Food for Thought

Before I begin, I would like to note that I am not here to pass any judgments on people or to force my opinions down anyone’s throat. With that in mind, onward. There are three topics that will surely ignite the sass in me. As you can probably guess, one is people telling me how I’m supposed to behave or look (refer to any one of my pixie cut posts). The second of the three is the food industry. We, as humans, have become all too comfortable in our ignorance. We’ve accepted the information spoon fed to us by major corporations without giving it a second thought. And guess what, the food industry LOVES the ignorance. They endorse it with propaganda and smiling faces that assault us every time we turn on the TV. The food industry is like the North Korean government and we are its loyal subjects. But do you even know what you’re accepting every time you buy the things on your shopping list: a gallon of milk, a pound of beef, a dozen eggs, a box of cereal? Lemme drop some knowledge on you. But first, some background.

I was born and raised in the great dairy state of Wisconsin. Beer battered cheese curds, Friday night fish fry, beefy burgers were things I grew up on. They are part of my culture. Growing up, I never questioned where the food on my dinner table was coming from. Where I grew up, I was surrounded by fields and farms. The biggest club at my school was the FFA. My dad was raised on a pig farm. So you can imagine the shock when I told my family I decided to become a vegetarian nine months ago. Trust me, it wasn’t a decision I took lightly. I had been toying with the idea for a long time (we’re talking years), but I was never brave enough to start the journey. If I’m being honest, there was one defining moment that helped me make my decision. Over the summer, I went to a picnic with my family. I naturally assumed there would be some sort of barbeque sandwiches or something like that, but I had no idea that I would see an entire pig roasting on a spit; eyes, ears, tail, and all. The pig’s dead eyes stared at me the entire time its body was being carved up. That’s when I started questioning when the disconnect between the animal and the table stemmed from. Of course I knew that a pulled pork sandwich came from a pig somewhere in the world, but seeing it carved really opened my eyes. My decision to change my lifestyle was made at that very moment.

If we’re being technical, I consider myself a lacto-ovo vegetarian, so I still eat dairy and eggs. Ideally, I would love to become vegan, but I haven’t quite gotten there yet. I choose vegan alternatives when the option is there, but I’m not entirely committed to it yet. I’m also a vegetarian on my own terms. By that, I mean I will only eat meat if I kill and process the animal myself. I cannot even fathom killing anything, so I have no intention of eating meat again. This facet of my vegetarian lifestyle brings me to my topic of sass.

I recently read a blog (link below) about dairy farming that ignited the sass. The blog featured statements like, “Farmers treat our cows like family,” “98% of farms are family farms,” and “we all know that even saying PETA is like spitting out poison.” Remember, I still eat dairy, so I’m not about to knock dairy farms. But dairy farms are directly linked to the meat industry, which lead me to some questions about these statements. Farmers treat cows like family… That doesn’t really make any sense to me. “Shoot, looks like your cousin didn’t do the chores he was supposed to. Time to put him in the crockpot for dinner.” That’s not cool. PSA: Please don’t eat your family. As far as the second statement goes, I have no doubt that the number is totally accurate. But what I want to know is this: what percentage of those family farms sellout to major corporations like Dean Foods (who continues to fight Prop. 37: our right to know if our foods are containing genetically modified organisms, GMOs)? And once the dairy cow has outlived its usefulness and is shipped out to a meat processing facility, what percentage goes to Tyson, Cargill, Swift & Co., or the National Beef Packing Co.? These four companies alone control 83.5% of the market (this statistic and more found here). Yes, the farms are family owned, but in the end, it comes down to the major corporations that run the system. What I’m getting at is that politics and greed have taken over the food industry. Now, that’s not to say it’s the farmer’s fault, because it’s not. Farmers are at just as much of a disadvantage as the consumer is. These major corporations that run the industry have both the farmers and the consumers under their thumb. The corporations made the system to their advantage, trapping farmers into working with them or losing their livelihoods. So my choice to become a vegetarian was not made to stop supporting farmers, but rather to stop supporting corporate greed. I’ll continue to support farmers through buying my produce from farmer’s markets and other honest avenues.

