Meat Consumption

A few weeks ago, in Chicago, a friend of mine and I tried out Native Foods in Wicker Park.   Native Foods is a chain Vegan restaurant.  When ordering our food we were asked if we were Vegetarians or Vegans.  My friend responded “Yes, we are.”  I interrupted and corrected “No, I am not”.   I felt (and I am sure a lot of it was my own consumption consciousness) as if I’d just destroyed all perceptions he had of me,  as if I’d seriously let him down or kicked a small puppy in his presence.

So here is the thing, he’d never asked if I eat meat. In general I don’t eat meat—there is no good reason for it.  It is unhealthy and frequently, at least in this country, toxic.  If when given a vegetarian or meat option, I’ll almost always choose the vegetarian.  When given a vegan or vegetarian option, I’ll sometimes choose the vegan.   I’m a big fan of dairy (again unhealthy and frequently toxic) and yet I make the informed personal decision to eat things that are good or bad for me.   I also occasionally drink alcohol. Ideally I’d always choose a carrot juice over a beer, or a beet smoothie over red wine but sometimes I want some wine or a beer.

I don’t let food get in the way of life. It is easier for me to go through life and not be defined or restricted by the food I eat or don’t eat.  That said, I get super defensive and angry when people rip into vegetarians or vegans. To the point where I don’t make logical arguments; I just call them “stupid heads” and walk away in frustration at their stupid heads.

Anyway, almost equally as annoying as the philistinism of some meat eaters is the hubris of  some herbivores. Like our server at Native Foods, who after I had said I wasn’t a vegetarian suggested that a “first timer” like me probably shouldn’t have the vegetarian burger because it had seitan and tempeh.  WTF?  Dude, I am an elitist privileged pseudo-white girl who is having dinner at  a vegan restaurant in Wicker Park AND you just heard me explain to my friend that although I grew up with vegan family members and a vegetarian mother, I rebelled.   Come on dude, really, you think I can handle some tempeh?  Bite me.

That said, as much as I dislike titles, I’m hoping to lead a vegan lifestyle this summer while training for triathlons and while the fresh local produce is abundant.
Jess Elenamary Steph Yony
My unsolicited advice to all of you is, live and eat in ways that cause minimal damage to yourself and others—I promise to try and follow my own advice too.

Blogtitlan Reunion

I was given the domain as a gift, I think in the fall of 1999.   We really didn’t have the word blog then, and I didn’t think of the internet as a place to journal.  The only people I knew who had personal webpages had them on things like Angelfire (oh lord) and posted pictures of comics.  I remember first building Elenamary with FrontPage, then moving on to Typepad, and then to WordPress.  It was at some point between Typepad and wordpress that I discovered I had readers I didn’t personally know.  I had written a post about Xicana identity and a man I had never met commented on my post.  Holy shit!  Things on the internet are public?!!  A few years later I would look back at that moment and admit I was awe struck;

I was first brought to blogtitlan by el Padrino de blogtitlan, Julio Sueco of Yonder Lies It. He left a comment on my blog and it startled the shit out of me. It was back when I blogged for shits and giggles, never thinking people would question me, or get me to think about what I was saying. I’ve come to expect and look forward to people having a real discussion with me and causing me to stop and think. I was also shocked that Julio added me to his blog roll and commented about me right next to Ana Castillo. Damn! I was shocked. An academic Xicano reading my blog?! An academic Xicano who would put my blog right next to Ana Castillo’s blog?! She was someone I read about in class. She was someone who had authority to speak about being Latino, about Xicanoism, about Latino Studies. Why link to me?  – Elenamary June 18, 2007.

Padrino Julio El Sueco lead me to other bloggers like CindyLu of Loteria Chicana fame, and David El Oso Pecoso and Seyd el Ethnoqueer.  We became a close knit family.  We confided in each other.  It wasn’t like facebook or myspace or friendster.  We shared intimacies online, we bared our souls (in ways I wouldn’t now).   We actively read, not as you might now passively read 140 characters, we commented, sometimes thoughtful comments, sometimes short acknowledgments of presence.  Our family grew.

