Sunday, December 28, 2008

Gruesome but Good

What if the overworked agents of the FDA and the animal welfare organizations could watch meat processing plants over a webcam? Bear with me--I know it's horrifying to think about where your food comes from, or what it goes through to get to be a hamburger or a tasty chicken wing, but if you love animals (or even have concern for the karmic implications), this is something you should want to happen. Even a moral vegetarian might get next to this idea as better than nothing.
  1. Set up webcams in meat processing facilities.
  2. Make them federal property so that destroying or deflecting them is a crime.
  3. Stream the footage for FDA agents and registered animal rights groups.
  4. Record randomly (continuously for suspected abuse).
  5. Secure access to the content so that it can't be hijacked.
For an extraordinary person's real change to the way animals are treated, see the website of Dr. Temple Grandin.

For those out there like me, who love animals but still eat meat, I'll tell you what my practice is:
I eat less meat. When I do eat meat, I eat seafood more often. I no longer shy away from the fact that meat is the body of an animal who shares my DNA, that I probably would have thought was cute, and that I would have risked my neck to protect from cruelty. I briefly acknowledge the life that has been given for me, and I promise that I will try to protect the right of each animal to have a good life for as long as it lasts.
I am grateful. I say thank you.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Ass to Chair

My niece, a budding artist and musician, said today that it has been months since she has picked up her guitar, or drawn more than a few drawings. She had some suppositions about why she wasn't accomplishing more: she only liked to learn the guitar directly from a teacher; she felt that she should be able to learn music strictly by ear; she had learned what she wanted to know about drawing the human figure, so she didn't feel challenged.
She mourned her lost interest; she wondered how to find inspiration again.
You've got to apply ass to chair.
Art, music, writing--it doesn't happen without sweeping back the mundane world, clearing off the clutter, and offering your creative side a little room.

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Prompt: Christmas Eve

Imagine you are a seven year old on the eve of your culture's holiest day. However, this holy day is the 2,000th anniversary of the Apocalypse, the day your people's religion was born.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Life as Usual

While I look for work, I continue to eat, drive, watch TV and read. Money is becoming tighter; I started to look for ways to save, ways to cut back.
This is what I was doing: not buying extras, like dinners out, books or a stereo for my iPhone; buying cheaper brands that may not be organic or free range; buying fewer Christmas presents; and considering putting off my charitable giving, usually done at the end of the year, until I am safely rolling in dough again.
But then I started listening to others say what they are doing in anticipation of the possibility of not having enough money, and I read about a study that indicated that when people are prompted to think about money, they reduce their generosity.*
It occurred to me that we tend not to think about the guy we didn't buy our pizza from, or the bookseller who didn't get our business. What's going to happen to them when I don't buy?

I can't spend the same way I did when my family had two incomes, but I will consider the other guy when deciding when--and where--to spend what I do have. I'll try to keep the world going 'round. Call it work karma.

* "How Money Hardens the Heart," Nov/Dec issue, Spirituality and Health Magazine,

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Prompt: Ugly Reality

My family does not talk about the ugly things. A list of subjects I have rarely heard mentioned: throwing up, popping pimples, farting, cleaning up after a sick loved one, going to the bathroom, having a pelvic exam, descriptions of cruelty. In the same way, we don't discuss the darkest of our emotions or experience. All of us have experienced pain, but when we talk about it, it is "emotion recollected in tranquility." This editing of experience informs my writing, in that I don't usually want to write about the ugly realities.

The prompt:
  1. Choose one of your own main characters or a character you identify with, like James Bond, Spock, Katherine from The Taming of the Shrew, Ula in the Producers, or Agent 99.
  2. Think of a subject that you would not discuss readily--your own taboo.
  3. Write a scene in which the wonderful character has to deal with the undesirable subject.
  4. Here's the kicker: write against type. If the taboo is a bodily function, go for drama. If the taboo is violence or death, try for comedy or romance.
Yes, I know that you wouldn't show this piece to anyone, but it's an exercise. Stretch.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

A Wolf I Met in Tallahassee

I was in Tallahassee a dozen years ago, and there I met a woman who was a writer like me, but also a mother. She told me two unrelated stories: one was about the man she had been living with who turned out to be violent to her and to her children. The man was still a danger to them. Another was a dream she had that was haunting her. In it, a great gray wolf came into the room where her children were sleeping. She always woke up before the nightmare could come to what she saw as its inevitable conclusion.
I told her that if it had been my dream, I would see the wolf as my totem animal, and understand that I would be able to turn into a she-wolf in order to protect my children. I said that I thought the dream showed that she had everything she needed to protect her children, that she was powerful.
She thought I was nuts. She was sure the wolf was her nemesis and not her inner power.
I wonder sometimes how the wolf is doing.