Sunday, April 29, 2012

a better word for "prostitute?" let's try "woman"

"If you pay a prostitute you're financing human trading." 
A public service announcement created by Mikado Publicis, an add agency in Luxembourg

We’ve heard a lot of talk about secret service agents and their illicit activities in recent weeks.  It’s the story that keeps on giving.  Testifying at an oversight hearing for the Senate Judiciary Committee last Wednesday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano claimed that she would be surprised if the incident in Colombia were part of a pattern. 


True to course, with the little cartoon bubble still floating in front of her mouth, additional allegations of sexual misconduct involving U.S. military and government employees emerged. 

In one account, twelve secret service agents are said to have fraternized with prostitutes in El Salvador in March 2011.  In another incident, U.S. Marines allegedly injured a Brazilian prostitute when they pushed her out of an embassy vehicle in November 2011.

While the news is disturbing enough, I have found the media’s failure to humanize the women involved incredibly frustrating.  One Washington Post article used the words, “swarming,” “hissing,” and “hustle” when referencing prostitutes in Cartagena.  These words evoke images of rodents, insects, cats, criminals, and more generally, pests.   

During Napolitano’s briefing last Wednesday, Senator Lindsey Graham found himself flummoxed over how he should refer to the women.  When describing the events in Colombia, he cited the “argument between one of the agents and [pause], I guess, a prostitute, for lack of a better word."  For lack of a better word?  Well, I can tell you Mr. Graham, the “better” word that escapes you is “woman.”  

Women reside at the center of this whole mess: the economic plight of women; the abuse and exploitation of women; and the trafficking in women so blatantly supported by the American men in question.

Ironically, U.S. Attorney General Eric Hold gave a speech on human trafficking last Tuesday.  He hailed the U.S. policy of “zero-tolerance” toward human traffickers with passion and sincerity.  For all that sincerity, however, he never mentioned the recent behavior of U.S. military and governmental personnel abroad.  How is that possible?  You don’t have to be a drunken secret service agent to bump your head on the elephant standing in that room. 

I think Hold got away with this gross omission in part because the media hasn’t framed the issue as a trafficking problem; instead, it has focused on the men’s behavior as it relates to security, duty, and national reputation. 

Such a narrow view amounts to an opportunity lost.  With so many heads turned to attention, news stories could have shone a light on the estimated 40 million women who work in the sex trade worldwide.  Just some of the reasons for resorting to prostitution include poverty, lack of education, limited employment opportunities, and domestic abuse.  In this light, stories featuring party-boys caught with their hands in the cookie jar also expose the vulnerability of poor women to the power of the American military and governmental personnel who travel in their countries. 

Apparently, not only are these philandering men low down dirty scoundrels, they’re cheap too.  Both the Brazilian and the Colombian incidents involved arguments regarding payment.  In Brazil, when the U.S. Marines allegedly pushed the woman out of their car, it was during a conversation about money.  She broke her collar-bone and two ribs; she also punctured a lung.  In Colombia, when a secret service agent locked a woman out of his hotel room, it was also during a dispute over money.  Both stories highlight the power that men exercise over women in such situations. 

I wonder how these women ended up working as prostitutes?  Do they have children?  Do they have extended families who rely on their income for food, shelter and clothing?  Do they have other means of paying the rent, buying food, or paying for college tuition? 

If we don’t make an effort to fill in these blanks, then we perpetuate the stereotype of sex workers as promiscuous, diseased drug addicts who are no better than pests: devoid of morality or human worth. If we do that, then we also perpetuate the behavior of men who can’t see beyond a woman’s body to her person. 

So sure, let’s be outraged about the behavior of these agents, let’s applaud when the heads roll and the stricter rules take effect, but let’s also talk about the bigger picture.  Let’s not forget the word “woman” when we talk about prostitution.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

earth day: have you hugged a republican today?

Earth Day 2012: Mobilize the Earth

For Earth Day, I thought I might make a list of green things to do around the house, but I was reading blogs this week and discovered an excellent one, already written, at Simple Mom.  She’s listed 40 ways to go greener at home. 

