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September 21, 2006


Normally I wouldn't bring up something so personal, but having my best friend get married has raised a bunch of relationship issues in mind. Her and I were talking about it recently and we both noticed a pattern in our relationship habits.

When I was younger I sought the new, exotic, and also the similar. Either a relationship was a "learning" one - where I changed dramatically throughout its course or it was a meeting of like minds. The latter tended to be refreshing but brief and the former always ended when I mastered the lessons.

Recently I have found myself longing for a different type of partner though. Instead of searching for someone "just like me" who shares my ideals, habits, skills, preferences, talents, etc., I find I long for someone who balances me a bit more. My voracious curiosity about the world doesn't need any encouraging from a partner. Instead I would rather have someone who makes me smile, reminds me to laugh at myself, and smells the roses.

This is different from a learning relationship. I am not interested in someone who is going to teach me to be ways I am not but rather someone who helps me feel more balanced the way I am.

This is difficult for me to accept because I have always been so independent. As a child I recall my parents talking about the "cult of pairs". This conjures up an image of couples who protect and compensate for each other to an extent that inhibits growth. After all, if I have a partner who balances me out - what happens if I do change? Does he have to change with me? How do you tell the difference between an unhealthy co-dependent relationship and a healthy interdependent one? How do you make a commitment to someone in a world where everything is impermanent and bound to die?

September 19, 2006

recipe for success

I suck at following recipes. As long as I am confessing, I am not that good at following any sort of directions. They all seem so superficial. I want to know the underlying structure - the map of the entire city or all the options - and then choose for myself the best means to get to the end.

This is one reason I never cook for people (other than family). Although sometimes I get some fabulous results, other times too many wrong turns becomes an embarrassment that I wouldn't dare share with anyone but those I am confident of their love and their desire for healthy food.

Tonight was no exception - except that I actually started with a recipe. The cool weather inspired me to stand at the stove and the brownie mix I whipped up just didn't satisfy my creative urge. Realizing I had a bunch of potatoes to use, I skimmed a few cookbooks looking for ideas and found a promising dish called "Wakame potatoes."

Perhaps "promising" is the wrong word. I have wakame in my cupboard as a well-intentioned gift. This was given to me because in theory (apparently quite vocally) I am a huge fan. Sadly I found in private (reality) that the stuff can be a bit tough to swallow. This recipe seemed a mild one though - basically potatoes, carrots, red pepper, and wakame (sea weed).

However, I don't like (or have) red peppers and although I need carrots, none have graced my fridge for several weeks. I did have some red kale, ginger, and beets though. I figured they would be a great substitute, especially since if I had more of them it would dilute the strength of the seaweed.

So I sauteed everything with onions and garlic as directed and then cooked it longer than normal, (I always prefer over-cooked food to under-cooked). I added some Indian spice that has been in my cupboard too long, basil as the recipe requested, and tried to sprinkle in some turmeric but the can was empty. I didn't have the amounts exact (the recipe called for items in pounds and ounces - I have no scale). However, having cooked with and eaten all of the ingredients before (except wakame, which was quickly becoming a minority in the mix) I felt confident I knew the proportions they would work well together.

As for the dangerous wakame I soaked and rinsed it as suggested then I peeled the leaves off of the stem because in my experience all vegetables (whether from under the sea or not) are better without the stem. Then I rinsed and soaked it some more. I was heartened to read that wakame is considered mild. Sea vegetables are great in theory - high in iron and other nutrients - some of them are even natural chelaters - but I have to be really craving healthfood to stomach the fishy/slimy/snaily-ness that goes along with it.

But I fried and then steamed and eventually pressure-cooked the ingredients. I added a bit of black better and dash of balsamic vinegar as the recipe suggested. Then, of my own accord, I threw in some salt and soy sauce (which makes everything better) and I am proud to say that the end result was delicious.

