosphere seemed to have been pulled together to form a giant floating sphere of liquid. It hovered above our heads menacingly. I sat paralyzed with my head thrown back, watching it complete awe. The sphere floated off slightly to the north and suddenly, like a balloon pricked with a needle, it exploded. Its contents came crashing into the earth with a resounding boom. When the dust settled, I found my surroundings had gone back to completely normal, if you don’t count the newly formed lake just off to the right. It was lovely and still, its glossy surface bared no evidence its tumultuous creation. It resembled very much the lake I woke up next to just a few days earlier.

“Wow.” I exclaimed.

“Shhhhh.” Peotr put his hand to my mouth and whispered.

“Be quiet, it’s harder with men, they punch at their fears, it’s important we tread softly”

I undetstood. It made sense that while women maybe ran or screamed or swooned upon discovering themselves in a strange wilderness with an eerie child and a talking dog, men just started swinging. So there we were, sitting about forty feet away from the lake, in open sight, waiting. We didn’t have to wait long, within minutes we heard coughing and spitting, a figure of a man limned itself on the other side of the water, he was crawling out of the lake on all fours. When he had finally made it to dry land, he tried to get up, but his legs shook, giving in at the knees. He collapsed onto his side groaning.

“Oh, good, he seems very impaired, this is the best kind, you two already have something in common Charlie” snickered Peotr, getting up off the ground. I looked at Dog questioningly, as I had come to do whenever the child was dispensing information in his typically snide, cryptic fashion.

“It’s common amongst drinkers to arrive here significantly weakened.” offered Dog

“Alcohol is the only substance which can travel here in your blood “

Peotr began making his way around the giant puddle towards the man, who was still scattered on the ground, groaning. We followed. When we walked up to him, I expected a scene, a panic, screaming, maybe running, but to my surprise none of those things happened. He sat up, holding his head in his arms with his elbows perched into his knees, and surveyed us from under his brow. He seemed indifferent. Peotr extended the water flask to him. The man took it without a word and drank greedily until there was nothing left. When the man was done with the flask he let it drop to the ground. Peotr flinched and broke the silence.

“Oh come on, seriously, what happened to common courtesy, hand the flask back.”

The man stared at him for a second with tired bloodshot eyes, as if he couldn’t quite grasp the meaning of what was said, then picked up the flask and handed it over to the child.

“Sorry.”

There was another period of silence interrupted only by the scratching noises of Peotr trying vigorously to clean the sand off of his flask. I took the moment to examine the stranger. He was a man in his mid thirties, medium height, he had that strong stocky build which often lends itself as an advantage to shorter males, compensating for lack of stature. He had an open face with a pronounced jaw line. Half of him was covered in a thick layer of wet sand, the rest of him was just wet, still there was a boyish handsomeness to him. I was embarrassed to have noticed.

Having finally cleaned off his flask, Peotr broke the silence, evidently he was still quite irritated.

“No, you are not dead, yet…no this is not hell…blah blah blah”

The man continued to stare at us indifferently, oddly the expression on his face did not change much when Dog finally decided to interject.

“Stop, vermin, go sulk somewhere if you can’t do your duties properly.” Thusly scolded, Peotr glared at us, then turned around sharply and stomped away into the bushes, with all the conviction due a pouting child.”

The dog spoke to the man much as he had spoken to me earlier. Our guest started to come to, I caught him glancing over at me questioningly, as if looking for comfirmation that indeed there was a dog talking to him. I nodded lightly, realizing, that in a way I was the only thing there, that wasn’t somewhat absurd or unreal. He took in the information remarkably well. I thought it was commendable that he stayed so composed in the wake of such jarring news, but later I realized it was more of an indication of how down he was, rather than how adaptable. I always found sadness could be akin to madness, it seemed that he was a perfect example of a man so profoundly hurting, that he was capable of accepting everything and cared about nothing. Nothing could surprise him, impress him or bother him. Having made his introductory speech, Dog turned around and following in Peotr’s footsteps, disappearing into a bush. The stranger and I were left alone for the moment.

I sat down next to him.

“I don’t know what to say, that could be helpful” I exhaled…..”I dont know much about any of this, until now I thought this was all a hallucination, it still very well might be….”

He maintained silence. I got back up, reasoning that maybe he would benefit from a bit of quiet, but as I made a step away he stopped me.

“Last thing I remember was driving, I think I am dead?”

“I don’t know, the way Dog said it we are not dead, we are in between.”

Again silence.

