Day 347

12PM:

Aaaah, the things the uninitiated don’t know…

The eating disorders you inadvertently cause.  The selfconsciousness you unknowingly perpetuate.

No lunch for the vegan.  Lunch for the vegetarian, lunch for the halal, lunch for the allergic, lunch for the picky (no tomatoes?).  But no lunch for me…

All I got was an “oh?!?”

You even asked about dietary preferences and I took the chance with a small breakfast.  I hoped for the best and was unprepared.  Stupid me.

Nevertheless, it wasn’t the mistake that got me, it was the reaction.  I could have brushed it off, had you not brushed me off.

But you don’t know the blackness, you’ve never seen the underside.  That is how you could give it power.  Inadvertently.  But that’s because I’m expendable, isn’t it?

Restaurant industry might be transient, but so are teachers in schools.  I’m expendable; if you treat me as such, it will empower my black bits.  But I will also act expendable.  Want to use me up?  Want to treat me as a cog?  See the blackness you will spawn.

Oh yeah, and the topic of the day was Mental Health and Well-being.  You think I am mentally healthy and well?

Day 340

10AM:

Finished my Fleming Bond book last night (The Man with the Golden Gun).  With only one left, I wanted to cherish it, and I did.  In fact, I think I’ve taken so long between books to stretch out the experiences that I can go back to the start, not remembering much of what happened (I think I read Casino Royale close to ten years ago).  But that’s an investigation for another day.

For today, I have my remembrances, some quotes of genius from the man they call Fleming, from the man they call Bond:

Blofeld: “Since last January he has ceased to be an animal.  By a simple stroke of surgery on the woman he love, I reduced him to human dimensions” (You Only Live Twice, 245).

Animals above humans, you say…?

Bond’s suggested epitaph: “I shall not waste my days in trying to prolong them.  I shall use my time” (260).

Be bold, be brave, be Don – do the most good in the time I have, share the most love and be the best of me.

“The man had taken off his macintosh. He was wearing an old reddish-brown tweed coat with his flannel trousers, a pale yellow Viyella summer shirt, and the dark blue and maroon zig-zagged tie of the Royal Artillery. It was tied with a Windsor knot. Bond mistrusted anyone who tied his tie with a Windsor knot. It showed too much vanity. It was often the mark of a cad” (From Russia With Love, Chapter 25).

Had to throw that one in there – an oldie but a goodie.

Day 325

1PM:

Contrary to my grandfather’s openness, he is a man somewhat fixed in traditions.  He supported Black and homosexual track and field athletes before anyone of his generation, opening his home and talent and heart by putting the “athlete” part first.  That is his openness.

He, however, needs to have Thanksgiving on Thanksgiving, not recognizing that the traditions of giving thanks and enjoying each other’s company [as opposed to being tired as fuck from helping them move all weekend/week/month/Summer (depending on the respective family member and their level of helpfulness)] is more important that doing so on the day that the pilgrims fucked the North American native populations.

He, contrary to his openness, needs to have meat at dinner.  And as such, sees my veganism in such a light.  He will come close, because out of love, comes his support.  However, he will comment on veganism’s perceived (and sometimes real) pitfalls.  Usually, in this situation, he will defer to logic (as the protein argument/discussion went, quashed with a couple of Thrive Fitness protein graphics).  One of the things that his logic will deflect, or should I say ignore, is the animal argument.  The argument that eating animals should be questioned, not just done out of “tradition.”

As we were cleaning out the final remnants of my grandparents’ house today, my brother and I found a slip of paper.  This slip of paper is of unknown origins.  This slip of paper is of unknown owner.  However, this slip of paper is the connection between veganism and my grandfather, even though its original intentions we connected to arguing against evolution or for religion or who even knows, even though the sole basis of his follow-up argument was “but you don’t eat monkeys!”.  This slip of paper connects love to love:

20141005_125017

Day 320

My Ode to Tea

20140927_153113

There is a cup above the rest.  A cup above every cup of coffee, regular and large.

That is my cup.  Tea is in my cup.

Similar but not the same anymore, but worthwhile evermore.  Soy milk is not regular milk, but watching dairy farms changed that.  Veganism is in my cup.

Getting bone cold on a morning like today, rainy and wet and blech, this day that’s so similar to many-an-event (fuck you Toronto Zoo Run 10K and your propensity for feet-soaking).  Tea gives it worth, bone-cold more value in the context of weather.  Warmth is in my cup.

Sweet tea reminds me of my grandmother, her noble attempt to find the soy milk of my dreams.  The sugar changed the taste, made it more warming and full of love, made me smile.  Love is in my cup.

Through exhaustion, not knowing if my shoulder hurts because it is hurt or because it notices the drop-dead fatigue, tea is on my table.  It will let me get through the next couple of classes, brace me until the end of the day, convince me that a day off from my September is needed.  Strength is in my cup.

My cup of tea is veganism, warmth, love, strength.  Tea is in my cup.

