Sunday, May 28, 2006 · posted at 11:26 AM Crunchy granola. adj. A term used to describe a person with hippie-ish leanings to be in touch with nature. For example, He tends the vegetables in the community garden because he is crunch granola like that.
Crusty.adj. Derived from the resulting crust that forms on the skin when one does not shower. For example, I become crusty when I go camping.
***************Not long ago, I was a Purell-er. You know, carry around a little bottle of antibacterial hand sanitizer and obsessively apply to exposed skin that had been contaminated by a door handle, stair railing or sweaty passerby. No more. New York will do that to a person. Any shred of anal retentiveness one has about germs and personal space go out the door once you start sharing 23 square miles with 1.5 million people.
Comfort boundaries are in a constant state of re-zoning (just like XXX). In the past year, I’ve held onto subway poles, worn flip flops through the city, sat sans disposable paper cover on public toilets, and ate recovered food (though not complete freegan dumpster diving style and there was the chili cheese fries without “shives” incident back in junior year…).
But maybe NY has only thickened my urban skin and my rural one remains thin as ever (as evidenced by the bugs having a picnic with my ankles). I recently went out to Georgia for a little nature, hiking and R&R at the Hostel in the Forest, a center with a focus on spirituality and environmental sustainability. A hostel with organic gardening, conservation, alternative architecture, well water, and tree houses… how could I not go?
“Living in a tree?” one of my friends exclaimed. “What? Like an Ewok Village?”
And indeed, you feel like you’ve entered Forest Moon of Endor upon arrival. 120 acres of lush forest, wooden boardwalks, tree huts… arguably inhabited by furried bipeds (kidding…sort of).
Ewok tree hut vs. Forest Hostel geodesic dome home.
While definitely not "roughing it" (yay beds), the facilities definitely had a rustic feel to them. The sulfur-scented well water made brushing teeth slightly difficult but was bearable (I think taste buds just die after enough trauma). And cockroaches(sized comparably to the NYC subway rats) abound in the bathroom, kitchen and even scurrying across the pillow...
The sawdust composting toilet (for number 2 only), which sounded intimidating going in, was your basic outhouse structure complete with a porcelain toilet seat for comfort atop a big bucket for later collection and reduction to humanure. Essentially you are sh**ing on a pile of sh**. This may bring up uncomfortable memories about a certain chapter in Augusten Burroughs’ Running with Scissors. However, the sawdust traps odors better than public facilities and hey, at least you were afforded the luxury of four walls, which brings me to…
Outdoor showers with the forest backdrop as your shower curtain. As someone who never showers at the gym and always employed the shirt over shirt method while changing in the PE locker room, modesty proved to be the biggest issue.
And then there’s the “free as you please” peeing policy. Great for guys who can unzip behind a tree. Not so great for everyone else. I have no problem with the actual act of squatting. Builds strong leg muscles. The problem I have is that anyone can see me in the actual act of squatting: bare white ass hanging out, pants pooled around the ankles…
Peeing outdoors is always a predicament. If you go hide in remote bushes, you’ve just created a ruckus by trampling all the leaves and there’s a slight possibility of rubbing against an irritable allergen (new meaning to "burns when you pee"). If you stay on the tried and true grounds, there’s increased foot traffic and risk of spotlight. And then if you just hold it, that just means you have more to relieve yourself of, so longer time of exposure and probability of an audience.
And then once Aunt Floe arrived, I was out of there.
Can you be one with nature if you can’t go number one in nature? How crunchy am I really then? Am I only chewy granola instead (note: Kashi is now owned by corporate Kellog's)? My horoscope book says this of Aquarians: In the theory, you like community living. In practice, you need your space in private areas such as the bathroom.
Give me four walls, or even just one strategically placed wall, and I'm a happy camper... or non-camper as it is.
Tuesday, May 23, 2006 · posted at 6:14 PM Will work for (campus)food, a dot com.
One seldom hears work described as a calling anymore. Work may be “interesting” and “Creative” or dull and boring. It may bring status or indifference – and not in any sense in relation to its real value. Our lives are disrupted far more severely when garbage collectors stop working than when ball players do. Work may bring great monetary rewards or bare subsistence. But we almost never ask what it means and what it serves. For most, though certainly not all of us, if it makes money, that’s reason enough. Why do it? Simple. It pays.
Ironically, I purchased this book about overconsumption...
...........................It’s official – I’m a sell-out. For the first time in my life, I have a part-time job that I don’t believe in (though this high success rate can be more attributed to a low number of jobs rather than strong moral fibers).
I’m currently a freelance typist for a MenuPages like company copying, you guessed it, menus. My first thought was “Great – food! I like food” and living in Manhattan, I sometimes peruse menus more than I do books… But after reading the 10th variation of how a restaurant tries to advertise Caesar Salad – “crispy romaine,” “fresh hearts of romaine, “shaved parmesan,” “house-baked herb croutons”, and of course “our own special Caesar dressing” when it probably came from the bottle – I started to question what it was I was doing and selling…
Isn’t the focus of my public health education right now obesity? And isn’t one contributing factor of obesity the fact that Americans eat out so much? And that restaurant portions are huge and there’s no price break for smaller sizes?
Don’t I believe in the Slow Food Movement? Ecological food production and preservation of culture and community? Slowing down to a "more harmonious rhythm of life"?
Shouldn’t my environmentalist leanings steer me away from unsustainable practices and unnecessary waste such as those provided by take-out containers and the flyering of every door with paper menus?
I’m a sell-out. Though I can (after much rationale stretching) justify each point with “it’s all about moderation,” “it provides meal examples to model after,” and “putting the menu online saves waste,” the fact that I have to search for a post-hoc explanation tells me there’s something wrong with what I’m doing. Yet I do it anyway – the definition of a sell-out…
So what have a I learned? Because everything that’s bad can be justified as a learning experience…
Author's note: As I am notorious for backposting, by the time this journal entry actually makes it up, I will have grown tired of employeed obligations and have quit. Well also because my grammar was taking a beating from all the Asian menus. One can only see the word "shrimps" so often before incorporating it into the daily lexicon.
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