This Week in Consumption

My friend Kalki, who lives in the NYC area, was giving away some beauty products and offering them to whoever wanted them. Having some of my own half-used beauty products laying around the house, I offered a swap instead of a one way send. What I ended up getting was Bed Head Brunette Goddess shampoo and conditioner (smelling strongly of fake brown sugar) and Kiehl’s Herbal Toner with Mixed Berries and Extracts and Ultra Facial Moisturizer (she also sent me a grab bag of other things). In return, I plan on sending her some left over Aveda Tourmaline Charged cleanser and face cream – both seem to be too heavy for my skin.

Trading left-over products seems a lot more eco-friendly than sending them to the trash pile. However, I should likely underline the word seems.

From a recent New York Times article Buying into the Green Movement:

It’s as though the millions of people whom environmentalists have successfully prodded to be concerned about climate change are experiencing a SnackWell’s moment: confronted with a box of fat-free devil’s food chocolate cookies, which seem deliciously guilt-free, they consume the entire box, avoiding any fats but loading up on calories.

My “Thinking Green” makes me feel good — as does many other forms of consumption. I can feel guilty about one thing, and then consume another, and feel like I’ve done something good. I think that the analogy to SnackWell’s is a particularly great one, and it reminds me of Michael Pollan’s essay,
Unhappy Meals

Consider what happened immediately after the 1977 “Dietary Goals” — McGovern’s masterpiece of politico-nutritionist compromise. In the wake of the panel’s recommendation that we cut down on saturated fat, a recommendation seconded by the 1982 National Academy report on cancer, Americans did indeed change their diets, endeavoring for a quarter-century to do what they had been told. Well, kind of. The industrial food supply was promptly reformulated to reflect the official advice, giving us low-fat pork, low-fat Snackwell’s and all the low-fat pasta and high-fructose (yet low-fat!) corn syrup we could consume. Which turned out to be quite a lot. Oddly, America got really fat on its new low-fat diet — indeed, many date the current obesity and diabetes epidemic to the late 1970s, when Americans began binging on carbohydrates, ostensibly as a way to avoid the evils of fat.

I love that SnackWells is name-checked in these two articles published 6 months apart. Even better, it’s used to illustrate our misguided consumption of stuff. The 20th Century brought us a larger food supply, and cheaper crap for us to fill our houses and spend our hard earned dollars on. All of it is fueled by this ridiculous belief that we have a limitless supply of energy – in whatever form it takes, from energy as fuel for our cars and machines, to keep this stuff easily within our grasp and energy as food, making us and our children wonderfully fat. We can’t STOP consuming and no group making money today really wants us to STOP consuming as much as we do. Of course, I’m happy to be proven wrong on that declaration.

I can’t help but think about a family trip to Disney World a few years ago, when we sat in an air conditioned theatre and engaged in some thought-provoking edu-tainment Ellen’s Energy Adventure in Epcot. Ellen Degeneres and Bill Nye (the Science Guy) bring up important points about our waning energy supply. Never fear, though, because in the end, we still have an inexhaustable amount of brain power to think of a solution to the energy crisis.

That is, except when you and everyone else with the brain power to figure a solution haven’t eaten in days, and are away from any clean source of drinking water. (The brain seems to work better when well rested, fed and watered.)

I could go on with regards to this weeks thoughts on consumption, but currently, I have an aching belly from nibbling while baking Lavender Shortbread Cookies and making German Potato Salad for the Fourth. I have, indeed, over-consumed, and the day isn’t even done yet.

Have a happy and safe Independence Day. Make a point to exercise a civil liberty today.

Preparing for Pride

Next month is June, which means that Pride and all the celebratory festivities that come with it, are coming fast. This year, the Seattle Pride parade and festivities have been moved from the Capitol Hill neighborhood (the center of Seattle’s gay community) to downtown and ultimately, Seattle Center. This means a lot more visibility for the parade (and the issues accompanying the parade), and I suspect more protestors given that the festivities will be on less traditionally friendly teritory.

