The Lazy Consumers

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I’m a hypocrite! That just flashed across my mind this morning as I was on my soapbox about the plastic bag ban in LA county. I was so glad that it passed and that now, people will have to pay $0.10 for a paper bag or bring their own. I got into a discussion with someone about all the selfish, consumer-driven trash that we are overwhelming our planet with. And there was a comment about how kids are not stepping up to the plate after finally being taught environmental science in the school curriculum. Or rather, how they are not picking up the mantle. Because they are constantly bombarded with messages about how to be cool, and most of that stems from having to have the latest gadget or clothing or the next disposable “whatever” in their teenage lives.

And then I went online to search for a single-serve pod coffee maker.

It hit me right across the forehead – I’m just as bad! I complain about consumerism, useless gadgets, people not being able to have a human conversation and social interaction, and I go off and do the same thing. It’s difficult to be that self-denialistic. That’s not even a word. But I don’t care.

I think of my friend, Ann, who is tireless in her causes. She worked so hard in getting awareness out about the vote to ban the plastic bags – she went to rallies, sent announcements through Facebook, always has a green message in her e-mails to you – she really and truly believes she can make a difference. And she does, in every single small way, every day, she is thinking about how to leave a better planet.  She is what I think would be called an ascetic. She doesn’t allow herself many conveniences or extraneous frills. She donated her car for a tax write-off and attends a lot of the rallies that she goes to by bus or other public transportation (which in Los Angeles is no small feat).

But, back to me and my selfish hypocrisy. I find it fascinating that since the dawn of the industrial revolution, we have come up with machines to “make our life easier.” They take away our work and leave us more time for “relaxing” and having more time for our families (but we really don’t spend that time with them). In the meantime, we get fatter, lazier, and more spiritually unfulfilled. Our manufacturing is mostly now done in China by young children with the cheapest of materials and the shoddiest standards that can be gotten away with. But it only costs $1.49 at WalMart, and that’s what it’s all about. So we can have more “stuff” that we want, even if it only lasts a year, or less, and is made out of man-made materials instead of natural fibers, so we can dispose of it when it starts to fray or lose its shape or pill up into little balls.  Then it can sit in landfills for a thousand or so years, leaching toxins into our soils and aquifers.

We have gone from a nation that respected, even revered, craftsmanship in all its forms – construction of homes, sewing, knitting, cooking, making furniture – a nation that once took pride in what it produced. Now, we’ve become lazy consumers. Yes, we consume a shitload of the world’s resources because we have such great wealth. But we are lazy. Not just in body, but in mind. We want the easy way out. We don’t want to have to think, or puzzle it out, or come up with great ideas (some still do, but they are a rarity, and looked on as “retro”). We want our machines to do it for us.  We have forgotten the feeling of happy exhaustion from a task well done, the aching muscles, the endorphins (now we go to the gym for that). The sense of accomplishment and pride at making something with our own hands.

There are a few inventions that are seminal – the washing machine – the refrigerator – I won’t say dryer because I remember as a kid my mum hanging out the wash on an outside rack – there was a smell that you couldn’t bottle into Downy and a feeling that no tumbler could impart on the clothes. That’s one of my points – we try to make these things that are already out there – the clothes on the drying rack – let’s invent Downy so it smells just like it. But it doesn’t. The scents in nature that are out there and so elusive – a rainshower (that smell of hot wet concrete in the summer, you know the smell don’t you?); a forest; an ocean shore; we try to invent facsimiles of this so we can have it all the time. Well, maybe we weren’t meant to have it all the time. Maybe the scents and experiences should only be experienced once in a while, or once in a lifetime even. My ex used to take me to his family’s cabin in northern Michigan in the summer. There was this amazing scent that was there – cherries, trees, earth, water, fire. Once you were there you got used to it and couldn’t discern the smell from just what you were breathing, but when you came home and unpacked, you were there again as your clothes released the scent of Traverse City, and you were instantly transported back. I have only smelled that smell one other time since. It grabbed me, stopped me in my tracks, and brought tears to my eyes. It conjured up the good memories I had when I went there. It was fleeting, and I wanted more. But I knew that the one whiff I got would have to tide me over.

Smell is the strongest sense we have to trigger memory, and we want these olfactory reminders all the time, so we desperately try to bring them back. So we have plug-ins, disappearing gels, ozone-killing aerosols to try and bring them back to us. At the cost of putting petroleum-laced chemicals in our homes. And loosing hormones (including photoestrogens that mess up reproductive organs and health), that we ingest that scramble our signals and confuse our body’s fine-tuned systems. But, at least it smells “good,” right?

Thank God we don’t have to smell our own humanity. We cover up everything that makes us human, in our quest to be better than human. Godlike. Surely, a spiritual being doesn’t stink, right? God doesn’t smell like sweat or musk or hard work. We coat our pits with aluminum and take the chance of Alzheimer’s later in life rather than smell human. We douse our pulse points with chemicals that smell like something else rather than the unique pheromones we all give off. We light a Yankee candle or spray lavender in the bathroom rather than let anyone think our shit stinks. It’s a toilet, right? Isn’t is supposed to smell a little?  I’d prefer that if you wanted to disguise where you’d been… just light a match, please!

We take away every single thing that makes us human, that designates us as animal (and I mean animal in the Latin term, “being that breathes”).

I think that we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. That our spirit has been plopped down into this “animus” and we are just trying to figure out how to be human. It’s not always fun.  It’s messy, fraught with sounds and smells that are uniquely us.  Probably why we’re such bad communicators too. Why can’t you read my mind? Well, maybe in the spiritual world you don’t have to, and we forget that.

