28 February 2012

Occupy Our Food Supply!

Our food supply, especially in America is so broken... I have not been involved in many of the other Occupy movements, partially because I am so far away from where many of them are happening, but food is perhaps the thing I am most passionate about, so I could not let this day pass completely without mentioning this Occupy movement here. Agribusinesses and industrial complexes (Monsanto, Cargill, Tyson, Dupont, ADM, et al.) have hijacked our food system and shifted the focus from nutritious, safe, tasty food for eaters, to how they can make the most money - It is, simply put, evil.

As always, I would encourage you to think about where you get your food - who made it, where it came from, what chemicals where used to make it and grow it (this includes your meat, not just veggies!) And most importantly, to vote with your wallet. Buy local, sustainable food whenever possible.

Here is a link to the letter of support for the Occupy Our Food Supply. Many of the signers and organizations supporting this movement have links to their own sites, where you can get more information about the movement, and about actions you can take to make a difference in support of good food - 'cause really, that is one of the most important things in your world!

This is so important - whether you eat to live, or live to eat, the current system is diminishing your food!

19 February 2012

Poetry Break

Due to the advent of a icky cold, the food post I was planning in my head (which is now full of cold medicine) has been postponed. Instead, enjoy this gut-wrenching poem that has been drifing in and out of my head frequently since I first heard it last fall...


by Marie Howe

Johnny, the kitchen sink has been clogged for days, some utensil probably fell down there.
And the Drano won't work but smells dangerous, and the crusty dishes have piled up

waiting for the plumber I still haven't called. This is the everyday we spoke of.
It's winter again: the sky's a deep, headstrong blue, and the sunlight pours through

the open living-room windows because the heat's on too high in here and I can't turn it off.
For weeks now, driving, or dropping a bag of groceries in the street, the bag breaking,

I've been thinking: This is what the living do. And yesterday, hurrying along those
wobbly bricks in the Cambridge sidewalk, spilling my coffee down my wrist and sleeve,

I thought it again, and again later, when buying a hairbrush: This is it.
Parking. Slamming the car door shut in the cold. What you called that yearning.

What you finally gave up. We want the spring to come and the winter to pass. We want
whoever to call or not call, a letter, a kiss--we want more and more and then more of it.

But there are moments, walking, when I catch a glimpse of myself in the window glass,
say, the window of the corner video store, and I'm gripped by a cherishing so deep

for my own blowing hair, chapped face, and unbuttoned coat that I'm speechless:
I am living. I remember you. 

12 February 2012

A life of the mind...

So, as you may or may not know, February, at least for me, is something of a mortal enemy... For years, it has constantly and consistently sucked the joy from my outlook, stamped down my energy, and in various ways preyed upon my mind... It's cold grayness goes far beyond any sort of SAD sort of disarrangement (or perhaps, derangement)... February has been soul crushing in a way that makes other things I've been through - death of loved ones, divorce, distance from dear friends, postponement of dreams - pale by comparison... And perhaps the most baffling aspect of this soul-crushing is that I don't even know why; why I feel as though February is a living, devious, being, one that hates me... And this year was no different, February came and I wanted to curl up and hide until it had passed...

I give this explanation, so that it might be understood just how crucial the timing of this post and the events (some, largely mental) that led up to it are.

Leading up... In November, I had settled into Korea well enough to turn my mind to writing - thinking about projects I wanted to start, work on, or possibly complete. Then my computer died, necessitating a great reduction in the time spent on my computer, as I was running from my backup drive until I could comfortably afford the purchase of a new one... and as a devotee of Apple, that took a few months... This break threw me off track of any sort of creative process - my computer is largely the way I communicate with my family and friends, the scholarly and literary communities I follow - the connections that sustain me in a very real way, despite their virtual nature... Towards the end of January, I knew I would be getting a new computer soon, and those thoughts of writing began to return...

But then February happened... cold, gray, soul-crunching February... it made me want to sleep constantly, while preventing me from sleeping most nights... that is the daemon that is February...

So, Friday night I was up anyway, unable to keep my attention on my novel, having blown through my rss reader, and too enmeshed in the blahs to find other distraction on the internet, when my calendar reminded me that it was time for the live stream of the Exemplaria Symposium of Surface, Symptom, and the State of Critique... Not something I had read or prepared for in anyway other than reading Jeffrey Cohen's handout on In The Middle... In fact, until that late moment, I hadn't even looked at the schedule beyond glancing and noting it on my calendar. After all, Korea is a long way from Texas, and distance and time meant I would probably not see it anyway. So thanks, February... this is all your fault...

On opening the live stream, I was immediately swept under (pardon the pun). I had little context, beyond foundational literary theories, for the thoughts the presenters were raising and responding to, yet I was immediately fascinated - so much so that I, couldn't sleep through the next panel, or the next - when I tried to sleep between them my brain kept waking me up, wondering what I was missing. The symposium brought my brain to life - in a somewhat uncomfortable fashion, even. So, now I have pages of notes, and an extended reading list on a topic I had not really considered at all - at least not in a conscious matter (though anyone associated with the Popular Romance Studies field will confirm that how and why we read is never far beneath the scholarship, due to a frequent necessity to defend what we read and study).

Now my brain is so filled with new (to me) thinking about reading, scholarship, and creative generalization that it has pushed out of February's hold... The symposium has cost me quite a bit of sleep, but has re-affirmed my deep, integral need for a life of the mind... 

Now, I only hope that this thinking will lead to writing, and maintain the pressure keeping February at bay...