UNLESS

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When I was a child, maybe 8 or 9, I distinctly remember going shopping for an Easter dress with my dad. I tried on dress after dress, having more fun playing dress up and spending time with my father than actually finding a dress. As I was looking through isles, I remember seeing the most beautiful dress I’d ever laid eyes on out of the corner of my eye. I ran to it, found my size, and darted to the fitting room calling for my dad to follow me to see how pretty his baby girl was going to look. I carefully unzipped the dress and maneuvered my way through the layers and layers of tool until my head popped out the top. Taking one last look in the mirror before leaving the room to show my dad, I saw myself in a pale green gown with emerald green sparkling embroidery covering the dress. When I stepped out, my dad immediately told me to get it. I told him it was expensive and that I just wanted to try it on, but he refused the idea of hanging it back on the rack.

A couple weeks later, on Easter morning, I put on my puffy green dress and my white open-toed shoes and stepped out to the living room. When my mother saw me, she gawked at how beautiful I was, but not without handing me a jacket to wear over my sleeveless gown. Immediately I cried out “No mom! I don’t want to wear a jacket! I want everyone to see my dress!” To which she tried to comfort me with the idea that I would only have to wear it when outside, and that everyone at church would still see my stunning outfit. This was no consolation to me however; I still refused to wear the jacket. So like all good parents do at some point, she let me freeze. The entire car ride I asked for the heat to be turned up, and the entire family would just look at me and in unison say “You should have worn a jacket.”

Last year on Easter it was 68 degrees and sunny.

In that same school year, I often had a substitute teacher who, at the time, I considered to be a real hippie. One day, she took us in to the bathroom and taught us how to properly wash our hands by only using 1 paper towel. She informed us of how rapidly trees were being cut down, and how the Earth’s temperature had been rising. But seeing as how we were in second grade and lived in East Tennessee completely surrounded by mountains covered in trees, we didn’t take to it too well.

But I supposed what she meant to do was successful because even today, when I wash my hands and there is no air dryer, I only use 1 paper towel.

13,000,000,000 lbs of paper towels are used by Americans every year. However, if everyone only used 1 paper towel per day, the population could save 571,230,000 lbs per year (Smith). That means we could save 4,855,455 trees per year on paper towels alone. Not to mention the millions of gallons of water used in paper milling.

From 1880 to 2012 the Earth’s temperature rose 1.53 degrees. This may not sound significant, because the temperature locally (especially where I’m from) can go from 50 degrees to 85 in the time it takes you to eat lunch. But for the entire Earth to rise those temperatures is extreme cause for concern. The difference of 5 degrees turned the entire planet into a snow cone 20,000 years ago (Carlowicz). Think of it like your body temperature. If you get below 94 degrees, you are at risk of death, and similar to if you get above 104. Yet, at 98.5 degrees, you are as happy as a clam. That’s only the difference of around 5 degrees in either direction.

Each year, 1.3 million gallons of oil are spilled into U.S. waters alone. Between 1971 and 2000 there were more than 250,000 oil spills identified by the U.S. Coast Guard. These spills kill wild life, damage our water, and cost thousands of millions of dollars (Thompson).

And these are only three small figures of the other elements of our environment that are under attack.

So how do we keep these things from happening? Why don’t we make an organization completely dedicated to the bettering of the Earth’s and human’s health?

We did. It’s called the Environmental Protection Agency.

And the government is trying to shut it down.

Here is the exact list of what the EPA does from their website:

  • all Americans are protected from significant risks to human health and the environment where they live, learn and work;
  • national efforts to reduce environmental risk are based on the best available scientific information;
  • federal laws protecting human health and the environment are enforced fairly and effectively;
  • environmental protection is an integral consideration in U.S. policies concerning natural resources, human health, economic growth, energy, transportation, agriculture, industry, and international trade, and these factors are similarly considered in establishing environmental policy;
  • all parts of society — communities, individuals, businesses, and state, local and tribal governments — have access to accurate information sufficient to effectively participate in managing human health and environmental risks;
  • environmental protection contributes to making our communities and ecosystems diverse, sustainable and economically productive; and
  • the United States plays a leadership role in working with other nations to protect the global environment.

And even with this agency that was founded in 1970, our environmental problems continue to grow. So imagine getting rid of it entirely.  The current President of the United States referred to Climate Change as a “hoax” invented by the Chinese… (CNN, Merica/Marsh 2017)

There once was this story told by a famous children’s author about a beautiful land full of life and color that got torn down, destroyed and deserted so that the rich could get richer. We are currently living in that world. Open your eyes before we have to start buying air from the people that wouldn’t help keep it clean. And try using only 1 paper towel.

“Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.” -Dr. Seuss

Smith, Joe. “How to use a paper towel.” Joe Smith: How to use a paper towel | TED Talk | TED.com. N.p., Mar. 2012. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

“Weather Almanac for KRZR – March, 2005.” Weather History for Cleveland Rgnl Jetp, Cleveland, TN | Weather Underground. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Carlowicz, Michael. “Global Temperatures.” NASA. NASA, n.d. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Thompson, Andrea. “FAQ: The Science and History of Oil Spills.” LiveScience. Purch, 23 Apr. 2010. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

“Our Mission and What We Do.” EPA. Environmental Protection Agency, 21 Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Adler, Ben. “Why is Trump so fixated on abolishing the EPA?” Grist. N.p., 08 June 2016. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

Merica, Dan, and Rene Marsh. “Trump’s EPA pick: Human impact on climate change needs more debate.” CNN. Cable News Network, 18 Jan. 2017. Web. 20 Feb. 2017.

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“I brought you in to this world and I can take you out.”

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As a young woman who is slowly on her rise to adulthood, and who has been in a relationship for more than two years, I get asked pretty frequently if/when I’m going to have kids. And for some reason when I proudly answer “No,” I get the same reactions…

“What? Why not?”

“That’s crazy! You work so well with children.”

“With those hips? You’re crazy not to!”

“Oh don’t worry, when you get older, you’ll change your mind.”

*sigh* I know, right?

The funny thing about these saying is that I know quite a few women who don’t want children, but other people (specifically women) feel the need to shame each other for this.

So for all you, “when are you gonna have children” relatives and friends… here is your explanation. (At least from my perspective)

Pregnancy is gross. 

There is no magical nine months of life giving where you eat magical foods your mind tells you to and have some kind of magical skin glow. Babies are pests that feed off you like tapeworms. They force you to eat, then vomit, put on an extra 30 lbs, take away your sleep, make you have incredible abdominal pain that makes you want to die, and if all that weren’t enough, for their final act, they cause you to pull muscles in your back and shit yourself while they rip your vagina to shreds.

No thank you.

Children are expensive and time consuming. 

I recently got a dog and wow. She needs food, grooming, toys, new kennels as she grows, treats, and vet visits among other things. She also needs to be taken on walks or on trips to the dog park fairly often or she gets bored and fussy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love my dog. She is smart and sweet and offers me cuddles, but even these small expenses and time commitments are a large dent in my every day life.

Also, she is a dog. I can’t leave a kid in a kennel while I’m at school. I can’t put food in a bowl for them and have them tap the doorknob with their nose to let me know when they need to shit. And with children, not only do you have to take care of their basic needs, you have to teach them to be a good person. You have to make life decisions for them and around them. You continue to lose sleep and money and you have to make sacrifices that only certain people (those being people who want to be parents) are willing to make.

They are just a big commitment. And for someone going in to a field that doesn’t promise a steady income or a permanent location, children aren’t a responsible choice for my career plans or my financial stability.

The world has to many people. 

Plain and simple, there are 7 billion+ people on the planet and we don’t use natural selection as a species anymore, so I’m not trying to add to that. You want a kid? Adopt one of the more than 400,000 children in foster homes just in the US.

The world is a bad place. 

This is a common reason why people don’t want to bring little ones in to the world. It doesn’t so much apply to me, but I understand it. The world is awful, sure. I feel like most days I learn about something bad that happened, not to mention the ominous current events that loom over the media constantly above the day to day. However, the world is pretty fucking rad. Animation gets more and more beautiful every year, there are so many beautiful places to visit and delicious foods to eat, you can study and create art and music, pet a million dogs, and a bunch of other cool things. In my opinion, when you compare the bad things in this world to the good, it’s just about even. People just don’t discuss the good because it doesn’t get as many views or as high of ratings.

The next reason is a play off of the previous one, but is what it all really comes down to for me.

Having children is selfish. 

I understand sometimes having children is an accident, and in that case, this argument is invalid. But when it comes to me deciding whether or not to have kids that I choose within a relationship? I just can’t get on board.

Having children is for the parents. They choose it, and they do it because they want to. Because they want someone to teach or someone to carry on their family name or even just because they like children. However, they don’t have the option to ask the child if it wants to be here. They decide one day they want a child for whatever reason, so they make one. They raise that child to the best of their ability in the circumstances they are given. They try to teach them to be a good person, to treat others with respect, and to love each other. But even with the best parents in the world, that child is still faced with making decisions that are stuck in the unknown.

It’s not about the external world. It’s about facing the internal. 

We don’t know what happens when we die, and we can’t predict the future so once that child becomes conscious, that child has to live with that weight on their shoulders. If they don’t think about it they may go through high school and college, get married, and then die with some surety of the afterlife. But for others of us we sit around wondering and questioning everything. I once heard it explained like this…

“People with depression score higher on tests of realism. [It] is positively correlated with mental illness and suicide… if the mind understands too much about reality, it wants to destroy itself.”

These people are constantly asking questions like:

“Why do people go into debt and take out loans just to have good credit?”

“Has the culture surrounding political correctness gone to far?”

 “Is the body positivity movement convincing people it’s ok to not be healthy as long as your are confident?”

“Why do people blindly follow what other people tell them.”

“What actually happens when we die and how do I not fear it?”

“How do I find answers, but also live in the present?”

These people break down everything from movies to relationships to existential questions about life. You question everything and every person, but you know you would rather do that than not. You have no desire to live on this planet and deal with the internal and the external, but you don’t want to die because at least you know that while tomorrow might be shitty, it will be there.