The burping, the farting, the sweating, the crying, the vomiting, the sneezing… vive le humanity.

That Age-Old Question of Carrying on One’s Genes

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This year has gone by like the blink of an eye for me. You have to understand, I’m a really late bloomer. I’ve always been smart, and mature, and people looked to me for advice on what to do with their own lives, while I could barely keep a hold of my own. But I hid it really well. That’s what growing up in alcoholism does to you. You become a chameleon, trying to fit in, trying to find that niche that will let you feel like you belong for the first time in your life.

Don’t get me wrong – there’s not a lot I regret about my life. I’ve definitely lived, and had a great time doing it. I always thought that I just “hadn’t found the right person/job/town/friend/career/etc., etc.” and that sooner or later it would appear.

I didn’t care about things like retirement, 401 K, savings accounts… Green Cards, little things like that. I was sure that I would become a famous singer or actress (or not even famous, but enough to live on) and that would take care of it all. That was my 20s.

I moved to L.A. when I was 30 and spent quite a few years trying to fit in – it was such a culture shock from Boston. I hooked up with one alcoholic/drug addict after the other, and kept thinking, “why won’t they marry me?” It was only after I got into 12-step recovery that I found out I was as much to blame as them. Deep down, I really didn’t want to get married because I thought I wasn’t worthy.

After several years cleaning up my past mistakes, and really learning about myself and why I do the things I do, I was told I was ready to date. I really didn’t want to, as I was in fear of a lot of things, namely rejection, especially in LA. I was terrified but I did it anyway.

I bit the bullet and went on Match.com. I had several really horrible dates; including one where I said I was going to the bathroom and actually walked out the back door and left him there he was so rude. I had some good ones too, but somewhere inside, I knew it wasn’t “right.”

Then, I got “winked” at by this guy on Match.com. I checked out his profile and almost deleted him. But something told me not to go by first impressions and to at least talk to him. We started very slowly and e-mailed back and forth. I let him send me his phone number, and we talked. Short, friendly conversations that didn’t drag on and just let each other know we were interested.

After a while of phone calls, we arranged to meet at Priscilla’s in Burbank. I got there early and waited round the side of the coffee house, until I realized he was late! I phoned my friend and she was going to come pick me up, but I wanted to give him another chance. I walked around the other side of the coffee house, and there he was, phoning his brother saying, “she stood me up.”

After laughing and getting the awkwardness out of the way, we sat down to talk. And we talked, and talked, and talked. We closed Priscilla’s down. He was much more handsome than his picture and so sweet. I felt something inside that I couldn’t nail down but it felt good… I felt happy.

I was definitely hooked. So fast forward to today, three years later… I moved in with him after two years, and the year after that he proposed two days before my 40th birthday. To top that, we got married in San Francisco two months later while we were there for a CAL football game.

That’s where we are now. We’ve been married for three months, and I can’t believe that happiness like this exists. It’s borne out of hard work, respect, and the willingness to work whatever may come up, out. A good friend of mine told me – it’s all about choice. It’s a choice to be married – and if you want to be married, then be married. If you want to be divorced, be divorced. It sounds simple, but it really is a choice to be happy and to want to work at it.

Now, let’s get down to the nitty gritty of what this year has plopped in my lap after all of this. I went in for my yearly exam five weeks ago and was told I have ovarian cysts. Kinda funny since I’ve been on the Pill on and off since I was 16 to deal with this issue. So, in between my amazement that this was actually happening, and wanting to be healthy, I decided to have them removed. This is where it gets good.

It’s not bad enough that my whole life people have been asking, “so when are you going to get married?” but now that I am, it’s become perfectly acceptable and appropriate for strangers, and close friends, and parents, to ask the extremely personal question, “so when are you going to get pregnant?”

I think that this is just the rudest question there is.

How can people be so flip, so carefree, in asking something that should be no one else’s business but your doctor’s and you and your spouse’s? And then add to that insult, injury – “Well, you are 40 you know and you better get moving.” Holy shit! I’m 40? When did that happen? Oh yeah! Right after getting engaged and before getting married.

Listen… I know how old I am. I look in the mirror every day, and trust me, I’m not in denial. Every time you ask me when I’m going to have a baby, you probably push it back for me a few months. It’s none of your business, as well-meaning as you are.

When I had the ovarian cysts removed, they also found out I had endometriosis, and uterine fibroids. I was in a lot of pain, and just thought it was normal. That’s how messed up I am. I don’t know what “normal” is. I’ve got enough going on in my head with learning how to be a wife, dealing with the fact I am losing my job on March 29, and getting up to deal with my cretin of a boss every day without wanting to slit my wrists. I don’t want to even THINK about bringing another life into the world without getting my own together first.

And who knows what kind of mother I’d be? Everyone says I’d be an awesome mother, but I am not so sure. I have NEVER (let me repeat that) NEVER had “ooh” and “ahh” feelings when I see babies. I think that children are adorable (especially when they’re brought up properly with like, manners and stuff 🙂 ) and I like being around them, but I don’t feel that pull, that squinchiness in my belly, to actually have my own.

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I just want to enjoy being a newlywed for a while, is that so wrong? We’re still getting to know one another, learning about each other and how to communicate. I think it would be a great disservice to both of us, since we are ambiguous about the whole thing right now, to bring a child into that.

I love my husband very much. I know in my heart that we will be guided to do what is right for us, and no one else, if we keep growing and learning about one another and ourselves. If that means having a child, then it will happen, or it won’t. It is not the be-all and end-all for me, or him. I’m thankful that we’re in the exact same place about this and have the chance to grow together and decide together without one of us feeling like we aren’t getting what we want.