It’s worth checking out, but I have to admit, when I first read it, something irked me.  She started off with a disclaimer about how she didn’t want to push a political agenda.  Few things are more politically urgent to me right now than our need to cut back on CO2 emissions.   If you care about the earth enough to write a post about going green, how can you not care about the politics of making green things happen on a larger scale?  I mean, who cares if you change your light bulbs if your car still only gets 26 miles/gallon in 30 years? 

There are politics in the light bulb (and the blog post) whether intended or not. Why deny it?

I stewed about this for a bit.  Then I had an idea.  Simple Mom has thousands and thousands of readers—I think she has as many comments in a day as I have readers in a month.  An audience that big must hail from a broad array of backgrounds.  Perhaps she’s just walking the fine line of inclusion—trying not to alienate readers.  Instead of a political agenda (code for democratic agenda, I think), she claims to support good stewardship and frugality.  She even connects green practices to God, explaining that going green is a way of caring for God’s earth. 

Is she apolitical, or is she a political genius? 

I ask because, whether she intends to or not, she’s encouraging conservative readers to become activists for what most perceive as a democratic cause.  And this got me thinking about our desperate need for some green cooperation.  No one can deny that the humanitarian and planetarian crisis of climate change is mired in a paralyzing heap of steaming partisanship that could undo us all. 

It wasn’t always that way.

The first Earth Day, April 22, 1970, had bipartisan support.  Democratic Senator Gaylord Nelson and Republican Congressman Pete McCloskey co-chaired the campaign to have a national environmental teach-in.  Twenty million Americans participated in rallies across the country, giving the issue enough political clout that the following fall, Republican President Nixon passed the Clean Air Act.  Of further note, the 1970 Clean Air Act passed the Senate unanimously.  Unanimously! 

Then Ronald Reagan came into office.   No sooner had he wiped his shoes on the White House welcome mat, than he ordered the removal of the solar panels that Jimmy Carter had installed just 2 years prior (the panels didn’t actually come down until 1986, in conjunction with some other roof work). 

Carter installed the panels as a symbol of our clean energy future.  Reagan removed them as a symbolic rejection of that future.   He went on to cut 85% of Carter’s R&D budget for renewable energy.  He also allowed solar tax credits to expire and abandoned planned increases to fuel efficiency standards. 

With his pro-market decimation of Carter’s energy policies, Reagan made the environment a liberal issue, effectively sneezing on earth-day, infecting its preservationist and conservationist ideals with the parasite of partisanship that we have yet to eradicate. 

Now, after 30 years of bickering, we’re in a real mess.  To turn things around, we need to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels from our current level of 392 parts per million (ppm) to 350 ppm (read more at  To accomplish this goal, we need to cut CO2 emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050.  That’s just 38 years away! 

Predictions of what will happen if we don’t accomplish that goal? Collapsed continental ice sheets, a sea level rise of dozens of feet, and the ever-lurking and dire possibility that warming becomes irreversible.

A few energy saver light bulbs ain’t gonna cut it. 

We need Republicans.  We need them bad.

We all know there’s no chance that Republican lawmakers will voluntarily abandon their big oil buddies for the company of a lush green forest.  Demand for environmental policy needs to come from below, from Republican voters.  Currently, however, the only way a Republican can vote for the environment is by voting for a Democrat. That’s too much to ask.  To avoid that affront, Republicans cling to flimsy claims about an environmental conspiracy, burying their heads in the sands of denial. But there's no need for that.  We don’t need Republicans to be Democrats; we just need them to be environmentalists. 

Climate change is a humanitarian and planetarian crisis that doesn’t care at all about partisan bickering.  We can ride our donkeys and elephants straight into the lethal rays of a burning sunset for all it cares.

Or we can try to work together.  I know it seems like Republicans are doing all the bickering and denying, but there is also a way that Democrats don’t make room for them.  We like to claim green policy as ours—as one of the things that makes us right and them wrong.

