Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Does Knowing More REALLY Make You a Better Person?

I've recently developed a number of crises in my life. This is due to several things. First off I guess we could review the crises themselves. The two most important and pressing seem to be recycling and food. The third one that comes to mind is world problems. Now before you get all scared/defensive/eye-rolling on me and think, "Oh boy, here's another Earth-loving hippie who wants us all to eat tofu and lettuce so we can save the planet," just hold on. I'm really not going to preach. The problem here isn't necessarily the fact that meat is bad for the environment as well as our bodies or that only ~20% of America's waste is recycled while well over half of that waste is recyclable (ok, yes, that is the problem, but it's not MY problem, right here, right now, in this post). The current problem is more that I have no idea what to do about it.

If you've talked to me at any length you might know that I've self-diagnosed myself with what I call a "guilt complex." This complex allows me to feel terrible about all the bad things in the world and walk around with (again, what I call) "the weight of humanity on my shoulders." It's fun.


This guilt complex is a complicated one. It's not that I want to make everyone change every aspect of how they live just to pretend I can make the world a better place within my lifetime (I can't). It's more that I've decided that I want to do the most I can every day to minimize my negative impact on the world around me. Cue guilt. Everything we do, I've learned, has negative repercussions on this planet. Recycling is just as bad, at the end of the day, as not recycling. Most of what we eat is not only bad for our bodies (processed sugars, meat that takes 72 hours to process, dairy that your body reacts negatively to [because humans are naturally lactose intolerant]), but also bad for the environment, the animals, and the forests, crops, and fields. Driving increases our dependency on foreign oil and emits nasty ass shit into our atmosphere. The list goes on and on.

So how does this matter to me? Well, somehow I got blessed with the ability of really really wanting to solve all the problems that I can in this world. When I can't do that I'm left feeling lost, helpless, and -- that's right -- guilty. Painfully, crushingly, cringe-worthily guilty. It's gotten to the point where simply picking up a newspaper everyday on my way to class is a huge internal struggle, simply because I don't know what to do with it when I'm done reading. I'll go without eating for an entire day (or, like today, eat only vegan Potato Flyers and Pull'n'Peel Twizzlers over the span of 8 hours) because I can't decide what food choice would be best for both the environment and my health.* I really don't think people should live this way.

Following what was, for me, just another day of indecision, this evening I flipped on a show aired on CSNBC (or some such nonsense) titled Trash Inc: The Secret Life of Garbage. It followed the journey of garbage from the time it got put out at the curb until it landed in its final resting place; anywhere from the sides of streets to landfills to the ocean. What I learned from this show was basically that garbage is a huge problem. It's expensive, space-consuming, and damaging to wildlife. And not only here. They went to China and showed how much of a problem it's becoming over there as well. The end of the show was the worst, I think. The host walked around the shores of some of the bigger Hawaiian islands -- and by walked I mean trudged through acres of garbage that had washed up onto the beach. He talked about trash patches that are cropping up in the middle of the fucking ocean, just under the water where it can't be seen from helicopters or airplanes; basically big underwater islands of waste just out of our sight that fish mistake for habitats and food.

Again, the point isn't necessarily (at this point in time, in this particular post) to do anything about it. I'm more concerned with how it makes us live our lives inside our heads. The more I learn, the bigger struggle my day-to-day life is. Sometimes I think I would give anything to be able to walk around without a care in the world, buying and eating and throwing away whatever the hell I please without a 10-minute struggle on where it's going to go and what it's going to impact after I'm done with it. But the more I try to research and learn about what to do, the more I find out about how every action I make in my life just causes a giant shit show (how do people live with themselves??).

Which begs the question: does knowing more actually help you to be a better person? Is being "smarter" really for the best? Is "intelligent" really the way to be? If you know so much, how can you calmly and happily go about your daily business? And wouldn't it be better if you could just...not know anything at all and live a guilt-free existence?

What do you think, imaginary readers? Is ignorance bliss?

* It should be noted that because I live in the dorms on a college campus for the time being as a Resident Assistant my dietary options are extremely limited and difficult to make.

Monday, September 27, 2010


Yes, I know, I need to update. I can't very well leave my angsty anti-Hooters self up for display -- just in case a miracle happens and I get more than one reader (gasp) (not that I don't love you Adam, but you understand). However, in order to NOT sleep through my classes tomorrow, I'm afraid I can only leave you, internetz, with this awesome mind-blowing picture for now:

You're welcome.