Day 313

9AM:

“It takes an animal to bring the human out of me.”  How interesting is that statement I made last night?

Usually people would equate animalness with less capable, less cognitive, stupid even.  However, in this statement, I am putting them above us.  I am putting animals above humans because their goodness is automatic, our goodness is chosen.  For animals, it does not appear to be a decision to be cute, a decision to be warm, a decision to be nurturing, a decision to show affection, a decision to be loving.  For animals, this appears automatic, part of their DNA, part of their Uncarved Block.

I made a decision yesterday to call Animal Control when I saw an un-collared dog roaming the streets.  It ran away from me and while it might be someone’s, it was running through traffic with the likelihood of being hit by a car.  I am sure more than myself saw him/her.  I am sure that I am the only one who called.  As a human, I made the decision to be warm and caring.  As a human, many others made the decision to ignore, to find better things to do, to be busy.

Today, I was hurt.  One of my students was just arrested in front of my eyes.  He fucked up, but it still hits hard.  My principal treated me like shit when I tried sharing some vital, time-sensitive information.  Show no fear though – that’s hell-hole high for you, the place where Wellness is on the walls, not in the hearts and minds.  On this thought track, humans did this, humans use and abuse us.

Equating animalness with innocence and humanness with goodness?  That is a fallacy.  Maybe I should have said, “it takes an animal to take the human out of me, and to bring the animal out of me.”

Day 309

6:30PM:

It is not easy right now – being Don, or playing Don, or taking on the mantle of Don for just a little while; working in “hell hole high” (thanks Old Department Head for that); 25 days in a row.

I can choose to focus on the soul-sucking nature of things, the universal kick in the balls that is served up much too often, the blackness-driven Mack truck that leaves skid marks all over the fucking place.  I can choose to focus on the thought that goes through my mind when I see the “Be Kind to Animals, Don’t Eat Them” bumper sticker.  I can choose to focus on that thought, the thought of, “well, shit; they eat people alive at my school, fuck even being kind to them.”  I could choose to focus on the FUCK of the universe.

I can choose to focus on the soul-satisfying nature of things, the universal kiss that is served up much too infrequently, but driven at the most opportune of times.  I can choose to focus on the much-too-ecstatic Starbucks barista to whom I gave a $5 tip (I was going to pay for my latte with it, but the latte came to $5 and change, so I had to pay debit; I put it in their tip jar figuring that I didn’t need the $5 since I had already mentally parted with it, and more importantly, the IAN would make his day, especially after dealing with all the much-too-anal-retentive techie fuckers who lined up for the new Apple iPhone right outside his store).  I can choose to focus on the STARS’ song on the radio, “Hold On When You Get Love and Let Go When You Give It”:

There’s been a lot of talk of love
But that don’t amount to nothing
You can evoke the stars above
But that doesn’t make it something

And the only way to last
And the only way to live it
Is to hold on when you get love,
And let go when you give it… give it.

It’s a pretty melody
It might help you through the night time
But it doesn’t make it easy
To leave the party at the right time

If I’m frightened, if I’m high
It’s my weakness please forgive it
At least I hold on when I get love,
And I let go when I give it… give it… give it.

What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
Hold on when you get love,
What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
Hold on when you get love.
What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
And you let go when you give it.
What do I do?

The world won’t listen to this song
And the radio won’t play it
But if you like it sing along
Sing ’cause you don’t know how to say it

Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it
And always hold on when you get love,
So you can let go when you give it.

Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it
And always hold on when you get love,
So you can let go when you give it… give it… give it.

What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
Hold on when you get love
What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
And you let go when you give it
What do I do when I get lonely?
What do I do?
Hold on when you get love
What do I do?

I know it’s true, please don’t think I do
Nothing that you say or do will make you love me
Forget the song, things will go on
I keep seeing you from the dark with you above me

I know it’s true, please don’t think I do
Nothing that you say or do will make you love me
Forget the song, things will go on
I keep seeing you from the dark with you above me

Take the weakest thing in you
And then beat the bastards with it
And always hold on when you get love,
So you can let go when you give it.
Give it… give it… give it… give it… give it… give it.

could choose to focus on the moments of happy that the universe provides in our times of need.  I will choose to fuck the blackness and choose to focus on the moments of happy that the universe provides in our times of need.

Day 299

9:30AM:

http://greatist.com/eat/health-fitness-experts-favorite-coffee

If they can’t agree on something as simple as COFFEE…

One says butter

One says black

One says sugar

One says honey

One says coconut

One says cream

I scream

I used to feel self-conscious, uncertain about taking my coffee black.  Initially, I did so because I didn’t want to consume any incidental milk calories (because logically, we all know the extra 100 calories a day; but the blackness has a much different voice, one just as bitter and distasteful as some of the coffee I had at this time…).  However, I have come to terms with the fact that for me, good coffee tastes better black.  Today, when Science Colleague Work Friend (the cookie saver/savior) asks me how I take it, I have the confidence to ask for it black (that, and Tim Hortons, seriously no vegan alternatives???).