And then there’s the PETA statement. PETA’s mission is pretty intense and they go about it in an intense way (with some extremely radical supporters), so I’m not at all surprised that there are critics of their ways. I don’t agree with everything PETA does, but I do agree with their foundations, particularly this part of PETA’s missions statement, “PETA focuses its attention on the four areas in which the largest numbers of animals suffer the most intensely for the longest periods of time: on factory farms, in the clothing trade, in laboratories, and in the entertainment industry.” So family farmers need not get all hot and bothered about PETA unless they are operating under the fundamentals of a factory farm. If you claim to treat your animals like family, then don’t you essentially have the same fundamental beliefs as PETA?

The last thing that struck me about this blog was a quote from a very astute kid who believed milk was made by men. Sure, the kid is technically wrong on a surface level, but he’s not entirely wrong. Here’s the thing… The amount of milk a cow is expected to produce these days is not natural. Factor in antibiotics, hormones, and the process of artificial insemination, then try to tell me that milk isn’t made by man through imposition and administration. Don’t stop believing, kid, because you’re on to something.

I’m not PETA. I’m not hating on farmers. I’m not trying to tell you how to live your life. I’m just curious. I’ve got questions that I’m exploring. I don’t expect you to give up meat just because I did. Sure, it would be rad if I sparked some curiosity or questions, but I don’t expect anything. If you are curious about where your food is coming from, check out some of these rad resources: Food Inc. (documentary; or if you’re crunched for time and want to go straight for to facts, this article would do the trick), Vegucated (documentary for anyone who is thinking about being a vegan or has questions about vegan lifestyles), Forks Over Knives (documentary), Facts About GMOs, or Yes on Prop 37 (for those of you who would like to know/fight for the right to know about products containing GMOs). All that being said, there are two sides to every story, so I encourage you to check out the blog I was referencing throughout the post, Crown & Cows. You can find other references about dairy farming within. Develop your own point of view. I’d love to hear it as I continue to grow and develop mine!

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Long Absence Explained

Okay, so I haven’t written in… well, an obscenely long time. BUT, I have a perfectly reasonable explanation for my absence. Here’s what went down…

Last time I wrote, I was hanging out with my BFF, BuzzFeed, at Procrastination Station. We were having a grand time, taking personality quizzes, BuzzFeed dictating my life choices, explaining to me why it is totally acceptable for me to change my relationship status to “In a relationship with Pizza…” We spent September in blissful ignorance of the academic world around us. Then, sometime in October, it happened.

In the middle of a seemingly successful procrastination session with BuzzFeed, the evil Doctor Academia, also known as English major Capstone, kidnapped me and threw me back onto the Struggle Bus and locked the doors. While on the dreaded Struggle Bus, Doctor Academia trapped me in a stack of papers and books and said with a sinister smile, “You, Molly, will NEVER see your beloved social life again if you don’t write a 20+ page academic article on Jane Eyre.” My pride would not let me give in to Doctor Academia. But it didn’t take long to break me down with various threats of mediocrity and a cardboard box for a house. All through the months of October, November, and December, Doctor Academia brainwashed me, allowing me to think of Jane Eyre and only Jane Eyre. I swear, I almost started to believe I was Jane Eyre for a while! I could fight no longer. I wrote the paper Doctor Academia was demanding, for the sake of self-preservation. The moment I hit the submit button and sent my paper away, my bookish cell crumbled and a white light greeted me. I stepped off the Struggle Bus and into a new, but vaguely familiar world. The Land of Winter Break.

I spent my first week in this magical land tormented by my troubled past with Doctor Academia. I began to wonder if Doctor Academia was evil after all, or if he was just trying to prove a point. Then I decided to take an existential journey to a new land. This new land that I ventured to is called Belize. I discovered that Belize was the land of the Stress-Free people. I spent two weeks with these people, learning their ways. Upon my return to the Land of Winter Break, I spent another week embracing the ways of the Stress-Free people, relaxing, enjoying the company of my family, and slowly I forgot about Doctor Academia. Then, on Monday, January 19th, there was a knock on the door. There stood Doctor Academia. “We’re not finished yet,” he said. Without question, I gathered my laundry, packed up my car, bid my dear puppy farewell, and drove to Doctor Academia’s lair. Carroll University.

