I Am From

In Allison Vesterfelt‘s talk on Tribe Writers, she goes back to the basics with telling her audience of writers to reflect on where they came from to get in touch with their true voice. So often we write to build a platform or to make money or for an editor. But when can we say the last time we just simply wrote from where we are and what we came from? Here’s an exercise she lead the group through that I tried out– it’s call an I Am From poem.

FullSizeRender (1)Here’s mine:

I am from cross stitched samplers and bubbling fish tanks

From ez mac after school and silver bear banks

I am from noisy heaters that pop and snap

From advent wreathes and windows with plastic wrap

I am from Dave Matthews and the Goo Goo Dolls

From disney store window shopping and senciled on walls
I am from nutcracker “guys” and Tom Chapin tapes

From homemade costumes and hand-sewn little red capes

I am from songs to wake me up and songs when mom gets home

From the blues in dad’s garage, from french braids and a fine tooth comb

I am from out of tune grand pianos and starburst jelly beans

From pop up trundle beds and oyster stuffing

I am from playing “catch”–
a play fighting game that often ended in tears

I am from softball and track, and running races over these past 20 years

I am from all of these things and so much more

And I am glad of where I came from and glad for what’s in store

My spiritual walk: from flipflops to tennishoes

broken_flip_flops

These are the shoes of a girl who is afraid to have the wrong opinions.

These are the shoes of a girl who lives a double life.

These are the shoes of a girl who is secretly terrified of success.

These are the shoes of a girl who cries out for reassurance and validation.

These are the shoes of a girl who looks in the mirror, becomes discouraged, and looses her lunch.

These shoes were made for an aimless walk. They were made to break at the slightest pressure.

Running-Feet1

These are the shoes of a woman who can finally share her story.

These are the shoes of a woman who is now taking ownership.

These are the shoes of a woman who can enjoy food in the company of strangers.

These are the shoes of a woman who is learning what it is to love herself.

These are the shoes of a woman who is running after Jesus and will keep running until the ends of the earth.

The shoes where made for chasing after an amazing God who will lead me to Himself.

What shoes are you wearing on your walk with Christ? Will they hold out? Will they break? How will they help you on your journey?

This is me…. blogging late at night with a cat on my shoulder. I thought you’d like to see.

Claireblogging

Yep. This is me. I don’t know if you can really see my kitten very well, but I assure you she’s adorable.

Goodnight!

I always wanted to be a superhero

I am currently reading:

The Cow by Ariana Reines

and

Bringing it to the Table: On Farming and Food by Wendell Berry

and this is what I think about them both:

Wendell Berry is not writing about women in the same way Ariana Reines is. He is however, writing about cows (to some extent) and about everyday things like food that we do not think about. Reines does this too. She writes about the things in life we take for granted, or even abuse, like women, like cows…. In a way both of them (Berry and Reines) are calling us all to take a closer look at the world around us. People come from mothers, women house living breathing things, hamburgers come from a cow with eyes and a face that feels and thinks. As consumers and people with mothers, we all need to recognize the orient of everyday commodities and food or care. We do not often stop to see what we are doing…

Wendell Berry does write about women sometimes.
“In his gaze she feels herself to be not just physically but historically a woman, one among generations, bearing into mystery the dark seed. She feels herself completed by that as she could not be completed by the desire of a younger man( Berry, 231)”. This woman is a woman who serves. She is needed to help with walking, her arm linked through the man’s arm, as if to assume he was helping her along, but really to assist in his mobility. She is useful. This makes her feel like a woman far more than a man who desires her might make her feel. It is not explicit in telling the reader how she would feel if she were the object of desire, as Reines’s writing might do, but here she is a woman, feeling useful in her helping.

