Monday, December 31, 2007

for the Love of Jay on the eve of my 20th anniversary as a vegetarian 

In the spring of 1987 I met Jay Pinsky at a poetry reading at THE MIDDLE EAST, a restaurant and club owned by Philadelphia City Councilman Jimmy Tayoun. We poets had just been moved from the second floor to the fourth floor, far away from Mr. Tayoun's "real" patrons because of a fist fight at a previous reading. At the microphone I said we belonged on the fourth floor because it was closer to the angels, which received equal parts booing and cheering. My friend Sharon and I had done pain killers, pot and whiskey before the reading, and we laughed at nothing and everything like a couple of idiots all night.

Jay introduced himself after the reading, told me he liked my poems, and then asked me what I was on. At first I thought he wanted to get high like most people who asked what I was on, but he shook his head NO and laughed. He invited me to have a macrobiotic meal the next night.

It was almost impossible in those days for me to listen to anyone about changing. I liked my life, in fact I thought it was a marvelous life. All I wanted was to write poems, read poems, and go to parties with my coke dealer boyfriend. I WAS NOT INTERESTED IN CHANGING! My diet consisted of candy and meat, booze and drugs. But Jay had a knack for seducing with health, making clean blood sound sexy! It's true, hard to believe, but true.

No one but Jay could make the invitation to a macrobiotic meal sound like THE MEAL THAT WAS GOING TO CHANGE ME LIFE! It was irresistible, but I still brought a couple of candy bars with me, just in case!

That first meal with Jay was in fact life changing, taking an hour to eat our small bowls of brown rice. It was the first time I had completely chewed my food. I know that sounds stupid, but before that meal I had never taken such care and interest in the taste of a few grains of cooked rice. Our rule was that we would take an hour, eating a few grains at a time, chewing until the grain was water in the mouth. We were not to talk for the hour, just chew and chew, look at one another, smile, and chew. What a peculiar, intimate hour it was.

That rice was the most delicious rice in the world to me! I felt slightly odd after it was finished, I mean to say I FELT MUCH MORE AWAKE! Meaning literally. Meaning that I felt like I had just woken from a good nap! The rice had FED my blood, really FED me! I wasn't used to it. I was used to pizza and candy and meatballs. I was used to the more lethargic sensation of highly processed and chemically injected food.

For the rest of the year I took measures to wean myself off all meat, sugar and chemicals. Dairy was the hardest for me to give up, but soon enough I hated the taste and smell of it, and liked how my allergies and asthma disappeared, my lungs filling with air like I never realized they COULD! That first year was amazing, discovering so many things, like how cutting processed sugar from the diet makes the sweetness of carrots come to light after a few weeks. Everything tasted NEW and it was absolutely exciting to FEEL better, to FEEL awake and STRONG! And I felt less and less depressed, and realized for the first time JUST HOW depressed I had been.

On January 1st, 1988 I made the transition complete! It was my birthday, and it felt right for me for THAT reason more than the fact that it was also a new year. I wanted my birthday to be the marker for total transition into this new understanding of the body and blood and nothing was going to stop me by that point. I had (corny as it sounds) fallen in Love with FEELING good and healthy and strong.

For ten years I remained macrobiotic, never drinking alcohol, never taking drugs, not even aspirin. I had completely cured the onset of arthritis, and cured my depression, no longer thinking of suicide or needing medication. I WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF A SPIRITUAL AWAKENING, and there were many, many other changes, but all of them due to recreating my body with clean, whole foods. And none of it would have happened without Jay. He changed my life, in fact it could be that he saved my life. The day I thanked him, and told him he saved my life he shook his head NO! He said all he had done was show me how I could change, and that the work was all mine. My health was my responsibility, and he had made it clear that it was in my hands.

When Jay died (about eleven years ago) it was a sudden, violent bump in the road of discovery. I packed up my shit and moved to New Mexico to take classes in healing herbs. Frank Sherlock FOR SOME REASON had convinced himself, and others, that I was moving to New Mexico for a sex change, which is very funny when I think about it now! Then there were others who had convinced themselves that I had AIDS (maybe because of my boyfriend Tommy who had died of AIDS?) and that I was going to New Mexico to die. GEESH! I much prefer Frank's idea of a sex change!

I was only in New Mexico for a few months, but that's all it took to throw me off macrobiotics. The climate demanded a different diet and I hadn't prepared for it at all. Soon enough I was craving spicy foods. Then I started eating cheese. Then I started hanging with a pack of punk rock lesbians who insisted I do shots of tequila with them, BUT I NEVER ATE MEAT!

Animal rights has kept me away from meat, as well as a healthy understanding of how the production and upkeep of animals for meat and clothes is a much larger contributor to global warming than car emissions. I'm drinking alcohol on occasion now, and smoke cigarettes again, but this consumption is not out of control like it was when Jay and I first met.

Macrobiotics is often on my mind. My life was never better. My mind never clearer. Not just my mind but (this is also going to sound corny) my Soul, or do I mean my Higher Self? My spiritual body felt much more limber, totally aware of everything and everyone around me when I was macrobiotic.

Tomorrow I celebrate 20 years of being vegetarian, and will be thinking about Jay, grateful that we met when we did. It was an honor to be on the planet the same time he was, it was a bounty and a blessing. I Loved him, and miss him, very much miss him until it feels painful and ridiculous.


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?