And that brings us to now. I am now on my second day of the spring semester. This will be the last semester (hopefully) that I am in Doctor Academia’s grasp. Come May, he will be handing me a diploma and sending me out into the world.

With this new semester, I am hoping Doctor Academia will allow me to keep up a presence here, more so than last semester. With that in mind, I have several new ideas and topics to talk about. So stick with me.

The Nerd Girl Chronicles: Buzzfeed Quizzes Know My Life

If you don’t know what BuzzFeed is, you, my friend, have clearly never ridden the Struggle Bus to Procrastination Station. Once you’ve arrived at Procrastination Station, you have a 2-hour layover where BuzzFeed provides companionship. You never want to leave Procrastination Station. Anyway, I’ve been chilling in Procrastination Station for several weeks now and BuzzFeed has been my constant companion. We have a really deep and meaningful relationship. So much so that BuzzFeed knows my life and is constantly guiding me through their delightful and knowledgeable quizzes. You don’t believe me? Well, let’s just go through a few quiz results.

This morning I took the “Which Female Movie Stereotype Are You?” quiz. I was not disappointed with the results. I am a sassy black woman. “You’re the go-to-girl for advice, and you always tell the truth, with a heaping side of sass. *sassy finger clicks*” How do you know my life, BuzzFeed?? Seriously.

BuzzFeed quizzes also force me to look at my dark side. In the “Which Harry Potter Villian Are You?” quiz, I was deemed Rita Skeeter. “There’s nothing better than going to Sunday brunch with your friends and sharing all the juicy gossip. You’re the reporter all celebs fear, but at least you aren’t Umbridge level of evil.” What can I say? I enjoy a bit of gossip once in a while and I like to write (though I tend not to write about gossip).

When attempting to discover “How Cripplingly English” I am, BuzzFeed read right through my nationality envy and told it like it is. “Not very English at all. In fact, you’re so happy and care so little about what people think of you that you’re probably American. Hopefully you’ve forgiven us for all that 1776 nonsense. Tell us, what is it like to be happy?” Well, I was hoping to affirm my belief that I was mistakenly born into the wrong nationality, but I guess I needed a dose of dream crushing reality. The tragic thing is that the description is spot on…

The real test of BuzzFeed’s accuracy takes place within the next 24 hours. My interest was piqued when I saw a quiz titled: “When Will You Find True Love?” Obviously, I had to take it because, well, BuzzFeed has rarely lead me astray. My result was startling: “Within the next 24 hours! It’s been a long time coming but all you need to wait is at most 24 hours more and true love is yours!!!! CONGRATS! This is such an exciting time in your life. Make sure to record it all on video. And tell your grandma to get off your back because it’s all happening so fast.” Who could it be?? That guy in the coffee shop? The guy who saw me trip on the sidewalk this morning? Someone in one of my classes? The madness! My next post might very well be about how smitten I am with the love of my life. Or (more likely) about my broken heart and the nasty break up that BuzzFeed and I just went through because of a horrendous lie.

 

The Greatest Romance You’ll Ever Have

If The Notebook, P.S. I Love You, or any One Direction or Taylor Swift lyrics come to mind when reading the title of this post, my advise to you is to get help immediately. During my long absence (sorry about that…), I’ve been struggling with this whole ‘romance’ thing. What’s new? I find myself going through PMS like phases of “My God, I’m going to be alone forever because I’m a troll” and “Please, romance is for gullible schmucks and I don’t have time for that nonsense because I’m too busy being awesome.” Right now, I am on the latter after swallowing a bitter friendzone pill.

