My day-to-day life is unremarkable. Except for visiting the jail each week and fending off the specter of exsanguination, I do not often do exciting things. I am not averse to deviations from the norm, but neither am I bored by lifestyle. “With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?” asks Oscar Wilde, and though this sentiment is a bit drippy, the man’s got a point.
Besides the bragging rights afforded by this lifestyle, i.e., I read more books each year than you do (dissenters, please dissent in the comments below), I am free to luxuriate in contemplation. Actually, if it weren’t for the presence of other inmates, I think I would be suited to living behind the bars that currently imprision my ex and formerly imprisoned Oscar Wilde: I’d have unlimited time to read and think and write.
On second thought, I take that back. Prison libraries and prison food would not suit me. Perhaps a house arrest could be arranged?
At any rate, I like to think. If I’d been a man in Enlightenment Europe, I could have made a career of musing and reflecting. I would not call myself a philosopher nor a logician, and I am simply not cut out for meditation, but I enjoy a good old-fashioned internal monologue.
Lately two themes have emerged in my thinking, or perhaps it is one theme with two distinct foci. The first is more pedestrian, and I apologize for this obvious pun, but I just can’t help myself. This theme is more ordinary than the other, but it also involves walking. Get it? Get it?
A few weeks ago I read Mark Bittman’s Food Matters. Very little of what he said was new to me, but he said it in such a succinct and convincing way that I have rededicated myself to his cause, to wit: we need to stop eating junk because it’s bad for our bodies and bad for the planet.
So I’ve been eating even more vegetables and fruits, and even less meat (about a pound a week should do the trick, says Mr. Bittman), and on top of that, I haven’t driven to the grocery store in two weeks. I’ve gone to the store nearly every day, but I’ve been walking the 1.5 mile trip. Carbon footprint: zero!
In that time, the only animal product I’ve purchased has been a half-gallon of milk. Carbon footprint: noticeable, but not horrible!
Added value: the walking trip gives me even more time to think about stuff!
That is the first theme: I have been thinking very, very hard about food. I’ve been thinking about its nutrition and its place of origin. (Like Mr. Bittman says: if your organic lettuce traveled two thousand miles, is it really organic?) Each time I consume an animal product, I think about the life of that animal and the environmental costs of raising it. And I’ve been thinking about how lost I’d be without my slow cookers. Without them I’d be helpless. If you wanted me to scramble two eggs on the stove, you’d be appalled at the results.
Slow cooker experiments lately have included a ratatouille (which was okay, but it needed more spices, but I got tired of plucking leaves from the thyme stems so possibly this is my own fault), a stew (which was delicious, but it used chicken stock and chicken meat that I already had in the freezer), a peach and kiwi cobbler (with two tablespoons of butter and bad-for-you flour), a batch of homemade chai mixed with homemade almond milk rather than moo milk (not as creamy, but super tasty), and a possible jelly. I won’t know the results of this particular experiment till tomorrow morning. My only comment at this point is that one must never, ever purchase scuppernong grapes. They are more expensive, which might lead you to believe that they are superior, but you would find this to be a mistaken conclusion as you spent a full damn hour removing the seeds from them and then realizing the only thing you could realistically do would be to put them in the slow cooker and hope a jelly came out.
I should have fed them to the horsies. Why didn’t I think of that? I’ve made friends with two horses I pass as I walk to and from work. I do not know their names, but I know that they like carrots, bananas, and apples that I’ve already half-eaten. I bet they would have liked scuppernong grapes, too.
Anyway: food. At this point I do not anticipate becoming a vegetarian, but I do see myself following a diet that is mostly vegan (!) with the occasional indulgence.
The second theme consuming my attention lately has also been environmental, at least in part. Deep Lofty Thoughts of ecological health, human society, animal society, politics, libraries, and sustainability have danced about in my head. These disparate topics are joined by one crucial link, viz., my role in each of them.
Because I have not reached any conclusions in this broad vein—none I’d care to share at this point, anyway—I will refrain from writing publicly about them for now. Which is a bit of a letdown, innit? Some of my conclusions are unsettling or even disturbing, so I’d rather not broadcast anything till I’m confident about them. Also, these particular thoughts, being all Deep and Lofty, are taking longer to incubate. Food is one thing; it is important, but it is familiar and domestic, and it doesn’t take a Goethe to reach some conclusions. (“Hey! I should probably eat more fruits and vegetables! Is this an epiphany I’m having? Because this feels like an epiphany!”).
But I will leave you with another thought, which is in no way original, but it’s 2:30 a.m., give me a break. Some of you will have been directed here by a link on my facebook page. I’d like to point out that I despise facebook. I have an account for two reasons—to keep up with distant relatives, and to be findable online—but I loathe the medium. The brevity of the posts renders thought into an abbreviated, cheapened, superficial exercise, and for the love of everything holy, I do not give a shit what you are going to watch on television tonight. “Communication” on facebook (those quotation marks are supposed to be ironic, mmkay?) is dissatisfying. It is like drinking two glasses of water and pretending you’re full.
If you disagree with me, you probably aren’t reading this because the thousand-plus wordcount of this post will have scared you off ten paragraphs ago. If you agree with me, thanks for taking the time to read my attempt at legitimate communication.