Saturday, December 29, 2007

Attention Shoppers...

Last night, we saw Walmartopia, an Off-Broadway musical that is not subtle in its political satire. It is the story of a woman and her teen daughter who work at Walmart more than full-time and still cannot afford to move out of their motel. Act 2 takes place 30 years in the future, when Walmart has taken over the world, with the exception of Vermont--a state that declared itself a historical preservation and would not allow the convoluted empire into their quarters.

A few months ago, M and I visited Watkins Glen, NY, a rural country setting that is home to Farm Sanctuary. At 10 p.m. one night, we needed tampons, peanut butter, and a sports bra (don't think too hard about that one), so stopped at the local Walmart, where we realized we had just entered a portal to everything that's wrong with the world. It was like someone sucked out our souls and replaced them with a hole of buzzy fluorescent lighting. We quickly left--past the McDonalds Express--but stopped to mourn over the earth worm "live bait" vending machine! In case you're wondering where it was located, just check across from the hunting supplies.

Here is my disclaimer for the above paragraph: That had *not* been our first visit to Walmart during that trip. Perhaps it was our third. Before that last visit though, we *did* know there was a lot wrong with Walmart, though we didn't know the specifics. Though I don't want to admit this, we had the dangerous "if you can't beat em" mindset, at least temporarily, as we were blinded by finding everything we wanted in one place. And really, there was something magical about finding non-leather shoes and triscuits in the same place. Thankfully, we finally saw the light, and I'm not referring to the car headlight replacements in Aisle 3. I don't know why we went in the first place, and I'm unsure of exactly what finally pushed us over the edge, back into that innermost-pit known as "our ethics."

My colleague and BFF recently led a workshop called "The Merry Vegan: A Holiday Survival Guide," (nice press here) which, among other things, explored alternatives to contributing to consumerism, as well as more socially-conscious consumerism (if you're gonna do it, you might as well support the right places). One blogger has a nice summary of the workshop and some of the places we suggested supporting.

This summer, I might visit a friend's summer home in Vermont. I hear there is a general store that sells everything you need--including late-night tampons and peanut butter. I can't wait.

Walmartopia was the little musical that could. It started playing at the Fringe Festival and then had this highly successful run at the Minetta Lane Theatre (closes tomorrow, I believe). For those who like theatre, it's nice to know there are those fighting for social change--with a sense of humor. (Sidenote: here's a play I was in last summer.)

More theatre later: Thanks to a friend who works in the box office at P.S.122, tonight I'm seeing this.

Friday, December 28, 2007

I am the zaftig vegan and this is my zaftig blog.

Last year, I started a blog and called it "I Have to Tell You Something." I posted 2 blog entries, one of which was a poster for an upcoming workshop I was co-leading. I guess I had nothing to tell you.

So what's different now? Do I have something to say? Well, many people would say I normally don't shut up, so I certainly must have something to say. Though it is more than likely that when the end of the day arrives, I've undoubtedly had at least dozens of conversations with what seems like hundreds of people, and yet, what dialog transpired? Did it make a difference?

I'm babbling...already. My point is that I'm not sure what I want to tell you, but there has to be something there, and dangit, I'm determined to find out what it is! And yes, I do believe I have much more to say than last year, when I proclaimed that I *HAD* to tell you something...then I just stared at you blankly.

And here we are in the last hours of 2007, the year that changed me more than any of the previous ones combined. It began with heartbreak so painful that I truly didn't know if I'd live through it. Sounds dramatic, yes, but there ya go...that was my reality. I see now that the heartbreak was really just a cover for the true me waiting to be born, and squeezing through that canal as a zaftig vegan is not a comfortable experience. In fact, I got stuck, and it hurt, and I couldn't see past my own nose, which was stuffy, for a long long time. Or at least that's how it seemed. And even though in retrospect I see that it really wasn't solely heartbreak that caused my breakdown, I maintain that heartbreak is significantly underrated by society. It changes you, for better or for worse...sometimes, for both.

After I medicated myself enough to move past it enough to unmedicate myself, I felt truer to me than I'd ever had before. I come from a long history of performing, and suddenly I had little desire to be anyone other than myself. Upping the ante of my animal activism brought me full-force to the here-and-now (because, here-and-now, the animals are dying, and we must act here-and-now, and not get TOO stuck in our own bullshit).

Anyway, as luck would have it, then I accidentally met M. We were tying ribbons around dryer sheets as wedding decorations for the marriage of our two BFFs, and we bonded about a1980-something telephone commercial that had the slogan "we're all connected." Shortly thereafter, we were on a subway-ride together and I invited myself to go to San Francisco with her. She said okay. Slowly but surely, we fell. And then we attempted to heal things in ourselves and each other that were begging for attention. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. But in so many ways, M came into my life at exactly the right time, even though neither of us saw it coming. And I do believe we are both the better for it, and continue to grow as a unit and individually. At our BFF's wedding, M and I danced the entire night. There was a long red rose in a vase and she started to put it down my cleavage, then thought better of it, saying that she has to remind herself not to be inappropriate. Since then, I remind her daily that it's okay to be a little inappropriate sometimes. I love that woman.

My dream job came this fall when someone actually offered to pay me for what I'd been doing anyway--advocating for animal rights. Then my favorite magazine pitched me, and there I was writing for them too.

It's not like things are perfect, but perfection is boring anyway. I'm not sure I'd describe myself as happy, since the horrors of animal agriculture are so enormous and inexplicable that for any empathic person, being happy is likely a disillusionment. Yet, I'm fighting with myself as I write this, because I don't want to sound ungrateful--on the contrary, I'm very aware of my privilege and in many ways I have worked hard to get to this place where I finally have the life I want for myself, so that I can lend my voice to those who have none...or at least, aren't allowed to use it. But happy? Hmmm...I prefer to say "zaftig."

Which brings me back to why I'm writing this blog. I just called M and ran the idea by her. Though she said go for it, she didn't really get the concept. Maybe I don't have one. Maybe I'll get one as this transpires. Maybe I don't care either way. And maybe I'll find that I actually don't have much to say, and this will only last 2 posts. Anything is possible.

Why zaftig though? I use zaftig not as a euphemism for fat. I don't really think of myself as being fat, not that there's anything wrong with being fat, though I'm not sure I believe that's actually true, since I hate when I feel fat, and very- fat tends to represent over-consumption, which is everything that's wrong with this country. I used to be fat, a long time ago, but I was still eating cheese then, and as we know, cheese is the devil. Then I only ate lettuce and I was really thin, but so miserable because I wasn't paying attention to my cravings and body's desires. Now that I realized there is so much more to what I eat than just MYSELF (such as choosing not to eat anyone else) I feed myself both with good food and good relations, and I've found my body and my soul to be content as zaftig--which by definition means "womanly," and that is something I'm proud to be. Of course, you can be skinny and womanly too. You can also be fat and womanly. Or medium and womanly. Anyway, I feel zaftig, oh so zaftig...

And the vegan part...well, once you figure out what is really going on behind closed doors, I'm sure you'll be a vegan too. Maybe you'll even be zaftig.

You just never know.