Category Archives: life

It’s about more than just food

A passion of mine for the past couple of years has been learning as much as I can about the food industry, and seeking out local, organic, interesting foods. I’ll read any book about industrial agriculture, local foods, whole foods, organic foods, and nutrition. This isn’t news. But lately, I have realized that, although I have been focusing on the problems with industrial food production, I am starting to broaden my view and thinking more about the bigger picture.

All of the problems we are facing, from sweat shops to global warming to….it is just to overwhelming to think about. That’s the thing: it is too overwhelming, but by focusing on the food industry in particular, I have been able to learn a lot about it without being too overwhelmed, make tangible changes in my life as a result (like drinking raw organic local milk), and I can now apply what I have learned to the larger problems of industrialization and globalization.

I just finished watching the documentary The Corporation (rented from video store) and recently I have read books like Not Buying It (from the library), which have made me think more about capitalism and consumerism. Plus there has been a major increase in the general awareness of environmental issues. So as a result, I have found myself wanting to do even more.

Being in San Francisco more I am sure has also had an effect. I am (finally) reading The Tipping Point, and so I am a bit more aware of how influenced I am by my surroundings (see the chapters on context). My lifestyle has changed a lot since I started working up here, both good and bad.

But it really comes down to this: I want to learn as much as I can about the world I live in so I can make good decisions about my life. It is like the the whole thing about giving people nutritional information so that they can make informed decisions about the food that they eat (although you have to question that information as well!).

Here are some things that I have done in the past year or so as a result of just being more thoughtful about my actions. All of these things are relatively small things that I have changed over time:

  • Walking and taking public transportation almost exclusively. It really is a mindset change, and now that I have made the switch, I never want to drive. I’d rather take the train or walk, even if it takes longer. As a result, I get a lot more reading done.
  • Buying fewer clothes. I have bought very few clothes this year aside from a few t-shirts, and although partly it is because I have gained some weight and clothes shopping isn’t as much fun, it is mostly because I don’t need as many clothes as I have, and reducing the the amount of clothing I buy reduces the demand for environmentally damaging cotton production and sweat shop labor.
  • Reading most of my books from the library. It helps that the library is across the street from my office, and I have gotten back into my habit of reading stacks of books from the library. I have bought books only when I’ve been at the airport. Also, I am getting more into passing books around with my friends.
  • Eating more local foods. When choosing between two organic milks at the store, I’ll look to see which one came from a local dairy, which is something I didn’t do a year ago. I also won’t by fruits or vegetables that are from Chile or New Zealand.
  • Drinking a lot of tap water. I know that people have concerns about tap water, but municipal water is regulated more than bottled water. Plus, with every bottle of water I buy and drink, I am paying for the production of that bottle and fuel to get that water to me (and that’s one more container to try to recycle after a single use). I don’t even bother with filters. When I am tempted to reach for the Perrier at work, I usually stop myself and instead get a glass out of the cupboard and drink the tap water.
  • Looking at the “Made In” labels more. I don’t think it has made a huge difference in my buying habits yet, but just like I didn’t think about which country my food came from until recently, I haven’t been thinking about where other stuff I buy is made. When buying my nephew’s birthday present recently, I for the first time, looked at the toy packaging, and noticed how they were all made in China. I think I am going to be a lot more aware of where my things I buy are made, and like with with the milk, at least choose the local option if I can.
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10 days

Multiple people have pointed out that I have posted anything in a while, so I suppose should do one of these what’s-been-going-on-lately posts. I’ll try to make up for what I think is my longest blogging dry spell since I started.

White HouseSo we last saw Lauren arriving in Washington, DC, after surviving a four-day drive from Colorado. Washington was absolutely wonderful and I wish I could have stayed longer. The city was nice, but it was really about the company. I had been looking forward to it for over a month, and it lived up to my very high expectations.

And now back in California, I must admit that my main focus has been counting the days until I leave again (see title of this post). In 10 days, I’ll be flying to London for over two weeks. I have been thinking about it for so long, yet it still doesn’t feel real to me. I don’t think it will until I am there. What I am looking forward to the most it getting the chance to just *be* there and not have it feel quite like a super-fast vacation where I have to run around and see everything. For two weeks, I’ll be working, so I’ll get a little glimpse at what it is like to live there.

In these five weeks between trips, I feel like I have a big pile of stuff to do, and since the pile is so big, I have been avoiding it. I know it is terrible procrastination, and if I just start doing that stuff, I’ll get through it and feel much better. But yet I can’t. Even the pile of clean clothes to fold feels overwhelming. At least I have been really productive at work this month. Lately I have been thinking about how much I miss having someone to help out with things like that. No, not someone to do my chores, but that partner in life who makes everything more manageable and more fun.

Lots of stairsPart of why I feel so overwhelmed and unable to do anything is because so many of the most important people in my life are so far away. And there is nothing I can do to bring them closer. I wish that they were all here so I could help them more, and so it would be easier for me to ask for help. I have so many supportive wonderful friends, and I am so thankful for them every day, and there is no way that I could live here in California by myself without them. But it just isn’t the same. I know it won’t be like this forever, but just right now, it’s hard for me.

