Where I Blather Like A Crazy Liberal

December 16, 2008

Jennifer of Veg*n Cooking wrote:

I would love to read your thoughts on any number of “pressing social issues” – gay marriage, the economy, energy, war, environmental degradation. These are just suggestions though, feel free to ignore them. :-)

Oh come on, Jennifer. Other people suggested I write about falling down in public or what’s outside my window and you have to go and suggest something that involves THINKING? Something that requires a BRAIN? Something that requires a degree that is not a BFA in Music Theatre?

HAAAAAA.

Pressing social issues.

Okay. Here we go.

Ahem.

WHERE WE STAND ON PRESSING SOCIAL ISSUES
by Laura Elizabeth, age 25.

We are fucked.

The End.

Ah, I kid, I kid.

Let’s take these one at a time.

Gay Marriage:

Gay people got screwed this year. SCREWED. And not in a good way.

I have to tell you, Jennifer and anyone else who cares, the passing of Prop 8 in California was devastating. It was shocking to me, absolutely shocking especially in places as “liberal” as Los Angeles where the vote was almost evenly split 50/50. I’ve said this before but I think that the way we treat gay people in this country will go down in history as our generation’s civil rights movement.

Perhaps I am unable to separate my emotions from the politics of it. I live with two gay men, my best friend in the world is a gay man, hell, I am involved in the music theatre world: it doesn’t get much gayer than that. And maybe one could argue that I’m just letting my love for my friends get in the way of the fact that they are living in SIN and need to change their ways. (Oh wait, someone did argue that with me. THANK YOU! SMOOCHES!) But even without my emotions, I can’t follow the logic. I don’t know what we are “protecting”. I don’t know why we can’t open our circle of love a little bit wider.

We are all human or we aren’t. To state that gay people can have rights but just not the same rights as straight people is agreeing that gay people are not really people. They are second-class citizens. They do not deserve the same rights and privileges the rest of us have.

And why? Because of their “sexual preference”? Sorry. Sexuality is not a preference. It’s an orientation. Trust me. If the two gay men I live with are STILL GAY after living with the HOTNESS that is me? THEY ARE BORN THAT WAY. Because people, I am hot.

Also, it seems to be a RELIGIOUS issue making its way into POLITICS which, if you haven’t noticed, isn’t really allowed in this country. So, that pisses me off. A LOT. I wonder what would happen if we removed the ability for states to issue marriage licenses. To everyone. Therefore, if you wanted to get “married”, you could get a civil union certificate from the state and then you could go to your church/synoguge/mosque/ceremony on the river at sunset and get “married” by a clergy person or your brother who was ordained a minister via the internet, etc.

I wonder about THAT.

Moving on.

The Economy:

Oh, Jennifer. We are FUCKED.

I, in particular am fucked because today, I was alerted that my temp agency is slashing my salary by 15%. This makes perfect sense, right? The employees I work with will probably forgo bonuses this year but they will still take home a steady paycheck, complete with health benefits, paid vacation and paid sick days. While, I, the temp, will get my hourly rate SLASHED by 15% while STILL taking home no health benefits, paid vacation or sick days. EXPLAIN TO ME HOW THIS IS FAIR.

It isn’t.

But hey, also? I could have been laid off today. So if it’s that or a pay cut? I’ll take the pay cut.

Still – if you have extra cash, please send it to me. I will put out. Thanks.

Energy:

Hm. Like, what kind of energy?

Energy in terms of America’s reliance on oil? The oxymoronic phrase “clean coal”? The way my car gets 33 miles/gallon? That kind of energy?

Or the energy I have on a daily basis? The energy needed to do Jillian Michaels‘ 30 Day Shred? (THAT IS A CRAZY AMOUNT OF ENERGY, JENNIFER. SHE IS KICKING MY ASS.)

The energy I get after a cup of coffee?

Let’s just say I can’t drink caffeine because I literally bounce off walls. BOUNCE I TELL YOU.

I’m going to assume you meant the former type of energy. In that case, I will say that I have no freaking idea. I know our dependence on oil is bad. Period. Hell if I know how to stop that. I would assume stop drilling and stop killing polar bears and find a way to sustain our own energy instead of relying on foreign sources. I think Obama can do AMAZING THINGS about this. I think perhaps he could form his own “New Deal” by creating green jobs, therefore creating lots of clean energy AND much needed employment. Please go ask someone else how one would do this. I have no clue. BUT I THINK HE COULD.

