Earthlings... ate my appetite whole

I have inflicted far too much information on myself in regard to food. Call it a binge on all matters of the appetite. I'm a foodie, a bonified cheese loving, meat eating carnivore. I've loved eating my whole life, even as a kid, I licked plates clean and asked for seconds, I'd cry if you ate my cookies. But here I am, a "grown up", who has just unveiled to myself the truth about mass food production, in particular animal agriculture (that phrase doesn't even SOUND right). Diet for a Small Planet, In Defense of Food, Omnivores Dilemma, Fast Food Nation, Food Inc., Animal Vegetable Miracle, Skinny Bitch, and now the beginning of the China Study are examples of literature that I'm drawing from as I try to sort out my thoughts on this big, dirty, disaster of an issue we call the modern western diet. What tipped the scales and broke my little animal loving heart was the film Earthlings. Ignorance is bliss, a place where birds are chirping and the sun is shining and people are good and kind to all creatures big and small. I now realize that I was living in a disney movie before I sat down and watched this film - having added this film to my repetoir, my eating habits are changing, and I'm not even trying. I just feel nauseated at the thought of biting through flesh. I am suffering the consequential disinterest in anything animal, period. I assume such is the aim of its filmmakers. But in a very organized, systematic and eloquent way, without spelling out the moral injustices in front of you, Earthlings shows us what we refuse to see of ourselves.

It should be noted that I was not seeking this film out, believe me. I found it when I was watching the trailer for a movie I've been looking forward to seeing called Forks Over Knives . This brought me to a trailer for earthlings, which itself was hard to watch but I felt intrigued and compelled to get to the bottom of it, to roll up my sleeves and provide visual evidence of what I already knew was going on. It is something that you have to prepare for with a big box of kleenex and hand holding. It's not easy to watch, at all. Physically sitting down to an hour and forty minutes of graphic raw footage of torture, pain, abuse, and the exploitation of animals, is the greatest challenge of all. That and trying to figure out where to go from there.

50 billion animals a year consume massive quantities of grain, water, antibiotics, and hormones, just so we can feed our insatiable appetites, and for what? Convenience? A big juicy burger? The issues: its making us fat, its causing cancer, heart disease, diabetes, hypertension, and autoimmune disease. It absolutely destroys the land on which these animals are raised. The runoff of manure and bacteria spills into water ways, it damages ecosystems. The waste it creates is criminal. We sit here watching global warming unfold before our very eyes, and we take absolutely no responsibility for it. Animal agriculture is contributing to global warming more than all transportation combined. We turn a blind eye. Health, the environment, the human rights violations of workers at the packing plants, the animal cruelty that endures, pain, suffering. It has moral, social and environmental implications. Oh, and did I mention it makes a big buck? The USDA, the FDA and congress are in bed together. Dirty, dirty whores.

I don't want to eat a cow that was boiled alive, hung to bleed to death with its airway cut open, thrashing about looking for an escape, with fear in his eyes and blood flowing down his face. I won't eat that energy, that fear, that pain, I won't be at the receiving end of that chain of events. I won't be a consumer that makes that demand. Animals feel pain, they make social connections, they are emotional beings, how can we be so ignorant and self serving as to ignore that and plow ahead? "Oh, don't tell me about it, you'll ruin my dinner". I'd hate to come between my boyfriend and the bond he shares with his steak and his charcoal grill, but I'm pretty sure I never will. But hey, nothing bad ever came from thought, so put your steak knife down for a second and think about who you're eating and how he or she got there. The information I've sought out will determine my journey. I don't want to preach a holier than thou philosophy, because when people want to know, they will. Where to go from here? I'll start in my ill equipped kitchen and see if a foodie can also be an animal loving, vegetable eating, earth friendly epicure.

On the floor (surgical)... laughing

Time flew by me. I find it so hard to believe that the summer is inching towards us and apparently mother nature feels the same way too, because it's 56 degrees outside. The past few months have been full of unexpected events. Having begun to settle into my role as nurse, I feel both grateful for my experiences in the hospital, and also somewhat perplexed by them. I certainly haven't digested it all, I'm still chewing. I love the staff I work with, and the diverse patient load I've been assigned. Along with thoughts of "how in the hell am I going to get all my work done" or "when will I ever get to pee!?" or "god save me from the varicose veins that are forming along the back of my thighs" -- are thoughts of "how can someone so sick be so gracious and kind." Sometimes the patients exhaust me, but sometimes they amaze me. In my own opinion, people working on a hospital floor quickly learn about the strength of the human spirit and about the sanctity of life. As different as we all are in our perspectives and backgrounds, as much as we may get on one another's nerves, working in this setting is a bonding experience. We tend to be frank, crude and have an off kilter sense of humor with virtually no discretion in topics covered at the lunch table, but this is the culture of a hospital floor and the reason I love my nurse friends. My favorite part of my job is laughing, sometimes it's at the events that unfold which leave me scratching my head and snorting with laughter. Other times its laughing at each other, but mostly I can't help but laugh at myself. I still feel like I'm playing dress up and that someone will ask for the scrubs back because halloween is over, kid.

Walking the fine line between child and adult, between keeping my tale between my legs or opening my mouth, between saying what I believe or keeping quiet, has been my dilemma. There is the way people perceive you and the way you perceive yourself, and I find that the disparity between the two can be wide. You feel strong but they see weak. "Deep breath, deep breath" is what I find myself repeating in tense and ambiguous work situations. When I work, I don't always know what is right or what is wrong, but I can say with confidence that often times I can feel it. So, again is the back and forth of how to handle something I feel is wrong when I don't feel brave enough to stand up for what is right.

I don't just have a hunch about right and wrong, I can also feel energy from people. Not in a weird psychic "I see auras" way but I can sense their emotional state just by being near them, and it helps to direct the way that I interact with them. This proves helpful in the clinical setting when gaging how cooperative and open my patients will be with me can help navigate my schedule and anticipate their needs. Some patients don't want a nurse cracking jokes and laughing with them, and in all fairness, I completely understand. But some good humored individuals need that ice breaking laughter to feel comfortable in the uncomfortable state of finding oneself in the hospital with what maybe a serious diagnosis. Some people hate being touched, period. Some people absolutely need it. The variety of people, of illnesses, of psychological states, of emotional states, of needs, and of expectations varies from day to day, shift to shift. As a new young and inquisitive nurse, to take on the challenges that accompany working with the public in an acute hospital setting can be mind boggling. At the very same time, entertaining, and all you can do is tilt your head back & laugh at the sky.