Speaking of that bitterness, while I was in the midst of my newest lack-of-romance-in-my-life angst, I was told the usual thing. “Oh, you just have to stop looking.” Thanks, that must be so easy for someone who has been in long term relationships their entire teen and adult life. “Someone will sweep you off your feet one day.” One day?? ONE DAY??? Well news flash, I’m 21 years old and have roughly 28854 days left of my life. And then as the days went on, I forgot about that number. I forgot about my angst, my bitterness, my lack of a love life, my self-pity. Until today. That number popped back into my head today as I read my horoscope (don’t judge me) for the week. According to Cosmic Candy, the greatest romance I’ll ever have is with my life. Suddenly that number was put in a new perspective. It wasn’t that at some point within that number I’m going to find the love of my life, but rather that the number was how much time I have left with the love of my life. The love of my life is MY LIFE. Seriously, the amount of time I have wasted believing that I am missing out on something vital that a romance brings is ridiculous. So no more. No more worrying about when I’m going to be with someone or find a guy or dreaming of getting swept off my feet by a prince. There’s just no time for that kind of preoccupation! While that number is ticking down day by day, I’m the only one that can make those days worthwhile. And I’ve got some brilliant friends and a marvelous family to spend those days with. I wouldn’t want it any other way. I’m still the luckiest girl in the world. And I don’t need a guy to know that. Mark this as a new phase: “In love with life.”

Mes Aventures en France: La Band-Son de Paris

My Adventures in France: The Soundtrack of Paris. Do you ever wish that your life had a constant musical number or soundtrack that follows you through the events in your day? If so, find your way to Paris and let this incredible city open your ears to the soundtrack of life. I’ve been in Paris for three days now and in those days, so many adventures ensued, all of which I am about to recount for you in this post.

So, I woke up on May 13th fully prepared to travel. Comfy clothes for the 8+ hour flight? Check. Luggage packed? Check. Anxiety steadily escalating? Unfortunate check. Honestly? Umtil this trip, I had never flown on an airplane… or flown on anything, really. But much to my surprise,  there is nothing to flying. Not scary at all. I think watching a borderline unhealthy amount of ‘Lost’ had left me woth a chemical imbalance in my umtravelled brain. The first flight from Milwaukee to Minneapolis was fine, short, sweet, and to the point. The flight from Minneapolis to Paris, however, was a long ride. As a middle seat of the middle section rider, sleeping was impossible. This posed a problem for the day to come.

We arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris at around 8:30AM. From there, we took a long shuttle ride to le Fondation des Etats-Umis, our place of residence on the Cité Universite campus. Upon first glance (and every glance since), our rooms are classified as… quaint. Nothing more, nothing less. The state of the room I am in means little to me as I don’t plan to spend much time in there.

The first day was entirely exhausting. With little to no sleep on the plane and moving into a full day in France with no nap was a little slice of hell. We were told to avoid napping in order to avoid jetlag and get on french time right away. Looking at it now, that was a good call, but at the time, I was quite tempestuous about the whole thing. So, after we unpacked and freshened up a bit, our Accent leader, Jim, showed us around the neighborhood. We went to a bakery, a grocery store, and were given a general overview of the area. After that, we were on our own to do as we pleased. The first thing we did as a large group was go to the bakery and get lunch and then go to the park across the street to enjoy it. After that, we wandered around the city as a large group and took our first ride on the Métro. That was quite the adventure in itself! From there we walked to the Eiffel Tower and took pictures there (which I will insert into this post the moment I am back on my computer). We just mucked about after that, got lost for quite sometime, and then returned to the FEU where I went to bed at 8:30PM and slept for 12 blissful hours.

There are some things I noticed upon first arrival that have struck me. One is the lack of smoking regulations. So many people here mainline cigarettes, it’s ridiculous! I can already feel the second hand smoke tar settling into my lungs. The second thing I noticed immediately was how the men here smell. Don’t think I’m being weird, walking around and sniffing guys, because that is not how I came to discover that the men wear a very potent and pungent amount of cologne. Even just walking by, my nose gets assulted by it! I have not decided whether or not I like it (especially when I know that it’s because of a different hygiene culture… ahem… too few showers…).

