Monthly Archives: April 2007

Taking My Own Advice

I’ve said before that the universe has a sense of humor. When I’m on my knees bellowing for somebody to help me, please god, please – the answer usually comes quickly. “Get up off your knees and stop being so melodramatic. Pick up a damn pen and write your senator. Start bringing your own coffee mug to the cafe every day like you used to. Stop saying you can’t do everything and do something. Anything.”
Last night a cheerful knock at the door revealed our friendly neighborhood Sierra Club volunteer. We invited her in and gave her chocolate chip cookies. In thirty seconds she managed to eloquently exhale solutions to every problem I felt overwhelmed by yesterday. Bush out. Biodiesel in. Alaska for us, not the oil companies. Community. Conservation. Action. Intention. Restraint. Reduce, re-use, recycle.
The Sierra Club lady is trying to convince us of the benefits of alternative fuels. I tell her our little VW Golf parked out on the sidewalk is running on 100% Biodiesel purchased from a local co-op. She asks us how much Biodiesel costs “these days” and I tell her: $3.15 a gallon, every day — regardless of who’s winning the war. We get 40 mpg. Our car smells like cheeseburgers.


I was on my scooter behind a new Beetle yesterday for about a mile, and wondered why I was suddenly craving Burger King french fries. And then I saw the familiar green rectangle on the car’s bumper, announcing proudly to the world that “My car runs on eco-friendly Biodiesel from Dr. Dan’s Fuelwerks in Ballard!” I see that rectangle and smile. It’s the secret handshake of the auto world.
When I pass other scooters, we give each other the two-fingered, two-stroke two-wheel salute. I wish we had something like that for other Biodiesels. I can tell in a parking lot when I hear the distinct rumble of a VW diesel engine, and I smell fried chicken… maybe we should start offering the sign-language equivelant of the letter “B”?
I feel the same sense of gratitude and community when I see a car with a PAWS sticker or the new WA license plates that say “Spay or Neuter Your Pet!” on them. I just want to grab the person and hug them and say, “thank you.”
The Guild Theatre on 45th in Wallingford has a large Art Deco marquee, and they put clever little comments about the movies underneath the titles. Right now, Year of the Dog is playing. One side says “scratch n’ sniff” and the other side says “Adopt a pup! 386-PETS” — the number for the Seattle Animal Shelter. I nearly burst into tears when I drove by.
So I’m not alone. Wailing on my knees is not solving anything while my fellow worker bees are out there knocking on doors, hosting benefits and making phone calls to the powers that be.
This morning in a timely synchronicity I stumbled across an entry on No Impact Man’s blog called “On Not Getting Too Down About the World.” I’m not the only one with questions.
Sooner or later, we’re bound to come up with some answers.