Reines writes about women in a much different fashion, but she addresses this feeling of “usefulness” as a thing which we have been trained to identify with and become. Because mothers have a “use” and women can be of “use”, we see ourselves as products rather than real people…”To be a blank upon which the hells project their sorrow and to forgive them, that means to be a mother (Reines, 38)”. Mothers have a function in our lives, and most of the time what they do is expected, yet not appreciated. Mothers sacrifice for us in the way they birth us into exitance and the way they raise us up from little babies into adults of some kind. And this is just something that occurs in life. Women are expected to do these things. Like on farms, women are expected to cook the food.

In today’s world, cooking is a feminist’s least favorite pastime. The kitchen is no longer the place for a female member of the household. It is not ‘politically correct” and you are probably a “sexist” if you think that your woman needs to make you a sandwich. But cooking was not always such a bad thing. Food preparation was appreciated and admired and helped women take pride in their talents… “The effort of justice to women, in addition to the substantial good it has done and is doing, has attached a sense of belittlement to “women’s work.”(they)…are not the “little women” of the liberationist stereotype, and are related distantly if at all to the housewives of the modern suburbs. They are not consumers. They are not openers of cans or heaters of frozen dinners of stirrers of “mixes”…they are managers of domestic economies that are complex, practically and culturally…Justice to these women requires recognition of the entirely admirable knowledge, intelligence, and skill that they applied to their “women’s work” (Berry 185-6)”.
So what are we saying here? That women need to keep cooking organic foods and keep doing their duty and providing for males? Not necessarily. The idea of cooking has not always been so simple. It was an elaborate process back “in the day” before we became obsessed with instantaneous versions of microwavable foods and packaged goods. Both Reines and Berry both write about this obliviousness and disconnect from what we are filling our mouths with. We do not even know all of what we are digesting. “…food is a very abstract idea–something they do not know or imagine–until it appears on the grocery shelf of on the table (Berry, 228).”

Reines is particularly concerned with the mindless consumption of beef. She explicitly depicts how cows are killed and turned into packaged meat because she knows that most people are unaware of where what they are eating comes from. Even if they know logically what it is, they do not think about how it got to be in the form that they are chewing on.

“She has shit caked on her…she is hung up by her hind legs and her throat is sliced open. She is bled on a moving conveyor belt. Everything happens very quickly. An animal is costly. Industry has an aesthetic. They cut the head off and slice the carcass in half. If there is shit outside of the animal, this is shit’s chance to make with the inside of the animal. Therefore, disease (pg. 33)”.

This does not make you want to eat a burger, does it? Wendell Berry seems to agree “…the hamburger she is eating came from a steer who spent much of his life standing deep in his own excrement in a feedlot, helping to pollute the local streams, or that the calf that yielded the veal cutlet on her plate spent its life in a box in which it did not have room to turn around (Berry 230)”. And goes even further to say, “I dislike the thought that some animal has been made miserable in order to feed me. If I am going to eat meat, I want it to be from an animal that has lived a pleasant, uncrowded life outdoors, on bountiful pasture, with good water nearby and trees for shade (Berry, 230)”.

This idea of usefulness keeps coming up in my head as I read these two authors. Cows seem to have been deemed useful to us as food-providers, and so we have made a business out of killing them. But how has motherhood been viewed the same? Reines is particularly interested in this topic. I am not exactly sure how it connects, but I do know that the mindlessness that people have made their eating habits disturbs me. And the thought of what else we might become ignorant towards frightens me. Perhaps, like alienating the slaughter of an animal from the act of eating a meal, we will soon make our relationships and utilization of the people in our lives, like mothers or daughters or girlfriends or lovers or babies, simply mindless and selfish in our existence.

