Good morning

It’s the early morning on a regular day.  The air is slightly warmer than the other day, when it was like a tundra out.  My love sleeps quietly next to me while the dog sleeps and the cats curl into fury balls of warmth.  I’ve been awake intermittently since six thirty am and now it’s just too much to go back to sleep. 

I often worry about productivity.
Am I doing enough ?
Did I accomplish enough today?
What chores or errands can I do?
What bills need to be paid?

What garbage.

Today I imagined the system we live in as a beat down, broken car with just enough life left in it to keep running from A to B.  The tail pipe leaks black smoke into the air and our lungs,
The body is pock marked and a flat, gray primer color with dings and rust spots.  The windshield has cracks small enough that traffic police look the other way; but we feel them every time it rains.  Even the driver window leaks from forcing your way back in when you’ve forgotten the keys; and Lord knows we’re willing to stop at nothing to get back in that car and feel productive.  Even if the car is something of a death trap.

But here we go, getting into this danger zone of a system and calling it normal. 

But we know the system is broken. We know it doesn’t work.  We know that money,  Class, race, status, gender,  and connections all play a significant factor in one’s station in life.  After all, it’s not what you know, it’s who. Maybe I’m being presumptuous because my own forms of privilege allow me access to educational materials to postulate such things. I’ll clarify; I see it as broken.  I see it as not working.  When so many people keep falling through the cracks, it’s hard to imagine a world that isn’t on the verge of caving in on itself….or at least being held up by a weak structure with thinly veiled practices of culture to hold it up.

At the end of a long day, I’ll feel like I earned my time in bed.  On my days off, I feel entirely lazy if I’m not go go going.  What is that? 
As though true freedom makes me nervous.  There needs to be structure to my day, everyday. Somehow, I inherently know this defies the capabilities of my species and it’s role in the planet.  More ideas come from day dreaming than hours of task mastering. 
Have you watched gymnastics and cross fit enthusiasts?  They’re just as human as you and I.  Look at what marvels and feats the human machine is capable of!  Parkour and American ninja warrior: those are regular people with the same muscles and ligaments as you.  We’re all human. 
Yet our fantastic temples are shoved into cubicles and manual labor, institutions we don’t necessarily want to be a part of.  For what?  We change laws but not attitudes. 

Productivity.  Why do I only feel productive if I’ve done something that relates to commerce or economics?  Bank errands, shopping for basic resources, looking for jobs or houses to live in.  I’m personally satisfied if I write an essay, review, poem or blog post.  I feel amazing when my pieces get published or when I host workshops and teach a new generation of writers.  But do I have money ? Nope.  Sure these things have paid me, many of them have not.  I do it for the love, because to be anything else would be disingenuous to my person.  It gives me valuable experience that looks great on paper too.

I hear lots of suggestions about how to turn writing into a living wage career.   Write for magazine x y z this or copy edit that.  Believe me I’ve applied.  Sometimes I feel like I’m doing everything I know how to do.  Sometimes I feel like I don’t have enough drive.  And little validation is coming from my peers and culture.  Money seems to be the great validator, with its summation proportionate to how successful or important an individual is.  I know I’m supposed to care about money because really, when we say I need money were saying I need basic things like food water and shelter or I’ll die.  Which, makes no sense but again a system that keeps you chasing basic survival with little care for what’s natural to the species and how it thrives is kind of broken. 

So what’s to do?
They say you have to live for yourself.
Well, I wrote a blog post- and that’s something.

Male Revolution: The consequence of touch.

So, as a sociologist, I heard something back in college that stuck with me.  A professor once said that the last group of people who need to have a revolution are males, particularly the ones with all the (white) privilege.   It was once explained to me by another professor of sociology that privilege is sort of like being accidentally handed a test paper that happens to have the answer key on it.  Suddenly you have the means to pass with ease, with no effort, you have an advantage over the rest of the class.  Do you say something? do you turn it in and blow up your own spot?  Chances are, most people just keep quiet and smile about your the good grade their about to get.

(white) male privilege.  We all know what it is.  we all know what perks come with it; both spoken and unspoken.  Don’t catch my meaning?   its a part of our culture. But sort of like that test with the answers, privilege has its drawbacks.  In our culture, Gender roles are assigned to all of us at birth depending on our biological sex (because as you know, masculinity and femininity are not owned exclusive by neither identifying males or females respectively).  These gender norms come with all sorts of implicit values and expectations that we, as a culture, project onto tiny little babies and children as they grow and later on how we expect adults to behave.  There’s a lot to be said on this topic, but for brevity’s sake let me be slightly blunt- there is a growing body of literature and media exploring the culture we have created for men and boys and what impact it is having upon said cohort. Particularly the issue of touch is one of interest today.  Author Mark Greene of the goodmenproject.com states,

“American men, in an attempt to avoid any possible hint of committing unwanted sexual touch, are foregoing gentle platonic touch in their lives. I’ll call it touch isolation. Homophobic social stigmas, the  long-standing challenges of rampant sexual abuse, and a society steeped in a generations old puritanical mistrust of physical pleasure have created an isolating trap in which American men can go for days or weeks at a time without touching another human being. The implications of touch isolation for men’s health and happiness are huge.”

