Tuesday, September 28, 2010
I work 9-5. According to craigslist, this officially makes me a "young professional", and unofficially makes me boring. And un-creative.
There is not much space (literally -- you should see how small the kitchens are!) in NYC for the domestic or living arts. The place I'm living now didn't even have a can opener or a cutting board when I got here. Yet I persist in my artistic attempts. This is a sweet potato apple lentil stew. Tonight's answer to all those "young creatives" on craigslist.
Dish features sweet potatoes and celery from DoReMi farm at the New Amsterdam Market, apples from the Union Square Greenmarket, Tropical Heat curry powder and chai masala (ginger, cardamom, cinnamon), along with butter, onion, garlic, lentils, diced tomatoes, and tomato paste from Walmart and the local grocery store.
Monday, September 27, 2010
But even with all diversity of hair styles, body art, accents, clothing, personal hygiene etc., I can feel myself starting to get a bit numb, developing an immunity to individuals and stories in the face of sheer volume.
This Jane Kenyon poem was a reminder:
Large flakes of snow fall slowly, far
apart, like whales who cannot find mates
in the vast blue latitudes.
Why do I think of the man asleep
on the grassy bank outside the Sackler
Museum in Washington?
It was a chill
afternoon. He lay, no doubt, on everything
he owned, belly-down, his head twisted
awkwardly to the right, mouth open
like a child who has fallen asleep
still dressed on top of the covers,
or like Abel, broken, at his brother's feet.
Saturday, September 11, 2010
...we have not learned to think of peace apart from war. We have received many teachings about peace and peaceability in biblical and other religious traditions, but we have marginalized these teachings, have made them abnormal, in deference to the great norm of violence and conflict. We wait, still, until we face terrifying dangers and the necessity to choose among bad alternatives, and then we think again of peace, and again we fight a war to secure it.
Monday, September 6, 2010
As I've moved closer to the people and processes involved in making the most basic material goods (food, clothing) in the past two years, the physical world has taken on a new weight. Driving past malls and outlet stores, the sheer volume of the stuff inside is overwhelming. I've had a little glimpse into the lives of those sewing and picking, so that in my more lucid moments I can't grab an appliance off a shelf without wondering how many hands were involved in making it, or pull a shirt off the rack without a peek at the tag to see where it came from.
Being a bit more aware sets me up for an exhausting series of mental gymnastics any time I make a purchase.
Today, for example, I found myself grocery shopping in Walmart. Already I’d had to do some justifying. Walmart is the Big Bad Wolf, up there with other dastardly corporations like Monsanto. They underpay their workers both here and overseas and force local operations out of business everywhere they go.
But…I needed a plastic storage bin. Target would have been my first choice, but it was out of the way and I have a sneaky suspicion my aversion to Walmart is partly a class thing (Target is, after all, where upper middle class folks by their Made in
On my list after the storage bin were a number of grocery items (since, as of Wednesday, whatever I eat will have to be transported home without the help of a car). I’d planned on patronizing a local grocery store, but did the impact of the extra gas from the trip outweigh the karmic good of supporting a local family?
So…I found myself grocery shopping in Walmart. Already feeling guilty, my calculating had just begun. How much more was I willing to pay per can of organic beans (and could I even justify beans in a can when the dried varieties were available)? Coffee: fair trade, organic, Rainforest
All this, and I get to the check-out aisle and realize I’d forgotten to bring re-useable bags.
At the end of that trip, at the end of a couple weeks of shopping to get ready for life and work in NYC, after so many tiny (and at the same time overwhelmingly significant) decisions, there is this:
A Short Testament
by Anne Porter
Whatever harm I may have done
In all my life in all your wide creation
If I cannot repair it
I beg you to repair it,
And then there are all the wounded
The poor the deaf the lonely and the old
Whom I have roughly dismissed
As if I were not one of them.
Where I have wronged them by it
And cannot make amends
I ask you
To comfort them to overflowing,
And where there are lives I may have withered around me,
Or lives of strangers far or near
That I've destroyed in blind complicity,
And if I cannot find them
Or have no way to serve them,
Remember them. I beg you to remember them
When winter is over
And all your unimaginable promises
Burst into song on death's bare branches.