We need a campaign to show Republican voters that they can care about the environment without giving up their other conservative ideals.  We need to put the conservative in conservation, to frame environmentalism as pro-life, pro-American, pro-job, even pro-God—because it truly is all of those things.   

The idea that Republicans should oppose sound energy and environmental policy was always a trick of the energy sector.  If Republican voters could see a conservative pathway through all of the misinformation about climate, perhaps they could be motivated to put the environment on their list of political must-haves with anti-abortion and guns.  Then policy-makers would have no choice but to follow suit.  Then we would have a real chance of defeating the demands of big oil in congress.   

So, I know the incentive today is to go out and hug a tree, but if we really want to save the earth, perhaps we should go out and hug a Republican.

(don’t worry, we can still fight about all the other stuff)

Thursday, April 19, 2012

waiting for the Lorax

Builders began construction on a house around the corner from us a few weeks ago.  It started with the tying of ribbons.  Orange ones around the trees.  When we drove by, Olivia asked me, does a ribbon mean save it or cut it?  We did a quick accounting and discovered it didn’t look to matter—with the ratio of marked to unmarked trees being about equal, half of them would go.

The small houses in my 60 year old neighborhood have more than big pictures, they have big yards.  Consequently, builders stalk the perimeter of our community, barely able to contain their drooling, as they wait to pounce on the weak and broken down properties that wander innocently from the herd. 

Picture quirky Dr. Seussian rhymes, with quirky Dr. Seussian outlines depicting crooked ramblers that regularly disappear with a slurp, sucked into the earth from which new monstrosities erupt with a succession of imposing 6,000 square foot clunks: bigger, better, crookeder, complete with never-to-be-used rooms, vacuous ceilings, and fuel guzzling heating and cooling units that chug and puff great billowing cartoon clouds of smoke into the azure sky above.

Years ago, builders got their hands on the two properties behind us.  The houses and the trees came down together.  When a three-story wall of siding went up, blocking the sunset we had always soaked in during dinner, the bitterness got the best of me.  

Olivia was just 5.  Gareth 8.  We sat under a tree on sunny days dipping strawberries in confectionary sugar.  It sounds so sweet, but during those picturesque meals, I dripped poison into their innocent little ears.  I stewed about the big bad builders; I seethed about the tree-haters.  Gareth called them “the big house people” with elementary derision. Olivia looked at me with the big eyes of Cindy-Lou Who, asking, “Mommy, why, why are they taking our pretty trees, WHY?”

Over berries, we asked each other, what kind of person would want to live in such a house?  Certainly not someone who shared our values about family, energy and the environment. 

I couldn’t possibly ever have anything in common with them.

Then it hit me:  them.  These presumptuous structures would eventually house people:


OMG.  I had to change my tune.  What if they had kids?  What if Olivia went up there to play and, in her not-so-innocent-5-year-old-way, asked them why they chopped down all the trees? What if she announced: “My mom says your house is too big!” 

Ugh.  I’d created a monster of the Lorax variety.  But nowhere near as cute, restrained, or profound.     

I began to work on some softer language, some maybes and what ifs that left room for the possibility of decent, well-meaning, neighbors with way more ounces of goodness than I had displayed so far. 

A good thing, because they do have kids, and despite all of my predictions and my many insightful ways of knowing, they are some of the nicest people I know.  I’m not exaggerating.  The nicest. 

And I thought we’d have nothing in common.  These people have a bicycle-powered grain grinder that puts my very electric grain grinder to shame.  Who even has a grain grinder (to make their own bread) besides me and my big-housed neighbors? 

It’s as if they were put there to teach me a lesson I’m already supposed to know, about judging a book by its cover, or a family by its house, or whatever.

Don’t judge.  Got it.       

Until the market turned enough to let the building start again. 

