Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Not Easy Being Green

Yesterday, as I'm sure you are all aware, was Earth Day.

It occurred to me that Earth Day has come a long way since my youth. I remember that in fourth grade a girl in my class who everyone thought was weird tried to recruit a few of us to spend Earth Day picking up trash in some field. We all just rolled our eyes and went back to playing Super Mario Bros. or whatever we were doing that day. But clearly she was just way ahead of her time, because now Earth Day is a major annual event during which people re-dedicate themselves to saving the planet, and passionately declare how they are going to accomplish this by doing things like air-drying their hands in public restrooms instead of using paper towels.

I think it's just the contrarian in me, but when a cause becomes super trendy I find myself in the strange position of being vaguely annoyed by something that I actually support. (Celebrity adoptions also spark this reaction). I believe in protecting the environment, and we could all use a little consciousness-raising if we're going to keep our lovely little world from turning into an uninhabitable wasteland. But sometimes I can't help but question the power of one. Particularly in Southern California, where people proudly cart their designer canvas shopping bags around Trader Joe's and then hop into their ginormous cars. (If only SUV's could run on smugness).

There's also the rather frustrating issue of not quite knowing what we're supposed to be doing. Just last week, Nalgene bottles were the go-to liquid receptacles. This week, they might kill you. And people in poor countries all over the world are rioting over the increased cost of food. Apparently all the money that's been poured in ethanol subsidies is driving up corn prices and leaving other grains in short supply. I thought biofuels were supposed to be a good thing. Didn't we all think that one magical day we'd be running our cars on french fry grease?

It's all a little disconcerting, but it still behooves us to do the best we can. My own efforts at being more green fall into three categories:

Good things I do consciously: Recycle, drive a car with good gas mileage, turn off lights and appliances, cut way down on bottled water consumption and plastic bag usage.

Good things I do unconsciously: Take short showers (just efficient in this area), cut my daily commute by about 80 percent (circumstantial), don't use AC (don't have it), only wash clothes in cold water (too lazy to do more than one load at a time. I love the idea that my slothfulness is helping the Earth).

Good things I'd like to do but can't: Install energy efficient appliances in my apartment (I rent), drive less (L.A. not really built for walking, although I suppose that I don't have to drive to the Coffee Bean that's a mile from house.)

And then, of course, there's the fourth and largest category: Things I should be doing that I'm not. If you have any advice on what I can do to become greener, I'm all ears! Particularly, what should I be carrying my water in that won't, you know, poison me?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Negative Affirmations

My pal Sarah, in her-ever gentle way, has nudged me to participate in the insecurities meme. And how better to wile away a quiet late Thursday afternoon at work than a public airing of my grievances against myself?

So here we go:

1.) My age. I know, I'm only 27, I'm still young, I have my whole life ahead of me, blahbity, blah, blah. I really thought that I would greet my late 20s with a certain measure of grace and dignity, but my last birthday hit me a lot harder than I expected. It just seems like time is racing by and there's still so much I want to do before I really become an adult. I realize that I am indeed still young, but "still young" is not quite the same as "young." And that's something that I'll never be again.

Oh, and if you aren't sufficiently depressed now, the members of the recently-reunited New Kids On The Block are all pushing forty(!) Chew on that for awhile.

2.) My nose. During the past few years I've more or less come to terms with my features, but my nose is still kind of a sticking point. Let's put it this way...I'm half Jewish. I think most of that half is contained in my nose.

3.) My lack of hobbies. There are plenty of things that I like to do--go to movies and concerts, read, hang out with friends, drink wine. But these things don't really count as hobbies per se, and when people ask me what I like to do for fun my answers seem very bland. I feel like I should take up tennis, or learn to play an instrument or join a club or something. But the truth is that I've never really been much of a "joiner," and when I have some down time all I usually want to do is settle in with a good TV show on DVD, or see what new fashion atrocity is being committed on Go Fug Yourself. It's a bit of a conundrum.

4.) Highway Driving. This is something I definitely have in common with Sarah. Freeways are just part of life in Southern California, so I'm used to it and I actually like driving when traffic is manageable. But I've had enough close calls on the road to realize just how precarious hurtling down a crowded freeway at 70+ miles per hour can be. Also, I don't like driving with other people in my car. It's not because I'm too lazy to drive or too cheap to pay for gas, I just don't like having other people's lives in my hands.

5.) Being a bride. Just to clarify, it's not the wedding or the marriage that troubles me. It's more about my ambivalence toward the whole bridal culture. The idea that your life--from the moment you get engaged to the moment you march down the aisle in some giant taffeta monstrosity--should revolve around planning every perfect detail of your perfect day is very disturbing. On the other hand, poring over pictures of white silk dresses and sparkling rings makes me kind of giddy, and I find myself having endless internal debates over ridiculous details. This simply does not seem like a respectable way for a proper post-modern feminist to spend her time.

6.) Being so disorganized. I am definitely a "type B" personality. I've never met a desk or closet I couldn't clutter, nor a piece of important paperwork that I couldn't lose. And I staunchly defend my right to live in barely-contained chaos. After all, people who are disorganized are more creative, cooler and laid back. (Right?) But sometimes I wish I had natural penchant for organization. Overall, it would probably save me some headaches come tax time, or when I'm trying remember which of the piles on my floor are the clean clothes and which are the dirty ones.

7.) That I'm boring. Sometimes I worry that my life is just this endless march toward the status quo. I'm taking a memoir writing course this semester, and there's a guy in my class who is writing about being raised in New Jersey by his family of Albanian thugs. He has two cousins who once killed a man over cheese. How cool is that? It's not that I necessarily condone dairy-related violence, I guess I'm feeling like I need a little dose of "Funship" in my life.

So there you go. I guess if anyone on my blog roll wants to participate in this, consider yourself tagged!