If this schlock is clean, I’d rather be dirty.

Perhaps you have seen the word clean thrown around a lot lately. It is having its moment, again. Heck, clean living hasn’t enjoyed this much popularity since the graham cracker saved us all from masturbatory hell!

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There are a lot of books on Amazon such as Clean Food, Clean eating, Eat Clean, Live Well, Oh She Glows (eyeroll), Clean Food-Amazing Body, Pure Food, Food Rules and Clean Start. There are products too: a Clean Energy patch, Clean Energy Pills, an Amazing Miracle Cleanse And Runa Clean Energy drink.

Fun Amazon fact:  people who bought these items also bought a family-size box of disposable latex gloves. Infer what you’d like from that information.

So this brings up two of my very favorite issues. What is energy and what is clean. The energy piece makes me wonder why we have this cultural expectation that we are all supposed to live in this energized cheerful positive hell, never stopping or napping. It is a depleted state which is based on delusion. Real energy comes from rest, nourishment and a movement practice.

There is nothing inherently better or “cleaner” about using a caffeine patch or Guayasa tea for energy compared to a Dunkin’ Donuts coffee.

“Clean, focused, balanced energy”…sounds like buzzword bullshit to me.

Now, the deeper issue is what is clean. The whole concept is based on our viewing ourselves as dirty, as broken. Because CLEAN implies that what is not clean is therefore  DIRTY. Religious concepts of original sin, body pollution and pleasure-phobia have seeped deeply into our culture to the point where we often don’t even see them. We tremble in fear of being dirty in any way, from body odors to buttholes and go to extremes to avoid what we see as germs.

The result is a judgmental, holier-than-thou approach to diet and a bonus to the book industry.

The result is a heck of a lot of “othering”.

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So now all these things have been labeled as dirty: meat, grains, coffee, spices, sugar, salt, processed foods, alcohol, GMOs, all non-organic foods, cooked foods, alliums.

These foods make you less spiritual, less sexy, less glowing, angry, lusty, fat, stupid, un-evolved.

I think it is time to talk back to the overuse of “clean”, people.

I think it is time to admit that we are all dirty, and we like it.

We are setting up a binary that doesn’t exist. There does not have to be labels of clean and dirty on people, on foods or on your colon. We don’t have to put others down in order to raise ourselves up.

I do support all people in making healthy changes. I support your spiritual practices, your weird-ass teas and label-examinations. I support choosing sobriety, if needed.

BUT.

Let’s not let the marketing people manipulate us into judging each other as dirty. Let’s not loathe our own body parts and processes. Let’s not forget to delight in a sweet, sticky, meaty, lusty, sweaty life.  Let’s not hate ourselves for choosing a shot and a beer over a nasty-ass raw green juice on a hot summer night.

If we are the people being marketed to, if we are the people being represented by these products and concepts then it is up to us to say HEY, WORDS MATTER!! It is easy to dismiss words, to decline the debate. “Oh, words don’t matter.”

But they do.

There is no magical level of cleanliness that will save us from ourselves, no pure space that lives above marketing and critical thinking and debate, and perhaps that is for the best.

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Medicine making as an act of Love and Resistance

I am the oldest child of 2 oldest children, and I carry the responsibility of my lineage that comes with that position. Many of the family stories have ben given to me, some through words and some through actions–as well as the old Polish-English dictionary, the well-used locksmith’s tools and the frayed old wedding dress that’s been taken in and taken out over and over like an elderly housecat. It is my deepest honor and my crushing burden, the weight of all these stories, all these photos, all this baggage, all this love and loss, all these hopes.

Buddy and Evelyn
Buddy and Evelyn

My lineage is mostly French-Canadian, Polish and perhaps a little Irish. I carry the blood of the French peasant, trapper  and Fisherman. I carry the blood of indigenous Eastern Canadians. I carry the passionate Baltic blood too, and the scrappy Irish. And I work to integrate this combination of energy within myself.

My people fished and farmed, foraged and made medicines, told stories, put out fires and made shoelaces overlooking a polluted river. My people were a long way from home, and then they were home.  My people kept it light enough to travel.

My people were amazing and brutal, drunk and joyful, lost and found. My people showed up at weddings in ill-fitting suits and drank. My people knew things, saw things I CAN. NOT. FUCKING. IMAGINE.

Around this dark time of year, going into Winter and seasons of tradition and family, fires and foods I get to thinking about my lineage and how best to honor them, process their stories, forgive them their indiscretions and make them all proud. I feel that I cannot claim  the power of my gender, bloodlines and class identity if I cannot at least try to understand them and their lives and choices, and if I cannot speak out for justice for all bloodlines.

No feathers, no firehats, no mother-tongues or pierogis without the work. The work is half heart-work and half action. Foraging. Listening. Weaving threads together. Rolling the dough. Preservation. Over and over. Do not falter. No names and no stories are really mine if I cannot at least attempt to unlock them, to understand where they came from.

Tools used to unlock things
Tools used to unlock things

I do not want to hold and draw power from the rosaries and tools and fabric of my people without fighting for all people to be heard. It is a disservice to everyone’s lineage if I can’t listen–to mine, to yours and to you.

And so I am making an elixir for each of my great-grandparents. I will connect to each one through taste this Winter, on long walks in the snow, meditating on my roots. I find taste to be grounding, a bridge across time,  and it helps me to understand people and their stories. Taste can be a voice which whispers fem the past. Taste can help me to honor those who gave me life, some of which is very bitter indeed.

Each one will be based on the person’s heritage, what I know of them and what they loved.

And I hope to hear a tiny bit of the dreams they dreamed, the anger they suppressed, the passion and  restless spirits that drove them to create.

Julia and her daughters
Julia and her daughters

I honor my lineage by healing my own heart, I can’t go backwards and help them but I’m by trying my best to stop certain ill-advised cycles that rip families apart, by sparking my own memory and trying like hell to make things right.

And I honor them by refusing to be silent, by acknowledging my privileges and contradictions, by letting history speak through me and my hands, making foods and herbs and wooly scarves. I honor them by claiming hope as my own, for myself, for my own kids.  I honor them by insisting on seeing them as real, complicated people. And most important of all, I honor my lineage by refusing to forget.

Alfred and Rena
Alfred and Rena

urban foraging-morus and tilia

how delightful that food and medicine are literally all around us.

mulberry

there are 3 types of mulberries that i know of-black, more like dark purple, white, and a hybrid which is kinda lavender.

the fruit does not last long at all so must be eaten as quickly as possible, which many kids don’t mind.

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something about foraging is like scratching a millienium-old itch which is just not being addressed by our current lifestyle.

lyds w/ lavender hybrid mulberry

yes, these trees grew in-gasp-city soil. i would not say i am completely not worried about contamination in food. however, i am much more worried about the food in price rite than the mulberries in my neighborhhood. actually, i am much more worried about war, nuclear meltdowns, pcbs, pharmaceuticals, poverty and crap air quality than a little something that may be on this mulberry. especially since fruits are not major metal accumulators.

le harvest

additionally, we have been enjoying standing beneath lindens-a very common providence street tree-with honeybees buzzing all around, the smell and the flowerness somehow both stimulating and soothing.

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