From now on, I shall view eating as an intentional effort to respect my mother and also to save the world.

in transit

flower flowers flowering

over flowing

i am steeped in gathered floral

in a cup of my self-prescribed meditation

you are too poor to pay attention

‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘ ‘

a mother looks into a mirror

is divided by the daughter

split with laughter peeling off mouths

this is the discarded banana peel of lust-rust

i tend to my garden rocks

tending to slip on the compost when i am

giving you the slip, picturing slipping

bones knit

skins pinked

flush tight

full blush a subtle blushed communicates much

my love-

his songs is so many hues

tan-lellow fortune cookie lies

my lucky number is not 8-ate meant not a thing

not believed is luck

so i become a tough muffin

my love, my bestfriend, you are a stud

; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ; ;

i carry a possession ring

wound looped through place of sniff and smell and pick

my sneeze is bejeweled

keep glimmerup

shine on you crazy pearl

in my engagement eye contact concert filmed in filmy dream residue

unfurl in frills the my mother’s white frock which

i shredded like mozzarella threaded like a loom of the moon

this all will all make cake confetti

this with our tattooed graffiti

slip on ink

your glaze of gaze repairs my blister’s sores in bruising excite

let’s just get married already!

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

my patience is a thin little whispy thing

flimsy today–like a lot of expensive things should not be

<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<

you are costly

you are stars

body on fires, spangles, my flame-you are

bangle

spackled in sparks

light to sequin suns burns out holes

in both palms

when

when you catch me

poetry makes no sense not a lick.

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To be free is to be body less.

What pelts the identity of a thing, my heart, worse than its coquettish way of seeming to be there?  You see, I thought it would be interesting to fill my body with feelings and use my intelligence to amplify, so that my body, upon expiration, would become a pinata of radiant and pure emotion.

But in the sleeve of light which played over all of this…this… rubble, I see that we are both constellations shaken out of bags, our own myths making us shine like mousse made of suns, putting glowey stuff in my hair is always fun.

I am gluey like a girl. You’re the glue man.

Your face was like milk poured into the sea. We all wanted to find a little divot to pour our faces into. I used your navel, you used my cupped hands, spreading like the sac of my body filled with cancellations and shavasana. Drizzling between my fingers came your bright hair. The stars became blindsopts when I stopped blinking.

My whole body writes.

I must write with my whole body.

Sometimes my eyes see images like these and I am so bold in my own skin, my own body bag housing all light and sound and fury. You can’t really see this anymore clearly now. It’s all changed this morning. It’s gone to the dumpster where nothing really rots but just rests there until next time.

Notebook of a Return to the Native Land

Aime Cesaire’s poem does not tell a clear-cookie-cutter-cut story
Aime Cesaire’s poem is not very nice to cops.
Aime Cesaire’s poem is not idol in the wake of adversity and spine-chills and hunger.
Aime Cesaire’s poem does not lay down, wriggle, complain, and fall asleep again.
No, wait, does it?
Never.
Aime Cesaire’s poem tells the story of a nation. Abrevi-nate-ed.
Aime Cesaire’s poem provokes and insults authority and oppressed alike- “pick yourselves up”!
Aime Cesaire’s poem does something where words could get lost and caught in the spit and blood clots and croaking throats.

He beings with the sun –as he describes as the “earth great delirium of God’s mentula”.
The sun—
It is going down
“At the end of daybreak…(pg1 and 2 and 3 and 4 and 5 and 6)”.
Here he is excellently using that beautiful anaphora, where he repeats himself in one phrase at the beginning of a line (similar to what I have done and what he continues to do even better than I can hope to be at this stage of life…).
Aime Cesaire uses the above phrase to mark the passing of time.
He writes it like a story, showing us the monotony of it all—
The monotony of Martinique
The monotony of Martinique’s life…or rather
The monotony of Martinique’s death.

He is giving snapshots of life on the Island, much like Whitman once did to give us snapshots of America and even the world. Both men were writing this way in order to change something they deemed as wrong and in need of severe alterations.
They do not sit as spectators, simply shaking their heads at the foolishness which surrounds them, only to trot off to their gardens and sit musing love notes to the sexy flowers they happen to come across (remember Whitman’s lilly?)….
But no,
Cesaire even warns us not to sit and watch all of it go by.
“And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear…”. He shall never be a tourist to this land.