I also think he could do the same with an issue like healthcare but I don’t think that was on your list.

If it WAS on your list, I would tell you that I wish I had healthcare because uh, my uterus kind of gives me problems and I get UTI’s once every few months and also? Paying out of pocket for your therapist = not that fun. See also: 15% PAY CUT/lots of Catholic guilt to work out.

War:

Hm. My cousin has done three tours in the Middle East as a marine. Another cousin of mine leaves next month for Iraq. We are VERY excited.

Ha?

I am not really qualified to talk about politics which is surprising considering how much I’ve written in this post so far. But honestly? War is bad. President Bush and his cohorts messed up royally and it has cost us in young American lives and in American dollars. It’s an embarrassment, a horror and I am still waiting to hear where they are storing Weapons of Mass Destruction. I hear we’ll get the answer soon. But I hate myself for even writing this as I sit in my New York City apartment, white and privileged and safely tucked in bed while it snows outside. There are men and women losing LIMBS and DYING and they are younger than me and I’m all, “Oh, I think I’ll blog tonight.”

Please excuse me while I punch myself in the face. Thanks.

Environmental Degradation:

WHY AM I WRITING THIS POST AT 11 PM? I have no brain cells left, Jennifer. NONE AT ALL.

Um. I think people that do not believe in climate change are deluded. They are scary. They freak me out with their THIS IS THE NATURAL WAY OF THE WORLD nonchalance. But that’s not really what we’re talking about here, is it? I mean climate change is an effect of environmental degradation and WE, the humans are degrading the environment, yes? We agree on that, I think. Or at any rate, that the environment is degrading and we are ACCELERATING the process?

I have to 100% say hell yes we are. The amount of waste I see in New York City on any given day is MIND BLOGGING. Hell, the amount of waste *I* produce is embarrassing. And here is how I feel about my personal impact on the environment: it sucks. It’s ENORMOUS.

I can do better.

I started out the year really well and have slowly eased up on things. I’ve forgotten my canvas bag and taken home plastic shopping bags. The roommates bought paper towels and I got used to having them around. I’ve bought excess clothing and make up that was not necessary, brand new things that were not environmentally friendly or needed at all really. I have even lost some of my veganism momentum, treating myself to the occasional egg sandwich, etc.

What I’m saying is: I have a lot to improve on. I’m constantly wondering WHAT MORE CAN I DO? because it never feels like enough. I also get more and more frantic about other people who seem to be CLUELESS about their waste. In the bathroom at work, for example, when I see a girl grab FIVE paper towels, pat her wet hand with one of them and throw them ALL in the garbage. GAHHHHHHHHH THE TREEEEEES, WOMAN. HAVE YOU NO SHAME!

But also? The thing is? Am I really helping at all?!? I mean I can look at what I did do this year that helped the environment and you can tell me:

* reduced plastic grocery bag consumption by about 80%
* went about 9 months without paper towels, now when we have them they are 100% recycled
* switched to 100% recycled toilet paper
* remained 89% vegan
* traded in disposable feminine products for a diva cup
* joined a CSA, ate local produce for 5 months this summer
* lost some weight, reducing my impact! Literally!
* unfortunately upped my driving by dating dreamy boyfriend in the suburbs – still only drove about 2 times per week, used mass transit otherwise
* not flushing the toilet every time I pee
* bought handmade soaps instead of shower gels in plastic bottles
* use one towel at the gym instead of two
* took only two trips that required air travel

There must be more. But the point is: I try, I do. But not hard enough. I was a bit too consumeristic this year, too many times I told myself I “deserved” that Starbucks latte, that extra pair of shoes. I’d like to be more conscious of it in 2009 and that goes hand in hand with being more frugal, more aware of what I’m spending money on, what impact that has on people. I’d like to do more–avoid leather products, buy more used things, more local things, etc.

The whole point of this is to say that I try but am I really helping? Does it even matter? For everything I do, aren’t there ten other people using 100 paper towels in the ladies room every day? So…is it worth it? Does it just make me feel trendy and hip to take my canvas bag to the grocery store? Is is just something I do because it makes me FEEL like I’m contributing and helping but in actuality, I’m not? At all?

I don’t know. You tell me.

Also, please make me a cup of tea because now I’m depressed.

Thanks to Jennifer’s suggestion, I can honestly say that the world hates gay people, men are dying in a pointless war, I am getting a pay cut effective Monday – MERRY CHRISTMAS, and I am single-handedly destroying the rainforest.

