Thursday, August 28, 2008

My Funny Valentine

To say I cried today would be the world's biggest understatement ever. I cried, and cried, and bawled and then teared up some more. 

Seriously. It was a little ridiculous at times. I even cried as I dashed into the elevator at work because that would be my LAST. EVER. MORNING. DASH. TO. THE. ELEVATOR!!

Um, yeah. Can we say pathetic much?

Everyone at work was just amazing. I'm not even sure I want to talk about how amazing they were because it will just make me start sobbing again. But basically, every single person I work with was supportive of me. And they all said ridiculously nice things about me, and people, I don't know how I got this lucky. How did I get such wonderful co-workers and friends and family? And how am I leaving them all?


In eleven days, I would have lived in LA for seven years. Seven freaking years. And oh man, I love this city so much it hurts. I love everything about it: its freeways, its freakish weather, the palm trees, the hills, the beaches, the 101 and the 5. But not the 405 because, I'm maudlin and sentimental, I haven't taken leave of my senses.

Mostly I love that this city is littered with memories. I remember that apartment in Palms that Honda and I checked out that looked like it had literally been the site of a drug bust like the night before. I'm not exactly sure why they showed us the place ... did we look like the kind of people who preferred our windows smashed and our walls caved in?

I remember the apartment in Hollywood where the landlord opened up the place, and we walked in on a girl lying on the floor having an overdose.


I remember the apartment in Hollywood which we finally chose. It was next door to a meth lab, sure, and there were screaming children in the courtyard at all hours of the day, and the balcony was built wrong so when it rained, water seeped into the bedroom and ruined the carpets, and the roof leaked, but it was home for five years. And I loved it.

And I remember my current apartment. And what a bitch it was to paint with the high ceilings, but how much I freaking loved the color.

I remember the street in Los Feliz, which to this day, I still can't walk down without running into someone I know.

I remember eating Korean Barbecue, and then driving to Mashti Malones for ice-cream. (Mashti Malones, in case you were wondering, is an Iranian ice-cream place that took the place of an Irish pub called Molly Malones many years ago. The sign from the pub was left over, so the new Iranian owners decided to incorporate the Irish name into their Iranian ice-cream shop.)

I remember singing my heart out at The Brass Monkey.

I remember hearing the Silversun Pickups at the Echo. And then at the Wiltern.

I remember hearing the most amazing jazz vocalist at a tiny little bar off of Crenshaw. 

I remember eating the most delicious pancakes with a bacon-infused syrup at this great restaurant that only serves local and sustainable food. If you're in LA, go there! It's called Square One and it's basically on the corner of Fountain and L. Ron Hubbard Way.

Yes, there is an L. Ron Hubbard Way.

Several years ago, when I worked in casting, I remember meeting an actor who had just moved out here from New York. The casting director asked her how she liked LA comparatively.

She paused and thought about it and said, "You know, it's different. When I lived in New York, it was very obvious where the fun! cool! places were. It's like they basically had neon signs above them saying, 'This place is fun! Come here!' Whereas in LA, there are no signs telling you where the fun places are. It's more like a treasure hunt. But then once you find the fun, it's even more special, because you had to search for it."

In all my years here, I have never heard a more apt description for LA. 

LA, I found the fun. And you, my City of Angels, are my heart. I love you.

Until we meet again.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I Think I'm Going To Cry

The other day my sink threw up because someone in the building doesn't know how to use their garbage disposal, and I guess water drifted under the carpet. I did not notice this until today when I was trying to stuff a pair of sneakers in my packed suitcase and noticed my bag was wet. Then I opened my bag and the clothes all smelled moldy. 

So now, I have to fucking wash all the clothes in my suitcase, and then fold them and repack them. 


Non Non-Consumerist Update

I am sure a lot of you are wondering how much I've been buying since I renounced my vows of non-consumerism.

Well, I had planned to hit the thrift stores and pick up a couple new pieces of clothing, but funnily I didn't much feel like that once I started packing up all my stuff!

So, so far, I've bought the following new:

Things That Shall Not Be Mentioned
An External Hard Drive
Recycled Plastic Soap Case

I actually had a gift certificate to Amazon, so the external hard drive was free. My computer is slowly wearing out, and I figured I probably should be, you know, responsible, and all, and back up my files regular like. God forbid my computer crash and I lose the only copy of my thesis! (Though I will guiltily admit that it was all my music that I really worried about losing.)

So while I have been shopping, I feel pretty good about my purchases. They were carefully thought through, they are useful, and they are all fairly necessary.

Of course, in a week I go to India where shopping has always been a highlight of the trip. It will be interesting to see how much I succumb to the pretty! cheap! jewelry and the beadwork shirts.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The True Worth Of Your Stuff

It's been a few depressing days here in Arduous-land. I've been spending almost every second packing up and/or getting rid of my stuff.

Have you ever thought about the worth of your possessions? I'm not sure I had given it a ton of thought until recently, but I think I probably would have estimated $1000 or so for all my furniture and appliances and what not.