This is faith in a changing of the world—this is something that these writers must believe in through and with their writing. And Cesaire does,
“Know this:
The only game I play is the millennium
The only game I play is the Great Fear”.
This Great Fear is referring to the gamble on a total transformation of the way things operate.
This is the game he plays in his writing. He is writing to move.
AN ACTIVIST.
Look at the way he defamiliarizes us with our concept of time, space, and death:

Death: … “traces a shining circle above this man
Death stars softly above his head
Death breathes, crazed, in ripened cane fields of his arms
Death gallops in prison like a white horse
Death gleams in the dark like the eyes of a cat
Death hiccups like water under the Keys
Death is a struck bird
Death wanes
Death flickers
Death is a very shy patyrua
Death expires in a white pool of silence ”.

His words are tidal waves and title-caves. They are gates and gaping hungry mouths and lava and flies and peeling fleshy wounds and cities on fire and malaria and urine. They make us see and hear and taste and smell things we don’t want to.

But really.
A story-telling quality- to show us vignettes of time and space where he finds his anger flaring up. The sadness and despair and outrage of this Island- so vivid in mind because it is personalized with recognizable imagery. The Island is a woman pissing in the hot mud, standing straight, her legs stiff. It is the scabs on her arms, picked to sores along the ocean’s surface, bleeding and pustulating. The Island is a collection of blood and death that hangs in the air like clouds of flies or bunches of coral under the water—the sea that is described as “a huge dog licking and biting the shins of the beach, biting them so fiercely that it will end up devouring it…”.

Woof.

This is the poetry that has been occupying my time in Lit class, all the while taking a toll on my writing style…I also did a weeks worth of Math homework tonight, and  my left brain is all tuckered out. I made a heating pad for my back and some tea for my mouth…I also combed my hair tonight…it’s getting long.

Well…, longer.

food for thought…and then some.

I have officially started my Summ-ester. So far one of my best friends is now living with me for a month, I have fallen in like with Walt Whitman’s writing, and I have become even more of an avid vegetarian.

Yesterday I visited the ISU farm, and let me tell you, it was quite the eye opener. I have never really been a crazy animal-rights activist (my reasons for being a vegetarian reach far back into a lot of different reasonings).

I suppose I should explain that last bit. Since I was younger, food has been a bit of a strange part of my life. My mother cooked it, I ate it, and sometimes I did or did not like the taste of it. But it goes deeper. I have always been “small” in the eyes of others, partly because it is currently still my last name, but also because I have been quiet and physically slight. I realized that it didn’t quite matter what I ate, I stayed around the same size. So I began eating for the fun of it, having lots of after school snacks and just anytime snacks….until all the sudden this began to disgust me. It was not that I was gaining weight, because I wasn’t, but I just began to become repulsed by certain foods and the image of myself eating them. The greatest of these was meat. I literally could not stomach the idea of a dead animal sitting inside of me. I tried not to think of this fact, and continued to eat the way I had been….sort of. Then a series of unfortunate events occurred in high school, which were probably not so unfortunate, but within the contexts of my dramatic little world, I thought them so. Theses feelings started emerging inside of me and I’m sure they stem back to the way I was raised or what I see on tv or my last name or my family history and genes or my current group of friends or whatever…. but the long and short of it is that I became bulimic. As in, I chose to become it, not as in I caught some weird disease. By this time I had subconsciously stopped eating meat, and then titled myself a Vegetarian so as not to be pressured to eat many foods. Both the bulimia, which morphed in and out of anorexia as well, and the Vegetarianism stuck with me for the past 5-6 years. Now I am currently a happy Vegetarian and a happy recovering-bulimic.

I want to stress that my seeming detachment from my eating disorder is probably more good than bad, although it may disturb some that I sound so nonchalant about it. If I were to express deep heartfelt pain about my struggle, it would only make it more a part of me- something I do not wish to entertain the possibility of.

But now…. despite my weird formation of the adoption of my vegetarian diet, it is something which, I believe, makes me more healthy than not. And a few past experiences with animals, most recently the ISU farm visit, I have become that much more convicted in my eating habits and their not harming any creature.