“Gentle platonic touch is central to the early development of infants. It continues to play an important role throughout men and women’s lives in terms of our development, health and emotional well being, right into old age. When I talk about gentle platonic touch, I’m not talking about a pat on the back, or a handshake, but instead contact that is lasting and meant to provide connection and comfort. Think, leaning on someone for a few minutes, holding hands, rubbing their back or sitting close together not out of necessity but out of choice.”

Once upon a time, it was socially acceptable for men to be affectionate with one another without being perceived as “less masculine” or sexually attracted to one another.  This article here goes into great detail about how the attitudes and behaviors of men evolved. According to authors Brett and Kate McKay, “Man friendships during the 19th century were marked by an intense bond and filled with deeply held feeling and sentimentality.”  It was based largely on a book by John Ibson named, Picturing Men: A Century of Male Relationships in Everyday American Photography.

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It was unlikely that these were portraits of “gay” lovers, as the film would have been developed by a 3rd party. Moreover, homosexuality was not much of an “identity” at this point in the culture.

which is sharply contrasted with today’s ideals, which includes sites this like this Quick Guide on Greeting Your Bros.  One of the “don’ts” includes the full embrace.

apparently its not cool to touch your bro

apparently its not cool to touch your bro

doesn’t seem like these guys got the message

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or how about bro tip number 153?  A Bro does not put his hand on another bro’s waist.

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civil war era

So now that you’ve gotten a taste of what its like to see men near each other out of platonic affection, how do you feel?  When I first saw the pictures, I was shocked, a little put off, but eventually found myself going “Aw, they’re so cute!”  And cute has nothing to do with sexuality.  It was actually really refreshing to see because, I feel like we’re at a point where it seems like men are creatures that don’t feel.  Save for anger and aggression. Maybe madness?  How often do you see two American males embrace in a way that is platonic while also comforting and loving?

So on  the one hand, today’s American male might enjoy all the perks of being perceived as strong, able to provide, hunter, gatherer, protector, bread winner etc. but the question is, of all the roles we’ve ascribed to those individuals who identify as males, are all of them desirable?  Is it fair to give men little to no option outside of the bland portrait of masculinity we’ve given them?  Why do we associate tough with stoicism?

Somehow I doubt anyone would have walked up to these bad ass mustache having fellas and questioned their integrity.

Seed To Sprout: Blooming with delicious disappointment.

I recently discovered a new vegan cafe just minutes from my house, so naturally I had to try it several times. The name of said vegan cafe is Seed To Sprout which currently boasts two NJ locations, the newest being Fair Haven and the original in Avon by the Sea.  An all organic and vegan menu, it has attracted a lot of local attention so I was eager to test it out.  This location offers dining room seating but no table service.  Saturday and Sunday Brunch from 10am to 3pm, and a weekly Thursday Prix Fixe Meal served from 6pm to 9pm.

As I approached the simple and small set up in Fair Haven, I noticed a lack of frills inside a tiny dining room lined with chairs and tables made from black metal.  The t shirt clad, baby faced, employee’s had their radio playing on freshly wiped  condiment, utensil, and napkin counter while a gaggle of bustling teens and young 20 somethings moved about the tiny kitchen.

My first day there I went whole hog and ordered 4 items off the daily Lunch menu (served Tues through Fri):

  • The bacon cheddar melt -$9.00
  • the avocado breakfast sandwich- $9.00
  • the taco salad- $12.00
  • and off the Raw Menu, the Raw Pizza & Greens- $12.00
  • salted chocolate chip cookie $4.00
  • rosemary fig scone $3.00  (at the suggestion of a helpful cashier)

Then I went back a different day and tried:

  • Grilled Avocado Sandwich $6.00
  • Lemon Pepper Red Lentil Soup cup $3.50 / bowl $5.
  • Seed Salad $12.00
  • Pink Lemonade (20 oz) $8.00
  • Maple Crumb Cake $4.00

Open bacon cheddar melt

Of every thing I tried the bacon cheddar melt is a clear winner by far.  Served in a brown Eco-Box, Marinated tempeh, caramelized onion, coconut bacon, and cashew cheddar on millet & flax bread grilled with coconut butter all come together to form a delicious, melt in your mouth sandwich.  I honestly believe the carmalized onion is the star of the show in this sandwich as it helps link all the flavors together.  The tempeh was seasoned well, but I wish there would have been more of a saucy-ness to it.  I have to ask though, whats with the bread?  It looks like slightly thinner white, texas toast with some flax seeds sprinkled into it and slathered in coconut butter; which is little more than salt, olive oil and coconut oil mixed together.  Too much fat is too much fat, “healthy” or otherwise.  I thought I was getting some awesome healthy bread. . . .it was what looked and tasted like white bread but is apparently made from milled flax.

Secondly, this was supposed to be a Lunch Sandwich.  Now, when I think lunch I think a meal.  When I spend Nine bucks on a sandwich, I think a meal.  This was served with no side, no options to create a meal or add a drink.  For $3.00 howerver, one can add a side of greens.  As any vegan will tell you, getting adequate nutrition is of supreme importance and I wonder what the nutritional profile looks like on this sandwich.  Does it have enough calories to be considered lunch?  Does it crank up the fat content while leaving me little in the way of healthy carbs, proteins and micronutrients ?  Or do I have to pay extra if I really want to feel like I’ve eaten a balanced meal?

