mermaiden: (Ritual)
posted by [personal profile] mermaiden at 03:55pm on 27/10/2012 under , ,
I was listening to NPR (WHEN IS SARAH NOT LISTENING TO NPR? [Answer to this question: NEVER]) this afternoon, on the way back from a last minute run to the store for camera batteries for tonight's annual Halloween costume party at Maddie's mum's (the party is LEGENDARY. I am SO EXCITED. Just WAIT until you see our COSTUMES. *vibrating with joy* XD).

Marketplace was interviewing Pierre Desrochers, author of The Loccavore's Dilemma: In Praise of the 10,000-mile Diet, which--basically and heavily summarized--is about why being a locavore is a bad idea. (A "Locavore" is someone who buys food from local producers, farmers, etc., not food that supermarkets have had to ship from roughly eleventy billion miles away. The argument for being a locavore is that this is a much more sustainable practice, better for the world, better for the local food growers/creators.)

Mr. Desrochers's argument was one that I found kind of ridiculous. He stated that if we all stopped buying food from the supermarkets and relied solely on local food, there would be famine, because local crops always eventually fail. He stated that if we don't buy food from supermarkets, the global economy would fail. He stated that if we don't buy food from supermarkets CIVILIZATION WOULD COLLAPSE AS WE KNOW IT.

Yes, if everyone relied on local food only, crops fail. But not everyone relies on local food. Actually, very few people rely on local food. Compared to the number of people in the world, locavores make up a teeny, tiny portion, and that might evolve--over time--to be a larger portion, but it's never going to be everyone. Not everyone has the same values or priorities. And that's never going to change.

People are essentially different, and what they choose to do is never going to be the same across the board. I can't believe I even typed that sentence.

I think the reason the interview frustrated me is that there's a naysayer for everything. EVERYTHING. Oh, you want to pick trash up on the side of the road? You're putting people out of work. Want to go help at that animal shelter? You should be volunteering at a soup kitchen. Want to go vegan? You know that creating fake meat costs more in fuels for the environment than if you just slaughtered a cow, right? Handing a homeless guy a dollar bill? You know he's just going to use that to get booze, right?

I can't believe that someone would waste their precious time on this earth, and their resources, to hold a gigantic megaphone to someone who's actually trying to do something to make the world the tiniest bit better and yell, loudly and clearly, UR DOIN' IT WRONG. But people do. Every day. (By the way, there's a huge difference between sharing actual facts and helping educate people about situations and being a scare tactic monger. HUGE. DIFFERENCE. The former is appropriate and needed in this world. The latter is what happens much more often than the former, sadly.)

There are, essentially, two types of people in this world. The people who point at others and say "they're doing shit, they're not doing enough, they're doing it wrong," and the people who are actually doing something, in the best way they know possible, to try and make things better. There's very little cross over between the two, though there's definitely some.

No one is perfect. The people who see the system as broken, who are trying to do the best they can, in the ways that make them feel impassioned, are trying. Sometimes, they do it wrong, or they're not fully informed, but most of the time, a good deed, done with a hell of a lot of intention and research, is actually a good deed. If someone wants to go vegan because they feel that they must, that's their prerogative, and no amount of negative "you shouldn't do this" is going to sway them. If someone wants to work at an animal shelter because they really love animals, yelling at them all day long, everyday, about how they're communist bastards who should care more about their fellow human beings than "dumb animals" is not going to sway them. If someone decides that they want to become a locavore because they see how much their local farmers struggle, and they want to give back to their community, crying about some hypothetical famine is not going to stop them.

So just...stop.

But people aren't going to stop naysaying. They're not. It's in human nature.

But the other really awesome thing about human nature? When you're really impassioned about something, when you care about it with your whole heart, some guy with a megaphone and negative opinions isn't going to sway you in the slightest.

I'm not a locavore, though I try to buy local as often as I can. But I'm an activist in several different places, and I've seen it enough times, that if I had a nickel for each, I'd have a really swollen piggy bank. I'm surrounded by activists and impassioned people who chuckle and shake their heads when someone tells them "you know that's not going to make a bit of difference, and is--in fact--stupid, right?" I'm humbled and awed by the way that my friends and family and Unitarian family and queer family and every family responds to that, and I do my best in my life to reflect the same:

"Thanks for your concern. But we're not going to stop coming out/being vegan/writing gay stories/helping gay kids/protecting animals/singing/volunteering/doing anyway."