Tune in next time, imaginary and potential readers, for my next installment: why you really shouldn't use "however" like I just did (see above), and a more better, awesomer way to use it.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The Hooters Girls

Found this from a while ago; I'm not going to bother to edit or finish it because I think it's indicative of what I was thinking/feeling at the time:

(From December of a couple years ago)
Every weekday on my way to class, I walk past Hooters. Hooters, with its tacky orange and white sign and 20 TVs lined up above the bar. Hooters, with the tables lined up along the big windows facing the street and the icy parking lot with cracked and faded paint. They open at 11 and I have class at quarter after, and when I walk by before class all the chairs are still up on the tables and only half the TVs are on, all turned to the same station instead of a different game showing on each one. In the quiet and the half light of early-morning Hooters, the first shift of waitresses and cooks sits at the bar, talking amongst themselves and glancing up at the TVs every so often. I don't think they say much; most times when I look in, none of them are saying anything, just sitting there staring off into their respective spaces. I like to think that they're reflecting on the desperation and sorriness of their lives; I know they're probably only thinking about a test they have that day or a fight they had with their boyfriend the night before or how much longer the food in their fridge will last them before they need to go grocery shopping again, but in my mind they're spacing about what color UGGs to get or when they'll have time to go tanning or how many boys did they actually make out with at that party the other night. I wonder if they wonder how they got there, all made up and too thin, displaying themselves for a few extra bucks in tips.
Because you see, in my judgmental mind, Hooters girls are a special brand of girl. I walk by everyday and see them; they're too thin, with their white beaters and orange shorts, nude tights and big white sneakers with bigger white socks. You have to be a certain size, a certain weight, a certain body type, to even get the job, and once you do your entire work life consists of showing yourself off and walking to and from work in those skimpy little shorts. Men come to the restaurant to leer and jeer and stare, you get beer poured on you and grease splatters from the kitchen onto all-white shirts. Hooters girls are all fake: fake boobs, fake hair, fake nails, fake faces. Their skin is too tan, their hair too perfect, their body proportions too wrong. Sometimes in the middle of the day I pass and see a girl at the register, all dyed black hair and Barbie body, with a face too lined and caked with makeup for her years. Sometimes I pass during the afternoon shift change and see a girl putting change in the parking meter for her car, already dressed for working and looking ridiculous in a big overcoat with shorts you can't see and nude tights too dark for her natural skin color.
I despise them.
Sometimes I almost want to be a Hooters girl. Maybe work in a bar somewhere, the rowdier the better. Oh I know, that won't last long, just as soon as I see what it's like, I'll be out of there. But there's something in me....somewhere in one of those deep down levels, I'm a woman, and sometimes I'd like to be treated like one, even if that means being degraded by drunk older men at some hole-in-the-wall college town where I go to school, having my ass pinched and money shoved down my shirt. But like I said, that wouldn't last long. Mostly what I feel for the Hooters girls is pity.

Sunday, September 19, 2010


I forgot how sexually explicit one of my earlier posts is... Maybe I should throw up a rating on this site or something.

NOT My Speech

Turns out I will do ANYTHING to avoid writing my speech for class that I have to give on Thursday. Even buckle down and try to write. Most of my posts for the time being are going to be little snippets from my writing class, mostly because I don't have the time to sit down and write out anything post-worthy, but also because I still haven't quite figured out exactly what direction I want this to take. I have a lot on my mind these days (classes, work, GREs, grad know. My future in general).

Prompt: What is my "hidden nerve"?

I'm not even sure what that it something about style? Inspiration? The well that you draw from or dig into to uncover your writing? I can think of many things irrevocably mine:

-- My unorthodox sense of humor, dry wit, and sarcasm
-- My intense dislike of straws, pants, socks, ignorance, closed-mindedness, and current trends (think "leggins")
-- My love for all things foreign, colorful, humorous, descriptive, nerdy, and recycled
-- My stumbling self-consciousness and under-confidence masked by a facade of cavalier and self-confident extroversion
-- My newly (very newly) discovered artistic creativity

All of these things, I think, have to do with writing and inspiration; they all, I believe, feed into who you are, and therefore who you are as a writer, in a way that isn't necessarily obvious or really even noticed. In that way I guess one or some or all of them could be considered my hidden nerve, because they contribute to my character and personality (and voice?), as well as making me, in many cases, want to write: about my ideas, things I notice, things I'm feeling, or things I have to say about the world around me, and ways I want to change that world.

Prompt: If you could write an author who is alive, who would you write to?

The first person who pops into my mind is of course Stephen King. Of course I would write to Stephen King. What would I say?

Dear Stephen King,
I love your books.

Dear Mr. King,
I have read 12 of your books (12 here is an arbitrary number; it could be any number of his books that I've read), and I loved all of them except "Carrie."

Dear Stephen King,
Where do you get your ideas? Where do you get your voice? How do you write so well?

I couldn't write to Stephen King. Anything I would say to him would be juvenile, immature, trite, flat...pick a word; a negative one.

So that leaves me with the question: Who would I write to? To whom would I write? Who else do I even read? CS Lewis -- everything I need to know about him has already been written down. Stephanie Meyer -- everything bad about her has already been said. JK Rowling...been there, done that (in the seventh grade).

I'm drawing a blank.

I think the real question is, to whom would we be worthy of writing? Who has anything creative to say to a great writer? Would they even take the time to read it? On the other hand, what makes them so great, that we should be intimidated to contact them? I really find myself having a block here, thinking about what I would say. Maybe it's all the fan mail (and hate mail) they already get. I'm always worried about being "just another fan" in the pile of letters that they never read anyway, but that gets intercepted by...someone to make sure no one has sent them anthrax or anything.

Not that anyone would do that to Stephen King.