I always try to start reviews with explaining what I liked and what I feel the restaurant did well – and this sandwich is a clear winner, but here’s my problem with it:  It relies heavily on fats and salty nutritional yeast to make up the core of its flavor profile.  My first problem is the presence of nutritional yeast in practically every single dish on the menu, which has been outed and debated on as the vegan version of MSG.  (I used to eat it a bunch and stopped after learning this, plus my cat got into it once and he ate it with a sickening sense of urgency, which is plenty of proof for me: MSG = Food Crack)

According to the raw food stylist

“Studies have been done that Nutritional Yeast is a neurotoxin, a gmo product, a disguised MSG, added synthetic vitamins, and flavor enhancers.

The most disturbing thing I’ve researched is that it contains Free Glutamate Acid which is the same neurotoxin compound as monosodium glutamate (MSG).  They disguise the true identity of MSG with fancy names.

In Dr. Baylock’s best selling book, Excitotoxins: The Taste That Kills, he discovered that the cause of certain brain lesions is linked  to food additives which come in the form of processed “free” Glutamic Acid.  He says Free Glutamic Acid literally stimulates the neurons to death, causing brain damage.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to eat MSG!!”

So basically, MSG makes your brain all confused and convinces you to eat more of whatever it is laced with MSG, even if its total garbage.  I call it food crack because it’s equally as addictive and produces the same binge response thus guaranteeing high sales.  That being said, its an additive, a flavor enhancer and pretty much the antithesis of a restaurant that is supposed to be about health.

On to Fats- Now, if you know anything about nutrition and human evolution, you’ll know that our brain lights up when it is fed fats since they don’t occur too often in nature.  Fats, being calorically dense and pleasing to the mouth, generally garner a hit of a meal whenever we eat something loaded with it; we’re programmed to.  We are also programmed to keep eating those fats.  This means any food item you eat that’s loaded with salt, sugar, and fat will have you coming back for more no matter what the hell it’s made out of.  If your food is really that good, you wouldn’t need to rely on the flavor enhancer.

Which brings me to the Avocado breakfast sandwich.  Also served in a brown eco-box it was:  An assembly of seasoned avocado, tofu scramble & coconut bacon on millet & flax bread. grilled with coconut butter.  It sounded tasty. I used to love bacon, egg, and cheese bagels, I’m from New Jersey, there is nothing finer than a quality made breakfast sandwich. . . but this one left me disappointed.  I kept trying to eat my gf’s bacon cheddar melt instead.  Not to mention it was messy as anything to eat.  It would appear that presentation does not seem to matter to the staff of Seed To Sprout.  It didn’t taste like anything but the coconut butter that was slathered on to that same, white-likep bread as the other sandwich.  The coconut bacon added insult to injury as all I tasted was coconut everywhere.  The tofu scramble tasted like nothing.  Like, actual nothing.  If the avocado was seasoned. . . I didn’t notice.  Maybe some nutritional yeast at best.  I wanted something to dip it in, ketchup, chipotle vegan mayo, anything!  Again, I found myself asking was this really worth $9.00?  Maybe if every single bite had me drooling and moaning with food porn like ecstasy, sure. . . . but it didn’t.  So good day sir, I will not be ordering you again.

taco salad ss

Taco Salad

Ah the Taco Salad.  There’s something we’ve all heard of!  The ingredients: Marinated kale & mixed greens tossed with apple cider vinaigrette. topped with red cabbage, sunflower taco meat, pico de gallo, avocado & cashew sour cream drizzle.  I was really intrigued by this “sunflower taco meat” which is part of the reason I ordered the salad.  It was good, I liked it. Served in a large eco-box, I ate the whole thing (well, shared it but you know what I mean).  It was filling and the flavors kept me going back for more forkfuls.  To be honest though, I wouldn’t order it again.  The taco meat is nothing but soaked sunflower seeds processed with some chili powder and of course, nutritional yeast. Again we find heavy fats here in the nuts, seeds, and avocado. Moreover, I got the taste a few times of improperly washed greens on certain leaves.  Eating dirty greens is extremely dangerous and exposes us to harmful microbes and bacteria.  If you break down the components of the sandwich to the size of the portion for each ingredient you are getting, one starts to wonder if you are truly getting your money’s worth.  The flavors were good, the bitterness of the kale was cut nicely – but then again when you drown Kale in fats, of course the bitterness is going to be cut.  It’s exactly what I do to my own kale salads at home with avocado.

raw pizza ss

Raw Pizza and Greens. I had a few bites at this point.

