Category Archives: corporations

Post Sprititual Renewal Angst

So now we come to the part of the year that is the most contentious.  At least for me.  I have the most contradictory wants, feelings, and thoughts immediately after PSG than any other time throughout the year.  Everywhere I look, I see the ads competing for our money, appealing to our desires and vanities, urging us to follow or abandon our personal values.  Sounds rather extreme, doesn’t it?

At PSG, everything seems so straightforward.  Kind is good, mean is bad.  Helping is awesome, ignoring someone’s need is not.  Acts of quiet generosity are supreme, while taking from another without permission is loathsome.  I don’t pretend that everyone there subscribes to this, but for me, this is how it is.  There seems to be no ambiguity in the interpersonal rules when I’m there.

But then I come home.  No matter how much I try to maintain those principles and feelings, they fade quickly.  Not the underlying values, those are with me always, but more of the ability to follow through.  At PSG, there’s very little fear of being taken advantage of.  My inclination to help and to accept aren’t based on a barter system of feelings, but rather more of a pure intent.  It could be that there is no expectation of repayment when I’m there.  I don’t expect anything in return.  It’s nice to just do something for someone and know that their day was made a little nicer, easier, less stressful, or just plain better because of some little courtesy I have extended.  Not so in the "real world," or Mundania as many PSGers call it.

In Mundania, the overwhelming majority of all kindnesses are performed, by most people, with the full expectation that the kindness will be returned.  The young man holds a door open for a pretty girl in hopes that she’ll stop and talk to him.  The extra tip to the paper delivery person is in hopes that the paper will, indeed, actually be on the front porch.  Few people hold the door open for the young mother with a stroller unless refraining means the door will slam in her face.  Almost no one lets the shopper with just a few items go first, especially if the line has been long and the shopper’s cart is full. 

Beyond behavior, I’ve found that the dichotomy of values comes more brilliantly to my attention in ads on TV and print, both of which are in short supply at PSG.  For example, I was leafing through a More magazine this morning and saw an ad for Birkenstock sandals.  I had a pair for 10 years, but they died a sad death last year, so the ad caught my eye.  Then I noticed the facing page.  A stilletto platform shoe with red and tan leather was pictured, the article entitled "Stylebook: Fashion for Grownups."  That’s when this contradiction of wants, feelings, and thoughts really lit up my neurons.

At PSG, we’re earthy, unconcerned (for the most part) with appearance, very concerned with our spirituality and need for community.  For more than a thousand people to come together in a small space to camp, drum, dance, sing, and learn as a cohesive family of sorts is an amazing thing.  There’s always some that I don’t like very much, some I find very strange, some that find me very strange.  There are also people who have become my PSG family, who are new friends, old friends, and friends-to-be.  To illustrate some of the characteristics of PSG you need to picture a place where you can lose a wallet with cash in it, and find it turned into lost and found (a cooler left in a public place) with all the cash still there.  It’s a place where there are many vendors selling everything from clothing to candles to incense to crystals, but who feel comfortable leaving their shops to attend workshops without worrying about theft.  Forget to bring sunscreen?  Someone will have extra.  Tent developed an unfortunate leak?  Ask around – there is always someone who brought an extra "just in case."  Having an emotionally difficult time with anything at all?  Stop by Psyche’s Grotto, because there is certain to be a certified therapist available to help you get through it, and if not, there is no lack of available shoulders for you to lean on.  Want to wear that plaid kilt with a striped shirt you love?  That’s cool.  Awesome kilt, by the way.  Fashion is completely relative at PSG. 

Then we all come home.  Back to the bills, the sullen neighbors, the grouchy bosses, the massive unpacking and cleanup.  That first day back is always a shock to my system, and I almost always end up going to bed early.  Tomorrow is just fine for going back to real life.  Well, now it’s tomorrow.  Real life is cleaning up the house, reviving my poor houseplants, lettings the dogs know that I didn’t leave them forever and that I still loved them.  Real life is having my grandchildren over for the day and making jello, watching him play the PS3, and coloring as much of the driveway as possible with her and the sidewalk chalk.  It’s making peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with the crusts cut off, doing laundry, unloading the camper, and mentally preparing for work tomorrow.