“Last thing I remember was drinking a lot and taking some pills.” I shrugged. He said nothing.

“You wanted to die?” It wasn’t really a question, more of assertion, he said it with some relief it seemed.

“No, I can’t say that..but I think I almost did, by accident…I just wanted to forget. You wanted to die?”

“I do.” He said it in the present tense.

“Why?”

He shook his head like it didn’t matter, with resignation. His eyes turned up to me, they were a clear blue, almost translucent, tears were brimming on the edges of his eyelids, ready to overflow their confinement. I knew the answer. I could feel it. Grief.

Our companions had reemerged from the bushes and walked back over to us. Peotr tapped at the top of his right wrist with the fingers of his left hand, as if he had a watch there.

“We have to go” He said.

Unquestioningly, the man rose from the ground, and without bothering to shake the sand off, started walking behind the boy. His head hung low.

“What’s your name?” I asked.

“Aries.” He didn’t ask mine, so I volunteered.

“I am Charlie.”

On Vegetarians & Meateaters

advice, writing

Why Vegetarians want to eat Meateaters..or..Vegetarians are crazy & Meateaters are stupid

Yesterday, another blogger popped into the comment section of my blog after having read the “About me” (where I casually mention that I don’t eat animals), and tried to pull me into a debate on the subject of vegetarianism. I personally hate this debate (not to suggest that it isn’t a debate worth having). I don’t try to convert anyone, because  in some ways I have given up on man kind, in other ways I don’t believe that such conversion is even possible. Still, there I was being goaded into an a discussion. There is a marked flippancy with which meateaters usually start this debate and it is annoying as hell to me. Not to say there isn’t a righteous indignation with which vegetarians approach it, that can be frustrating for meateaters.

I do see both sides, as in some ways I exist on both sides, but I think that vegetarians have it harder. The reason it is especially vexing for them to partake in this argument is that their opinions on the matter stem out of true conviction, to their core the suffering of animals disturbs them, they see the injustice and move against the status quo in order to incite change. If nothing else their is a noble cause. Meateaters however are just arguing to argue, and are only as invested in the issue as their dietary proclivities go, additionally they are in the unchallenged majority. They eat animals because of a life long habit & because they taste darn good on the grill, moral considerations do not inform their eating habits. All in all the levels of emotional and intellectual investment when it comes to this subject are starkly disproportionate between meat eaters and non-meat eaters. Which is why this debate is always ripe with an off-putting righteousness emanating from the vegetarian side and an annoying flippancy/disinformation spewing out of the meat eating side.

The three main reasons the vegetarian debate is an exhausting one for me are:

  1. I am not THAT informed. I know that entering a battle without proper weaponry and armor can do your cause  more harm than good. I wouldn’t want to give anyone the satisfaction of a false victory simply because I came unarmed and in my bathrobe, this would only cement their erroneous carnivorous convictions.
  2. What’s the point, when the mental block erected in the heads of most meateaters on this subject is almost entirely impenetrable by argument, no matter how empirically sound the data. Why? Because the culture of meat eating and use of animal products is as much a part of us as is religion or family. We are indoctrinated into it nearly since birth. To recognize that history as a problem, to reject it, is both dispossessing and divesting, it would require a sort of rebirth. 
  3. I love meat, I am the most struggling vegetarian of them all.

As Item # 3 states, I am one of the most reluctant, tortured vegetarians I know. I LOVE meat. I am a foodie. Before I evolved into a rather bad Vegetarian this year, I had spent many years contemplating the glaring wrongs of the meat industry. I worked on building the connection inside myself between those wrongs and the meat on my plate, and it hasn’t been easy. I knew that to break years of habit and dietary preferences I had to incite a change of heart and mind within myself. During those years I was not able to move myself beyond contemplation and to take action for change, I had my steak and ate it too, with a side of guilt. But what it really comes down to is self discipline and attrition. Recognizing the undeniable truth even if it hurts, even if it means depriving one self of a way of life, to be replaced by another.I feel I had to sacrifice a part of myself in order to make room for growth and what is right. What makes it so hard, is that what we eat is not merely about what we enjoy or what’s available; eating is often about culture and family, it’s about tradition and a connection to the past. Our food choices are closely intertwined with our sense of personal identity, and trying to change them can feel like a kind of self annihilation, loss and even disenfranchisement.