This new construction marks the third tear-down this year. When Olivia and I saw all the trees, marked for execution, I barely paused to adjust my Mrs.-Kravitz-curlers before I called Steve to report the latest neighborhood development.  I stewed.  I muttered.  My kids followed suit.  To lighten our mood, we joked about perching a stuffed Lorax on the mailbox for all to see.

Then, someone put a big sign in the yard that said, “STOP killing trees!”  Olivia gasped (and then gushed, because the girl lives for a little drama).  My mouth just hung open.

Wow.  I immediately recoiled, recognizing that somehow this crossed a line. 

(I didn’t do it.  I promise).

The woman responsible apologized a few days later.  The man who owns the property supposedly told her that he’d been planning to live in the house, but after the sign and a flood of angry phone calls (apparently, although the Lorax never showed, many neighbors had called to “speak for the trees”), he’d decided he didn’t want to live in such an unfriendly neighborhood.

Hmmm…Communities are so confusing. 

I’ve discovered that I can’t just decide to stop feeling my resentment.  I moved here for the trees.  I don’t think it’s reasonable for this guy to be surprised that we haven’t lined up next to his wood chipper with so many homemade banana breads wrapped in bows. 

I think our anger is justified.  But as a community, what do we do with that anger? Do we want the community or the trees?  Well, I want them both, and surely it would be better if people didn’t come and exercise their ironic right to chop down our oxygen producing friends so that they can “biggerer” their houses' CO2 footprints, but once they do that, how should the rest of us react?  If we want to remain a community, I think we may just have to swallow our resentment—accept the change.  You know, get mad and move on, or move out. 

So last week, I woke to the sound of demolition. It rattled my windows in their frames.  By the time I picked Olivia up from school, half the trees and all of the little house were gone. 

I registered my disappointment, tried to look the other way, and resolved to wait out my anger.  I’ll get used to the new landscape. Maybe I’ll even be friends with the new neighbors.  We’ll chat pleasantly over potato salad on summer holidays, share a beer on the back deck, or offer a morning salute as we walk our dogs. 

It sounds OK.  But I can’t help but wonder if it will be enough.  We’ll never talk about what used to be, and despite my pleasantries, I won’t stop hoping for that damn Lorax to quit his dilly dallying and make an appearance before we run out of trees.    

“Unless” he’s waiting for me?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

spring break: for real this time

Olivia's soccer coach sent an email the first weekend of spring break reminding everyone of Monday night's practice.  It also instructed that even though Wednesday and Thursday practices were canceled, “players should get in some quality time working on foot-skills, juggling, and doing the 'Pele series'" (instructional foot skill videos with routines that the girls must practice and 'pass').  

I had to wonder, why “should” they?  Will players from other teams bound ahead and snag our college scholarships while we’re lazying it up chasing easter eggs instead of soccer balls?  Will a week away from drills ruin everyone's chances for the national team?

The coach is a nice guy, but he’s gotten caught up in this whole soccer-industrial-complex thing I dislike so much.  In response to his call for compulsory foot skill drilling over Easter weekend, I only have one thing to say: “Thank God we quit that team!”

Yes, I finally put my money where my mouth is.  The pressures of this team had turned a fun activity into a tedious chore.  By Christmas, Olivia had had enough.  Steve and I agreed. 

I need to remind the manager to take me off the email list, but in the meantime, I haven't really minded being privy to their many obligations.  The information only reinforces our decision, showing me how we have reclaimed our holiday weekends from the grip of those soul-sucking soccer tournaments.  Instead, Olivia participates in synchronized swimming twice a week and happily drops into the ice rink on Saturday mornings for a 30-minute skating lesson.  All fun.

She’s not going to get to the Olympics on that schedule, it's true, but she wasn’t going there anyway, so who cares? 

Ironically, unlike Olivia's U11 team, both Gareth’s nationally ranked club team, and his high school team gave him the entire spring break off—with no mention of independent drills or “optional” practices for kids who were still in town.  

So, freed from Olivia's soccer commitments, we had spring break for real.  No organized sports at all. 