That’s when the true dichotomy hits me.  As I do all these "day after PSG" things, dressed in my tank top and wrap skirt (hippi clothes, as Micah calls them), I wonder what to wear tomorrow.  Makeup or no?  Headscarf (this year that was my preferred PSG hairstyle)?  Probably not.  It’s back to Mundania in the truest sense.  PSG equals relaxed, no makeup, no haircolor, letting my gray shine to the world, doing what I want for anyone without worrying it will be taken the wrong way.  Work means makeup, "appropriate" clothes, constant worry that my gray hair is holding me back (from what?  from where?), and policing my inclination to do random acts of helpfulness in check, lest someone feel obligated to do something for me in return. 

It’s like there are two of me.  The one is so much more real, genuine, and open.  No getting annoyed while driving, no feeling the pressures of time.  Cheesecake?  Sure!  I am still me at 215 pounds, and eating a piece of cheesecake doesn’t alter me in any fundamental or meaningful way.  The other me reads articles on "A Better Body With Age: Real Women’s Inspiritn Stories."  Worries that the wrap skirt should really wrap a little more, because us fat older women shouldn’t be showing any leg.  Stops in the hair dye aisle way too often, torn between that awsome L’Oreale Golden Blond or the Medium Golden Brown that used to be my hair.  Feeling late to work when I arrive at 7:40, when 8:00 is the actual start to the day.  I yearn for the first me to take over, to kidnap and dispose of the second me.  At the same time, I envy the second me – knowing that she is the one the world is more comfortable with.  Knowing that the second me is the one who could be 140 pounds of sexy older woman, with perfectly styled Golden Blond hair and fashionable shoes and a pencil skirt.  Neither one is really me, though, and I know this.

What I don’t know, is who is the real me?  I think I’m part of both – a dichotomy in my own self.  I realize that the problem isn’t the wrap skirt vs. the pencil skirt.  The problem is in having my values defined by my environment – PSG vs. Mundania.  Being true to the women’s libber that was surgically implanted in me in the 60’s, while being forced into the modern world where makeup is queen and a promotion could hang on just the right amount of makeup to be youthful while still looking mature.  No one can live happily with that dualality.

Solution?  I haven’t got one.  My answer has been to keep two separate worlds.  My personal space of wrap skirts and birkenstocks takes over at the end of each day ruled by khaki pants and the appropriate application of makeup.  I think it’s no wonder that people, especially women, are more anxiety and depression prone than ever before.  I think we need a better way.  I just don’t know what thay way will look like.

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Recycled Silk Yarn – and Occupy Wall Street

I started this post on the 4th, so technically I only missed one day since then… :)

I have had, for several years, a few hanks of recycled silk yarn.  It’s multicolored and nubby.  I know it will make something wonderful, but I have never found the right pattern.  I’ve looked all over.  Still can’t find one. I think the problem is the nubbiness of the yarn.  It’s beautiful, but very nubby.  I have, I believe, four skeins.  More than enough to make a shawl, or a couple scarves, or a scarf and hat.  Maybe a few fabric bowls?  That works better in crochet, but I can do that.  Suggestions?  I’m at a loss.

 

 

Now…for the political portion of this message…

Since I started this post, my attention has been captured by the Occupy Wall Street phenom.  It started when my student worker was discussing utilitarianism.  I did a quick and dirty internet search, and realized that in many ways, the OWS movement is a micro-utilitarian society.  It’s a gathering of people for a common goal, it’s being run by consensus, and everything they do is for the good of the group and movement.  While that may not continue to be true, it’s fascinating how it’s taken shape.  Sort of brings back the ’60s in a less chemically altered, free love kind of way.

The movement has captured the attention of the world and has been condemned by some politicians (who probably should read about the broad support before they burn any bridges with the general populace).  Some law enforcement officials apparently feel the same way.

Many bloggers and news commentators are calling OWS the American “Arab Spring.”  Referring to the “leaderless resistance movement,” New York Times op-ed columnist Charles M. Blow calls Occupying Wall Street a “festival of frustrations.”  He’s right, except about the festival part.  We (the general American public) are frustrated, and our elected officials seem to be much more inclined toward making sure the “other side” doesn’t get what they want than in truly representing our collective interests.  He sites a series of Gallup Polls that illustrate our growing (???) dissatisfaction with the political machine and our record low level of trust in the government.  According to these polls, we generally feel that the government poses an immediate threat to our  rights and freedoms.

Today, in Bloomberg Business Week, it was reported that the movement has now spread from coast to coast.  Even without a stated objective, OWS represents an upwelling of popular discontent and disillusionment in a way that encourages each of us to participate in some way.  We don’t need to give money, or necessarily take time off work.  Everyone can get involved in some small way, even if it’s only sending an email or writing a blog post.