It’s great to think that this will enhance visibility. Seattle is a pretty small town, after all. It’s not the size of Chicago, where I went to many a parade. As liberal as the Left Coast might be, the small-townishness is pretty evident, and the liberal vs. not is a bit more apparent. Maybe this is because in Chicago, the parade (and the neighborhood the parade is in) is focused on the young, beautiful gay boys and their loud stereotypical music hanging out at their lush and loud stereotypical bars/clubs. I’m not saying this isn’t great, but it smacks of a bit of out-and-proud counter-cultureness that taunts the urbane sensibilities of both the cosmopolitan and blue collar Democratic Chicagoan. The colors and attitude of Chicago Pride scream every color of the rainbow in revelrie in honor of the single, available, virile, hunky 20-something gay man. This is not to say that other aspects of the LGBTQ community aren’t there, but the vibe very much focuses on the former.

Last year I wandered out of my house with a couple of friends to take part in Seattle’s festivities. The whole thing was much less a revelrie in the young, virile gay man, but more a revelrie in the kinky (straight and queer), and just plain queer people next door. People with families, steady jobs and a mind towards social change and political movements. The vibe was much less, “we came to party” and more, “we came to make a statement, celebrate, and be home to cook dinner and spend time with the ones we love.”

I wonder if the Seattle style might be more offensive to the more anti-gay people of our country. I can only suspect that it’s easier for some anti-gay people to pish-posh the gay boys of Chicago. Afterall, it’s a world that is so Id defined that it doesn’t command an introspection or empathic response, for perhaps these haters have no concept of celebrating there own sexual expression. I would think that LGBTQ people living and celebrating their lives in a way that was so similar to the stereotypical heterosexual standard might be more problematic. Marriage seeking? Church going? Child raising? Oh god, gay people are people too?!

I’m concerned about how this years Pride festivities will go. The move to Seattle Center for Pride upset many businesses, community groups and individuals who want to keep Pride in the neighborhood. This has spawned another parade and festival on Capitol Hill.

I’m thinking perhaps I’ll stay in the neighborhood this year, if only because I don’t want to be reminded of how far LGBTQ people have yet to go to be equally accepted by the wider world.

The Wedding and Things That Go With It

The wedding went rather well, considering the downpour and other mishaps. It was great to have my Chicago friends in town and to have some Seattle friends present among the throngs of family.

Everyone got a commemorative umbrella! Thank goodness we brought those!

Here’s some shout outs to some of the products and services that made this all possible:
We had our after-party at Ivar’s Acres of Clams and at the end of it, served cupcakes from Cupcake Royale in Ballard. The rings were delivered and beautiful, thanks to Sumiche. Jon’s suit was thanks to the great help at Mario’s. My dress was thanks to Kate Kamphausen. Maggie at Scream in Capitol Hill did my hair. My nails and toes were done at FlowerPower near Greenlake. My necklace was made by Karazi, who I found in the Ballard Farmer’s Market. Finally, we stayed in the honeymoon suite at the Alexis Hotel. That was TRULY awesome. Not cheap, by any means, but a great getaway!

I can’t thank my friends Amy and Marta enough. They really helped pull things together.

So here’s a story for you. It’s about a very interesting woman named Nasreen. In the base of the Alexis Hotel is a perfume shop, Parfumerie Nasreen. I love perfume, Jon’s gotten into some men-smells himself, so after a stint in our jacuzzi at the hotel, we called down to see when they closed. The answer was 15 min, so we got dressed and headed down. This is where we met Nasreen, and her young assistant. Nasreen asked us how we were, what brought us to the Alexis, etc. We said that we had just gotten married… and then we were off. She told us how she had been married 28 yrs, and that the most important thing was to be friends… best friends. We said it had rained at the wedding, and she shared that it meant that it was nothing but clear weather for the rest of our lives. She asked what kind of fragrances I liked, I replied that I’d been wearing Stella and Pure Turquoise lately. She picked up Dorin’s Un Air de Paris, exclusive to her shop in the US, and sprayed some on my right arm. She then picked up Versace’s Crystal Noir, which she sprayed on my left arm. I gave them both a sniff, and was definitely at home with the Versace, but the Dorin had something classic about it. And it should, I think it’s based on a 19th century perfume recipe. 🙂 Meanwhile, Jon picked up some aftershave to match a fragrance I had gotten him last year(Pasha de Cartier). I said yes to the Un Air de Paris, and we started to pay for our stuff. She insisted on giving us a bunch of samples, which was wonderful. Then she stopped and said something to the effect of, “One more thing…” She reached and pulled a bottle of champagne out of nowhere. It was a bottle of (I think) Veuve Clicquot Yellow Label. She handed it to me and said, “You must drink this tonight. Don’t hold onto it for later.” She then told us to order room service, since Jimmy was cooking that night. She did not steer us wrong in the slightest. 🙂

Seriously random… AND WONDERFUL. Thanks Nasreen!