In my effort towards a vegetarian lifestyle, I had to push past my mental blocks by treating meat eating as a routine to be replaced with a ritual of abstaining. My greatest obstacle has been in that I LOVE MEAT, and am unable to make an emotional connection between animal suffering and a hot dog. I am like Dexter i abstain via routine, because otherwise I always just want to eat the hot dog. When it is in the freezer or in the skillet I don’t see the grisly death of its source animal at all, I just get hungry.

HUNTING

In fact as a vegetarian, you think I’d abhor hunting, but I don’t. I used to abhor it when i still ate meat and refused to acknowledge my own part in the rise and expansion of factory farming.  Not to say that I support hunting now, but a clean, quick death is a blessing to an animal, in comparison to how Tyson fills grocery store shelves with dead flesh. I now feel that the Animal loving community’s vitriol towards those who hunt is somewhat misguided and not necessarily rational, unless it is stemming from devout vegans. If we are condemning hunters, as morally bankrupt and cruel, then logically speaking we would have to extend this condemnation to every single person who shops for meat at a grocery store. Just because your average house wife doesn’t actively prey on animals in the wild, doesn’t mean that her impact on factory farmed animals is not equally as(or more) damaging. There is no doubt in fact that anyone who contributes to factory farming by shopping for meat at the grocery store is in fact supporting an industry of unmatched and abhorrent cruelty, one which far exceeds the violence of hunting in the wild. Every time we buy hotdogs, bacon etc, we fund a widespread culture of animal breeding for lifelong abuse, anguish and death.

First I’d like to offer the simplest explanation of why I think it is wrong to consume meat in the year 2014. In truth, as i indicated, my issue isn’t even meat eating, it’s the meat farming. It’s the treatment of animals raised or procured for food. It’s the apathy. In a word*, it’s FACTORY FARMING.The human capacity for torture, mistreatment and brutality of living things is hard to comprehend, the capacity to pretend like it’s not what’s happening is even harder to fathom. We read in horror about crimes committed in say, Africa, by people against people. We wonder how they can do such horrendous things as dismemberment of children, disembowelments, grisly maiming. How can they not feel compassion, take pity? Have they not hearts, no souls. Yet, around here, boiling lobsters alive, living creatures with long life spans and intricate social systems, is a completely common practice by decent, even animal loving folks?  How can someone see a creature struggle and writhe in a scolding pot, scrambling to get out, and not take pity I wonder, not feel like crying? We find it unconsciounable that in the middle ages people were often boiled alive, they would be slowly lowered into the cauldron by a rope. That wasn’t an uncommon form of execution or torture. It seems unconscionable now, like something out of a horror movie. Can you see the hypocrisy? That’s what really blows my mind. We are all no better than those rogues chopping up children in the less “civilized” corners of the world or the ancient people of the middle ages, in fact we are worse. For all our education, for all our purview of history and science, abundance of resources, ingenuity and claims on morality, we still can’t muster the obvious compassion due a boiling lobster or a factory farmed pig.

FACTORY FARMING at a glace

  • 97% of the 10 billion animals produced for food are tortured and killed each year are farm animals
  • In this country, roughly 29 million pounds of antibiotics — about 80 percent of the nation’s antibiotics use in total — are added to animal feed every year, mainly to speed livestock growth.
  • A typical supermarket chicken today contains more than twice the fat, and about a third less protein than 40 years ago.                                                                                                                
  • Sows are kept pregnant the entirety of their miserable lifespan in gestation crates – or sow stalls which confine a sow during her 114 day pregnancy and then the next and then the next. It is so small that she cannot even turn around, she is often chained to the ground as not to try and get up…her entire life.
  • Pigs, sheep and other animals have their tails docked (cut off) with a pair of pliers, without any anesthesia.
  • Pigs are often still alive, when being dropped into boiling water intended to clean/ soften their skin before butchering.
  • On average, to produce 1kg of animal protein requires nearly 6kg of protein in the form of feed grains.
  • Around 30% of the nitrogen that pollutes water in the EU and US is from livestock, more than 70% in China.
  • Male chicks are ground up alive

Don’t get me started on veal or foie gras.

Anyways, as I said, this list goes on and on, it is terrifying not only because of the glaringly barbaric treatment of animals, but also because of the crippling effects intensive farming has on the environment. In the end, it won’t be an atomic bomb that blows up the world, it will be intensive animal farming. Most people are blissfully oblivious of the horrors & impacts of animal farming. When there is an undercover video floating around Youtube or Facebook about Tyson Farms, they turn away, as not to get themselves too upset, as not to have their day ruined by disturbing images, then they trot over to the store and buy themselves a Tyson roast. This is willful ignorance and it is wrong. But blocking out the argument for vegetarianism is an infinitely easier than otherwise. It is a lot easier than living with the knowledge of where hotdogs really come from, what goes into them and the guilt associated with the brutality in which we have participated every time we chowed down on a juicy burger.