I still doubt I would feed it to anyone else. My taste buds highly favor the practical and the healthy, which can be a bit much to expect from most people.

September 18, 2006


I just celebrated/worked several events. At least one was public where I coordinated recycling and composting and at least one wasn't where I didn't.

At the private event an old friend, upon discovering that I am now a recycler in the environmental movement, asked if it bothered me to be at an event like this that generated waste. "Just think!" she commented, "there are hundreds or thousands of events like this going on every day all the time - that creates SO much garbage!" I replied that I would rather not and changed the subject.

She was just trying to get a reaction out of me - which really wouldn't serve any purpose. If I were to get riled up about recycling what would that do? I would much rather enjoy the company of friends I haven't seen for awhile and possibly make a few new ones.

It may seem contradictory that I can be so passionate about my job and yet draw such boundaries. However I don't see it that way. My job isn't just to maximize recycling - it is to prove that waste is preventable. This isn't done by becoming psychotic-recycler at all parties, which wouldn't be any fun, would burn me out, alienate my friends, kill my social life, and make it more difficult to do my job.

Quite frankly I would rather not focus on all the parties where people aren't recycling and my services aren't requested. I'd rather use my energy to help people who are interested in waste reduction at parties, fundraisers and other events - there are already more of those than I can handle. I prefer to focus on the ten events that included recycling in the last month and the five I'll work on in the coming month, or the two in the past week that diverted nearly a hundred percent of the waste generated by several thousand people into composting and recycling. I like thinking about the dozens of volunteers who helped make this possible and learned a bit about recycling and composting in the process.

Every event helps spread the message to more people that waste really is preventable. It won't happen today and it won't happen just by recycling and composting. However, step-by-step, with patience and persistence, it will happen.

Leaving the bathroom today, about to rejoin some friends plotting politics and change in our corner of the world, I glanced at the pile of paper towels in the corner. "Just you wait," I told them, with a drunken grin on my face. "One of those days everyone is going to look at you and see what I see - compost!"

September 06, 2006


Last night I hardly slept a wink. A cup of tea this morning didn't even put a dent in my exhaustion. I can't recall the last time I was this kind of tired - normally I can sleep through anything. However the usual activity in the neighborhood (traffic, an outdoor cookout, motorcycles, bars closing up for the night) kept waking me up. This combined with a week of never quite catching up on my sleep finally zonked me. It took several doses of caffeine before I even felt my brain function.

Sadly, caffeine has never been a reliable source of energy for me. Although it prevents me from falling a sleep and in the right doses can stimulate creativity and productivity (which do not always go together), the wrong doses gives me weird perspective changes (messing with my sight, balance, and head pressure) and can make me feel (and appear) tired on the outside while continually pacing inside. I much prefer to use this drug optionally.

So I made it through the day surprisingly well - I always wonder how new parents do this on a regular basis. This evening I managed to play an enjoyable game of kickball - even if I did look like a zombie.

The night was gorgeous and our team worked hard and did well. It wasn't until I saw the moon rise over the horizon, gorgeous big and orange, that I realized where my insomnia came from.

When I was a child lunar cycles affected my moods regularly. On full moon nights I would stay up and clean my room - rearranging all my furniture - or I would be deep into a novel reading as if my life depended on it. The sun would rise and I would blink surprised at the night that had disappeared so rapidly.

Now days I am not always so in sync with the cycles of nature. Yet in the last few months, between the Fairs, festivals, parties, kickball, walks, scooting around for work, and excessive bicycling (last week I covered over fifty miles!) I may have spent record time outdoors. I tried hard (and failed) to not get a tan and have managed to keep off at least five of the ten pounds I lost while being sick. During this incredible summer (one of the highpoints was when I drove a 90-year-old Stanley Steamer) perhaps once again I fell under the influence of our natural satellite and the rhythm of the seasons. All I know is that, riding home on a bright clear September night with the cool wind whipping my face, all felt right with the world.