The Raw Pizza and Greens was the only Raw Vegan item I purchased that day.  A grab and go item available in a plastic container inside the small cooler in the front end, it was a dehydrated sunflower and zucchini crust topped with cashew cream & a daily selection of veggies.  This is not a whole pizza, this is a square slice.  Served with a small side of greens and a side cup of vegan ranch dressing.  I also got myself a side cup of Date Balsamic for the greens to try because both those words together sent my imagination reeling with excitement.  The dressings were good.  the ranch added a nice zing to my tongue where the date balsamic had a sweet and savory element to it.  The crust held up well, it was firm enough to hold the pizza slice and eat it like its cheesy counterpart.  The tomatoes on top were fresh and tasty, and it really did have the feel and taste of a margherita pizza.  I really enjoyed this one.  I do wish I would have been given some more to the greens with it to truly make it a meal.  Or maybe even a second slice. Vegan food, especially RAW vegan food, is just vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds in their uncooked state. This equals low calories despite large portion size. When you give me a slice of pizza that, in reality, is made of vegetables I start to question the caloric density and its nutritional satiety. . . not to mention the price of all that.  Again, the heavy fats come in to play with seeds in the crust and heavy cashew cream on top.  Ok, sure pizza involves “cheese”  but raw veganism involves fresh, whole foods, so pick your battles here.   I would have loved to see something raw that is a creative twist on pizza, not one that bogs down my colon with fat just to look and feel like the standard american version with two meager slices of tomato slapped on top.  I don’t eat raw vegan to eat standard american fare.

scone ss

Rosemary Fig Scone

cookie ss

Salted Cookie

maple crumb ss

Maple Crumb Cake

The Salted Chocolate chip cookie,  Rosemary Fig Scone, Maple Crumb Cake: I love cookies, so this oversized, vegan, chocolate chip cookie seemed right up my driveway.  Bursting with chocolate chips and I believe hemp seeds, it was soft and sweet.  I enjoyed this a lot.  I think it would be fantastic warmed up and it made a great sweet treat.  The Scone I got because it sounded different from most desserts I’m offered with its rosemary and fig base.  It was light, aromatic, hints of rosemary blended delicately with the bits of fig dotted throughout.  Also probably better warm, I did enjoy it but wish it would have had a little bit more oomph on its flavors.  Everything sort of felt like a background flavor leaving me with the scone bread as the primary source of taste, and it just tasted like bread.  Maybe served with some jam and a cup of tea it would have been a more complete and balanced set of flavors. The crumb cake was good too, but again lacking in flavor and scent.  The top of it, with all its maple crumbs, huge and tantalizing, look oh so irresistible but eating it was anticlimactic.  All the flavor was in the top leaving the bottom to be sort of flavorless and cakey.  I want my senses to be flooded in a dessert so that I can’t stop talking about it and then I proceed to make everyone I know eat it. . . that won’t be happening with this crumb cake(like the maple macaroons they sell; I sampled a small taste and oh dear heaven are they good, those you should eat).

The Grilled Avocado Sandwich: seasoned avocado on millet & flax bread. grilled with coconut butter.  Another sandwich, I had the same option to add a side of greens for $3.00 or  Add any of the following for .50¢  arugula • kimchi • tomato • sprouts- caramelized onion • coconut bacon.   Lets put things into perspective shall we?  This sandwich is literally a few slices of avocado seasoned with nutritional yeast on that same old coconut flax bread as every other sandwich. Did I mention the menu offers no alternatives to that bread for gluten free options or even whole wheat?  That’s it.  Nothing else. Just bread and avocado.  So I ordered it thinking I could save myself a little money by getting the cheaper sandwich.   Not so much because once I realized it was what my family calls a “wish” sandwich (when you wish there was something between the bread for you to eat) I had to go ahead and start tacking on fifty cent toppings.  I added kimchi (fermented foods = healthy gut flora/probiotics) tomato, caramelized onion (they Made the bacon cheddar melt) and coconut bacon.  This added another 2 dollars to my sandwich.  This was so not worth the effort.  It gets ordered a lot from what I can tell from other customers and I’m really not sure why.  I don’t think people understand their caloric needs, because if they did, they might realize they’re getting ripped off.  Not to mention, it was served all slapdash in a brown eco-box.

Seedsproutlentil

Red Lentil Soup

Lemon Pepper Red Lentil Soup Lentils and Arugula all soak together in this warm, hearty looking soup.  I’m a huge fan of lentil soup, I’ve grown up eating it from almost every restaurant I attend that serves it.  I have to tell you this one does not rank as a memorable lentil soup.  My first impression was this strange sweetness that dominated the entire soup.  The broth was thin and flavorless save for that weird sweetness I just couldn’t shake.  I even tried to cover it with salt, pepper, and eventually hot sauce, and still that out-of- place, sweet, flavor kept dominating.  The arugula tasted pretty good, I did enjoy that but the lentils themselves we’re under cooked!!!!  Did you know you can get food poisoning from under cooked beans?  I do. I once ate a cup of under cooked black beans (“eh, they’re soft enough”) and ended up very, very ill for the rest of the day (I’ll spare the details since we’re talking about food after all).  So let me tell you, after having spent money on what I was hoping would be a knock out of a lentil soup and getting under cooked lentils, all I can do is shake my head.