So, regardless of your political leanings, speak out.  Tell ALL of the elected officials to shut the hell up and do their jobs – represent their constituents.  They all need to stop doing what’s politically advantageous and do what is right for this country as a whole.  One of my students made the point that our “government is supposed to be of the people, for the people and by the people.”  Not of Bank of America, by the oil industry, and for those rich enough to purchase a congressional vote.

 

Time Flies

It’s been a month (again!) since my last post.  I’d like to say that I was so busy with NaNoWriMo that I just couldn’t find time for anything else, but that would be somewhat less than truthful.  The real reason was I was so busy I completely forgot to blog.  Between a couple of projects at work and the furious knitting pace demanded by the upcoming holidays, I work, knit and sleep – not always in that order.

Some interesting things have happened in the world since last month, though.  First, scientists (actually one scientist) have discovered that it may be possible to have life based on things other than the known elements.  There’s a bacterium that can live on arsenic.  I’ve been pretty sure for a long time that by holding on the the belief that there can only be life as we understand it is rather…well I can’t think of a good adjective right now.  Turns out I was right.  I’m no scientist, but it has always seemed plausible to me that there could be things out there that we have no comprehension of.  It’s kind of exciting!

Bullying has been big news this past month.  What parent hasn’t agonized over the (perceived) need to send her child to school and have said child beg endlessly to stay home due to a bully at school?  A recent article at ABCNews.com, that I can’t find at the moment, chronicles a woman’s war with her school district to be able to send her kids to another school due to the extreme bullying.  It wasn’t until the media got involved that the school administration gave in and were suddenly very cooperative.  For more on this topic, check out School Bytes tomorrow for a much longer rant on public education.

Also in the news was Wikileaks.  Good luck with the link, it’s a popular DDOS site for the last several days.  If you do manage to get in, there’s a wealth of information that is damning and embarrassing to almost every government on Earth.  I can’t say I was surprised by any of it, let alone shocked as some people are claiming to be.  One would have to be pretty naive to think this sort of mayhem doesn’t happen.  Makes me want to go around calling people “Pollyanna.”  Time to wake up, people.  Big Business and the governments of virtually every country couldn’t care less about “doing the right thing” or keeping the world safe for our children or even getting decent drinking water to the masses.  It’s all about power and money.  Wikileaks has pretty much rubbed everyone’s faces in that fact.

Politically, the GOP is right on track to keep their fave demographic (rich people) happy and wealthy.  Bush tax cuts are on the block, and while the House appears to be letting humanity and compassion lead the way, the Senate is fully prepared to strike down those infidels who have a problem with the rich getting richer.  Take that, you do-gooders!  They can take heart if they lose, however.  Sarah Palin is going back to Ohio – NOT to campaign she says.  Sarah…really?  And just when we thought the Palin family would recede into the background again she makes a “book tour” to Ohio and her husband, Todd, is considering a run on “Dancing With the Stars.”

Well, that’s enough ranting for one day.  I need to save some for School Bytes!  Knitting pictures to come and a list of my projects – in case anyone is interested.

Vote with your money

I recently watched a disturbing film called Food, Inc. (Yes, if you click on the link you get Amazon – a girl’s gotta make some money some way!)  It is about the corporatization of food production.  The segments include spots on corn, meat production, genetically modified food and hunger in under-developed countries.  If you watch it (Netflix has it on Watch Instantly), be prepared to start questioning your food purchasing and consumption choices.

I had already started purchasing more organics and any fair trade goods availble when possible.  You can get a lot of stuff through fair trade.  Obviously, you pay a premium – but that’s part of the process.  Corporations are making millions while people like the farmers in Mexico have been displaced (a large cause of the illegal immigrant issue) due to corporate farms in the US.  US farms are paid a subsidy to produce corn, soybeans, wheat, and other crops for less than it costs to plant them.  No independent farmer can compete with that.

Fair trade goods extend from food into products for personal care, clothing, jewelry, home decorations, housewares, etc.  There are many websites, just put fair trade into any search engine.

Of particular interest to me (besides coffee for DH) is yarn (knitting blog…duh!).  I found some fair trade yarn sites.  I was going to pick one, but there are too many to pick from, so here’s a list:

There are more, but I’m sure you enterprising knitters (and friends of knitters) will find them.

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