AMAZING! Anything else you’d like to discuss!? If so, I’ll be over here, drowning my sorrows with a bottle of bourbon. And also? watching this video on repeat:

6 comments

  • Jennifer (of Veg*n Cooking)

    Hahaha, well, I didn’t want to make it too easy. :-)

    Gay people did get screwed this year. It seems that there is always some sort of scapegoat party and this year (as they have been in many others) it was gays. This saddens me as I have very close family members who are gay, they live in the state of Georgia no less, and they seem to be treated better than gays in CA.

    In some ways, I think what our demonization of gays (and also African Americans, Latinos, who knows who else) will reflect in history, America as a very insecure nation full of insecure people. These phobias we have, that are often expressed violently or via oppression (this time at the ballot box) say more about the people who HAVE the phobias than the people who are being targeted with the abuse.

    I hope in the future, we realize that not only do we have better things to worry about, but that these people that we demonize have a lot to offer us – friendships, services, skills – and perhaps that will take precedent over their personal lifestyle choices or the color of their skin.

    You also bring up a good point, one that I have thought about many times and that is your comment about “opening our circle of love wider”. I couldn’t agree more. Many straight folks are against gay marriage because of it “tainting the sanctity” to me this is funny when it generally comes out of the mouth of a devout person on their third marriage. We straight people don’t do a very good job of upholding that sanctity either, we treat it as a game, and we want to take it away from people who might actually view marriage how I think it was intended?

    Hear hear, let’s abolish the marriage license, if straight people can’t get it right and can’t share the word then civil unions for all!

    HAHA, I wish I could disagree with you on our being fucked in terms of the economy, but I think you hit it right on. I like that you look on the bright side, but also note that it isn’t fair. You are right, it isn’t in any way, shape, or form fair that folks who get us into horrible messes for their blind greed get to keep on profiting, while people who work, continue to foot the bill and suffer. I am starting to wonder if this is truly all that our controlled model of capitalism has to offer us – the masses getting stuck with the “short end of the stick” to use a cliche, while a few profit from the “joys” of the “free market”.

    You are right, I was more referring to fossil fuel energy, but the other forms of energy are important as well. Too much food energy is why most of us – who aren’t on Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred (seriously, that sounds awful, I just got rid of my car!), are so flippin’ fat.

    I think one of the biggest problems with oil is that it cannot really be replaced. The resource itself is getting scarcer, at the same time that what is remaining is either in unfriendly places, hard to get, or expensive to extract (or a combination of the above). Alternative energies can do a lot for things like electricity generation (and thus possibly transportation), but hydrogen, ethanol, solar panels, geothermal, etc., none of those can replace petrochemical fertilizers and pesticides/herbicides that grow all the food we eat. They cannot take the place of all the things that are made either directly or indirectly from oil (which is pretty much everything). I think a lot can be done, and I like to hear Obama talking about hard work and sacrifice because I think – in the end – that this is what it is going to take.

    I think nationalizing health care is not only a civilized and humane thing to do, it would also save us a ton of money on bureaucracy. And no, I am not a socialist. :-) I too wish we had nationalized health care – I have insurance through my job but still cannot afford the co-pays to go as often as I need. My mother is disabled and our state continues to slash state provided medical funding for people like her. It is pretty sad.

    On the topic of war: I am sorry to hear about your cousin. My cousin has served two tours in Iraq himself – but he is an interesting character, he actually enjoys it, so he isn’t a model to base an opinion on really.

    I think you are more than qualified to talk about politics! This is part of the problem here! We have been seduced and made impotent by “experts” who make us feel as if we aren’t competent enough to understand these kinds of issues. BULLSHIT! These “experts” are the ones who continually get us into these messes and democracies are supposed to be participatory – meaning you and I are allowed to have opinions and express them. We cannot expand upon, improve on, or learn more about our world if we only passively take in information from experts and never trust ourselves. Sorry, rant over.

    About your feelings on the war: I feel guilty as well, most days actually. But sadly, that is what makes you and I different from many people, unless you are paying attention or have a relative in the service, many people – while they know a war is going on, it isn’t something that crosses their mind often. The news media rarely gives it much coverage anymore either, which is unheard of.