seed salad ss

The Seed Salad

Seed Salad: The ingredients- marinated kale & mixed greens topped with shredded carrots, beets, cabbage, sprouts, sunflower seeds, hemp seeds & raw sauerkraut.  I got the Date Balsamic again as a dressing as well.  This was an instant pick off the menu and I ate it with just as much enthusiasm.  It was delicious from start to finish and I enjoyed every last bite.  Great flavor, I loved the shredded beets and the crunchy slices of carrot. You would think raw sauerkraut would be weird, even a turn off, but when thrown over greens like that the two flavors compliment one another strikingly well. Very colorful and aesthetically pleasing upon opening the box.  I have to hand it to them, the salads are winning in terms of meal satiety and flavor.  But lets break down the salad in terms of nutrient density shall we?  You’re getting a few cups of kale marinated in nutritional yeast (1 cup raw kale = 33 calories), what looks like two tablespoons of hemp seed (3 table spoons hemp seed = 174 calories) less than half a cup sliced beets (1/2 cup raw sliced beets= 37 calories) the shavings of possibly a whole carrot (one medium carrot = 25 calories) less than a cup of cabbage (1 cup cabbage =22 cal) Two tablespoons of sunflower seeds (1 tablespoon= 51 calories) and less than a cup of sauerkraut (1 cup = 19 cal.)  So for 12 dollars on a menu deemed appropriate for adults in need of a proper lunch you’re getting 356 total calories give or take.  Now, thats great if you are a person who is looking to lose weight, especially when livestrong.com states, “the average woman should eat about 565 calories per meal, while the average man should eat about 735 calories per meal.”  But if you’re like me, someone who only eats fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds, its super important that all the food I eat be bursting with the right kind of calories so I don’t put stress on my body by making it think it’s starving or by bogging it down with vegan fat sources, too much fat is still too much fat.  The bulk of the calories here are coming from the fat of the sunflower seeds and topped off by a little protein punch that is hemp seed.

Pink Lemonade:lemon, apple, ginger, beet.  I adore pink lemonade, sweet and tart, a summer past time; who could resist such a tempting offer?  I have to admit, I drank the entire thing before I even thought to take a picture of it.  Five sweet apples dominate over the earthy beet and is made tart with lemon complimented by the spicy zing of ginger.  If you love tart lemonade like I do, then this one is an instant hit.  It really did taste like pink lemonade and I would be happy to order more.  I ordered the largest size but part of me wishes there was one even bigger than that.  Maybe in a “juice cleanse” size.

In summary,  Seed to Sprout appeared to be bursting with potential and left me kind of disappointed.  There’s lots of things that tasted fantastic, but never the entire dish.  Aspects of the dishes are great, but no one dish stands out as exceptional.  Often one or two elements of a dish would stand out, but there was always a little something lacking to really wow me.  Some of the dishes are a knock out with some of their flavors, but I’m reluctant to rejoice over food that depends so much on additives like nutritional yeast, salt, and oil.  Additionally, the menu feels a little uninspired. I guess you could call it American style with its wraps, salads and sandwiches but it feels a little dull.  Where are the fresh herbs? Where’s the bold and the daring culinary experience?  When I eat local, hand made, specialty fare I expect something unlike anything I’ve ever eaten before.

Honestly, there’s nothing on their menu that I wouldn’t feel capable of making myself; which is why I’m so disappointed.  It feels like the women who own and operate it are simply trying to cash in on the widespread popularity of veganism in neighborhoods where the clientele can afford what they believe to be healthier alternatives to convenience foods while hiring kids who probably aren’t familiar with vegan cooking.  The vibe of the place feels like the “love” referred to by the company is the love of money, not in providing a product that is healthy, cruelty free, appetizing, and sustainable for the planet.  The only time fruit appears on the menu is in smoothies and juices when it could be used to serve as a bright addition or base to any vegetable dish. The whole idea of eating a whole foods, plant based diet is to let the amazing flavors of the natural foods shine on a clean palette.  You know, food the way nature intended.  If the food was truly made with love why rely on fats and flavor enhancers to please the mouth??   There are a million ways to make fruit an entree, just ask any (raw) vegan.  They are your customer focus after all.  Maybe you should know something about what they eat.

Veganism is all about healthy living, compassion, and sustainability and this feels phony to me.  After 15 years of hunting down vegan food in the Garden State, I can honestly say this one is all smoke and mirrors with none of the core values of veganism present in any aspect of the business.  Serving organic, meat- less food under the name Vegan does not embody the spirit of veganism nor does it quantify the fare as healthy.  I can eat a loaf of white bread, eat five tablespoons of coconut oil straight out of the jar and wash it down with soda and still call myself vegan, you know?

Pride and Proud.

As you may know, yesterday was a landmark day in history for the gay rights movement.  As a gender-queer, equal opportunity lover type of identified individual it made me have all sorts of thoughts and feelings.

It made me think of Pride.  yes, it is Pride month but I’m also talking pride in the sense of its literal definition which is, “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements, the achievements of those with whom one is closely associated, or from qualities or possessions that are widely admired.”

I’m beyond happy to know that a child born today will grow up knowing its perfectly normal for anyone to marry anyone no matter their skin color or their biological sex. Will grow up in a culture thats more tolerant than the one I grew up in.  I can’t really explain the sense of relief that comes with it.  And I know its bitter sweet because, naturally, there has been backlash, even by my own State Governor, Chris Christie.  I wanted to celebrate in the Village and dance in the streets, I wanted to kiss my girlfriend in a public display in defiance of hate.

You can disagree, you can dislike it, but homophobic hatred will no longer dictate my freedom to marry. My freedom to love and express it freely.  It’s no longer “Gay Marriage” its just plain old Marriage.

