Thursday, November 4, 2010

No Impact, No Way

First off, I can't seem to figure out how to change the title, so the clunky "unnamed" will have to do for now...apparently, much like a facial tattoo, you should really be sure you know what you're doing before picking a Google blog title.

Scott and I started watching a movie earlier this week that was somewhat related to the local and national events of the week, at least to my way of thinking. Called "No Impact Man," I can't say I exactly "liked" it, but it would be hard not to find it intriguing on some level. Its protagonist, a guy named Colin Beaven, decides to go on a year-long quest to minimize--I mean to the point of nothingness--his own carbon footprint. He and his (supportive but somewhat horrified) wife take the project on in stages, first giving up more obvious luxuries--Starbucks coffees, new clothing, etc.--and gradually moving toward realms most of us would shudder to consider. No food that has traveled more than 25 miles to their plates (think about that--NYC, in the winter). No electricity. And--the understandable source of much of his wife's horror--no toilet paper.

The reason I, and many critics, couldn't get completely on board is because as with many such endeavors (Eat, Pray, Love or Julie + Julia, etc.), setting out to do something with the immediate intention of publicizing it immediately cheapens one's intentions somewhat, genuine though they may be. In other words, seeking attention for reducing his carbon footprint doesn't exactly fit the premise, does it?

But regardless, I guess ultimately you do feel like at least Colin and his hapless spouse DID something, whether or not components of that something were somewhat self-serving. I suppose that is my point, finally. The efforts to remain a decent suburban footsoldier (not my phrase, but I love it) sometimes ring hollow in the face of the staggering problems we face as a planet. Some days, it only takes one more article, news report or book on the effects of global warming and overpopulation to make you stare at that modest pile of recyclables in your closet despondently and say, this? This is what's supposed to save us all?

Well, yes. Yes, it is. For the counter to being that footsoldier, turning off that faucet, casting that vote--is a world where we truly lose the one thing without which we cannot effect any change: belief in ourselves, in each other. The rest of the country may have forgotten, but I remember the campaign slogan of not too long ago--don't you? Yes, we can. YES, WE CAN. Now, I'm not naive, and I'm certainly not a Suzy Sunshine optimist type. But what would be worse than the frustration of one more broken promise, one more unmet initiative? NOT feeling that frustration. Not believing in anything or anyone. THAT would be worse.

For his part, where I left off in the film, Colin said he intended through his extremism to figure out that which was truly vital to his existence, and to add a few of those conveniences back to his daily life. God, I hope toilet paper makes the short list.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day One, Age 39

Let's clarify that. Blog day one, blog writer day...14,240, more or less. WOW, that's a lot of days. But why dwell on that downer, I only mention my age because, well, those of you who know me know it's a minor obsession (my age and others') and also because I had kind of had my recent birthday as a goal to get this thing off the ground. I didn't quite meet it but close enough, I guess.
All right, that's not a great introduction. Let me start again. Hi. I'm guessing you know me already if you're bothering to read this at all. Writing a blog has been a minor goal for some time but one I was reluctant to pursue for a number of reasons. I've spent the last 12+ years primarily as a stay-at-home mom but always planned to get back to writing and editing somehow. As the years passed--for that is what they do during the busy-ness of attending the many, varied needs and wants of growing boys--I felt a growing sense of unease that I had let my professional and creative aspirations get too far from me, with no clear path how to right my own ship, so to speak. And you know what? There still isn't a clear path, really for any women I know who stay home for any length. So I'm slowly but steadily trying, now with 14,240 days of experience behind me, to create my own path.
How this blog will end up being part of that, I'm not quite sure yet, but I do have some sense that the very act of doing it, even if for my own eyes only, will fit into something greater at some point. Thus answers the "who cares" aspect that has plagued me a bit. My life is pretty small and I don't pretend otherwise. And public self-indulgence of any sort really irritates me. So why do a blog at all? Well, a couple of folks have been really instrumental in showing me that sometimes the process is really the whole point. Funnily, one person who really lit a fire under me didn't mean to at all--at least I assume not, since I've never even met her. One night I stumbled across the blog of the wife of a college friend (and by "stumbled" I mean "I was being nosy on facebook and saw it there"). Her name is Vickie and I found the entries I glanced at so insightful and amusing...but more to the point, I "got" that she--also a 39-year-old mother of two boys who seems to be en route to making her path--was doing it for herself and for the process most of all. Not once did I think "self-indulgent, who cares," which had been my latent fear of writing one myself. So thanks, Vickie, for the inspiration and for putting yourself out there. Keep on keeping have a great voice.
I'd also like to mention my former Northeastern professor-turned-friend-of-many-years Jerry Berger, who, beyond encouraging me years ago to start a blog, any kind of blog, to keep myself writing regularly, has been a wonderful mentor/resource, even when I had nothing going on except for diapers and school conferences. Just knowing he's around as a voice of wisdom and encouragement has been incredibly helpful at times.
You know how some people come into your life at exactly the right time? For that I offer my thanks to my good friend Kris Asselin, herself an aspiring/quickly-becoming-accomplished writer whose persistently positive outlook has really helped me try to keep the big picture in mind, even when the little picture is so darn...little. Thanks for that, Kris.
And though like Vickie I'll probably steer pretty clear of marriage as a topic, I do want to say that although Scott's relentless logic can make me want to tear my hair out in a day-to-day sense, is it ever helpful as I try to wade my way through something so uncertain. And it is only because of his continued support, both financial and emotional, that I am able to take these slow steps forward. (Don't tell him I said ANY of this.)

Any suggestions for a blog title? Vickie is already using the one I had vaguely thought of and "39 for the first time by Liz, not Vickie" sounds decidedly clunky...