The truth? Is that my stuff is worth pretty much nothing to anyone besides myself.


And as I sell my stuff for rock bottom prices and give it away for free (why does no one in LA want a futon!) I can't help but think of the hours I worked to pay for this stuff, this stuff I now have to beg people to take.

It's not easy to take. In many ways, we feel like our possessions define us. So if all my things are worthless, what does that make me?

Sigh. Yet another reason to buy fewer things, huh? Anyone want a futon?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

More Thursday Things or What Would I Do Without My Mom

Things I Have Done:

  • Given notice at work.
  • Given notice at my apartment.
  • Sent in my visa application.
  • Received my visa.
  • Sent in my student aid paperwork.
  • Had my Stafford loan certified, whatever that means.
  • Taken torn clothes to be repaired.
  • Picked up repaired clothes.
  • Purchased books from my "non-required" reading list.
  • Taken car in because the check engine light went on (of course, and of course it was nothing.)
  • Taken computer in to be fixed. (The battery pack kept falling out because this one teensy plastic circle broke, and as a result, the whole bottom casing of my laptop has to be replaced. You can bet Apple got an earful from me about the environmental impact or replacing the whole casing.)
  • Listed my car for sale. And added pictures!
  • Gotten computer fixed.
  • Set a date for yard sale.
  • Packed and packed and packed and packed. Thanks to my mom's prodding.
  • Filled my mom's Camry with boxes. And bags. And other crap.
  • Sent out invites for my going away party.
  • Started advertising yard sale.
  • Held yard sale. (Thanks Dorothy!)
  • Taken leftover stuff to Goodwill
  • Sold some furniture at ridiculously cheap prices.
  • Bought Things That Shall Not Be Named at Nordstroms.
  • Sorted through my clothes.
  • Cleaned my apartment. Okay, okay, my mom cleaned it.
  • Taken my clothes to the non-toxic drycleaners. (Mom again.)
  • Mom picked up second suitcase
  • Cancelled phone service (this one I actually did)
  • Cancelled electric service (me on this one as well)

Things I Have Not Done:

  • Stopped working.
  • Read.
  • Washed my car.
  • Sold my car.
  • Sold my other furniture.
  • Painted my apartment. Or hired painters.
  • Figured out how to vote overseas.
  • Filed my change of address.
  • Received my financial aid paperwork back.
  • Cancelled other services: Tivo, Netflix, gas, cable, cell phone.
  • Finished packing
  • Picked up my contacts from the optometrist.

Things I Am Doing Instead of Packing Now That My Mom Has Left:

  • Going to book club (Tuesday night)
  • Going to a hipsteriffic bar and getting drunk on rum and ginger beer (Wed night)
  • Going to a bon voyage party thrown by alumni of my new university (Tonight)
  • Getting a massage (Tomorrow afternoon)

Things I Am Not Doing:

  • Sleeping. But I am eating thanks to my mom who made me lots of food before she left!!

Things That Have Fallen By The Wayside:

  • Blogging

Things That Suck:

  • Getting a notice for jury duty while I'm moving, but before I have any official paperwork turned in re: my move. Oh crap!! I still haven't called them. Damnit!!
  • Having freaking tendonitis that makes it difficult to type!!!!

Things That Get Me Through The Day:

  • My mom. I'm sad she went home though.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Not Buying It Winner

The random number generator picked Lisanne624. Congrats Lisanne! Email me at arduousblog (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address.

The New Suitcase

I have to admit, living in a black and white world is much easier, but a world of gray is much more interesting.

This week's gray purchase was a new suitcase. Now I know many of you might be wondering why I didn't purchase a used suitcase. It seems like such a simple thing to find on Craigslist.

And it is. A search on Craigslist for a suitcase turned up 78 results. But hang on a second. Look at these prices! $65, $60, $100! And none of them were really exactly what I wanted. Some were too big, some were too small, some were located miles and miles away. Some of them claimed to be "vintage" by which they meant "without wheels."

Okay look. Generally speaking, I am perfectly happy to pay more for quality. But suitcases are an exception to the rule. Why on Earth would I pay $100 for something that is going to be battered around by airline crews? I once owned a nice suitcase, and a few years later it resembled a squashed fruit. If squashed fruit looked like suitcases with broken zippers. Never again!

Instead, my mom, who has been my life-saver in town for the weekend, went to Santee Alley in Downtown LA. Santee Alley is home to cheap clothes, knock off purses, and ridiculously cheap luggage. She bought mine for $30.

So there you have it. One new suitcase. Is it Samsonite? Heck no! Will it do just as good a job of storing my stuff until an airline crew rips it to shreds? I think so.

If I had needed a suitcase in the last year, I would have sucked it up and bought an expensive used one. Or maybe I would have gone to Goodwill and bought a cheap used one that looked like it was already battered to shreds. But now living in the gray? I just couldn't justify the extra expense, not to mention the inconvenience of driving all the way out to someone's home in Santa Monica to pick up a suitcase.