I’ve fielded a lot of questions with regards to the marriage, most often has been the question of whether or not I’m keeping my name. The answer is yes, and mostly because I like my name and feel it’s part of who I am and I’m reluctant to change that or wipe that away. And then there’s the practical answer, which is it’s a huge headache to change names on government and financial documents. So it just makes it easier in the end.

Though apparently confusing for a lot of people, esp. since I don’t want to be called Mrs.. I’ve always been a Ms.. Call it my feminist upbringing, my strongwill or hardheadedness. I don’t really mind. I didn’t feel I should be judged for my not being married, and I feel that I shouldn’t be judged for being married. My marital status has little do do with anything, and I don’t think it should be right there in some title, esp. when there are issues revolving around marriage and equality that are yet unresolved in the world, and yes this fine nation. So I am Ms. and I shall stay that way. This seems to raise some eyebrows, but then again, I’d hate to think I’d stop shaking things up just because I’m married.

I know that I will be called Mrs. HusbandsName and the like for the rest of my days, and for some I will politely correct and others (such as telemarketers) I will correct with a valiant glee.

All marriage stuff aside, my life has resumed back to where it was, if not sporadically interupted by a question regarding the wedding or how it feels to be married (answer: not a hell of a lot different.)

And with that, I think it’s time for a nap.

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Identity Crisis

Today was my third day at my Brand New Job. At this job, I get to be in a high security area, which means badges, a whole mess of keys and restrictions on objects you can bring in/out. The job is filled with colorful characters, and I’m already developing a stash of stories to tell.

This is one of them.

Though this story doesn’t deal with the colorful individuals that are the consumers at this social service agency (ie. forensic ward at a hospital.) This story deals with the people in Human Resources that fail to understand what proof I need for being eligable for employment.

Let’s back up. As with most jobs at most places (and every job at every place I’ve worked) I was required to fill out a stack of papers for things such as my mandatory sign up for the Union (AFL-CIO), retirement benefits, confidentiality agreement, W-4 and the ubiquitous I-9. The I-9 is the form that proves your eligability to work in the U.S. and requires you to submit documents to prove this. Usually these documents are in the form of a lone U.S. passport (my document of choice) or two other documents combined, usually being the state ID or Driver’s License and a Social Security Card. I’ve gotten out of the habit of carrying my SS card with me on a regular basis, so given that one document, my Passport, should suffice, that is what I choose to bring.

My coworker warned me that it may not be enough. There is, however, no document in the packet that requires any documentation aside from the aforementioned. So, I told her, I should be fine.

Apparently the HR people don’t understand what the I-9 requires. The first woman I spoke to was determined that I should have my Social Security card included in the file, despite none of the information I was handed stating that to be the case. I told her that according the the form, my passport was all that was required. She didn’t take that as an answer and referrerd to her coworkers. Another woman came to me and read over the I-9, with me pointing out to her that my passport was sufficient. She looked over it in a very bureucratic, matter of fact way, reading the headers and eventually stating that (well, I can only interpret what she said for myself) I was correct. She then requested my Driver’s License. I asked her what form stated that she needed my Driver’s License. She looked at me and said she didn’t understand what I was talking about. I then said to her, “What form can you show me states the requirement that I give you my Driver’s License to photocopy?” She said she would have to look into it, and was getting this aire of “I’m so leaving this conversation now!” She then mumbled something about how they needed it in case they have to prove my residency, update where I live, because they get reports… blah blah blah.

Given the fact that I’m shitty at updating my own address for my Driver’s License, I don’t know how that would do them one bit of good.

Besides, they already have my SSN on numerous documents already. They could try to get my credit report if they *really wanted.* Also consider I already authorized a criminal background check in order to take the job.

They do NOT need any more forms of ID and they were unable to give me any information stating as to why they needed additional ID.

This all happened in front of my coworker, who is training me. I later explained to her, after I got the “Well, we’ll contact you if we need more information.” crap from the HR people, that in the end, this was a fight for civil liberties.

Maybe not really, but that’s what it felt like. I mean, there was no documentation there that they could give me that required any more information than they already had.

I believe it’s my right to withhold that information if i so choose.

As it is, they know a lot more about me than I likely do about myself.

I’m just waiting to see if I don’t get my paycheck on payday because of this. 🙂 This could get fun!

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