Instead, we did this:
me (3rd from right), steve (unmissable yellow), olivia (pink in front), gareth (2nd from left)
the sign says "Harper's Ferry or Bust"

We rode our bikes 30 miles to Harper’s Ferry with 3 other families, camped for two nights and returned by bike on Saturday. 

How did we get the kids to do it? Olivia likes to bike, so she jumped for joy at the news of our trip.  In typical teen fashion, however, Gareth nearly turned inside out when I broke the news.  Still, I think he has figured out that we give him his freedom and enable his burgeoning social life in exchange for a certain obligatory quota of “family time.”  When he recognizes that an event falls under this rubric, he resigns himself to endure, even while offering dire predictions of eternal misery, and making redundant proclamations like "This is soooo stupid!" 

So we unplugged and set out along the C&O Canal with 16 bicycles, 7 adults, 9 kids, and a lot of determination.  We stayed over in a sort of cheesy KOA campground just outside the town of Harper’s Ferry. That’s ok.  Steve will be the first to tell you, that while a bike seat can for sure do some damage, a little cheese never hurt anybody. 

The place had ping pong, horseshoes, a huge moon-bouncy type trampoline, mini-golf and most importantly, showers.  The beauty of all this stuff:  nothing electric (besides light bulbs), no schedule, very little supervision.  The kids came and went as they pleased, met other kids, played games, roamed the property…chilled--or as Olivia would say, "chillaxed."  The only thing we required of them (aside from asking them to ride their bikes 60 miles!) was that they wash the dishes.  A totally fair camping chore. 

At night, we listened to music, patted ourselves on the back for completing the first leg of our journey, and joked about the many pained "gooches" huddled around the fire (This was a new word for me. I had planned to link to a definition, but when I went searching for one, I found quite a bit of unsavory extraneous material.  So I'll tell you it's a particularly sensitive crotch area just behind what Steve would call "the doodads."  If you decide to google it, be prepared for an as-the-crow-flies diagram of a man or a woman's underside, among other things). 

None of the definitions say so, but if you're not an experienced biker, the gooch can take quite a beating on the first trip out.  Not even that persistant complaint, however, could overshadow that the weekend offered:

No turf.  No referees.  No coaches.  

Just this:

And this:

And this:

I think I am like a lot of other parents: wishing for a slower life, wanting to reduce stressful schedules, hoping to unplug, seeking quiet…accepting that I can’t always make it happen.

So when I do, I savor it.

And despite the litany of pre-trip protests, even Gareth reaped the benefits of the space we put between ourselves and our ridiculous schedules. 

I hope that however you did/do it, you also stole some time for a restful spring break--for real.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

the etiquette of secret meat

image from

A friend had me over for lunch last week. Spectacular sautéed spinach, some kind of super yummy rice that she turned out of a skillet, and the centerpiece: vegan chili.  Yum!  Except woops, scratch the vegan part.  She mistakenly thawed and served the wrong chili—the one made from bison and venison, not the one made from beans and vegetables.   

None the wiser, I ate it.

Lest you think I’m completely without my wits, I admit that I paused over its texture several times.  It had a coarseness I couldn’t explain.  Yet, I could tell it wasn’t ground beef.  Ultimately, I decided it was a very realistic and delicious soy product. I almost asked what kind. If I had, my friend would have realized her mistake. With a baby on her hip, she had cooked for me one-handed all morning. If she'd gasped and confessed her error as I sat, spoon poised in front of my mouth, what would I have done? Refused the meal? I’m glad we didn't figure it out until later.

I’m left wondering: What is the etiquette for “secret meat?” This is the third time in my vegetarian life that meat has surreptitiously wandered onto my plate. The first time it came in a meat sauce, served by a very well meaning, but forgetful person who I knew would be mortified if I reminded her of my vegetarianism. I had just ranted about how hungry I was, how good dinner smelled.