I can’t have kids because they didn’t choose that. You choose to bring someone in to the world and because it’s how the world works, send them away after 20 some years and expect them to do the same simply because they exist.

I didn’t choose to exist, and to be conscious and to face life. I am enjoying it as much as I can though. I eat delicious food and I pet every dog I see, but I still fear death, and I can’t bring that on someone else.

Don’t worry though, this isn’t the answer I give at family reunions.

“You’re right Aunt Trisha. I might change my mind.”

Coffee and Truth

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Coffee dates have proven to be land marking moments in my life.

Last semester I went on a coffee date with a professor I had my freshman year of college. I asked her to join me because I needed an outside perspective on my life, and advice from someone who was not my age or related to me.

So one fine Saturday morning, we sat down at the local coffee-house and talked about my life. It was the first time I had ever had big questions about life and about religion. I was feeling lost. I was losing who I had been my whole life. I felt a disconnect from old friends and from my family.

But that morning she gave me the two best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard. The first was this:

Don’t be afraid of change, even if it is internal instead of external.

Up until then I had never considered that I was fearful of change. I had moved away from family and friends and made new ones just fine. I adjust well to situations and I don’t typically live in the past. But her saying that made me realize, those were all external changes. I had pretty much been the same person my entire life, and now that that wasn’t true, I was afraid.

 It was no longer about adjusting to other people or situations, but to myself. I had to face this new person head on and learn about her. And that’s when my professor asked me to explore this question:

Who am I if I am not a person of faith?

Now, this question was very specific to me because, as a girl who grew up in a sheltered Christian home in small town America, that was what was most relevant to me.

I had never taken a step back and questioned anything I believed. I had never considered not being a person of the Christian faith. It’s who I had always been.

But this question gave me the opportunity to find out who I was. Not who I was within a religious context.

And that was so freeing.

I could form my own opinions without the lens of something saying how I should feel. I could accept things about myself that didn’t match up with this theology I had been following. I could learn about my personality and not worry about whether it was making a good example of a religion I was representing.

And I’m still doing that. I’m still learning about myself and about this world, and I’m still searching for truth.

My professor, who is a person of faith, expressed to me that if this religion she is following is the truth, which she believes it is, than I will eventually find my way back to it. And if that is what happens, so be it. But because she was willing to let me go, I’m learning to never follow anything because someone else told you to. That it’s ok to have questions and to take steps back. That blind faith is worse than honest questions.

So for all my PK’s and fellow college students that have big questions… That’s ok. Ask them. Get gritty. Sit on your bed and think about what happens when we die and cry. This is the time to find the answers. Don’t hold back, and don’t let yourself get distracted.

Keep searching for truth, and you will find it. 

A Decorated Abandoned House

Last week in my Script Analysis class we covered the play Fences by August Wilson. First off, if you haven’t read this, you absolutely should. It is a classic, and as I realized in class, is easily relatable for everyone. For our assignment, we were asked to approach reading the play as if we were to direct a production of it. One of the assignments for this was to come up with a metaphor for the show. This is a common practice for theatre artists, but in case you aren’t that, it’s basically a metaphor that encapsulates the themes and characters for the entire show. Mine for Fences was that “Fences is a decorated abandoned house.”  I ended up being quite proud of this metaphor because of just how true it is. My initial idea was that both Rose and Troy are trying to decorate their house that is their marriage, and similar with Troy and his son Cory. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized that the “house” isn’t their relationships, but rather, it is themselves. Each person is an old abandoned house that is broken and rotting and withered, and they all choose to decorate what needs to be rebuilt. (Spoiler alerts) Troy decorates it with alcohol and adultery, Rose with a fresh garden and plenty of chores, and Cory with childlike dreams of being a pro football player. Nothing is stable, but it sure does look nice from the outside, until the house comes crashing down and all the distractions are destroyed.

During class, different people took turns explaining their metaphors. When everyone who wanted to share had done so (myself being one of them; I love to talk) my professor complimented us for finding metaphors that related to us as individuals, and for being vulnerable enough to share them.

I was taken aback. It had not occurred to me that I had just shared something personal, until I thought about it. In my life currently, I have a lot of distraction. I work almost full time, I’m a full time student, I participate in more that one full length production every semester, I volunteer, and I’m a dog owner. And when any of these things drop out and I find myself with free time, I lose my mind. My head rushes to all the problems I have with modern society and religion and relationships and political correctness and eternity and afterlife and I very quickly become overwhelmed. So I hastily return to doing something, anything. As long as I have decorations on my house, I will be fine. It will look pretty and people won’t as questions and it will last long enough for me to figure it out.

But that is not the case.

I need to rebuild. I need to heal.

And that brings me to this blog. I need time to examine my life and to actually think, in a healthy way, about who I am and who I am becoming in this amazingly fucked up world.This blog gives me that opportunity and provides me with accountability to write often and to write well.  I have always enjoyed speaking (as mentioned earlier) because I like to think people value my opinions and my thoughts. But honestly, even if not a soul reads this blog, it’s an opportunity for me to heal. And that’s all I need.