Am I justifying my new suitcase? Maybe a little. This gray thing isn't easy. But overall I think it was the right decision.

Now I just have to pack.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Giveaway!

I think I have to come to terms with the fact that I just am not going to be able to post regularly for the next month. I apologize. I have been doing my darndest to try and get something! anything! up, but frankly, I think I'd rather post well less frequently than put up mediocre crap more often. I am working on getting a widget so you can subscribe via email but I'm a little technically challenged so it's going to take some figuring out. I'll try and put that up sometime this week, so that when I update, you'll know immediately.

Now I know that you all hate me for abandoning you like that, so I decided to um ... bribe you all. You guys like bribes, right?

So today, I am giving away my copy of Not Buying It by Judith Levine. It's Levine's memoir of her year of non-consumerism, and it is funny and surprisingly poignant.

Let me know in the comments if you're interested. I will ship to Canada and Europe as well as the US.

Giveaway deadline: Tuesday, August 19th at 6:00 PM Pacific Daylight Time.

Friday, August 15, 2008

First APLS Carnival

The first ever APLS Carnival is up at Better Living. We had almost 40 submissions, so thank you, thank you, to everyone who participated. And thank you, Melissa, for taking the time amidst your many weddings to put such a great carnival together!!

Now, I'm off to read everyone else's brilliance. Have a great weekend!!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Thursday Things

Things I Have Done:

Given notice at work.
Given notice at my apartment.
Sent in my visa application.
Received my visa.
Sent in my student aid paperwork.
Taken torn clothes to be repaired.
Picked up repaired clothes.
Purchased books from my "non-required" reading list.
Taken car in because the check engine light went on (of course, and of course it was nothing.)
Taken computer in to be fixed. (The battery pack kept falling out because this one teensy plastic circle broke, and as a result, the whole bottom casing of my laptop has to be replaced. You can bet Apple got an earful from me about the environmental impact or replacing the whole casing.)
Listed my car for sale.
Gotten computer fixed.
Set a date for yard sale.
Packed a bag. And three boxes.
Sent out invites for my going away party.
Started advertising yard sale.
Bought Things That Shall Not Be Named at Nordstroms.
Sorted through my clothes.

Things I Have Not Done:
Stopped working.
Washed my car.
Sold my car. Or put pictures on my listing.
Painted my apartment. Or hired painters.
Cleaned my apartment.
Put up signs for yard sale. Priced stuff for yard sale. Figured out what I'm selling for yard sale.
Taken my clothes to the the non-toxic drycleaners.
Packed. Well packed much.
Figured out how to vote overseas.
Filed my change of address.
Received my financial aid paperwork back.

Things I Am Doing:
Spending time with friends.
Watching the Olympics obsessively.
Listening to Les Miz on endless play in my car.

Things I Am Not Doing:

Things That Have Fallen By The Wayside:

Things That Have Not Fallen By The Wayside:

Things That Suck:
Getting a notice for jury duty while I'm moving, but before I have any official paperwork turned in re: my move.
Having freaking tendonitis that makes it difficult to type!!!!

Things That Get Me Through The Day:
The fact that this will all get done somehow.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Lone Sock

Dear Kim,

Last night while I was going through my closet, finding more and more clothes to send to Goodwill, I came across a sock of yours buried in my sock drawer.

You actually left this sock at my apartment when you visited like ... four years ago. And I kept it, all this time, because I have good intentions but crap follow through, and I have intended to get your sock back to you forever.

Which is kinda weird because I'm sure, had I told you I was saving your sock for you, you would have been like, "Dude, I threw out the mate years ago. Get rid of the sock."

But honestly, the sock never came up in any of our conversations. And every time you visited subsequently, I would forget. And now that you're never going to visit me again, I am not sure what to do.

I know, I should just throw the sock in the Goodwill bag. I know you are probably rolling your eyes at me in whatever agnostic after-life you currently reside. But, as easy as it was for me to throw out almost every single sock I own, I simply couldn't bring myself to throw away your one lone sock.

It's silly, isn't it? But you see, unlike the ring of yours that weighs my hand down with your death every day, the sock is an innocuous reminder of your life. A left-over sock says, "I'm just disorganized so I've been away for awhile. But don't worry, I'm coming back. I need my sock."

I talked to you three weeks before you died, on your birthday. You were tentatively planning a trip to Canada, and I was trying to convince you that LA was a much better option for February. Which, duh, it totally is. "We'll go to Baja," I promised. "I've already been to Mexico," you protested. I forgot this at the time, but ... you've been to Canada as well. Did you forget? Remember the terrible New Years where you got stranded in Canada? You could have already crossed Canada off your list.

When we hung up, I was pretty sure that you had come around to visiting LA instead of Toronto or Quebec. I was looking forward to your visit, and looking forward to taking a day or two off work for our little mini-vacation.

But, you never ended up coming to visit. Instead, three weeks later, it was I who boarded a plane for Chicago. To see your fiance, your friends, your parents, your brother, but not to see you.