On to day two in Paris… The second day was incredible. We began our day with an orientation to Accent, the program we’re travelling with. This was a power information session that covered all things safety and policy related. Once we finished that two hour session, we had an official lesson on how to use the Métro. This lesson was followed by a quick lunch (I had a fantastic vegetarian bagel) and a stroll through le Jardin de Luxembourg (Luxembourg Gardens). What’s so special about these gardens, you might ask. Well, let me educate you. These gardens are home to the palace of Catherine de Médicis. BUT, moreover, this is the park that Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald walked through to get from their apartments to the cafés across the way. I walked on the same ground as these two literary gods! Le sigh! It was magical. And how fitting that I also saw a man in a tweed jacked and smoking a wooden pipe there too. While at the gardens, I also enjoyed some passion fruit sorbet, which was, of course, delightful. From there, Madame Fossier lead us on a walking tour of le quartier Latin (the Latin Quarter) and le quartier de Saint Germain, both of which are very high emd amd ritzy. As we made our way through Paris, we were met by la Seine river where we took a boat tour and saw a lot of major sights that line the river, including le Musée d’Orssay, le Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, the Liberty Flame, and a bunch of incredible and culturally significant bridges.

After we had the boat tour, we had the rest of the day to ourselves. Our large group broke off as several people returned to the FEU before adventuring. Four of us, however, remained in the city (myself being one of the four… as if that wasn’t already obvious…). On our adventures, we walked and métro-ed all over Paris; from Notre-Dame de Paris to sneeking a peek at the garden and pyramid at le Louvre. Somewhere along the way, we stopped on a bridge where there was a street musician playing and singing “Hallelujah”. That is the moment I fell in love with Paris, when I first realized the existence of the soundtrack to the city. Sitting on the cobblestone street listening to that musician was exactly what I imagined Paris to be. Even as we walked away, his songs carried until we reached an accordion player who added to the soundtrack of Paris. We ate at a pizza place that night amd waited for the sun to set to see the Eiffel Tower at night. It was an incredible sight. There are two Paris’ you have to see when you’re here: Paris in the daylight and Paris at night. They are two completely different places but equal in majesty. Paris at night can be a bit dodgy, for example, while sitting in the grass observing the Eiffel Tower, we were approached by some fellows who offered us bottles of wine, hash, crack, and injections. Like I said, dodgy. But aside from the sketchy bits, there are some incredible sights to see at night that overshadow any negative bit.

I know I am very late in posting, but you’ll have to forgive me. I am always extremely exhausted at the end of the day, so this post has been several days in the making (because the moment I start typing, my eyelids start drooping). So, you’ve got the first two days here. Enjoy reading those while I sleep now and then begin the post about days three through five. Also, please excuse any typos. Writing this novel was not easy on a little tablet… Well, what are we waiting for…? Allons-Y!

Mes Aventures en France: Douze Heures Avant le Départ

My Adventures in France: Twelve hours before departure… Let’s just talk about the events that transpired in the last 12 hours.

1) Adventured all around Madison to get my US dollars transfered into Euros. Euros are strange. It feels more like monopoly money than real money (which is exceptionally ironic seeing as Euros are worth more than the bills I label as ‘real money’).

2) Packing (part one). Seriously, can I not do anything in advance? Of all my vices, procrastination is the one that rears it’s ugly head most often… Anyway, since I had been wise enough to do my laundry the night before, all I had to do was cram it all in a suitcase and I’d be good to go, right? Wrong. Oh so wrong… My first attempt at packing left my suitcase 12lbs over the 50lbs weight limit. The thing was, the entire time I was rolling up clothes, a small yet convincing voice in the back of my mind explained why I absolutely, without question, needed everything. To the dress, “Well, what if some blood relative of ancient French royalty invites me to a lavish gala?” To the shoes, “You know full well that you need both brown AND black flats. Both brown AND black sandals. Matching is essential. Not to mention shower sandals, tennis shoes, and maybe even your Wellies (in case of rain, obviously).”To the make-up (which weighs a surprising amount, I’ll have you know), “What if you run out of your first, second, and third mascara? Then what?? Don’t forget primer and two shades of foundation!” That voice weighs 62lbs and is a real piece of work.