    Don’t kick yourself about your impact. We all have loads of ways we can improve (and I’m a vegetarian and can tell you, if you are eating locally produced eggs, it might actually cause less environmental degradation than eating that tofu from 1,000 miles away). We all begin to slack, especially since trying to live more lightly isn’t something most people are doing. While some people are tracking their electricity usage, riding the bus (like me!), shopping locally for food, reusing and repairing things, the rest of this country is in their cars, in the drive-thru to McDonald’s, on their way home from WalMart. It is hard to try to live in a lighter way in this country! And you can’t do it all, you (and I, I am kind of talking to myself here too) can do a lot of little things, even some big one, but there are limitations, and in the end, you can only do the best you can. Every little bit helps. It is hard to accept that you can only do so much, only tackle one small part of the problem, but at least you are doing SOMETHING. Apathy is far more dangerous than effort that isn’t quite enough.

    All the things you are doing are wonderful, and while in the grand scheme they might not be enough, you are living by example and doing what you can, that is something to be truly proud of. You live your life how you think it should be lived in accordance to your principles.

    :-( I didn’t mean to depress you. Sometimes you look at the world and all you see is bad. But reading this post, I felt a little positive, seeing that you are a kind, rational, level headed person, reading all that you have done, THOSE are things to be happy about. Especially in this world where there is so much to be depressed about, the little things can be sanity savers.

    I apologize for the length of this comment, you touched on a lot of stuff that is of interest to me.

  • Abbie

    Oh man, the Diva cup. What is promoting the Diva cup in your DNA or something? Every month I think I should make the switch… but I just haven’t. Pls convince me that you don’t have to be eco-nazi to like it???

  • Anonymous

    Hello!
    Wow, some really heavy talk. Okay so here are some of mine on the lighter side.
    1. I want you to write about living in NYC, I know, call me a slow southerner but it just seems so outrageous to live there. I have been there once, granted it was 1986 and my Senior spring trip, I just thought it was the grandest thing and I to this day do not understand how “normal” people live there. In my formal life as a public school teacher I just think, “how does a public school teacher live and work in NYC?” Info PLEASE!!!!!
    2. I have tried the Diva cup and LOVE it except out of 4 months of using it I ended up with an UTI 3 of them, did you notice a correlation? I didn’t use it this month, and no UTI?????? That really bugs me because I just love it!
    3. I have been a staunch vegetarian for 16 yrs and fall on and off the vegan wagon periodically, I think in our society it is hard to do, although getting easier all the time and probably easier in NYC than south-central Alabama!
    I know I have more but I am in the middle of holiday baking….yummmmm

  • TheSpectrum

    Jennifer – Fear not! Am not totally depressed. I LOVED hearing your thoughts on these subjects. I suppose I stay away from talking about them because I don’t feel particularly articulate, you know? I’m like WAR IS BAD. WALL STREET BLEW IT. THE END.

    I just feel like other people do it better but…as an American, I can have an opinion. And I think it’s okay for me to point out things I’m not happy with even if I’m not exactly sure how to fix it. I think…yes?

    Abbie – It mus tbe genetic. You don’t have to be an eco-nazi to love it. It is AMAZING to me but it took awhile for me to figure it out. The interim did NOT MAKE ME HAPPY for reasons I will not get into hear because I’m graphic, but not THAT graphic.

    However, once I got the hang of of it–amazing. I can’t feel it at all and it makes my life a lot easier.

    Anonymous — I will dedicate an upcoming post to living in NYC! Thank you for the wonderful idea!

    WOWWWW!!! If anyone expected to get UTI’s from the diva cup, it’d be me. HAAAAAA. However? Not a bit of correlation. At all. I wonder what that’s about!? I feel for you. That SUCKS and certainly sounds like the diva cup is causing them.

    Veganism is hard to do, definitely. However, I have to say, in NYC, vegetarianism even veganism is probably easier than most places. We have some amazing restaurants and cafes that almost always offer veg options. It did take me almost a year to get comfortable and understand how to eat correctly, making sure to get all my nutrients, products to avoid, etc.

    My savior – THAI FOOD. I was always a fan but am now downright obsessed thanks in no small part to Thai food (and Asian cuisine in general) being SUPER veg friendly. And now, I’m going to get dressed and wonder if it would be weird to get some dumplings for breakfast…

  • Anonymous

    Can a brother get some credit for passing on the hamster video?

    -Jonathan “the wito” who loves hamsters.

  • ubmtdiva

    while I would love to weigh in on all the discussed topics, I can’t, as I have to clean up all the oreos and milk I just spit all over my computer due to that hamster video.

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