I thought of Emmet Honeycutt, from Queer as Folk:

because throughout the show his character reminded us all that some of us can’t hide our sexuality even if we want to.  I didn’t really figure out the scope of my sexuality or come out til I was into my twenties, I was so homophobic I didnt go near a woman til college – but it didnt stop people from calling me homophobic names in elementary and high school .  And when I did come out, everyone was like, “yea, we already knew.”  But I didnt. (and that’s so not supportive a thing to say btw)  Being in that position isnt easy; its like wearing a big neon sign that says QUEER and you can’t turn it off no matter how hard you try.  In my mind there was nothing remotely gay about me, I made sure to do and say all the right things, to dress the right way, to not touch or look at women so people wouldnt think I was gay. I basically put myself through emotional turmoil so people wouldn’t treat me badly . .but it didnt stop the hate. It didnt stop the discrimination. It didnt stop the harrassment.

I looked the part and that was enough.

I want to have pride in my country – I want to celebrate this landmark decision. I want to. . . .I want to relish in the relief I feel in knowing the cultural climate has changed and no matter how hard you hate me. .  . .your hate will no longer dictate the inner workings of my private life.  And thats when things hit me. . . . I try to have pride in my country, maybe nationalism is just a human beings way of trying to satiate our innate need for socialization and community because, really, we are all part of the same species so nationalism isnt really. . .real. but I digress. . . . .

Its hard to be proud when you live in a place that hates you on principle.  That hates you just for opening your eyes in the morning and being you. That has to fight amongst itself just to prove that all the people of WE THE PEOPLE are actually worthy of being treated with equal respect and protection.   We are individuals with heart beats and bruises from fighting this uphill battle.  As a disclaimer I will admit that Yes, I have white privilege and I’m sure its gotten me plenty that I haven’t even realized because thats how privilege works.  But its still shitty to be a second class citizen in your own country for any reason.  To be told to have pride and faith to god and country yet they told me my entire natural life that both god and my coutnry thought I was a piece of shit. A disgusting, sick, perverted,freak.  And if not that then at best a lesbian sexual fantasy for homophobic straight men where my sexuality isnt even significant enough to warrant consideration.

America is supposed to be the child of the globe yet we retain none of the innocence.  We’re hostile, aggressive, egotistical, megalomaniacal, oppressive and discriminatory.  So if England is our parent, then they must have abused the shit out of us to create such a monstrous child.  Maybe it’s just the ruling class that is monstrous and those of us still embodying the true spirit of America are being silenced.  I don’t feel like my country represents me.  I’m a god damn American, I had no choice in the matter of my birthplace but this is home.  Nationalism has us feeling as though our country is something of a parent.  .. and like all children, you want your parent to look at your with admiration and pride. Now imagine how it feels to have that parent look at you with contempt, to punish you for being who you are, who makes rules specifically to prohibit your freedom of expression. . . .it’s enough to make you wonder what you did wrong to deserve the pain and tears.

How am I supposed to call this place home and honor it as such when so little of who I am is reflected in this country and its behaviors?  How am I supposed to be free when I’ve spent too much time craning my neck in paranoia in case someone sees me holding my girlfriends hand?

 We the people Are individual people. I have pride in the GLBTQ community and its allies. I have pride that we didn’t back down starting with Stonewall. That we had the courage to be us more loudly every year until yesterday finally validated that we have been heard.  It’s makes having lived through such shit mean something. It makes it worth something.

I fought for this;  every single one of us who got called faggot and dyke and lord knows what else, every single one of us who showed our pride in the No H8 campaign, all of us who marched, who got bashed and still kept loving, who fought and said domestic partnership isn’t the same, to all those who refused to settle for anything less than full and equal protection under the law,. . . .to my uncles who couldnt even get a drink at a bar without catching a beating during the era of Stonewall. . we are all a part of this together.

i am so grateful the future generations will not have to know this feeling.  Sure people will talk shit and say homophobic things about marriage equality, but whats done is done. That kid is going to grow up in a place where its normal. Im sure theres plenty of people who still disagree with inter racial marriage, but hate all you want there aint shit you can do about it now.

I passed a car on the Parkway today bearing the stickers of both my Alma Mater and my Fraternity (technically its a sorority but the organization is so old, it existed before the word sorority, so we stick to calling it a fraternity. . . . the more you know).  I was a founding sister of that chapter on my campus nearly 10 years ago. I worked with twelve women to bring about a change we all envisioned together.  I signed a charter that will bear my name for as long as the organization exists on that campus. . . .a charter the woman I passed on the parkway has probably seen, revered, and studied.  I can not tell you the amount of pride that swells in my heart at the sight of such a thing.  To truly understand that my actions ten years ago directly influenced the life of this random ass chick on the parkway.  She doesnt know me personally, and maybe she never will. . . but because of me and the efforts of people who wanted to make a change. . . we are connected. I have changed the course of history and imprinted upon it my name.  I am one twelfth of the reason she gets to bear those letters on her car and I could not be more proud.  It’s the kind of pride that makes tears come to your eyes. To know you did something, you brought something good into the world and it flourished. It’s like seeing my baby grow and thrive. . . and staring at in utter disbelief that I had a hand in raising something that has become so profound and meaningful to countless women for an indefinite length of time.  God damn I may be poor but I have lived a life rife with accomplishment and mark my words, I am rich beyond what any material scope will ever measure.

 Strive toward that which you know is right and good in your heart because it will bring an abundance throughout your entire lifetime..

One person really can change the world.