The day after the service, Honda and I went to your apartment, and ended up being the ones to bag up all your clothes for the Salvation Army. As I emptied out your drawers, I came across my bra of all things.

It was an old one, that I had handed down to you years ago. I'm pretty sure you never wore it. Frankly, I hope you never wore it, since at that point it would have been a ten year old bra. But you kept it, all the same, buried in your lingerie drawer.

I'm not sure what compelled you to keep that bra, my bra, through seven years and four moves. Maybe you were too lazy to sort through your stuff. Maybe you always thought, "Well, I *might* wear this bra if ... every other bra on the planet was killed in a nuclear explosion."

I can't really say. But I did get a kick out of finding my bra at the bottom of your drawer. Partly because, dude, that bra is OLD, how had you NOT thrown it OUT!, but also partly because it served as a tangible reminder of our bond. You're not really good friends with someone until you share bras, eh?

In any case, I would say, that no matter what reasons you had for not throwing out my bra, you're in no place to mock my inability to throw out your sock. So ... I'm keeping it.

I know you always dreamed of visiting Britain and Ireland. It was always next up on your docket, but work, love, and money always precluded you. But with me in town (ie a free place to stay, and a friend to hang with) there is no way you would have missed your opportunity. Knowing you, you would have bought your ticket for some ridiculous month like February, "Because it's cheap, and anyway London can't be any colder than Chicago," you would tell me. And you would have arrived, and it would have been insanely cold, but we would have trudged around regardless, through the tourist sites of London. And perhaps we would have taken a little weekend jaunt to Dublin, so you could see your "homeland," and it would have been windy, and awful, but you wouldn't care. You would drag me around town with waaaaaay too much energy, and we would have gotten drunk on Guiness and forgotten how cold it was anyway.

And so now I have a mad idea that I will take your sock along with me, in your stead. That I will take a weekend jaunt to Dublin, and that I will wear your sock, so that when my feet touch the ground in Ireland, it will be as if you are there, standing on the ground of your mother country.

What do you say?

I know, I know, you think I'm crazy. You are shaking your head at me with all the wisdom that you receive in your agnostic after-life.

It's a sock. A stupid, meaningless, nothing.

And yet, sometimes the expensive somethings can be discarded without care, while the most meaningless, stupid nothings are imbued with meaning. So please forgive my hopeless sentimentality.

But I miss you. I love you.

And I'm keeping the sock.


While I Was Whining...

Green Bean aka Green Super Hero and Burbanmom aka Burban Rockstar were out there DOING.

Yesterday, I read about this and got very stressed out and upset, and, well, whiny. So I emailed Green Bean and Burbs, basically to complain about how terrible this was, and how I didn't want to send one more ineffectual letter and blah blah blah, you know the drill.

I kinda didn't expect anything. I was mostly just letting off steam. But then the amazing Burbs put me to shame with her response to me.

She wrote, "Then we need to send thousands of letters. Not us personally, but all the eco-bloggers and eco-readers." And she ended her email to me with, "We’re not helpless, it’s not hopeless. Let’s git er done."

She proceeded to write an impassioned post on her blog exhorting people to write to their representatives and make sure that the Endangered Species Act stays intact.

And then Green Bean got in the action, and Allie.

Wow. Who knew how much whining would pay off?

Anyway, they all said it much better than I could. Please write a letter to your Congressperson, to the President, to your Senators. Let's make sure that this effort to weaken the Endangered Species Act is derailed.

On a separate note, I am completely burnt out right now, guys. And my computer is being serviced for the billionth time so I have limited internet access. So as you may be able to guess, my time for blog reading, writing, and commenting has been drastically curtailed. If I don't respond to your comments immediately, know that I will get to it eventually. It just may take a few days. As for the posting, it *might* drop down. Then again, it might not because I have infinite numbers of things to whine about. :)

Monday, August 11, 2008

Insert Blog Post Here

Oh, haiiiiiiiii!! You were expecting a blog post ... oh, about a jillion hours ago.

I have all these fascinating half-conceived blog posts rolling around in my head, but the unfortunate truth is that there are only so many hours in a day. And so when I actually sit down, to put fingers to keyboard, pretty much the only thing that comes out is, "Packing is haaaaaaaaaaaard. Whiiiiiiiiiiine!"

I thought that perhaps that was getting a little boring, but Green Bean assures me that you all love to hear me whine. So if this post displeases you, you know where to direct your hate mail. Kidding, GB, kidding! I would never direct haters to you. (Haters: it's totally her fault.)

So this weekend, I finally went shopping! My mom has told me that I am no longer allowed to discuss certain things on my blog, so I won't tell you what I went shopping for, merely that I went shopping for Things That May Not Be Mentioned. I got fitted at Nordstroms and it turns out, conveniently for Nordstroms, that I am a size that only exists at Nordstroms. So there you go. I shelled out an amount that rivals the GDP of Malta, but whatever. It's done.