In All Candor

“You should find a support group,” my psychiatrist says, the prescription pad resting impotently on one knee. I’m looking past him, out the window at the beautiful steep hillside of Queen Anne, at the side of the building on Denny that’s painted with orcas and octopi. Wanting to swim in that painting. I watch the red lights of the radio towers atop the hill blink on and off and on and off and think about how Karen mistook the tallest for the Space Needle and shot many photographs of it as a result. I smile a little bit, because remembering that always makes me smile, even when I’m sitting in the pristine, sprawling office of my new doctor whom I’ve elected to dole out my pharmaceuticals. His chair is far enough away from mine that he has to raise his voice to be heard over the white noise of the traffic thirteen stories below. “What’s so funny?”
I tell him I left AA three years ago because I put Personalities before Principles, one of the big no no’s, right up there with Comparing instead of Identifying. Three meetings in a row something ridiculously stupid happened to me, and I said fuck it, and left the program. It took up too much damn time anyway, a daily meeting prescribed by my boot camp sponsor. My Buddhist sponsor who got weekly manicures and was throwing herself shamelessly at a married man twice her age (Identify. Identify.)
I tell my psychiatrist this, loudly, over the traffic. Then I tell him about the Artist Way group I formed, which meets every Sunday for two luxurious hours, and how we always end up talking about much more than “creative recovery”. How we all seem so starved for connection, living in this city. That was my last shrink’s favorite theory: Urban Isolation. He told me about it every session, never remembering the previous speech he gave me. I started to look forward to it, in that way that a broken spring in a couch can be comforting because it’s familiar.
I don’t know how to make sense of this world, and words have always been my best shot. If I could put it just right, my understanding would gel, my mind would expand and I could sleep soundly at night. Words have been failing me.
No, that’s not even true. I’ve been failing words. Because they’ve been here all along, waiting for me to come home and hold them up to view my world through, the Rosetta stone of my consciousness. I have been failing words because the appropriate adjectives have been too dark and morbid to see on the screen. I save them for paper, sometimes, in the morning, because I still write for an hour and a half at the cafe before work. And then I close my hardbound notebook, stow it safely away, and post pretty pictures of stars and kitties napping on purple pillows.
Sitting back at my work desk, I pull up Google. “Support group”, I type. And then, to clarify, “Seattle”. I stare at my 650,000 results and realize I’ll need to be more specific.
And it’s here that I am at a loss. What is it, exactly, I need support for? What am I suffering from that can be solved by the wisdom of similarly injured people? In which group can I sit and speak freely about all the issues weighing on my soul these days? I have no disease. I have not physically lost anyone. I’m not involved with an abusive addict.
Yet I am quite certain that this planet is going down the toilet, and us with it, and there’s nothing we can do to affect any measurable change because the entire human race is possessed by money and power and the petty desires of Old White Men, and no matter how much effort the millions of little people exert, one Old White Man can veto that motion and all is lost.
In what group can I sit and say, “Hey — maybe people starving to death is a good thing. Because since the beginning of time, the natural law of population control has reined-in every species, and every time a food supply expanded, a population expanded accordingly. And feeding people who have outgrown their food supply (or whose food supply we have destroyed) is just perpetuating the problem and making it larger.”
In what group can I express the dismal grief I feel at having poisoned the four cats in my care with their gourmet, Dick van Patten-endorsed, $40 a bag, grain-free food? And how do I reconcile with my heart as I force them to endure nightly subcutaneous fluid injections via needle while they growl and struggle and try to bite me because I am unable to explain to them that I’m trying to save them? That some fucker in China has a new Rolls Royce funded by the melamine they ingested?
If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.
And maybe some diseases weren’t meant to be cured. And maybe it’s simply not okay to drive a gas-guzzling SUV, even if that means you’re inconvenienced on soccer nights. And hey — maybe adding three more babies to the US census is not responsible citizenship. Maybe we need a woman president, even if she’s not the best candidate. Maybe it’s really fucked up that most Americans speak only one language, and most of the world also speaks English. Maybe it’s not okay that your coolest shirt was made by a nine-year-old in Hong Kong who works 100 hours a week for a daily bowl of melamine-tainted rice. Maybe putting little animals and our primate cousins into cages and subjecting them to unspeakable horrors so we can perpetuate a handful of miserable human lives another three years is not the best way to go. Maybe me graciously accepting my plush salary and benefits from a company that does just that is not the most ethical choice.
It is here my Buddhism fails me, or as previously phrased, I fail my Buddhism. Meditation lately has been too painful and instead I retreat into a half-gallon of Mississippi mud and a National Geographic DVD. Or I buy furniture and dye my hair.
Maybe I’ll start my own group. Call it “life support”.
Wanna join?

Why Your Companion Animals are Dying

I have been getting quite a few emails from friends asking me about the dog & cat food recall, so I’m pointing everyone to the following resources, which are more up-to-date than information I can offer. Just like my vet said, “I am at a total loss on what to recommend,” since products I used to trust have been implicated a dozen times over in this horrific mess.
The main thing to remember is that the ingredients listed on the bag are not necessarily the ingredients INSIDE the bag. Reading the ingredient list for rice protein or wheat gluten is totally useless. The bag of food I bought at Mud Bay that says on the front “Contains no RICE, wheat or corn” contained not only rice, but rice laced with melamine — a plastic. And nobody can tell me why.
Also remember in this internet age to check your sources. And double-check them. And cross-research them. Just because one place says the food is okay does not mean it really is. Companies are trying their damndest to avoid recalling foods and our animals are dying in the meantime.
Please visit these sites and get the information you need to protect your loved ones. And then sit down and write some letters to your political leaders, and the FDA, and the newspaper, and the companion animal food companies.

I’m feeding grain-free Wellness 100% now. It’s the best I can do short of going out and catching live field mice.
I hope you and yours are unaffected.