When we sat at the table, candles lit, toasting all around, I looked down at my food and knew instantly that it had once walked around in a field swatting at flies with its tail. This was my first secret meat experience, so, like any committed vegetarian, I panicked and, surprising even myself, began to eat.  It was harder to get down than I thought it would be.  I hadn’t eaten any meat in years; it felt gnarly and foreign in my mouth.

Worse, once I started eating, I realized that I’d only complicated an already impossible social calamity.  If the cook ever realized her mistake, her embarrassment at serving the meat would be compounded by the knowledge that I had choked down her meal then lied about how much I enjoyed it, just to spare her feelings.  

Despite all my good intentions, those seemed like the actions of a dirty rotten secret-meat-eating scoundrel.  Then I worried:  what if she remembered during the meal and confronted me?  I imagined myself, chewing incessantly, a thin layer of cold perspiration glistening on my upper lip and across my forehead, mouth full of gristle and voice full of the hollow insistence that I found my food to be perfectly satisfactory.


I vowed never to do that again.  

Until I did. This time for someone I was just getting to know.  She had already bent over backwards to feed Olivia who has multiple food allergies. (We are high maintenance to have over for dinner—don’t invite us!).   We had discussed my vegetarianism before; I thought my husband had reminded hers.  But in her focus on Olivia, she forgot about me and also served spaghetti and meat sauce.  Again I didn’t realize it until we were seated at the table.  Again I couldn’t bring myself to say anything.  Again I stressed about my choice (I tried to eat around it this time, but who am I kidding, since it was in the sauce, I just may have needed a microscope for that operation).

Clearly, I have a problem standing up for myself at the table. It’s not that I’m afraid to tell people I’m a vegetarian.  I always do so when invited for a meal.  But what do you do when someone forgets and they go to the trouble to cook?  As an avid cook myself, I feel that preparing food for other people is an extension of self that ranges on a spectrum from goodwill, to friendship, to love.  I just don’t know that you can reject the food without rejecting the gesture.  Can you?

This week I got lucky because I didn’t have to answer that.  My friend discovered the meat in our chili after I’d eaten it and gone.  I suspect her husband clued her in to the mix up when he got home and saw the vegan chili still corralled in the freezer, safe from any predators, while the bison and venison had been set loose on the unsuspecting guest. 

I commend my friend for her honesty in telling me. 

Would you tell?  What if a vegetarian guest refused to eat a meal you prepared in the moment when you sat together at the table?  Would you rather they secretly hid the meal in their napkin while smiling and complimenting your cooking?  Or should they force it down just to please you?    

Conversely, what would you do if you were a vegetarian presented with “secret meat?”  Does my “lessatarian” status make it easier for me to be flexible, or am I just being too passive? 

We (I) need to establish some rules of engagement, you know, some simple guidelines like no white shoes after Labor Day, and never wear socks with sandals (is that really a rule?).   Perhaps: never refuse a meal once it’s on your plate; or never force yourself to eat gnarly ground beef.  A little direction would help everyone, cook and guests alike, navigate their way out of the pickle (a vegetable, thank god!) of secret meat.   

Sunday, April 1, 2012

lessatarian: the case of the closet carnivore

After a string of posts on forgoing shampoo, paper towel, and industrial food, one reader humorously lamented, “What will you take from me next?”  I laughed, but it got me to thinking. Am I just ranting off a bunch of directives and deprivations?  Will people begin to dread the news that I’ve posted something new?  I see them clicking over here while desperately clutching their children, wondering what pleasure I’ll condemn this time.  Chocolate? Sex?  Wine?  Why not Sunshine? 

So, today I have a little confession.  I am a vegetarian.  Except, I am not. 

Over the years, my relationship to meat has taken a convoluted course.  As a child, I held a piece of fatty steak up at the dinner table and announced, “I could never be a vegetarian.  I love meat!”  Like a pack of thirsty dogs, my siblings and I fought over “blood bread” (the white bread we used to soak up platter juices after dinner).  By high school, however, I had a developing ulcer, and nothing could make me double over in a hyper-acidic fit of stomach cramps like a juicy burger or a slab of steak.

