a vegetarian outside the united states

I do not think that is common to be vegetarian in Mexico. I am not sure that is common to have dietary restrictions in most countries other than the US and a few other places. This is not based off anything statistical or empirical, just on the reactions of people from other countries that I have visited. It is confusing to locals and often an inconvenience for whomever is cooking.

When I travel internationally, I am often forced to consider whether my ethical reasons for being vegetarian are more important than the culture that I might be disregarding. Food is an important part of a country’s culture, and I do not want to be impolite and refuse what is offered to me.

I think that it might be time, after a year of being vegetarian to reflect and consider my choice. It might be wise to veer closer to veganism in the United States so that when I travel, I can consume meat and experience cuisine more fully. In any case I am eating fish here in Tijuana, for the first time in a year and I did not miss the taste, nor was I disgusted by it. Food is one of those topics that is so personal; it is tied to our early memories, and important moments in our life, but can also be just mindless eating, or pre-packaged and cheap. Food is life, and community, and a daily ethical practice. So let us consider what we eat, and how we eat, and what happens when our choices crash into one another.

rooster calls and context

I arrived in Tijuana with Alex Knopes, the Executive Director of Doxa, yesterday morning and became almost immediately immersed in the act of listening and working and the yoke that is easy and the burden that is light. I reintroduced myself to Rosa who was organizing for summer camp before heading up to my room on the fifth floor in Casa Hogar de los Niños. Alex and I then went to load up his truck with supplies for a group that is building three houses, but will be based out of a different orphanage in east Tijuana. It took a long time to load, but after playing a game of enlarged Tetris we managed to fit everything in.

The drive to east Tijuana is a little over an hour and as we drove Alex explained the context that I was entering. Hogar de los Niños who has been working with Doxa for over fifteen years has decided that the organization can no longer operate on their land. This is well within their rights as Pilar owns the land, and even isn’t the most negative thing as Doxa has outgrown the courtyard annex space. The toolshed and building supplies will likely stay but Doxa needs a new home for their community work. In the past Doxa’s vision had aligned more with the orphanage, but now they have fundamentally different purposes. Doxa is focused on building community and creating opportunities through housing and education, whereas the orphanage is more focused on caring for their children and desires a closed environment, however the housebuilding trips do provide income. Doxa’s connection with Hogar de los Niños will not stop, but it has changed, and because of this Doxa is looking to partner with Unidos por Siempre in Rojo Gomez in east Tijuana. This requires staring from square one all over again both logistically and missionally.

When we arrived at Unidos por Siempre, we had lunch with Maria, the orphanage's director who is also known as La Madrina (the godmother). As an aside Rosa is known as La Profe (the teacher), and I found these 'names' to be so telling of the women's influence in their community. Unidos por Siempre orphanage is much smaller spatially but has around the same number of kids as in Hogar de los Niños. The walls are bright sunshine yellow and the orphanage feels cozy and homey. The kids were making fidget spinners out of coke bottle caps and toothpicks. We unloaded quickly thanks to one of the older boys who did most the heavy lifting. On this side of the city life seems to move more slowly. There is little sense of rush here. I couldn’t keep from thinking that this orphanage needed the resources that are at Casa Hogar de los Niños much more, but that's not my job.

There are a lot of complex relationships that I have little to no understanding of. There is a lot to process and even more that I have left out.

This morning I will just appreciate the sounds of the rooster calls, the birds chirping and the leftover slice of bread that I am eating. I know that Christ is with me, that Christ goes before me and after me and is at my left hand and my right hand and that listening can be as important as loading up a truck with construction supplies.


there is no greater pleasure
than the smell of fresh paper
from a printer
or the crisp musty waft
of old books unopened- now free

eyes like ours
too blind are no use
the entanglement of memories and olfactory
granddad had old wrinkly parchment hands
moved them slowly
he smelled like mothballs
and hospital dressing gowns at the end
i was all sweat, unquenched by perfumes
fanciful stories he made up
about snuggles the cat
i wish i had written them down on
some clean sheet of paper

an update

If anyone is reading my blog, you know that I have not been posting something everyday as I committed to January 1, 2017. This is not to say that I do not write often, but recently I have been having this internal debate about why I am creating, and why I put my work online. This has mostly occured becuase of two discussions that I had recently.

