I attended my first circus protest on Friday evening. The protest happens annually but in past years, I was always out of town or there was some other event getting in the way. This year, my kid was out of town, but I had nothing on my schedule and was free to head over to the arena and join like-minded people in protest of the Shrine Circus. It was a peaceful protest, meaning that we didn't yell at the circus attendees or anything like that. We just held up our signs as they passed. We had a large enough group that we could split into two, making sure that we could catch people coming from two different directions. There was a specific area where we were allowed to stand.
Naturally, it started to snow pretty heavily just as I was leaving to head over to the arena. I wore my snow boots and dug out a hat from our "winter junk" bin. I already knew three of the protesters, so that made me feel more comfortable. I brought along a sign I'd made two days before. Because I have the handwriting of a serial killer, I printed some text in large letters and glued the individual words to the poster board. Well, once my sign started accumulating snow, it lasted about a half hour before it started to wilt. Plus, my fingers were cold from holding the sign. I wished I'd worn my snow pants. Fortunately, the more seasoned protesters had extra signs - sturdy signs. So, I grabbed one of the extras and held it up instead of my floppy sign. I made a few mental notes for next year: make a better sign, wear thicker socks, and buy better gloves.
As I mentioned, this was a peaceful protest. So, no yelling. I noticed that as families streamed by, most of the adults averted their eyes. They knew why we were there. They didn't want to look at the signs. They didn't want to know how baby elephants are trained to perform (brutally). They didn't want to know about bullhooks and such. Elephants don't perform because they enjoy it; they perform because they'll get a sharp hook in their flesh if they don't. You know how you hear about an elephant escaping a zoo or circus every so often? And what's the first thing the elephant does? Typically, he kills his trainer or keeper. Because bullhooks.
When I saw the adults carefully averting their eyes, part of me did want to yell, "You're looking away because you know this is fucking wrong!" But of course, I didn't. The protest wasn't about berating circus goers. It was about planting a seed, I think. Many of the kids who passed by did read the signs. Maybe next year one of them will tell his parents, "I don't want to go." When I mentioned to my co-workers that I was attending a protest, all of them said that they were unaware the circus was even in town. That is my hope, really - that with each passing year, people care less and less about the circus and eventually they can't sell enough tickets to run the damn thing.
I do think we are in an important period of consciousness raising. People are mad about the whales at SeaWorld. People are mad about the ivory trade. People are mad about gestation crates for pigs. The list goes on and on. When enough people open their eyes and demand change, it really can happen.
Today is the last day of the circus. Some of the other protesters have been out there for every show, all weekend long. Next year, I'll plan to make a commitment to get out there more, too.
When I drove home after the protest, I was half frozen. All I could think about was building a fire in my fireplace and having a glass of wine. So, I did. An hour later, my legs were still cold to the touch but the fire did its job in time. So yeah, I failed at my 30-day challenge on the 18th day. I'm still holding steady with the "no dessert" thing - for now. I did come to one realization in that regard, though. At work, I normally eat a vegan granola bar in the mid-morning timeframe. My afternoon snack is typically a banana or apple. When I gave up the granola bars, I started replacing them with sesame sticks or lentil crisps. I am not so sure I am better off. Not eating sweets led me to eat more salty snacks, which is probably not all that beneficial. For example, one of my favorite breakfasts is: a veggie sausage link, some fruit, and a chocolate zucchini muffin. Those muffins (made from a Happy Herbivore recipe) contain bananas, apple sauce, and zucchini. They are only 150 calories, if memory serves. So, yes, they have chocolate in them, but I am starting to think my muffins weren't all that detrimental.
In other news, my guy and I spent a lot of time together this weekend since our kid was out of town with a friend. We went to an art festival yesterday. He spotted me fondling a purse and bought it for me. He said it was in exchange for me washing his underwear for the last gazillion years. After the art fair, we went to dinner (at a place our daughter hates) and then to a movie. We saw "The Witch." Critics love that movie so we were expecting to be blown away. Instead, we left saying, "Well, that was strange."
So, that's my weekend so far. In closing, just a little reminder: Boycott the fucking circus. Please and thank you.