But I am keeping busy with fun stuff as usual, so don’t go feeling sad for me or anything. Although there have been some complaints that I have been MIA lately, I really have been going out a lot. I just haven’t been able to be as proactive lately with the arranging of events, although I did do happy hour the other week.

The girlsLast weekend I was in Sacramento for family birthdays, including my grandma’s 90th. Before that, I went to the swanky Topix launch party at the St. Regis, and even got to spend the night. Easter festivities were at the SF apartment where I watched kids hunt eggs and eat lots of chocolate. Aside from that, I have been having lots of home-cooked meals at various friend’s houses, which are much appreciated since I tend to eat out so much. I have been spending an insane amount of money on drinks lately, and I really must break my $12 martini habit. Friday night I discovered that pitcher of beer at Zeitgeist are also $12, so I think I’ll be advocating for drinks there more often.

I think that about sums it up. I have spent the weekend here in SF, which has been fun, but it has also been a way for me to avoid that pile of work in San Jose. Splitting my time between two places is hard, especially with all of the traveling. I am hoping that in a few months, I’ll have a better idea of what my plans are, at least in the near term.

Happy

My viewI don’t know even where to begin I am so happy. If you are cranky or bitter, you better stop reading this right now because I am just going to piss you off.

Good, are they gone? Now that it is just us happy, cheery folks here, I can be as sunshiny and chipper as I want to be. Because, let me tell you. Life is good. Great. Super. Excellent. Downright peachy.

The sun is shining, the trees are blooming, and the world is falling in love (seriously, what is with everyone getting married this year?). I work at a great company, live in an amazing city, and have the best friends. I am enjoying every beautiful sight, tasty bite, refreshing sip, kind word, and breath of Spring air. Just feeling the warmth of the sun on my skin makes me smile.

Timing continues to be perfect. When something is meant to be, everything falls into place. My life continues to change, and at every turn, it is fuller and more interesting. I am looking around and seeing more and more the life that I always imagined that I would live.

I have never felt so sure about my life. I don’t have a route planned out or a destination in mind. I am just taking one step at a time, enjoying the scenery along the way, and knowing that I am on an amazing, wonderful journey.

Credit card debt free!

I bought a condo in September of 2005. In February of 2006, I realized that I had a credit card statement that I couldn’t pay in full for the first time since moving to California in 2001. Having your monthly housing payment go up a grand hurts. Over the past year, I have been trying to be a little careful with how I spend my money in that every once in a while, I have decided that I really didn’t need to spend $30 on a new shirt. Also, a few raises have helped.

So tonight, for the first time in over a year, I clicked “pay balance” on my credit card bill. Hooray!  I am officially not paying credit card interest. It took me just over a year, but they say that the first year of home ownership is the hardest. It feels quite nice to be out of the hole, I must say.  Only five more car payments, and I’ll own my car 100% too! Then I’ll be left with just a mortgage and a tiny student loan, and those are the good debts, right?

I want to stay in a good mood, so I am not going to look at the balance of my savings account just yet…

Hanging on

DCP_1450When I was a kid, I would go “tubing” behind my friend’s boat during the summer. Instead of water skiing, we would tie an inner-tube behind the powerboat. Then the driver, usually a teenage boy, would drag the poor victim through the water in circles to swing the tube out to the side and then bounce the tube over the waves that the boat created. It was tuber v. driver.

I was good at this game. I would hold on to the tube no matter what they threw at me. My hands would burn from almost getting ripped from the handles, my body would hang almost completely off the tube and get pounded over and over on the surface of the water. But I always held on, even if it hurt, even if I was tired, even if it was scary. It was just too exhilarating to not try to stay on for as long as I could. Plus, I had to show everyone that nothing could take me down, that no matter how hard they tried, they couldn’t make me let go.

Because I never let go on my accord, my turn behind the boat aways ended because I was ripped violently from the tube. This usually involved somersaults through the air, painful impacts on the surface of the water, huge amounts of lake water drunk, and occasionally, a loss of swimwear. But I didn’t care. Even the big crash at the end was fun, and if I was going to go, I was going to go in a big way for everyone to see who was watching on the boat.

That’s how life is for me right now. The turns are getting faster and the waves bigger, and even though it is getting harder to hold on, and even though it hurts sometimes, it is getting more and more thrilling. Sure, I might go flying off. The crash might look bad, but I’ll be fine. I’ll climb back on, and really climbing back on is the hardest part and takes the most strength. And I’ll give the thumbs up to the driver and be off again.

Today I bought a ticket and tomorrow I fly to Colorado for the weekend. I see a big wave ahead and so I am grasping tight. Maybe I’ll bounce around and stay on, or maybe I’ll be thrown off into the water. But either way, it will be quite the ride.