Then the next day, Honda and Miss V came over so that they could mock my clothes, I mean so that they could help me sort my clothes. Basically it was two hours of, "You can only wear that if you are going to a barn dance." Or from Honda, "How much crap from H&M do you HAVE?!" The answer, for those of you who are curious, is: lots.

They threw out everything they hated, and I ... let them. In the end, we produced a ginormous bag of clothes to take to Goodwill. (Apparently there was lots of hate.) I think Honda and Miss V were surprised at how willing I was to let them throw out stuff, but I have to say, it's amazing how much easier it is to cut the crap when it means that you have that much less stuff to pack.

Note: This is your civic reminder that August 12th is the final day to submit posts to the APLS Carnival. Please email the url of your post to aplscarnival (at) gmail (dot) com. Thanks to everyone who has submitted a post!!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Friday Things

Things I Have Done:
  • Given notice at work.
  • Given notice at my apartment.
  • Sent in my visa application.
  • Sent in my student aid paperwork.
  • Taken torn clothes to be repaired.
  • Purchased books from my "non-required" reading list.
  • Taken car in because the check engine light went on (of course, and of course it was nothing.)
  • Taken computer in to be fixed. (The battery pack kept falling out because this one teensy plastic circle broke, and as a result, the whole bottom casing of my laptop has to be replaced. You can bet Apple got an earful from me about the environmental impact or replacing the whole casing.)
  • Set a date for yard sale.

Things I Have Not Done:
  • Stopeed working.
  • Received my visa.
  • Picked up my clothes from the tailor.
  • Read.
  • Washed my car.
  • Listed my car for sale.
  • Painted my apartment. Or hired painters.
  • Cleaned my apartment.
  • Sent out invites for my going away party.
  • Started advertising yard sale.
  • Taken my clothes to the the non-toxic drycleaners.
  • Packed.

Things I Am Doing:
  • Spending time with friends.
  • Working.
  • Seeing Les Miz in concert at the Hollywood Bowl!

Things I Am Not Doing:
  • Packing.

Things That Have Fallen By The Wayside:
  • Sleeping.
  • Eating proper food.
  • Taking public transit to and from work.
  • Exercise.

Things That Have Not Fallen By The Wayside:
  • N/A

Things That Get Me Through The Day:
  • My fantastic family.
  • My fantastic friends.
  • My fantastic co-workers.
  • My fantastic City of Angels.

Things That Make Me Sad:
  • Saying good-bye to the above.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Summer Carnivals

Well, I guess great minds think alike. At about the same time that we were getting our APLS Carnival off the ground, Lynn at Organic Mania was launching her own Green Moms Carnival. Not being officially a mom (is BM an abbreviation for breast milk or something else, and if it is an abbreviation for breast milk, why does a two syllable phrase need to be abbreviated?) I didn't really look into submitting a post or anything.

As it turns out, the warm and welcoming Lynn was allowing moms, non-moms, and even some XY-chromosome types to participate in the carnival. Ah well. My bad. So I didn't participate in the first go around, but I think the carnival is important, and I wanted to mention it, and just for fun, here's what I might have said, had I thought to like, read the submission guidelines.

People often say that one person's actions can't change the world. That one woman using a reusable shopping bag won't do anything. That one mom buying her groceries at the farmers' market doesn't make a difference. That one family isn't going to stop global warming by composting.

And ... I think that's fair. It's true that my actions alone aren't going to STOP global warming in it's tracks.

But here's the other truth that those people never mention:

We can't curb global warming WITHOUT individual action.

I've said this before, but I think it bears repeating: social movement precedes public policy. And historically, women and mothers have been the backbone of social movements.

Most people, when asked who was responsible for abolition, would immediately respond: Lincoln. But Lincoln didn't just show up on the national scene in a vacuum. On the contrary, the moral crisis over slavery was first fought in individual homes, towns, and churches. Hundreds and hundreds of mothers read Harriet Beecher Stowe's landmark novel, Uncle Tom's Cabin. Hundreds and hundreds of mothers imagined what it would be like to have their child sold into slavery. And soon, hundreds and hundreds of mothers were declaring slavery to be immoral.

Abolition was quickly gaining steam in social circles and churches, but meanwhile, in Washington, Congress and the Presidents of the era were practicing avoidance. For eight years in 1830s and 40s, Congress was actually FORBIDDEN from even DISCUSSING slavery. Finally, in 1850, two years before Uncle Tom's Cabin was published, Congress passed the Compromise of 1850, and with it, the Fugitive Slave Law, which made every citizen complicit in the slave trade. In 1857, the Supreme Court ruled that slaves were property in the egregious Dred Scott decision. When Lincoln was elected, South Carolina seceded from the Union, and the lame duck President Buchanan, actually sat around and did NOTHING. That's right. Nothing.

My point is, while the abolition movement was heating up, while this crisis that would eventually lead to secession was becoming a bigger and bigger issue, our elected leaders did very little. It was not until they were compelled to act by societal forces that anything ever changed. So while, yes, eventually, slavery was abolished due to the 13th Amendment, there wouldn't have ever BEEN a thirteenth amendment if it weren't for individuals banding together to create the abolition movement.

