I’ve always loved meat more than animals, and omnivores more than vegans. Probably because I’ve been in the restaurant business for long enough to know that vegans are picky, pretentious, and wear stupid earth shoes, and omnivores come in all shapes and sizes. Plus, no one can touch my mom’s chili with extra cheddar and sour cream when it’s cold outside. And I’m American enough to know that a meal isn’t complete if there isn’t a starch (spaghetti), a meat (balls), and a vegetable (salad).
I also tend not to trust people who don’t drink. I’m not sure why, they just make me uneasy, unless they are recovering alcoholics or taking a break for “personal reasons” and will resume celebration of fermentation shortly thereafter. Those kind of people don’t make me uneasy. But people who don’t drink “just because” don’t sit so well with me. They make me want to drink extra to make up for their self control. I am the first to crack a good bottle of wine that I didn’t bring to a party, and pull the three buck bottle that I brought out after the fourth bottle. I prefer my whiskey neat, and my vodka in a plastic bottle in a paper bag.
So how I got to where I am (a sober vegan poet), is a peculiar, and quite unfinished, story. Except for the poet part. I’ve been that consistently, while a joyful drinker and jolly omnivore, for years now. But the abstinence was fueled by a desire to clear out my mind of clutter, and my dresser drawers of empty beer cans. I was sick of my writing being put on hold while I hit the snooze button over and over again because I’d been out the night before, and having to rush from meeting to meeting with papers flying and collar upturned. My casual spontaneity turned into habitual overindulgence and my body started aching from the cavities poor living choices were forming. So I decided to give some things up until I could think more clearly about why I was drinking so much, eating so poorly, and sleeping so sporadically.
I started by choosing to abstain from substances (alcohol, tobacco, marijuana, coffee) for a year, and two weeks into the year decided to commit to three weeks of veganism (sparked by reading this, which led to watching the movie “Earthlings“, starting the book, “Eating Animals” and resulting in the decision to also abstain from eating meat or dairy products (for at least the year.)
I still love omnivores. And for all of the clarity and sleep I’ve been getting, my headaches still want coffee and the occasional cigarette at the same time each morning. I still feel lame at bars when I order tonic and club or O’Doule’s. And I refuse to buy those stupid shoes. But with all of the uncomfortable digestion quirks, headaches, mood swings, weird looks, and unfriendly explanations I’ve had and had to give so far, I’m… happy is too strong a word… I am set in my decision.
There is a strange, but overwhelmingly strong sense of responsibility to follow through on this decision to live intentionally. Marked in this case by my bizarre choices of eating, drinking, sleeping, prayer, meditation, and creation; separate from the magic potions I’m used to using to conjure up inspiration, energy, confidence, fulfillment, and purpose.
It’s early February now. I’ve got about 11 months left of this. It’s a little bit exciting. Mostly terrifying. There is no way I can predict what will unfold tomorrow. Or the next day. But that’s okay. It’s just today for now.