3) Packing (part two). Shut UP, you conniving and insistent voice that tells me I need to pack every physical manifestation of my existence into one suitcase. After weeding out several garments of clothing (sob, I’m still hurting from that), taking out anything that I can buy while in France (mainly bathroom items), and putting all my granola bars into my carry on, I am still probably over the weight limit. Le sigh. I guess the moment of truth will be at the baggage check in counter.

4) So much Googling. Can I take granola bars in my carry on? What about pills (ibuprofen, relax, people)? Spare AA batteries for my camera? God, the batteries situation is still up in the air… But, darn it, I’m doing it anyway!

5) The clean up. After all is said and done, the suitcase is sealed and locked up, the carry on is zipped up tight, the satchel is cleaned out of all unnecessary things, the clean up begins. I had stuff thrown everywhere! The living room was in shambles under rejected clothes and disregarded papers. My room is even worse off. Cleaning my room can be a project upon my return.

T-minus 12 hours until take off! My first taste of flight! It’s becoming real now! I imagine the next time I post, I’ll be in France. That, my friends, is a startling and exhilarating realization! I cannot wait to share every moment of it with you!

The Poetic Manifesto of a Nice Person

First, you should know that you’re great and your poems are great. As a nice person, I will skirt around being brutally honest because that just doesn’t feel productive or nice at all. Your poem could be a horrendous mass of words, but I’d never say that, nor would I believe it to be true because you wrote it, because it means something to you, because it’s your poem, and because it really doesn’t matter if I like it or hate it. You didn’t write a poem for me. You wrote it for you. If you wrote your poem for me, then rewrite it because I don’t want your words; I want you in your words. The truth is, if you want to write poetry, then damn it, write it! You could be the worst poet in the world, but you’re still a poet, and that counts for something significant. There is a world full of poetic commentators who are eager to criticize your poems, to remind you that you’re no Shakespeare, Frost, or Whitman, to cut down your diction, to over analyze the meaning of “brown” and turn it into something morbid. You’ve got a friend in me. You need a pleasant voice saying you have impeccable taste in the placement of the word “the?” It really fit nicely and I wouldn’t change a thing about it. You want “brown” to just be “brown?” You hit the nail on the head with that color choice.

If you consider it, the worst thing a person could say about your poem is that, in their “esteemed” opinion, they don’t like it. That is the only power they have. You, my dear poet, have the power to ignore their dislike with a smile and say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” Now, that’s not to say you should ignore all suggestions. There will come a time in your poetry writing vocation where you find a rare person. This will be someone who reads your poem and their suggestions reside well with you, like they were the speaker stepping out of your poem and into the workshop before you. Those are the moments you want, because while it shows that your poem isn’t a lump of wordy gold, there is something there that speaks to you, and someone who hears what your poem saying better than even you did for a moment. Find that person, your poem’s soul critic. They not only restore your faith in yourself, but they help you see your potential as well. That person has seen your poem for a reason; fate brought you the perfect critic who will help you bring your poem to perfection without the feeling of crushing force. Every poem has a syllable of potential that needs its self-esteem built up to a confident poem.

The state of American poetry today is this: every one is a poet in his or her own way just as everyone is a critic. Let’s step outside of the impossible goal of being the best poet ever. That is a box no bigger than your pinky toenail. If you want to be the best poet out there then there is only one thing you’ve got to realize… You are already under other poets’ shadows. Don’t be the best poet; be your best poet. There is no poet out there quite like you. Did anyone else write your poem? Nope! You wrote it (with some help from your soul critic). Could anyone take your thoughts, ideas, quirks, intellect, or individuality and write a perfect poem? No, only you can. Be authentic. Be inspired. Be proud of your seemingly dreadful poems!

I confess to the confessional: Sylvia Plath… I don’t like your poetry. But you’ve got some great qualities, no doubt. Quoth Molly: Poe, I’m not fond of the darkness in your poems, but a raven was a nice choice of bird, very fitting. I appreciate your social commentary, Mr. Ginsberg, regardless of how long-winded it happens to be in “Howl.” A little sugar around the rim never hurt anyone. This is the poetic manifesto of a nice person.