Archive for June, 2007

Esperanza came to clean the house today. The smell of toxic chemicals soon filled the kitchen. I have been meaning to replace all our existing household cleaning products with safer, green alternatives. Have not gotten around to it yet. I have the info stored somewhere on my computer, but I have been too lazy to take action. Plus nobody else in the house seems to mind.

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Alone in the house, for a change. Prad is still in Hawaii, and the children have left for the evening. I decided to indulge myself, and to heat the hot tub. The pleasure of relaxing, thoughts sliding away, after a cool dip into the pool. I deserve it. I don’t care, it just feels too good. Pleasure overrides any pang of guilt. I am too tired to think anyway.

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I was proud of myself today. I took a whole hour, out of my already busy day, to bring my old PowerBook to the FedEx store for recycling. There was only one glitch. The Apple folks sent me an incomplete email, without the necessary bar code to make the FedEx transaction possible. I called Apple Customer Service, and was placed on hold for a good fifteen minutes. Once I got through, it was another fifteen minutes of questioning, and in the end no resolution. I was told to go home, pull out my Apple receipt, and then log onto the website, so that they can send me another email, this one hopefully with the magic bar code. I started wavering, considering other options. I could just ditch the thing at Goodwill, although it is totally broken, and then who knows what they will do with it. I even considered the ultimate crime, throwing it in the garbage. I became angry at Apple for sabotaging my best intentions. What will happen to the old computer? Right now, it is sitting on the floor, by my desk. It will be a while, before I take another shot at recycling it. In the mean time, I have decided to hold off on my criminal urges. It will be saved from the landfill, or another uncertain fate.

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Why do I not really care? I wanted to get down to the bottom of my heart, reach into the recesses of my brain, for answers. Become zen for a moment. I resisted at first, found a thousand excuses for not listening. I had picked the wrong time, the wrong place. Saturday morning, breakfast in the kitchen. The distraction of Prad and Alex joking around kept pulling me away. I sent them out for a walk with the dog. Finally, I was alone, and in the stillness, I found a few treasures.


“Paper or plastic”. What will it take for me to remember the green bags? Even when they are in the trunk of my car, and I forget to take them with me to the store, there is that split second moment at the counter, when I need to decide: to go back to the car and get the bag, or to just go along with the clerk’s request. What happens when I choose the lazy way? What makes me go for “Plastic please”? My first thought is, why bother, such a small thing, it will not make a difference. The global warming problem is so huge. One little extra plastic bag, I can get away with it. Leave it up to the powers in charge, the heads of States, the big businesses, to come up with the big solutions. I do not intimately believe in the power of my individual actions. There is also the issue of, even if I do my share, what difference will it make, if others don’t join? Also, I am secretly hoping, that others will take care of the problem, so I do not have to give up even just a little bit of my personal comfort. Can I cheat, can I have my cake and eat it too? I am very attached to my life as I have known it in America. Things I do not really want to give up: long hot showers, letting water running while I work at the kitchen sink, using the dryer to dry our clothes, the convenience of plastic bags, shopping for clothes whenever I feel like it, plane travel, printing indiscriminately on one side of the paper, our two daily papers, not having to unplug and restart my computer each time, paying my bills using snail mail, living in my big house, being a dilettante recycler.


It all boils down to a short term personal balance sheet. What am I willing to give up in terms of personal comfort, in return for a relatively minuscule, and mostly unacknowledged, contribution to the larger pie?

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Last night, I attended my first gathering of the SiliconFrench CleanTech and Sustainability group. The theme was cars and alternative energies. I really got into the discussion, and left with my head buzzing with ideas, possibities for new ventures. On my way back, I had to stop for groceries at Whole Foods. That’s when the “Paper or Plastic” hit me once more, and with it the sinking feeling of my inadequacy, of the split between my intellectual declarations, and the sad reality of my actions. There are miles between understanding with one’s head, and taking steps. How do I reconcile that split within myself? In that answer, lies more than just the promise of a more whole individual person -me- , but also maybe the beginning of a global solution.

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