Today, our nation is also facing a major crisis. And just like in 1850, our elected leaders are showing a certain reluctance to actually lead. Indeed, if you were to look at the actions of our government to curb global warming, one would probably think, "We're all doomed."

But ... we're not doomed, and here's why. While the government dilly dallies, and the Earth grows hotter, individuals have been acting. Farmers markets are multiplying. Reusable bags are all the rage. People are driving less, and using public transit more often. People are recycling, composting, line drying clothes, and growing their own food.

And these people who seem to be responsible for most of these changes?

Women. Mothers.

It's very simple really. Mothers still tend to be the ones responsible for the management of a household. They are the ones who often are responsible for buying the groceries, cooking, and drying the clothes. And thus, they are the ones who wield the power to change how their family as a whole operates.

Mothers in our society tend to get ignored by everyone but advertisers and politicians. And the advertisers assume that mothers only care about shopping, and the politicians assume that mothers only care about soccer games and safety.

But the truth is, mothers are much, much more intelligent and complex.

Mothers care about safety, yes, but they're not just worried about terrorists and kidnappers. They care about the safety of our food systems. They care about the toxins that are in our household cleaning products. They care about antibiotics in our drinking water.

And beyond safety, these mothers care about people. They care about building a better society. Their hearts ache for the child whose entire life was dispaced by Katrina. They worry for the Bangladeshi mother who is going to bear the brunt of climate change.

The moms I've had the fortune to meet on the blogosphere are fierce, they are determined, and they are brilliant as hell. They may have a degree in environmental science, or they may never have finished college, but that doesn't stop them from reading, learning, and immersing themselves in the global warming crisis.

Many of our leaders and policy makers might think, "Oh, they're just housewives. What do they really know?"

Well, I'm hear to tell you, they know plenty. And frankly, our elected leaders ignore these fine women at their own risk. Because as each day passes, these women, these mothers, are growing more and more powerful.

And one day, very soon, these women, these "mere housewives" will be so powerful, that our elected leaders will no longer be able to practice avoidance. Our government will be forced to pass meaningful global warming legislation.

And perhaps, 150 years from now, a history book will claim that President Obama was the one responsible for turning around the crisis of global warming.

And the world will forget who was really responsible.

But if the crisis of global warming is overcome, it won't be because of an elected official in Washington D.C.

It will be because of mothers and fathers, singletons and families, in California, in Michigan, in Florida, in France, in Canada, and all over the world.

We are not doomed.

The world will be saved.

Because the mothers are on the march.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

It Rhymes With Gucci

Or Susan Lucci. But not Jim Belushi.

That is all.

ETA: That is not all, because everyone got confused, and now I feel bad. So I will explain. Ruchi, as in, my name, rhymes with Gucci. And Susan Lucci. But not Jim Belushi because it's a hard "ch" and not a soft "sh." Also, don't feel like you have to call me Ruchi. I am perfectly fine being called Arduous, I just figured half the world already knows my name, I might as well give up the charade. Besides, I am proud of this blog, and of this community, and I stand by my writing, so why NOT associate my name with it! So there.

Okay, People, I Have Issues

Yeah, I know you are sooooo surprised. Moi? Issues? Never!!

Okay, but here's the thing. I don't think I can shop. It's kinda freakin me out and making me all rashy and nervous.

Par example, today I was on Amazon buying some books because, well I got a pretty sweet gift card for my birthday and I have been sitting on it because of the freegan challenge. I ordered five used books for the plane (two books on my reading list for school and then Big Green Purse, Commonwealth and Guns, Germs, and Steel.) Used books, fine. No rash. All normal, all good. I've been buying used books all year, so nothing new here.

And then I went to order Stuffed and Starved and The Post-American World. These are both books I've been DYING to read (shut up, I'm a geek, okay?) and I've been on the list at my library for centuries. They're also very recently published. Which means that there aren't a lot of used copies. Which means that the new copies are actually CHEAPER than the used ones on Amazon.

So, I have a gift card. (I also have two Barnes and Noble gift cards and a Borders gift card. People apparently know I like books?) Isn't the answer obvious? I REALLY want to read these books. They are cheaper new. I should just buy them new, right? I can buy new stuff!

But, I couldn't do it. I don't know, I don't know why. I just couldn't wrap my head around the idea of buying something new. So I didn't order either book.

And with everything else, it feels the same. Yesterday I started questioning if I should even BUY underwear. I was like, "Why? Am I really dying over here with my current underwear?" And the answer is no.

The thing is I've gotten so familiar with needs versus wants, that I feel like I can no longer justify buying anything.

I want a new Simple backpack, but I have an old backpack. I want to buy a couple new shirts, but I don't need any shirts. I want a pair of jeans, but ... you know the drill.

Some of it, of course, is that I'm leaving. I'm already overwhelmed with packing. I'm going to be in school for a year, and not working and taking out loans for schooling. It seems irresponsible, frankly, to spend much money on new stuff.

