Saturday, December 30, 2017

A weird Christmas.

I'm writing this on the evening of the 29th, in a hotel in Lubbock, after a very thought-provoking, warm and fuzzy, capitalistic-encouraging Christmas.

I can honestly say I sort of changed this Christmas. 2017 was a rough year, and not just because it's an odd, pointy number (I'm greatly looking forward to delving into the smooth curves of 2018, but I'll get into that in another post). With the year ALMOST behind me (us), and my 30th birthday looming ahead, I granted myself an opportunity to take the 10 hour drive by myself to my next-door state and visit 40 of my family members and friends in one central location. The only kicker is that I have to endure the quintessential Capitalistic+religious love-baby that is Christmas. 
Don't get me wrong-- for all the things I can't stand about Christmas- the strong implication that it is necessary to buy things people don't need to show that you care about them, the growing tension as the holiday approaches, the inability to get through a shopping line under 10 minutes, and the intolerable commercials, there are the wonderments of cinnamon candles, making cookies, seeing relatives, singing songs together, and the sparkle of a decorated tree emanating it's fragrance in the front room. 

One thing that changed me was the words of encouragement from friends and family who read my blog. Although you (and Russia, apparently) are the only ones who read my blog, it showed that it's certainly not for nothin'. Although it does cause hesitation when the characters of my world that I'm depicting here are also my only readers. I appreciate you all for following along, and I have some exciting things planed for the coming year.

Because the greatest memories and revelations from my one week home came from vastly different sources, I can think of no better way to present them than....bullet points.

  • The sweetest, smartest, most-gentle-man in the world (who happens to be my grandpa) told me not to worry too much about rising climate change, and increasing stupidity (my words) because we're going to get nuked. #affirmation
    • As a side note-- I listened to the Nature Backchat podcast from November 2016, with world scientists coming to grips with Trump's election win and speculating what that might mean for science...and I felt okay-- like there are champions of science working to spread information and educate people. Then I went to Wal-Mart, and felt like maybe getting nuked wouldn't be so bad. Really though-- so many people seemed to be suffering, smoking, shuddering, stooping. If going to Wal-Mart is their greatest hope in life, maybe a bomb wouldn't be so bad. #judging #sympathizing
  • My other amazing grandfather said "I hope to see you again" when he hugged me g'bye.
    But there's NO WAY I won't see him again cause he's a peppy 93 years old and we've got lots of life to live together. 
  • Internal monologue while watching presents unwrapped, "So much packaging. Wait that's recyclable! (watches as it's thrown in trash). Dammit. People use these? Can't we just read books anymore? What's that? How does it work? Put your phone down!"
  • Comparing my 5 humble Christmas celebrations to my boyfriend's one simple present opening. 
  • Reading my favorite Christmas story to my family with the help of my English-expert brother for some of O'Henry's harder words. 
  • Taking 5 trips to pack up all the wonderful gifts I received-- that I don't need, some I wanted, others, such as the fuzziest blanket I've ever had, will certainly come in handy, wondering how it's fair that I get so much love, warmth, food and presents while others get so little. 
I guess the bottom line is that I'm sensitive. I'm sensitive to people wasting resources, and I'm sensitive to people who fill their bodies with cool whip and fast food and sneer at kale salads and doing squats and stretches in public. I can honestly say that I've been touched with the Christmas spirit this year. As I'm sitting in my gnome pajamas from my grandma, in a hotel my dad booked for me so I could take a rest from the road, eating a chocolate covered strawberry that my brother made himself I am literally surrounded by love and warmth. This Christmas was overwhelming if you count what I ate or spent or saw thrown away... but it reminded me of how blessed I am to have family and presents and live in a place without blizzards, or fires or hurricanes (currently). And I am motivated more than ever to spread the love and warm fuzzies. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Things I don't Understand

I haven’t written in a Long time. It’s certainly not because I have nothing to say. It might have something to do with the insane hours I put in at my job. But it’s mostly because I’ve been listening. There are a lot of voices speaking up for the first time, or that have been speaking up for a long time and are finally being heard. So I’m listening.

The shortest summary I can give for my stance as an environmentalist, is that we’ve failed. Maybe it occurred when Trump got elected. Maybe it was that seemingly insignificant day when the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million of carbon dioxide? It is quite possible that it has been a different day for every different person, and clearly, that day hasn’t come for some, yet. But as I increasingly allow myself to understand what it means that we have failed, I am comforted as friends and colleagues join me.

I’m talking about an utter loss of hope. A paradigm shift. The start of the apocalypse—to be dramatic.

A year ago I still felt that I was making a difference. That I could bike to work, explain to others what could be recycled, and inspire environmental literacy in our youth. Today, every time I hear a low-flying plane, I imagine it’s a nuclear bomb. Beautiful women harmonizing on the radio sing of “when the soft rains come” after the people have wiped ourselves out. Environmentalists I use to work for also make plans about where they should move to avoid rising sea-waters, increased hurricane activity, extended droughts and unforeseen things like blackouts and a breakdown of our necessary systems like food transit.

In short, I strongly believe that we’re going downhill, fast. But I’m not here to talk about that (yet).
Since I’m still listening, I want You, whoever you are reading this besides my mom and maybe my uncle, to explain these things to me. Things I really don’t understand.

I am not a professional scientist. But I spent a lot of my undergrad studying science, and I seek to continually learn about how our world works. I know that our climate is something we’re still trying to figure out, and that it runs in cycles that overlap on cycles that repeat with other cycles. Like most of our world, nature is beautifully complicated. I know that trees and plants can communicate within their communities through energy, and some sort of pheromones. I know that there are MILLIONS  of species that we aren’t even aware of, but we act like we’re the only ones who share this planet.

But there are a number of things I can’t, for the life of me, understand.

1)      Babies. I clearly missed the procreation gene, or something. I just really don’t understand how, with all the social, environmental and population issues plaguing our planet, why anyone would want to make a smaller version of themselves to have to feed and teach and grow into a decent human. In my experience, most people having babies forget that last part.

2)     Lack of systematics and mistrust for science. How many of you reading this have a degree in science? I recognize that a lot of science is funded by interest groups that can make scientists unreliable, (see below) which should prompt us to be skeptical and search for citations…not mistrust science. When someone who spends 60 hours a week studying something that interests them for a nominal wage is arguing against someone who has billions of dollars to lose and will say or do anything to not lose money… why wouldn’t you apply that skepticism to the latter.

3)      Capitalism. I understand the idea of capitalism around material things, to an extent. I don’t understand how greed can manipulate basic human services like education and healthcare.

4)      Economics. I took a couple classes on economics. One drove me to environmentalism. I really don’t understand environmental economics. Maybe economics outside of capitalism makes more sense.

5)      Apathy. In a world with SO MUCH going on, how can anyone not be bothered to care, about something, at least.

6)      Human nature. This one might be unpopular. But as an animal species-- albeit a sentient, empathetic one—there are things that are inherent to our nature that we seem to suddenly be asking everyone to ignore. Not that all people born with female genitalia have the nurturing gene, or that all men are aggressive fighters… but many of us are. I’m not opposed to the non-binary trends and appeal for an increase in sensitivity, but I wonder how it’s going to work on us apathetic animals.

These are the things I don’t expect to understand, no matter how much I’m listening.
Most days, I wake up and go through the motions because it’s what I’ve practiced doing for so long. Recycling, taking short showers, up-keeping my bike, and buying food from the local farmers market. But when I hear those low-flying planes and imagine what the blast would feel like… I feel sort of calm. That all these increasingly complicated layers of our society that don’t make any sense, might just disappear.