And the people go back to their megaphones. And the people go back to their doing something.

(photo by galactichero
Mood:: 'mellow' mellow
mermaiden: (*  Animals:  Sexy kitty)
Jenn and I love animals. Lots. You know, like you couldn't possibly tell. XD They're the focus and focal of our lives, we love our own as our children (because they are), but we love all animals, too. The reason I'm vegan, and the reason Jenn is vegetarian is summarized best here:

The animal shall not be measured by man. In a world older and more complete than ours, they move finished and complete, gifted with extension of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear. They are not brethren; they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendor and travail of the earth. ~Henry Beston, The Outermost House, 1928

Everyone has "their thing" that makes them impassioned, that makes them angry or upset when they see hurt within it, or that moves them to want to do something, to want to make it better. For us, always, it has been animals. They are voiceless, they can not speak, can not articulate their great depth of spirit. But we hear that, and we see that, and that--above all else--moves us to act, to love, to cherish. It's the main reason Jenn and I came together in the very beginning, as friends--our great love for animals, and we continue along the same path we began, many years ago.

For Valentine's Day, we wanted to give of ourselves to each other in a new way. We wanted to honor that part of each other that cherishes of the many reasons we love one another. We'd spoken of volunteering together for a very long time, but had been too busy or had missed opportunities. The universe wasn't ready yet...until Saturday. I'd made arrangements with the Wyoming County SPCA, a wonderful no-kill shelter that specializes in cats (HAH.), to arrive bright and early on Saturday, and work for about three to four hours doing whatever they needed done. They totally forgot we were coming, but bright and early Saturday morning, we stood in the doorway of...of...

Jenn and I talked about it over the weekend, how we could possibly write about our experience and make it plausible and possible and not sound, you know, unendingly disgusting. XDDDDDDD So, this is the nice, totally PC version that you're about to read. Because, you know, I love you. XDDDDDDD

Do you know what three hundred and eighty cats looks like? Yeah. I didn't, either. I mean...I'd been to this shelter before, YEARS ago. But they didn't have three hundred and eighty cats back then. They had like...two hundred, all in cages. Like a normal shelter. But the WCSPCA is not a normal shelter anymore. Let me tell ya.

Three hundred and eighty cats, all out of cages, covering every inch of the floor, sounds like a science fiction epic (The Cat Ladies Take Over AMERICA), but it's real. Three hundred and eighty cats sort-of paying attention to you (if they love/hate you), or totally ignoring you, living in relative harmony (THIS IS POSSIBLE!!! I WOULD NEVER HAVE BELIEVED IT'S POSSIBLE!!!), and looking fluffy and cute or bony and angry or bloody and in need of help or totally healthy, or with three legs or with seven toes or with one blue eye and one green eye, or, or, or...every possible combination of cat possible in this solar system was present and accounted for in that animal shelter. And every single one of them needed something, though they didn't know it, some of them wondering why the heck they'd ended up here. But there they were.

The manager, M., hadn't been told we were coming, but was just really, really happy to see us. "We don't get volunteers often," she said, and led us down to the basement, "they get too overwhelmed, and don't come back. You won't come back," she said with a sad smile. Then, she proceeded to take case after case after case of canned cat food out of a bunker. "See these?" she said, plunking them on a pallet on the floor. "You have to open up each of the little cans, scoop out the food, put it in a big vat, stir, feed the cats. Because we have so many cats, and no volunteers, they never get canned food. They really LIKE canned food. If you didn't come and do this, they wouldn't get it." She took about sixty cases out of the bunker, and then proceeded to explain how to open the cans inside of them. Because the plastic Fancy Feast ones have this tear off top that you need to be the Hulk to get into. And you, you know, have to open about five hundred of them because they're so tiny. And the Pro Plan ones need the labels taken off, because they recycle the cans... and, and, and...

