Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Go Green or Go Home

My childhood was vastly more sustainable than my big-city pre-post-adolescence. The evidence:

1. We lived in a house with solar heating capabilities (see left: me, mom and Claire during construction). Though I never truly understood why, this led us to stockpile mountains of empty plastic jugs in the basement. It was very futuristic.
2. That same house was supplied with water from our own pond, which made for the most earthy, aromatic showers.
3. We took our empty glass Coke bottles back to Kroger and turned them in on the self-serve rolling conveyer belt.
4. We had a milkman who delivered milk once a week from somewhere presumably not too far away. Our dogs enjoyed barking at him.
5. We consumed large quantities of vegetables from my grandparents’ garden, and many fish caught in nearby bodies of water.

Today, in honor of Earth Day, I’m wearing a tie-dye T-shirt from a designer who plants a tree with every purchase (supposedly), and organic jeans made from cotton grown without pesticides. But I’m definitely bogus. I don’t even know the rules of recycling, and I regularly throw away scandalous amounts of bubble wrap and packing peanuts. While reading an Earth Day article titled “Why Bother?” in today’s New York Times, my guilt was ratcheted up yet another notch—I don’t grow the slightest bit of my own food, which the writer suggests is the first step toward changing the cheap-energy mind. Not only that, but recently, I callously used Earth Hour as an excuse for a candlelit cocktail party. I’m so ashamed.

P.S. Shopping at my local Treasure Island grocery store is a refreshingly optimistic experience. At checkout, after one swipes one’s credit card, the machine flashes a big cheery “Congratulations!” instead of the usual grudgingly stated “Approved.” Also, as I noticed tonight in the greeting card aisle, they carry numerous birthday cards geared towards 100-year-olds.

P.P.S. I need tickets to the Kentucky Derby. Naturally, I want clubhouse seats for pennies on the dollar. That’s why I'm so tempted to believe the British gentleman with the broken English on Craigslist who claims he’s unloading six Derby tickets for a reasonable price because he’s stuck in London on business and he’ll FedEx them across the pond right after we conduct a private eBay auction. Surely this is legit. Right? RIGHT?

Thursday, April 10, 2008

I Am A Person In My Neighborhood

“Hey little mama, what you doin’ in a cab?”

That’s what the man who sells the Sun-Times on the corner of Wells and Grand said to me yesterday morning as I sat at a red light in the back of a cab with the window rolled down. I really liked the question. The fact that he knows I’m usually in Black Beauty made me feel like part of the fabric of the neighborhood. I also liked being called “little mama,” even though I’m not that little (unless we’re going strictly on height) and I’m also not a mama.

Meanwhile, what is this, the call-me-for-anything desk? A phone conversation that took place mere moments ago:

(ring ring)

Me (guarded tone clearly conveys disinterest in speaking to anyone not immediately recognizable by caller ID): This is Amalie.
Caller: Hi, this is a little strange, but I was referred to you by one of the concierges at the Four Seasons. He said you might be able to help me find something?
Me (with suspicion): Oh? What might that be?
Caller: Well, I’m looking for an etiquette coach. Not someone to tell me which fork to use; that’s pretty easy to figure out. I want to learn how to walk more feminine.
Me: (silence)
Caller: I just thought you would know someone like that.
Me: Hmm, I don’t know any etiquette coaches. Did you Google it?
Caller: No…it’s not like I want to be a model or something, I just want to walk and talk more feminine, more graceful, you know? I’m in the business world, and I tend to move fast.
Me (frantically Googling “Chicago etiquette coach” while gathering quarters for imminent parking meter feed): Here’s one. (Reads name of coach, found in newspaper article dated 1996)
Caller: OK, do you have her phone number?
Me: No! I have to go feed my parking meter now. Thanks. Bye.

I mean, honestly.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Time For a Dip!

Isn't it gratifying when something you've been doing your entire life suddenly becomes the hottest trend available? For instance, in today's New York Times there is a story titled "From Europe, A No-Chlorine Backyard Pool," about the emerging popularity of pools that are self-cleaning by way of a special plantlife system called a "water garden." Also incorporated into the design of these pools are rocks, dirt, and occasionally, algae.

Growing up as I did on a (non-working) farm, I have been familiar with this "natural pool" phenomenon since toddlerhood, though I usually refer to it by a rather more pedestrian name: pond.

My extreme smugness after reading the NYT story leaves me tempted to begin a letter-writing campaign directed at the haughty Generica mothers of several of my childhood friends, who—while ensconced in McMansions some .2 miles away from my "heathen house"—sometimes discouraged their young from swimming in the Drury family pond lest their little girls A. encounter extremely dangerous water monsters, like striped bass B. get seaweed in their hair or C. drown.

Well, who's got the cool pool now, ladies? Come over for a dip anytime, but be sure to bring your own towel.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Obama Mamas

So far I have collected four T-shirts related to the Barack Obama presidential campaign. My only lament is that they are slightly too political to wear to work. The selection is as follows:

1. Go Tell Mama… I’m For Obama! (white with inspiring retro orangeish drawing of candidate’s head)
2. Obama ’08 (navy with official campaign logo; ideal length for bedtime wear)
3. Obama Is My Home Boy (black with blindingly shiny gold letters—not a low-key item of attire)
4. Obama Says Knock You Out (green with black clenched fist graphic; purchased for St. Patrick’s Day wear)

Last weekend, my sister Liv and I undertook a plan to: A. research Barack’s home address online; B. Mapquest the location; C. don the shirts; and D. take pictures of ourselves in front of his house. It was a total success, except for the part when I thought my camera was about to be confiscated by the Secret Service agent lurking in the driveway.

Emboldened, we proceeded to Trinity United Church of Christ, where we stowed Black Beauty in a visitor parking spot directly across from the spot reserved for the controversial Reverend Jeremiah Wright. A security guard immediately approached and inquired as to the length of our visit ("We’ll be quick!" we promised), and as we entered the church we noted numerous signs forbidding the use of cameras ("Liv! Put it in your pocket!" I whispered). At the information desk, we asked if we were allowed to take a look around. "Not really," said the attendant. He kindly allowed us a brief glance into the sanctuary, and we commented that the choir loft looked as if it seated almost as many people as the regular pews.

Upon reflection, the church visit might have bordered on obnoxious, especially as we were clearly interrupting a youth group dance rehearsal. Anywho, you can view photos of this outing in the MySpace folder titled "Winter 08."

P.S. My desk calendar for 2008 features the Magnificent Moose. I selected it not for the subject matter but for its perfect smallish size (all the better to hang in my cube), thinking I would accessorize the moose and his woodsy surroundings each month with butterfly stickers, Vitamin Water stickers, Jessica Simpson stickers—basically any stickers I happened to come across. But, I have come to a realization: the moose is Magnificent on his own.