   This is the pretty cow which is supposably not fat enough to sell. She will most likely be killed if she is not fattened up, and she will defiantly be killed if she gets fat enough.

Perhaps it is my own warped relationship with food and “fattening” which makes this so disturbing to me. I cannot bare the thought of being judged by my size, mostly because I have been doing just that for far too long, and it needs to stop.  Also, the way these cows look at people just makes me sad. All I can see when I’m looking back at them, as the farm owner explains how much they should weigh and how they artificially inseminate the females, while essentially castrating the males, is how many hamburgers this animal will be made into.

I have never really had this reaction to a live animal until now. My aversion to meat has always started with the dead and packaged, possible seasoned stuff and has not official extended into the living, breathing thing.

These are sheep. The class I went to look at them with thought they were adorable and oooed and ahhed at their  observed cuteness. I asked if they were used for wool or for meat and was informed that wool was essentially worthless in Illinois, and these sheep were also artificially inseminated to birth twins so that more could be used.
Many of them had broken legs. They limped around, apparently unphased by their injury. To put it simply, they actually were really cute. But this did not add or subtract to how sad it was to know that they were all brought into the world to die. I suppose we all are….but usually we get to do some cool stuff in between. These sheep…not so much.

What was even more sad were the pigs. I did not get a picture of them, partly because the lighting in the pens was not good and mostly because I did not want to capture this particular level of what I consider cruelty.

They were locked up in small pens so they could only more forward and backward a few inches. They could not even turn around. They would be kept here for up to three months, then would be impregnated in a specified breeding room, and then put inside of another only slightly larger cage to have their babies. These cages would have sliding chutes where the piglets could get away from the mother, who often would sit down and unknowingly kill her children. This is because the pens are so small that they cannot see what is below them and cannot move out of the way of anything. The sow does not even get to raise her own babies before they are taken and separated by sex and size to be placed in similar pens and fed experimental feed (to see what makes them fattest).

These are the animals that live and die with no life. It made me so sad.

There is something different about being an individual farmer, raising livestock and growing crops for your family to live off of . You raise a pig naturally, feeding it a balanced diet, letting it run around, allowing it the chance to be clean (by the way pigs are clean if you let them be. They will go to the bathroom in one separate place so as not the dirty up the rest of their space, which cannot be said about cows or chickens or even sheep. However, if they are locked up in small pens, they are not given the chance to be clean, which is probably why they smell awful in most farms). But if you are a farmer and you do all of this, including killing the pig to feed your family, this is better than what commercial farms do. You allow the animals to have a life. You appreciate each one of them and take care of them during life so they can live, and then serve you after death. You are thankful for the life and service of the animal.

This is how it was meant to be.

I know that I have a long list of experiences and food particularities and peculiarities which have made me decide to keep my title and practice of “vegetarian”. I know that yesterday was one such experience. I think that my Agriculture class is forcing me to think a little differently about food…..I am sure I will have more musings on the matter later in this summ-ester, and you will no doubt be subjected to read about them as they occur. But for now, I believe that is all. Today I have read Whitman’s preface and had a tremendous amount of coffee. Now I must prepare my body for the pilates class I will teach at Noon, as I am quite sore from yesterday’s Total Body Conditioning. Then I have class, Power Yoga, and finally, CS Lewis Book Club.

What a meatless day today is.

sore in sleep

Running again has got my hamstring so sore. I have been cycling up a storm these past few days with work and now I am finally getting some running in. The weather is beautiful. Even yesterday’s rain was lovely. I was teaching Power Yoga and the studio was safe and dark, the sound of raindrops surrounding us in showers.

I ran 9 miles on Wednesday and did my first standing splits of the month in Yoga yesterday. How lovely.

I am so tired today. Last night I spent hours working on my latest art project and I have another to begin today. I will not give away too many details, as I will post a tutorial on what I am doing later this weekend, I am sure. But just know that not having homework these next few days is a blessing to my creative and artistic spirit. Also….my sleepy spirit. I think I shall take a nap.

on another note, my hair is the same color as the leaves…