We got there at eleven o'clock in the morning. We left at five thirty, sore, bruised, and smelling like fish. We'd opened hundreds of tiny cans (countless, really), had prepared vats and vats and vats of mushy, disgusting food, and then got the delight of our lives when we actually fed them. We played with the cats who came down to see us and love on us as we opened the cans, we played with one of the two dogs that they still have at the shelter (sadly, the other is untouchable ;-;), Claire...who is just the sweetest, saddest most pathetic dog I've ever seen. If I hadn't held her and loved on her, I'd be crying writing this. Apparently, because she's a submissive pee-er, the woman who had her before thought she was a bit too much, and AFTER OWNING HER FOR EIGHT YEARS, gave her to the SPCA, because she couldn't handle it. Peeing. Christ.

After everything, we poured the vats into smaller vats, and began to slowly carry them upstairs. You know how cats are when you feed them wet food? "Mrow, mrow, mrow, OH GODS I LOVE YOU PLEASE GIVE IT NOW?" Yeah... three hundred and eighty cats, all at the screen door, kind of like a really fuzzy, really adorable plague, came and swarmed us as we were coming up the stairs. We had to do the "kitty shuffle" to get to places where we could actually set them down. Several trips up and down, and there were still cats who couldn't reach the vats, or who were turned away by the pecking order. We loved on as many of these as we could, carrying them about on our breasts like fuzzy pirate parrots. It was so overwhelming, and the whole time I kept thinking...this is too much. We've done nothing. These cats need so much, and we're just done the tiniest drop in the bucket...but Jenn kept reminding me to stay in the moment. That in that moment, the cat with the listing head, who can't keep her ears on straight, whose eyes are so crossed that she will NEVER be adopted, came forward, swaying and staggering, and was in that tiny moment happy. That...that was enough, and it had to be enough. I held a kitten over my heart, as it pressed its face against my chin again and again, purring so loudly that it could have joined a rock band. And the little black cat that reached up for me, with his paws, desperate for affection. And the fluffy orange and white tabby that wanted to live in Jenn's arms. And the fat gray and white cat that followed us around chirping...

There is so much need in this world, so much hurt and harm. So many reminders that we, as human beings, can be ten times worse than animals. But they forgive us. What happened to that one, to that one, to that one? Why did that one cower away from me, fear making her eyes so big? Why did that one want my fingers on his fur, begging and desperate? "What happened to you, little one?" I kept saying, crying.

The Goddess came through, then. She knew. She knew what it was doing to me, and all of the pain I was feeling, made magnified. And I knew, as I was doing these tasks, and holding them, and loving them as much as was possible, that I was Her. That I was doing what I needed to do, that I was Her daughter, and look at the bright birthrite given to me... That for those tiny moments, there was suffering eased, if even in the tiniest ways, and that what happened before, and what will happen after didn't matter. Because it was this moment, and in this moment, they were fed, and they were warm, and they were loved.

I've never felt Her come through stronger than in those moments. All acts of Love and Pleasure are My rituals, She whispered as a little kitten snuggled down in my arms, eyes blinking sleepily. I never felt the truth of that as much as I did then.

This work is the set beginning of my Priestessing work. A Priestess doesn't simply lead rituals and prayers...a Priestess personifies the Goddess, and does what she is most compelled to do, and does what she believes the Goddess wants her to do. And this, my dear friends, is the beginning of that. I've done it before, but not with the intent of offering. Doing work, through love, to me is the best way to priestess, the best offering I can give, from a heart of love.

On the drive home, I looked at Jenn. We were worn out, starving, exhausted...we'd stayed hours over what we'd intended, but we accomplished something...something tiny, but still...something. And I held her hand, and began to cry, because you know what? This is the woman I married. This strong, incredibly and intensely compassionate, amazing, beautiful woman, who wanted to give of herself, like I did, to make Valentine's Day mean something even deeper than it already did.

I am so incredibly lucky. My gods. And in these beautiful blessings, I find that I am so filled with gratitude, that I must do something with it all...that these are, indeed, the Goddess' hands.

And yes, M.. We'll be back.
Mood:: 'hopeful' hopeful


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