language of the world

I just finished reading The Alchemist this week and I have been hearing the language of the world on my morning walks all this week. One day I saw the 42 bus and 42 seconds on the cross walk at the exact same time. Yesterday morning I was thinking of my friend Lauren who is doing a story for the Washington Post Magazine about Branson, Missouri. Immediately after this thought a man behind me said, “She visited Branson.” Just too weird. I even had to turn around to look because I was in shock.

But no message was as loud and clear as the one we had last night. We were eating dinner while watching TV in our den. Midway through the lights went out. Then a second surge brought everything up again until on the second try everything went out. My neighbor Dawn and I reached our front door at the exact same time. It was not just our individual units. I went out on the street and all of the lights were out. I could see that they were on at Mass Ave to the north of us and F Street to the south, and then on at 10th to the West. So it was not city wide. But after complaining about the fact that our a/c was not really cooling our unit yesterday, I knew that it had to be an overload to the system.

Henry wanted to play a game where we took turns complaining. Instead, I said we should go out for a walk. We decided that we both wanted milkshakes, plus we could go to a movie. So we did just that. Although we missed the 8 o’clock movie by five minutes. (A big no-no in our household.) So we got our milkshake, spent a lot of time looking at snowglobes of DC landmarks and finally went over to sit next to the Segs in the City booth at the Old Post Office. We considered going home around 9, but when we rounded the corner at 9th and F, we could see that the lights were still out at the Verizon Center. We went back to see An Inconvenient Truth.

I knew that this movie was going to be depressing and upsetting. But more than anything it made me hop back on my environmental band wagon and want to do something. The facts are quite startling. They are going to have to redraw the maps! It is amazing to me that the maps that were in my elementary school text books will no longer be valid in my lifetime. I haven’t even been to my twenty year high school reunion yet. Is that conceivable?

Now I hate science. I guess because it was always my worst subject. I still have nightmares were I never showed up to class until it is the last day of high school and I realize that I am going to fail. I don’t think that we had a pass-fail option in high school. So it is my recurring nightmare. My mom has a similar one about history. But Al Gore’s presentation was pretty easy to grasp. I am glad that I won’t be tested on it in a traditional sense. But by ignoring this lesson, I imagine that I will be tested in other ways. Including what we came home to – a dark apartment with the smell of leftover chicken lingering in the air. Ughh… we opened all of the windows to cool off the apartment as an incredible lightning storm approached. I got up to make sure the rain wasn’t ruining our furniture. With my glasses on, I could see the lightning dance across the sky. I typically miss that show. Well, I actually haven’t seen a storm like that since we have been here. Not a lot of wind – just extremely loud thunder following the constant ribbons of lightning. Then this morning’s Express headlined with Warm World. The circumstances only emphasized the point of the movie.

The environment is something that I have been passionate about for a long time. When Sherri and I were in high school, we started an environmental club. We researched several organizations featured in Sassy Magazine and sent off for information about what we could do. In fact, we were just generating more trash. But hopefully enough of the ideas did stick to make the additional trash worthwhile. In college, I took an ethics class about the environment and wrote My Environmental Ethic. We read a series of essays for the class and Al Gore’s essay had such a huge impact on me. I totally agreed with what he was saying. So much so, that I did not really know how to reference him in my paper. I think that my final product captures a lot of the ideas that I had been mulling over in my class, which had a huge impact on me. The key point from the paper is that we are all stewards of the earth. It is quite an incredible place and, quite honestly, our only option. We need to start treating her with a little more respect and humility.

So… what am I going to do about it?

I have already visited the web site and I started brainstorming little things that I could do. While writing I reset the a/c to 78 just so that it would stop running. I am going to try to readjust my comfort level. In addition, here are a few ideas that I came up with this morning on my walk:

Things that I already do
1. Walk or use public transportation everywhere
2. Pay my bills online – less stamps and effort by USPS
3. Live in a small urban apartment – less room to collect stuff
4. Telecommute
5. Turn up my a/c in the summer – this one is the hardest!
6. Reduce the amount of paper I print by choosing multi-sheets on layout format in Print
7. Eat two or three vegetarian meals a week
8. Use Kiehl’s deodorant – less dry cleaning and laundry
9. Don’t go shopping for something to do (It’s kind of hard when I never move my car)
10. Reduce – Reuse – Recycle (in order of priority)
11. Visit the Green House exhibit at the National Building Museum (been three times)
12. Take the stairs

Things I am going to start doing now

1. Unplug all of my chargers and equipment we don’t use daily
2. Stop buying so many books and magazines! (maybe harder than the a/c)
3. Promote reuse and fabulous places like The Scrap Exchange in Durham, NC
4. Only buy things that I really really love, preferably with less packaging
5. Encourage my building to install a bike rack and add plants to the roof
6. Change our air filter more often (and remind our renters to)
7. Go to the library more (even though it scares me a little)
8. Encourage my mom to look into eco-friendly flooring for her refurbishing project
9. Redo my studio space and seal up the windows
10. Moving towards more pdf/print on demand products and reducing my actual inventory
11. Switch to a spool of floss instead of those plastic plackers

Things I am going to do in the future

1. Have our apartment in Chapel Hill energy tested, add skylights, a new fridge, and seal up any cracks
2. Invest in responsible companies (when I am rich, of course)
3. Redo the Handy House with solar panels and eco-friendly materials
4. Hire a diaper service when we have kids
5. Have my bills sent as e-bills instead of a paper bill
6. And when I need one, buy some type of hybrid car

So what are you going to do?

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