Why your acne can actually be healed with diet (and why you are not a victim of your genetics)

Why your acne can actually be healed with diet (and why you are not a victim of your genetics)

So lets discuss why the only ignorance involved here is the one that argues genetics causes acne.  First and foremost, epigenetics tells us that one’s health destiny can be altered by lifestyle choices and diet. Sure, you may be more prone to it a a result of genetic factors, but just like cancer, those genes can be silenced and switched off in favor of more healthful genetic processes with a few changes to lifestyle.  No, drinking water alone isnt going to get rid of your pimples, especially when you just had pasta, pizza, and ice cream for dinner.  Eating a few veggies along with the wheat, meat and dairy isnt going to help you either.

Do you know what causes your pimples?  Because if you say genetics and hormones…youre not entirely right. Do you smoke? Do you sleep? Do you eat enough of the right foods?  The food you eat affects your hormones.  Processed foods, its BPA lined packaging, dyes, preservatives, GMO’s, pesticides; all things those found in the Western world, cause hormonal imbalances, and a slew of other bodily reactions and cause the skin to react.  your body is trying to tell you things, but more on that later.

Facingacne.com says, “ When the skin breaks out in pimples, it is responding to stress by releasing inflammation. Nerve endings in the skin sense “stress” (which can be something like rubbing alcohol on the skin, or something more general like studying for final exams). Theobromine blocks a chemical called adenosine that turns off the stress receptors in the skin, so they churn out more of the inflammatory chemicals that make the skin break out.”

One example of a food disrupting the hormonal cycle and causing acne is the dairy based product Whey:

Whey

Whey is a byproduct of making cheese, the liquid that is left when milk has been curdled and strain. It’s a common source of protein. It can help stimulate the immune system. In fact, it stimulates the immune system so much that it in some people can cause acne.

The Nestlé company, maker of a variety of powdered milk and canned milk products, sponsored a report finding that whey is “insulinogenic.” That is, whey increases sensitivity to insulin in the skin. This makes follicles grow tighter, trapping sebum inside, and also increases the production of sebum inside the skin.

The insulinogenic properties of whey encourage the formation of blackheads and whiteheads. The immunostimulant properties of whey encourage the formation of pimples.

If you have acne, you should avoid whey. Don’t use whey-based bodybuilding supplements (pea and rice protein are fine), and don’t drink Nestlé’s Quick. Cutting back on milk may also help if you have active acne breakouts.

Moreover, eggs and other cooked proteins also cause imbalamces.

Additionally, the site goes on to mention vegetables and their role:

Vegetables

Scientific researchers have found some surprises regarding vegetables and acne. Norwegian researchers have found that eating raw (or pickled) vegetables does more to protect against acne than avoiding fat.Norwegian teens who don’t eat salads or pickles tend to have more acne.

Dutch researchers, on the other hand, have found that cooked carrots and tomatoes, especially if they are served with olive oil, butter, or margarine, tend to increase sebum production, making the skin oilier, especially in teenaged males. Teenaged males still need to eat their salads, but they may have a good excuse for skipping the cooked carrots and stewed tomatoes.

Perhaps this is a good reason to include more raw, whole plant foods into your diet, yes?

Lets discuss epigenetics a moment – what is it?

According to Dr. Jeff Lecovin, “Epigenetics is the study of heritable (inherited from our parents, grandparents etc) changes in genes or cells caused by mechanisms other than changes to your DNA.Examples of such changes are DNA methylation and histone modification, which are processes that regulate gene expression without altering the underlying DNA sequence.DNA is the basic units of genetic information that combines together to produce instructions for the cells of the body to produce proteins (molecules that perform biological functions).Many people think the genes they inherited at birth are static and predetermine their fate for the remainder of their life.Ongoing research into the science of epigenetics is providing exciting evidence that one’s genetics are not set in stone, and our individual DNA is dynamic and continually influenced by multiple lifestyle factors including diet, environment, stress and physical activity.Epigenetic modifications involve the addition or deletion of chemical markers on the DNA strand that can or be influenced by nutrition, environmental chemicals, exercise intensity and even one’s thoughts.The research is promising and has shown that nutrition can most definitely modify the expression of critical genes associated with physiologic and pathologic processes, including growth and development, aging, and even cancer.It appears that nutrients can influence epigenetic phenomena either by directly inhibiting or altering enzyme reactions involved in DNA metabolism.In this regard, nutritional epigenetics has been viewed as an attractive tool to prevent developmental diseases and cancer as well as delay aging and degenerative associated processes.”

Now for some research!

In December of 2002,  Loren Cordain, PhD; Staffan Lindeberg, MD, PhD; Magdalena Hurtado, PhD; Kim Hill, PhD; S. Boyd Eaton, MD; Jennie Brand-Miller, PhD conducted a study on Acne   They found:

Background  In westernized societies, acne vulgaris is a nearly universal skin disease afflicting 79% to 95% of the adolescent population. In men and women older than 25 years, 40% to 54% have some degree of facial acne, and clinical facial acne persists into middle age in 12% of women and 3% of men. Epidemiological evidence suggests that acne incidence rates are considerably lower in nonwesternized societies. Herein we report the prevalence of acne in 2 nonwesternized populations: the Kitavan Islanders of Papua New Guinea and the Aché hunter-gatherers of Paraguay. Additionally, we analyze how elements in nonwesternized environments may influence the development of acne.