We went from a few people, in touch all the time to an uncontrollably large group.  Long after we had become to big to be an intimate family, I heard NPR describing a “blog” to its radio listeners but for us it had come to an end.

El Oso first noted they dying of our community in 2006 and asked:

Why, after such an intense outpouring of conversation, storytelling, and debating is there now so much silence? MariCésarAlmaWooj,BeckieJulissa, and Seyd have stopped blogging altogether.  DerekGustavoTravisRevazChrisDaily TexicanPrentiss, and Elena now write at intervals only consistent in their inconsistency. And even old powerhouses like CindyluKaren, and HP (not that HP ever wrote anything himself anyway) have slowed down considerably.

But something has been changing more recently.  We miss each other (we always did really) and facebook doesn’t cut it.  Or as EMC said to me via email  “Not to knock it or anything, because I wouldn’t have discovered so much about myself and met so many fantastic people if it wasn’t for blogging, but in the case of the Facebook, I feel I’m being dictated on how to interact with people–that too me feels fake.

Facebook does feel fake.  In fact so do blogs.   We were honest then, we were a smaller group then, maybe we were more naive.  I also, find myself, censoring myself in a way I never thought I would.  At dinner with El Oso in Mexico City (who I’d meet in person for the first time that week) I told him about some things I was afriad to blog about, things  I couldn’t share anymore.  He didn’t seem to understand why I couldn’t post it and maybe that’s why he has never stopped blogging.  Although I will say even his posts are less personal now.  After our first meeting, about a year ago, El Oso posted a blog titled More Open, Less Hypocritical that moved me:

Over the past couple months I have met two people for the first time that – in some ways – might know me better than some of my closest friends and family. Adriana and Elena Mary. I can’t tell you much of what they’ve been up to over the past couple years, but back in 2004 I could have given you a weekly summary of their lives. Back then Adriana was “Poor Little Tumbleweed” and Elena Mary was … well, pretty often upset about something or other. We were all part of a group of about 10 – 15 people who blogged at least weekly, always left comments on one another’s posts, and generally created an important sense of community out of nowhere. Relationships formed, relationships ended. Visits were made all the way across country. People who at first couldn’t stand one another came to develop a delicate respect for each other, which then turned into real, meaningful friendships. As we began to express and shape our identities online we were forced to reflect about our place in the world and how the way we were raised influenced the person we had become. This wasn’t always an easy process – as identity politics never are – but most importantly, we supported one another much more than we criticized each other.

And then it all came to an end.


It made me laugh and almost cry.  Oso knows my personality pretty well and he was right, we did develop a respect for each other.  HP and I have had an online battle for years.  I just found this comment I’d left HP while arguing about gay marriage  “Sexual orientation is not dependant on action. If I fucked you HP, it wouldn’t make me straight (nor would it make me queer—only nauseous). My action of fucking you might be a heterosexual action but it does not make make me heterosexual, nor does it make me HPsexual.”

However, a few years later I would find myself broke, with a dead cell phone and stranded in Chicago.   I got in touch with CindyLu who sent out word to blogtitlan that I was in need of a place to crash the night.  By that evening I had been in touch with Liza of Culture Kitchen, HP, and Irasali.  HP called some relatives who offered to let me crash at there place, Liza offered her hotel room floor (she was at the dialykos convention) and Irasali too offered up any help she could give.  It was 2007, a couple years after our community had drifted apart but we were still there for each other–even HP for me.  I miss a lot of blogtitlan and many that aren’t mentioned here.  I want to meet all of you.  I may get to meet many of you soon.

I’ll write a post later about what blogtitlan means to me.  How I got into blogging,  and with much more depth as to how I’ve changed since I started, and how our relationships have changed.   However, the most important update for now is that after planning for 5+ years, we are finally getting together in San Diego.  We are reconstructing a support system, our modern internet tribe.  Not only are we going to hang out we are going to be long distance running!