I had a conversation with a very brilliant friend and mentor of mine who made me realize how much of a privelege it is to not think about what language to write in, and to not have to think about the colonialism of the English language. He is Indonesian and came to Seattle for school and will be starting his Phd next year for English. He reads and writes a lot, but doesn’t do a lot of creative writing because he is dealing with these deep philosophy of language and culture questions.

The other important converation I had was with a gal pal of mine who makes monthly zines of her favorite poems and art and makes a fair amount of her own art and poetry, but doesn’t publish online, because she creates for herself, doesn’t want to publish just for the recognition.

This combination as well some personal tragedy recently has been one of the reasons that I have stopped posting on this blog as much. I do want to continue to put work online, even just to cause me to create work that I feel is both worthy and not too personal to publish. Therefore I am going to try to write at least two posts a week, even if they are short.

Thank you for listening to my words.

i can’t write: exercise #2

In which, I complete writing exercises for ‘fun’…

Write a poem using dark or gothic imagery, such as a woman being followed by dark clouds of rain.

Full prompt can be found here

This ended up being much darker than I had originally intended.

the light is hiding under soft blankets, woolly and fluid in the sky
the house is sneaking around, twisting and turning
its eyes wide but glazed over as if the glass has been breathed upon
the door peeling, paint coming in flakes swings open
snow drifts slowly, languid
and the knob is turned
and the flowers on the couch pattern have fallen off to the floor
and petals are strewn about

upstairs there is no scream

he poured wine- reeked money and cruel sentiment
she had a extra glass at his behest

her dress is torn like the faded tapestry that hangs on the wall
his eyes- greedy lions

her corpse lays lifeless on the bed
his hands- claws

her mind floats above the scene
his note says “thanks”

when she wakes the blankets have dropped from heaven to hide her
from the man in the uniform
but he cannot see the raindrops that hang over her head
the salt of tears dried on her face
she doesn’t receive any grace

she runs through the moors
the water pours down
a deluge of horror

away from the sneaking house
away from her body
away from the dogs that chase her
away from the nightmare

she runs
faster and faster
until …
but she cannot escape

the gloom still sits
the faded tapestry has one more fox being chased by the hounds than before
the house creaks a little with malice
he dusts off the marble mantlepiece
and places the wine back in the cellar

he notices that the soft snow which has muffled the house for hundreds of years
has been replaced with a driving, screaming rain

math and relationships

being in a relationship is a lot like being an x in a polynomial function. for example …

0 * (x+5)(x-4)(x^2-3)= 0
if one person thinks it means nothing then no matter how much the other person wants it mean something it still means nothing
if there’s one zero in the function the whole thing equals zero, no matter what the rest of the function looks like

an unsent letter

I’ve already broken my resolution; I missed two days in a row. However, I will keep going.

This is something I wrote late August 2016, but now it’s January 2017

I miss you. I miss your mop of soft wavy hair. I miss playing euchre with you. I miss talking to you about nothing and everything. I miss your humor, your laugh, your smile, how your eyes light up and your speech gets faster when you’re passionate about something. I miss your searching hands that pointed out constellations and made me shiver as they grazed my skin, pulling me close every time a shooting star passed by.

I can’t believe I won’t see you until December. I want to feel your lips on mine, your fingers in my hair, see your face just one more time. I think of you so often it hurts. You are so kind, and intelligent; you make me feel naive. I want to hear you talk about space and fall sleep next to you, sleeping bags so close on the dock.

So tell me how’s life up in the north east?