But the truth is, even when you take money out of the equation, even when I have a gift certificate, I'm having a hard time with the new stuff.

I know there is very little I need. But ... isn't it okay to buy something now and again because I WANT to even if I don't NEED to? What's the big deal with buying a new book every now and again, especially if it's a book I really want to read that is cheaper new? And isn't it okay to occasionally buy a pretty new dress just because it's pretty and new?

Or isn't it?

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Freeganism, Principles, and Underwear, Oh My!

No, I have not bought underwear yet. Can I tell you something? Organic underwear? Is kinda ...ugly. And seriously expensive. I know, I know, natural dyes, blah blah blah. But look at this!! Even the cut seems unflattering. Do I seriously have to spend $19 for granny panties?! Someone heeeeeeeeeelp meeeeeeeeeeeee.

So yeah, no underwear. But what I have done is eat out. Pretty much the second my Pseudo Freegan month ended.

Being a freegan, even the pseudo freegan kind, is interesting. It was actually less difficult to find food than I thought. Pretty much every day at the office, someone would order food, or bring in bagels, or something. And so, I would eat ... whatever was lying around in the office. Which meant carbs, carbs, and more carbs until Awesomest Co-worker freaked out that I was going to overdose on carbs (psssh as if THAT'S possible) and made me eat some minestrone soup she had in her cube.

Here's the thing. Freegans, like beggars, cannot be choosers. I don't know if the NYC freegans raid organic gardens, or what, but personally? I was eating mostly non-local, non-organic free bagels and cream cheese, topped with the occasional conventionally grown tomato. When my mom sent me home with veggie burgers, I ate the veggie burgers straight for a week. Not the sort of thing I tend to eat that often since veggie burgers are pretty processed, but ... again. It was free.

One of the things I really appreciated about my non-consumerist year was that it allowed me to live in accordance with my principles. For example, a few years ago, there was a brouhaha over some Target employees refusing to fill the morning-after pill for customers. Target defended its employees, basically stating that it was up to the employee's discretion whether or not to fill the prescription or not. I was really pissed, but other than writing Target a stern email, I did nothing. You see, I WANTED to stop shopping at Target, truly, I did, but, I just didn't see such a thing as really POSSIBLE.

Looking back, that seems really ridiculous. I seriously thought that I had no choice but to shop at Target? Was someone holding a gun to my head and forcing me to purchase cute, but totally unnecessary purses? Why did I feel like I had no options?

I think part of the problem is, you get overwhelmed. Every single clothing company reportedly uses sweatshop labor. Walmart depresses local economies and treats its employees poorly. How can you boycott every major store on the planet? You can't, right? And if you can't, then you may as well shop everywhere.

That, in sum, was my argument for years. But this past year, I managed to go a whole year without purchasing anything from any of those major clothing stores. And you know what? It's not impossible. Even now, when I plan to start buying clothes, there are plenty of thrift stores to shop at (so if I want, I'm able to buy Gap clothes without actually giving money to Gap), and more and more eco-friendly stores with fair labor practices. And you know, what? It is so empowering when you realize that no, you are not entirely dependent on big huge clothing stores. You don't HAVE to shop at Target; in fact, you do just fine without Target.

On the other hand, with the freegan food thing, I felt much more conflicted. I feel very strongly about building the market for local and organic food. So the fact that I wasn't buying, that I wasn't sending my money to local food economies, was strange.

It's a delicate balance isn't it? Between not buying and opting out and supporting sustainable economies and opting in? During my non-consumerist year, I balanced the not buying durable goods with buying food at restaurants, buying songs off iTunes, paying for concerts, movies, plays, and museums. But during my pseudo freegan month, that balance was gone, and it felt weird.

Sure, I was saving money, and reducing food waste. But what about my principles? Is it really principled to be eating nothing but non-organic bagels and conventional cream cheese for a month just because it's free? Is freeganism taking non-consumerism too far? Even pseudo-freeganism?

Eventually, and, I don't know, maybe the carb overloading was causing hallucinations, but I started to come up with this analogy. Just as it takes all kinds of species in an eco-system, perhaps it takes all kinds of eco-nuts. You have your herbivores, your omnivores, and then there are the freegans: the scavengers. And you need the right balance of all these types of species. Freegans, therefore, are performing a necessary function in this eco-system.

Necessary, perhaps, but I think unfortunately, the freegans will have to do without me from now on. The farmers' market is beckoning, and, to be perfectly honest, I'm a little tired of bagels.

Monday, August 4, 2008

There Will Be Bikini Briefs

One FREAKING year.

Oh yes. One fuh-ruh-zeaking YEAR.

It has been one year since I have bought any clothes whatsoever.

One year of no new things.

One year of no new underwear.

One year. 12 months. 366 days.

Holy hell.

How does it feel?

Strange, at times. Today I was at Ryl's house for brunch, and I commented on how much I liked Honda's top. And Honda said she bought it at Target, and I responded, I guess, in a tone of surprise.