After a suggestion from El Oso to do the Carlsbad Marathon, it looks like our well deserved (IMHO) reunion will revolve around the race.  I’ve signed up for the 1/2 marathon, others for the full marathon, and others like HP and Gustavo have signed up to be hecha poras.  I want more people to come, I want all of blogtitlan to come.  I think so far confirmed for the Jauary 22 2012 blogtitlan reunion are as follows:  Nathan Gibbs, El Mas Chingon, El Oso PecosoLa Cindylu, XicanoPwr, La Poor Little Tumbleweed, GDR and  The Hispanic Pundit.  What about the rest of you blogueros whom I’ve loved for so long from such a distance?!  Can you come to San Diego?  Can you start blogging again?  I know I feel a new animo to blog again, I can’t go back to what we used to have but I can start something anew.    Let’s train together, let’s become physically fit, let’s encourage our writing, and self-exploration, let’s rebuild blogtitlan.  And maybe let’s drop this facebook thing?


How Chinese-y

When a cutlural difference comes up here in China, my friends and I will describe the Chinese way as being “Chinese-y” or we might say “How Chinese-y”  I am growing used to some of it and want to document it before I forget.

Not long after I had first arrived here I went to dinner with my friend Adlet of Kazakhstan.  We went to my favorite place, (a place I’d later find out he really hates) the food stalls at the Southern entrance of our school. The food stalls set up nightly and there is a wide array of food to select from.  Rats running around looking for scraps are also bountiful.

Eating at South Gate With Friends

Dinner at South Gate with Friends; Picture by Will Giles
One of the stalls will bbq your choice of food and I had a hankering for bbq-ed eggplant. Adlet (his Chinese is awesome, has been living and studying here for 5 years now) inquired  if they had eggplant.  The woman said that indeed they did have eggplant. We ordered two and then the woman responded “okay, come back tomorrow”.  Adlet explained to me that the Chinese hate to tell you they don’t have something.  I didn’t quite understand it then, and I also hadn’t realized until yesterday, how much my attitude has changed to this cultural difference.

Yesterday, I went to get coffee in one of the back alleys. It is really good deal; a whole pot of coffee for 4rmb with a bit of sweetened condensed milk at the bottom. I like it.  My plan was to finish reading my book, drink some coffee, and have some eggs.  I ordered the coffee and then had the following conversation with my server:

Me: “Have you any eggs?”
Server: “We have eggs.”
Me:  “I’d like eggs–Can I have eggs?”
Server:  “Yes, you can. Do you want eggs with rice?”
Me:  “No rice. I just want eggs.”
Server:  “Do you want eggs with noodles?”
Me:  “No I just want eggs.”
Server: “We have eggs with noodles.”
Me:  “Okay, I’ll have eggs with noodles.”
Server:  “We don’t have anymore eggs with noodles. Do you want eggs?”
Me:  “Yes, I want Eggs.”
The women points at the restaurant across the street says “eggs” and walks away.
Below is a picture of my friend Rachel (a native of Hainan).  On a different morning at a different place, I also wanted coffee and eggs.  Rachel ordered our coffee and our food.  The server returned with our coffee and told us “We have food, but don’t want to make it right now.  You can go across the street to the other restaurant get your food and bring it back here.”  We did just that.  As you can see Rachel is eating her food out of a styrofoam container also visible is our pot of coffee.

And all the planets aligned for fun

I fear the collapse is coming.  My primary solace comes in knowing that I have a strong community,  a family that I can rely on and I hope can rely on me.  This community, mi familia, that I love so much gathered last night to celebrate a birthday, fall equinox, harvest moon, and Jupiter getting super close to earth and appearing below the moon. 

We gathered at our friends’ farm.  My mother and aunt lead us in making an absurd amount of tamales. Together between everyone we made falafel with fresh ground acorn flour and veggies harvested from the garden, wine, bread, a tres leches cake,  and squash stuffed with quinoa. Everything made from scratch, and everything made with love.  We sat in a circle and chewed corn and spat it out into a deep pan, the plan being to make chicha–I’m looking forward to see how it turns out.