Thus, no more red meat. 

Then in college I read a benign article about chicken production that included a small picture of headless chickens hanging morosely from rows and rows of metal hooks like somebody's finished dry cleaning.  Something about that factory setting struck me as so wrong, it turned my stomach. 

No more chicken. 

Then I got pregnant with Gareth.  I actually drooled at the mayonnaise oozing out from between the “two all-beef patties” I saw in television commercials.   

Viva las hamberguesas!

Then I got pregnant with Olivia and craved waffles.  Big fat ones loaded with butter and syrup.  Oh, but that’s beside the point—unless you’re wondering why I gained nearly 70 pounds while I was pregnant with her…

Then the responsibilities of parenthood prompted me to look more closely at the food I bought.  After a little research, I gave up meat again for two reasons:  the horrendous treatment of animals in CAFOs (Confined Animal Feeding Operations), and the very negative environmental impact of the same.  Given my already uneasy friendship with meat, my decision came easily.

To a purist, however, I’m a pathetic vegetarian. I eat fish, dairy and eggs. That probably makes me a pescalechovatarian or some other such unpronounceable thing. Or maybe it just makes me a hypocrite.  No. This is what makes me a hypocrite: I also eat a little bit of meat.

Shhhh…no one really knows.

In recent years, I started buying our meat from nearby Polyface Farm.  This is the farm featured in the movie Food, Inc. and the book Omnivore’s Dilemma. We are lucky to live in their distribution area.  I began to wonder: since I approved of the means of production at Polyface, why not eat the product?  It took a few years, but eventually, I started “tasting” it. No gnashing of canines or gnawing of incisors, just indulging in a spot of this or that with one pinky up, so to speak.  Sometimes one bite is enough.  Sometimes one bite is too much.  I just sort of go with it.

Perhaps I’m not a vegetarian or a pescalechovatarian after all;  perhaps I’m a lessatarian.  

I like this idea of eating less meat. It’s a more realistic goal for a lot of people who would never consider giving it up altogether. Getting the ever faithful carnivores to just cut back a bit could go a long way towards reducing green house gases and freeing up water supplies. 

I cook meat for my own ravenous carnivores about twice a week.  We usually stretch one of those meals into leftovers for an additional meat-eating night.  The other nights we have pasta, beans, fish and vegetarian dishes such as soup.

No matter how minimalistic, I don’t really advertise my carnivorous indulgences (aside from this post, made available in the internet to my hoards of readers).  I don’t tell people because I feel very strongly about what meat I eat. Nothing from a CAFO.  Nothing from a grocery store. Nothing from a restaurant. Only from my one trusted source, when I feel like it, in small quantities. 

By calling myself a vegetarian, I keep things simple.  Otherwise, I would find myself at dinner parties quibbling with my host about where they purchased their meat, how it was treated and prepared etc.  Would I look the supplier up on the internet before digging in?   Maybe make a few fact-checking phone calls?  Call me the dinner guest from hell!   Regardless of the source, I mostly prefer not to eat meat anyway.  Thus, I remain closet carnivore, publically pathetic vegetarian, overall lessatarian.  

Which again got me thinking.  Maybe lessatarian applies to more than just meat.  In my own life, I can be too much of a purist, getting caught up in various rules about how to be a better person, a better citizen, then getting frustrated when my family can’t comply—can you imagine expecting to go to the grocery store in a car instead of on a bike?  The nerve of those kids! 

My ability to exist in a sort of vegetarian gray area is an important exercise in flexibility and moderation for me. It's true that if we want to simplify we have to give things up, and along those lines, "lessatarian" suggests that less is more, but it also reminds me to take my own ideas as suggestions, or goals, or aspirations, even, but not as hard and fast rules.  Without that insight, I could turn “small house, big picture,” into “no house, big picture,” or “small house, big deprivation.” Why not throw everything out with “no house, big deprivation!” 

Then, I'd really have readers saying less is more--as in less of me!