"Wow, you must have not been to Target recently if you're surprised they have cute clothes," Annie said.

"Am I THAT out of it?" I wondered. And I thought a little, and realized that I haven't even stepped foot in a Target since December. In fact, I have a $5 gift card to Target that I received on that trip, and normally that gift card would be long gone, right? I mean, it's Target! And it's $5. But ... the card is still sitting in my purse, waiting to be used. Waiting for me to set forth in Target again.

I would like to take this time to say something profound about this year. What it's taught me. How I've grown. And yet ... I seem incapable of coming up with something really eloquent. I learned there are few things you can't do without. I learned that you can manage okay with neither a fan nor air conditioning in the summer as long as you keep your windows open. I learned that if you take the cushions off a papasan, the frame serves as a decent drying rack.

There were a few cheats, including the most recent one: orthodic insoles for my shoes. (Does it count if insurance pays for it? I'm not sure.) But aside from about five incidents, I stuck to my rules.

I did allow myself to buy stuff used, and I think 85% of the things I bought used were books. Books are something I'd never be able to give up buying, but luckily you can find almost every book used very easily these days. But other than books and CDs, I really didn't buy much used stuff either.

So what did I do? I did my fair share of borrowing. Cookie sheets from Honda. Books from the library. A scooter from Mouse. A Playstation from a co-worker.

And I did a LOT of making do. Making a heating pad from rice and an old sock. Using a paper template to cut gingerbread men. Using old tupperware as mixing bowls. Making my own scrapbooks from old binders and leftover paper.

And on occasion, my dear friends and family bought me new stuff that I really appreciate. Honda bought me a Klean Kanteen and a messenger bag made of recycled plastic bottles. Miss V and Annie bought me novelty tees.

So what now?

Now, life begins! For real. No rules. No restrictions. Just my own memories of this amazing year, and my newfound understanding about what really matters.

What really matters?

People. Friends and family. Our health. Experiences. Food. Art. Music. Security. Education.

What doesn't really matter?

Cars. Cell phones. Expensive sheets. Purses. Matching plates.

Thank you all for following me on this adventure. Thank you to everyone who has read my blog, and cheered me on. Thanks to everyone who's stood in a store and wondered "What Would Arduous Do?" Thanks especially to my mom, Honda and Miss V who bore the brunt of my insanity. It's been quite a journey, but don't despair. This is only the beginning, my friends. Only the beginning.

Now if you'll excuse me, I have underwear to buy.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Warning: This Point Contains Unnecessary Whining

Well, just two days before my Pseudo Freegan challenge was to end, I pretty much blew it. Yesterday, on July 30th, I not only ended up buying lunch, I had a pizza delivered for dinner as well. 

Oh sure, I can offer up excuses. I was exhausted and stressed and running out of food. It's true. But the sad truth is, when push comes to shove, when I'm really stressed out, it's either buy food, or go hungry. Because I just will not bother to make myself food when I'm stressed if it takes ANY effort. It's a bad, bad habit, but when I hit the end of my rope, I would rather skip meals than cook. 

And I'm at the end of my rope. Or near it. Every day I feel as burned out as the day before. And it doesn't matter how much sleep I get or how much I accomplish, or how much I try to let myself relax and watch TV or read a book. Today, at the end of work, I landed up in co-worker's office crying. 

I don't do well with stress. Correction, I tend to work just fine under pressure, but the big problem is, I'm a control freak. And when I'm dealing with things outside of my control, I just break down.

I don't know what to do. Today, I had a major melt down of the sort that I  haven't experienced in over a year. I *thought* I was getting better, and learning to handle things better. And maybe I am, but today I completely relapsed. I spent the whole day obsessing over things that I really didn't need to obsess over. It was absolutely horrible.

And the worst of it is, I'm so stressed about visas and car selling and car smogging and stuff selling and apartment moving, that I'm not even able to be excited. Instead I am thinking about all the logistics and it's overwhelming and scary. And then I think about the "non-required" reading list a mile long that I got sent and I wonder, how the hell am I going to do this? Everyone thinks that this is going to be so great and I'm going to do so well and has such high expectations. But like ... I haven't been back to school is seven years. I don't know what the hell I'm doing! I can barely figure out my stupid Stafford loans. If I can't figure out my loans, how the hell am I smart enough to go to graduate school!

I know that deep down, underneath all the stress and angst and heartache that this is the right thing to do. Sometimes when I'm able to reach deep down, I remember why I'm going, and I get all excited and happy and amazed that I was afforded such a wonderful opportunity. But too often, I'm just thinking, "Crap, I have to clean out my car and drive 5 miles out of the way to the non-toxic dry-cleaner, and then I have to get my car washed and OH MY GOD MY HAIR IS A DISASTER, I HAVE TO CUT MY HAIR." 

I dunno. I feel stupid whining about my life when this is all good stuff happening. I know I should be properly happy and grateful and not be a pain in the ass on my blog about how life is HARD when hellooooo, clearly I should be counting my blessings.

But guuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuys! Life is hard!!!!!