Observations  Of 1200 Kitavan subjects examined (including 300 aged 15-25 years), no case of acne (grade 1 with multiple comedones or grades 2-4) was observed. Of 115 Aché subjects examined (including 15 aged 15-25 years) over 843 days, no case of active acne (grades 1-4) was observed.

ConclusionsThe astonishing difference in acne incidence rates between nonwesternized and fully modernized societies cannot be solely attributed to genetic differences among populations but likely results from differing environmental factors. Identification of these factors may be useful in the treatment of acne in Western populations.

Now lets talk about Ayurveda.  Ayurveda is,”the traditional Hindu system of medicine, which is based on the idea of balance in bodily systems and uses diet, herbal treatment, and yogic breathing.”  It believs that the body develops acne and other ailments in response to speficic triggers and factors.  This here is the Acne Map and gives insight to whats happening below skins’ surface.

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1 & 2: Digestive System — Eat less processed or junk food, reduce the amount of fat in your diet, step up water intake and opt for cooling things like cucumbers.

3: Liver — Cut out the alcohol, greasy food and dairy. This is the zone where food allergies also show up first, so take a look at your ingredients. Besides all this, do 30 minutes of light exercise every day and get adequate sleep so your liver can rest.

4 & 5: Kidneys — Anything around the eyes (including dark circles) point to dehydration. Drink up!

6: Heart — Check your blood pressure (mine was slightly high) and Vitamin B levels. Decrease the intake of spicy or pungent food, cut down on meat and get more fresh air. Besides this, look into ways to lower cholesterol, like replacing “bad fats” with “good fats” such as Omegas 3 and 6 found in nuts, avocados, fish and flax seed. Also, since this area is chock-full of dilated pores, check that your makeup is not past its expiry date or is skin-clogging.

7 & 8: Kidneys — Again, drink up! And cut down on aerated drinks, coffee and alcohol as these will cause further dehydration.

Zone 9 & 10: Respiratory system — Do you smoke? Have allergies? This is your problem area for both. If neither of these is the issue, don’t let your body overheat, eat more cooling foods, cut down on sugar and get more fresh air. Also keep the body more alkaline by avoiding foods that make the body acidic (meat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, sugar) and adding more alkalizing foods like green veggies and wheatgrass juice. Another thing that most of forget – dirty cell phones and pillow cases are two of the top acne culprits and this area is what they affect the most!

Zone 11 & 12: Hormones — This is the signature zone for stress and hormonal changes. And while both are sometimes unavoidable, you can decrease their effect by getting adequate sleep, drinking enough water, eating leafy veggies and keeping skin scrupulously clean. Another interesting point: breakouts in this area indicate when you are ovulating (and on which side).

Zone 13: Stomach — Step up the fibre intake, reduce the toxin overload and drink herbal teas to help with digestion.

14: Illness — Zits here can be a sign that your body is fighting bacteria to avoid illness. Give it a break, take a yoga class, take a nap, take time to breathe deeply, drink plenty of water and know that everything always works out!

So, the next time you break out or notice dark under-eye circles, look to your face map: your skin is probably trying to communicate on behalf of the internal organs. 

So enough with this victimhood of ones genetics, you have more control than you think.  Yes, something will work you just have to be willing to do the work and not eat that which casues your body to lose all sense of health.

Clean body, clean mind, clear skin.

Final Thoughts.

welly welly well. . .  .

It’s the end of the project, albeit a later end than initially projected . . it is still an end.  I’m glad I participated in this project for National Poetry Month.  To be honest, when I signed up I didn’t fully grasp what I’d even signed up for, but it sounded like it was something fun with writing, so here I am.

Ultimately, I produced a bunch of prose that will be turned into a poem blackout style.  Knowing me I’ll continue to work it and refine it.  I’ll try to encompass the total sense of what I’ve got.  But as I’m thinking I’m glad to have had the chance to look at the work in a totally new light.  The No Medium prompt- I like being challenged, and to see things through other people’s views to take my art to places where it might not have gone otherwise.

Overall, I think this was a great idea and I’m sure it was no small task to organize. . . so here is me applauding you good people of Lamplighter for creating such a fun experience.  Its also an awesome  plus that you too are based in NJ.

The best part of the project was the challenge it presented.  I’m usually motivated best by challenges and competitions, so this gave me something to strive for.  I liked seeing how other people interpreted questions.

The most difficult part would be boiling it all down to mean something.  Taking this enormity of thought and editing it neatly into one poem.  What essence do I want to take with me? What do I want the reader to gain from the experience I had with my illustration?  I spent an entire month with one picture; we’re sort of friends now.  Intimate.  We have seen each other, been close, been far, but perhaps always on one another’s mind.  No, fuck that you know what the most difficult part of it all is?  Being honest. Being vulnerable. Being willing to float on out there like my buddy the spaceman and let people fucking see you. see me. to not defer to the second tense when what one really means, is “I”. . .

oh this is guna be fun.

Poem Scrap #2

Here’s a 3 year old bit of poetry, I feel like I’ve grown so much since then. 

precious metal heaven sent

zeus lightning fall to bend

rods and cones

sexual undertones

deviations

condemnation

it is but recreation

the way we play

station

battles fought and lost

all too often

once before