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I don’t need statistics to know that factory farming is wrong, I know it viscerally, I feel it in my gut and and in my bones. If you feel compelled to protect a dog from an abuser, then you shouldn’t partake in the abuse of other, no less valiant or innocent beings. When I was 8, I heard stories of boys torturing frogs, they disturbed me deeply, I remember crying; when I was 10 I saw boys swinging a crab on a string and smashing him into the pavement, I pushed one of them off the dock, before getting punched by his friend (yes boys are the general source of all evil it would seem). It’s not the eating of flesh that disturbs me, it’s the suffering generated and endured in the process.

Meat eaters like to say that it’s a personal choice. Well of course it is, what isn’t a personal choice really? Kicking puppies and punching old ladies would also be personal choices. It being a personal choice doesn’t mean that it’s the right choice, the moral choice or even a choice equally as good as any other. Obviously a choice which in some way supports an industry of abuse is inferior to a choice which does not. At which point do we hold ourselves accountable? Maybe never, but if it’s never, then at least we, as meat eaters, should have some humility, acknowledge this reality versus argue against it.

Meateaters, don’t be flippant towards vegetarianism. I am not judging or perching myself above anyone, there is a broad spectrum of morality and I am not at the top of it at all. But I AM aware of my place on that spectrum, and I don’t wave off those who set an example of doing/being better. I do plenty wrong myself, my couches are leather, my shoes are leather, my car seats are leather, I am aware, I hope I can become a better person with time. Awareness is a necessary first step, if we are ever to make moves towards change, and every little move counts. It is not what it is, we should aspire to better. The platitude does not fit…

Now a quick summation of the annoying, clichéd arguments I hear all the time from the very flippant stupid meateaters who cheerfully accost me asserting that they could just never give up their pepperoni pizza.

1) If I wasn’t meant to eat it, I wouldn’t have canine teeth.

Answer: Most animals have canine teeth, herbivores and carnivores alike, and the most ferocious canine teeth actually belong to herbivores. One of such examples is the hippo, another is the guerilla…the list goes on.

Additionally, we are built for all kinds of violence, our capacity for causing harm has nothing to do with whether or not it is right.

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2) A chick I knew became a vegetarian, lost all her hair and nearly died.

 Answer: A steak loving guy I knew had a major coronary incident at 38 and nearly died. Oh yea and he had gout. The fact is leading government and public health organizations worldwide agree that humans do not in fact require animal products to maintain optimal health! One can eat poorly and cause harm to their health whatever their dietary culture.

American Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics, the U.S.’s oldest, largest and foremost authority on diet and nutrition, also recognized that humans have no inherent biological or nutritional need for animals products: “It is the position of the American Dietetic Association that appropriately planned vegetarian diets, including total vegetarian or vegan diets, are healthful, nutritionally adequate, and may provide health benefits in the prevention and treatment of certain diseases. Well-planned vegetarian diets are appropriate for individuals during all stages of the life cycle, including pregnancy, lactation, infancy, childhood, and adolescence, and for athletes.”

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 3) My body craves meat, I am a man, I can’t ignore it.

 Answer: http://www.veganbodybuilding.com.There is a slew of top fitness athletes who partake in the vegan lifestyle, so that’s just nonsense. Vegan protein powders alone would completely eliminate your needs for the consumption of dead flesh. Your body has a habit, so does your mind, which is where the cravings come from, and if you wanted to break the habit you could, just as I am trying to do, not because it is easy or feels natural, but because it’s right.

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In conclusion, there is so much more that gets thrown around to defend the eating of meat, and it might have worked 300 years ago, but in the age of information, science and factory farming it simply doesn’t fly. And it’s all fine really, because regrettably the human race is not ready, just like we weren’t ready to recognize that black people are people and not slaves, objects or property until the 19th century. Just like we didn’t want to know about the Holocaust, allowing it to annihilate nearly 20 million lives of men, women and children, before the world decided to look up and take notice. Just like we thought homosexuals were mentally ill, disturbed, unequal or depraved until 2020. Today, we are still committing so many atrocities against each other, that animals don’t stand a chance…yet. But one day, if we hadn’t blown ourselves up, we’ll look on this age just as we look on the age of slavery or the Holocaust, with shame and horror. I am just trying to get ahead of the shame. 

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