However, I have days where the blackness is riding shotgun (as opposed to having been run over by me, leaving black-stained bloody tire treads along the path), and on those days, it makes me doubt myself.  The blackness tells me that it is about calories, about restriction, about being less – and in doing so, it makes me feel just that, restricted and less.

I scream because why do I continue to have such a hard time coming to terms with my own version of reclaiming healthy?  It is because recovery is ongoing, it is one day at a time.

Day 283

5:45PM:

Choosing Raw and Greatist do a “Links of the Week,” so I figured, what the hell… let’s co-opt the idea!

1. The ever-intelligent and inspirational Neghar Fonooni turned me on to this little ditty: “Byron Katie, author of Loving What Is says about [self-deprecating] thoughts: ‘A thought is harmless unless we believe it.  It’s not our thoughts, but our attachment to our thoughts, that causes suffering.  Attaching to a thought means believing that it’s true, without inquiring.  A belief is a thought that we’ve been attaching to, often for years.’ … Tell yourself something enough times and it will become true for you, no matter how far off it is from reality.”

The way that my wife feels about herself sometimes, her self-worth, her self-image, her direction, these are far off from reality.  These are far off from reality because the blackness took hold of them and made her believe they were true, without inquiring.  For me, the lack of stomach definition is a trigger, and may actually be a figment of my imagination.  However, if I continue to believe that it defines me, that it is anywhere near as important as valuing myself or being a capable Don, then I have given it to the blackness, given these thoughts to it to be malevolently twisted into flaws.  Instead, treating ourselves compassionately, telling ourselves that “our weaknesses are not the blackness’ anymore,” telling ourselves that “I value myself,” these will allow us to reclaim healthy thoughts from the blackest pits of neglect.

2. http://greatist.com/play/blood-sugar-hunger-anger-relationships

How many arguments between my wife and I, my parents, their parents, their (you get my drift), has been caused simply by hunger?  I do not want to not understand my hunger.  I do not want to be able to blame not recognizing my hunger at a 6 as the reason for a fight.  It is why I ate lunch yesterday, because I need to know.  Not that I need to be in control or that I shouldn’t let myself get hungry, but because I want to be a strong, loving and respectful person – none of which can happen with overwhelming hunger, not the least of which because it gives the blackness traction and a willing ear to hear its screams.

3. I like the “defining” part:

http://www.stuff.co.nz/life-style/wellbeing/10403767/Confessions-of-a-vegan

Day 265

12NOON:

I took some time today to explain my reasons for veganism to my grandparents.  It often confuses them as not eating enough (which I see their side, given that I tried to go to sleep last night, only to realize – through Greatist’s August Self-Care Challenge‘s Yoga day – that I was trying to go asleep when I was still hungry; I’m still getting used to this not eating bulk at the end of the day, which allowed me to fall asleep “full” even if I hadn’t eaten enough through the day; now, I don’t have that “advantage” and since I air on the side of under-eating caution as opposed to over-eating caution, I may run into this trouble in the future — but I digress, as usual!).  Back to the spirit of veganism: as I’ve said before, it is about being the me version of me, the one with a soul and kindness that extends to humans and animals.

Recently, I read Angela Liddon from Oh She Glows writing about her discovery of a vegan diet:

“A vegan diet encouraged me to look outward for healing and to value all walks of life, including my own.  Little by little, I found the growth that I so desperately needed – through food.  A vegan diet is the way I aligned what’s in my heart with the food on my plate.  My compassion for others – and, most surprising, for myself – grew in many ways.  I finally realized that I’m worthy of happiness and deserving of nourishment no matter what the scale says – we all are” (xvii).  [Okay, had to throw in the recovery piece!].

And the vegan guru Robin Robertson adds some clear words of truth and inspiration:

“10. Last, please finish this sentence. ‘To me, veganism is…’

I’ll finish that sentence three – no, make it four — times:

‘To me, veganism is…Love.’

‘To me, veganism is…Compassion.’

‘To me, veganism is…Life.’

‘To me, veganism is…Delicious.'”

But the truth is, Tao of Pooh puts it as aptly as they or I ever will be able, or at least, as I am able to right now:

“The animals in the Forest don’t think too much; they just Are.  But with an overwhelming number of people, to misquote an old Western philosopher, it’s a case of ‘I think, therefore I am Confused.’  If you compare the City with the Forest, you may begin to wonder why it’s man who goes around classifying himself as The Superior Animal.  ‘Superior to what?’ asked Pooh.  ‘I don’t know, Pooh.  I’ve tried to think of something, but I just can’t come up with an answer.’  ‘If people were Superior to Animals, they’d take better care of the world,’ said Pooh” (77).

The environment, animals, each other – if people were superior, we should be doing a better job of taking care of our own (yes, I did steal that from How to Train Your Dragon 2).  That’s why I am vegan – out of love.