The End of the Innocence

So did you do your homework? Did you read the article? What, you thought I was going to post it and then forget about it, like I do all the time?

This particular article really struck a chord with me, and it feels appropriate to ruminate on it as Earth Day approaches. The main idea can be summarized in one quote: “[I]t is time to stop obsessing with how personally green we live – and start collectively taking on corporate power.”

Individualism vs. collectivism is something I often think about. First off, I think the article is a thousand percent correct, and I almost gave a sigh of relief reading it. There’s been many, many a time when, in the midst of saving something from the trash that should go in the recycling, or shutting my car off in the winter instead of idling it, while waiting to pick up the kids at school, that a little voice has said: Who cares? Like this planet isn’t doomed already. Why are you being neurotic over things like this? Just turn on the car instead of freezing. Knowing, as the article details, that individual actions are not worth much when giant corporations and whole nations aren’t doing their part.

Zooming out from the climate change/green living angle, I’m a little tired of me and my individual efforts in general. Sometimes I go back and read my blog posts and I’m just sick of all the “I’s.” Lazy writing, and it gets boring after a while. I did this, I did that.

I know why my posts tend to run in that direction. One, I just want a record of what I’ve done, whether it’s bake a cake or reuse a package in shipping or play basketball with the kids. I swear to God I wouldn’t remember half of what’s gone on the past several years if I didn’t write it down. In the early days of the blog, seeing what I’d accomplished made me feel better about staying home with the kids and helped me make some sense out of days that could be a little blurry and monotonous. Even now, I get a little boost from reviewing what I’ve gotten done. But I have to resist the urge to make the blog allll about that. There’s a holier-than-thou whiff about it that’s off-putting, and a laziness too. For all the busyness, I’m taking the easy way out if I only work on fixing my life. It’s like… spending hours on a model airplane or building a dollhouse. It is difficult, and time consuming, but in the end it’s just a hobby. I’ve been stuck in the mode of “let me carefully construct this blameless life.” It’s not enough.

On the other hand, there is a value both to making attempts as an individual to change your life and to sharing those attempts with others, no matter how minor they are. Whether the context is eating better, living green, saving money, or whatever. We’re all learning from each other, all the time, and perhaps never more so now that we have social media.

And, of course, it’s simply illogical that someone who never tries to implement green practices in her own life is going to suddenly show up to protest pipelines. So, bottom line: let’s keep up our individual efforts, but not lose sight of the big picture. For me, that means resisting my introverted nature and getting out there to TALK WITH PEOPLE (gasp) and work with others to achieve change.

Hopefully, someday I’ll have a day job that comports with the ideals of this blog, and everything will be one seamless effort. For now, I’ve taken a part-time job in a law office; this week was my first week. It’s nice to be working again and I enjoy the job. I did have to run out and get a bunch of office-appropriate clothes, but both Frugal downtown and Goodwill really came through for me, and my mom offered me some clothes as well. I may end up doing something food/farm related on the weekends, but that’s not finalized yet.

I had a long conversation about some of these points the other day with my new friend A., who is renting our garage for storage space for his produce club (sort of a mini co-op). What’s funny, I said at one point, is that part of my initial attraction to food, gardening, etc., was that it seemed nonpolitical. The garden was a retreat, a safe haven. Appreciation for food is universal and timeless. Wanting to eat better, safer, cleaner food — how could anyone be against that? What’s controversial about that? Hahaha. In reality, food, and access to food, and control over food, is as political as anything.


It’s been another good week or two for selling items: a lifejacket, two clothes lots, and 3 other pieces of apparel. Might be selling some end tables this weekend. I think today is the town Green Festival but I think I’m just going to hang out at home — list more stuff, declutter more. Maybe we will take a walk and pick up trash in the neighborhood for Earth Day.

I planted a little bit of lettuce and arugula the other day. Couldn’t help myself. One arugula plant had already come up, a self-seeder from last year. So I had some tasty sandwiches for a few days. I had a lovely dream last night that I walked back out to that same corner of the yard and found all these things growing — carrots, watermelon, cucumbers — and I was so thrilled. “I didn’t know these could all self seed!”

Today is my grandfather’s birthday — if he were alive he’d be 97 today! But he died 20 years ago this July. That’s hard to believe. My new job is a stone’s throw away from the neighborhood where my grandparents lived (my dad’s mother, and also my mother’s parents). It is a bit surreal driving there in the morning — sometimes I take the same route that we always took to get there from my childhood home (Chapel Ave). Not much has changed, and I could probably drive there with my eyes closed. Sometimes life seems to fold in on itself. I’m writing, I’m drawing, and the pen is bleeding through the tissue-thin paper and making the same marks on the layers below. Patterns upon patterns upon patterns. As you’ll see in my next post.

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