The tamales turned out better than I had expected despite all the white people who kept trying to uncover the pot to look in.  This reminded me of one of my favorite blog posts, Tamale Day BITCHES!.  I should’ve learned from their mistakes and guidance.

Tamale day is a strong believer in segregation and prejudice.  But rather than using this as hate, we use them as tools. You see white people have fucked up tamale day more than enough times. As a result we’ve had to enact some rules….

The number one crime whites have committed at Tamale Day was touching the fucking steamer. One year a bunch of my hungry friends kept on checking the steamer. The problem with this is that the steam then escapes and condensates on the lid. The water drips on the tamales below which have dropped in temperature so that it takes longer to cook soggy tamales. After that year the coalition of the brown enacted a no white people allowed to touch the steamer initiative.

I think if my mother, aunt and I hadn’t taken turns yelling at the white people to back away from the tamales, ours too would’ve been soggy.   Luckily for my friends I am a loud bossy bitch when it comes to my food.  I had challenged SergDun and GroceryEats to a tamale/brew challenge.  They said yes, but then never stepped up the plate.  I think they were scared of the fact that we could make vegan tamales better than them—which by the way we did with a nice vegan consume (vegan chicken broth) and some TVP in the core of the tamale.  We also made organic free range chicken Tamales with the best red sauce ever — just ask Michelle who would’ve eaten all of it had it not spilled.

The homemade wine was intense.  Some bottles tasted of vinegar, others were tasty but WAY more potent than I had expected.  I ended up having to ask my mother to drive me home after realizing that one glass was going to be too much for me to handle.  Someone described one of the homemade bottles of wine (a pear one I believe) as being so strong that it would eat away at all your stomach acids—that said it was super tasty.  As for the Chicha, I am not sure we chewed/spat enough corn to make a good brew, but I’ll find out later and let you all know.

I love the bond that is shared when making food together.  That bond might be even more awesome than the food itself.  We also played music, talked, hugged, danced, and stared at the planets and stars.   The star musical instrument of the night was Ben’s homemade banjo made with, I believe, lamb skin, and a gourd from their garden, as well as one banjo string!

My only regret is that I didn’t take a camera. I’m still not sure how my favorite punk rock photo-journalist and awesome friend although present didn’t bring his camerato the party. What kind of photo journalist forgets his camera?  I’ll post some pictures later that another friend took or if anyone sends me some they took with their camara phone.

Miles Curtiss for University Area Commissioner

My very good friend, Miles Curtiss is running for University Area Commissioner.  Those living between High street to the train tracks, and from 5thAve to 16thAve, can vote for Miles Curtiss.  All you have to do is show up, this Saturday, with either your Buck-ID, or other photo ID, or mail at one of the voting locations (listed below).

Elenamary & Miles

Voting Locations:

Metropolitan Library, Northside Branch
1423 N. High Street, Columbus

Jack & Benny’s Restaurant
2563 N High St @ Hudson & High

Northwood Building, Election Headquarters
2231 N. High Street

The Godman Guild
303 E. Sixth Street

I’m Miles Curtiss, a native of the Columbus, a musician, community
organizer, and third generation chronic do-gooder.  I work with
FreeGeek Columbus,  The University Area Enrichment Association, The
Ohio Community Computing Network, and Columbus IndyMedia, mostly
helping under resourced  people and communities get access to, and
training for, computers, self publishing, and e-waste recycling.  I’m
also very active with Yay Bikes, The Third Hand Bike Co-Op, Arawak
City Gardens and other groups centered around transportation and
fighting poverty.   In the past, I’ve been involved with the Columbus
League Of Young Voters, and the BLD artist co-operative.  I’ve been
drawn to the university area for it’s energy, it’s creative capital,
and it’s easy maneuverability.  It is a place where tens of thousands
come every year to become independent.  After finishing my own
university experience, this is the place I immediately came to.  This
neighborhood has always glowed with a “make your own future” ethic
that has informed me ever since I was old enough to walk from downtown
to the campus area record stores.