Monday, January 24, 2011

On Vacation Homes and Privilege

What a refreshing weekend. Champagne and caviar dreams and all that (although let's say, for sake of honesty, cheap Cook's champers and replace caviar with chips and salsa...and double-stuff oreos).

Drove to Westport (about three hours from Seattle) with friends Saturday morning to a really lovely vacation home owned by my pal's sister and brother-in-law. Ran into the Pacific as the sun set, made pasta, played charades. Played ukulele, barely, as drunk uke playing is like drunk sex...totally possible, but very little finesse. The house was kitted out lovingly, and we had everything we needed for a quick getaway from city life, stress, and the routinization of our weekends. I was overwhelmed by a feeling of 'I can't wait to be able to have a vacation place of my very own' and it was then that I realized why I never will.

I've grown up very 'comfortable' my whole life. This is a euphemism for well-off, which is a euphemism for rich. And rich is a euphemism for asshole, but I digress. And my family isn't rich, at least not to us anyway, but compare us to the rest of the world and we do quite well for ourselves. In any case, we always rented vacation homes growing up, and for a short while had a double-wide on a bit of lakefront on South Whidbey Island. Not exactly the height of luxury, but the fact is: We could afford it. I come from a world where it is possible to have not just one, but *two* places to spend one's time. Not everyone does. I'm not complaining about growing up well-off, I should think I know better than that. I also know to not pretend I grew up poor, oppressed or downtrodden when I didn't, which is one of the worst offenses I see amongst Liberals of a Certain Type.

What I'm getting at is that it is commonly accepted that a marker of success is being able to own as much dirt on this planet as you can. Or that you can take enough time off work to go to another place where all you do is enjoy nice things. That you own. Because you are rich. I myself wistfully imagine a place in Missoula, Montana where it's just me, a little bungalow, and the biggest, bluest sky around.

I don't need it. I don't need anything but a safe place to lay my head. And I have one. Which is more than we can say about millions of people in these United States, and so many more around the planet. I do not need more than I need. And sorting out the difference between need and want as concepts is something that we as a race must do quickly and honestly. In a society defined by its consumerism (and by obvious relationship its capitalism), we would say, 'But those people with vacation homes, they've earned it! They have every right to do with their money as they wish! They worked hard and deserve it!' and leave it at that. I disagree. For the continued existence of humanity, we cannot continue on as though winning the money game means you get to have while others have not.

Maybe if we ensured that everyone around us had adequate nutrition, healthcare and shelter, we wouldn't need to escape reality so often in the warm, cozy busom of vacation homes. I cannot fathom owning a home that lay dormant, existing solely to cater to my travel whims, while thousands are homeless every night in my very city. It may be what I want, but it is not what I need.

And as with any sweeping generalization, of *course* I'm a hypocrite. I drive a car, which is a horrible thing for the planet. I don't always buy local, which is one of the best things you can do to support your community. I don't need to use conditioner in my hair. I don't need an iphone. This is not a Matter of Principle, for me. My thoughts on vacation homes do not mean I will never take a vacation or visit the place in Westport ever again. It may be a moot point, because I will probably never be able to afford a primary home on my socialworker's salary let alone a vacation home and I'm not marrying a lawyer. But I do believe in taking stock, and realistically, the more I look at the planet, the more I realize just how screwed we are. Unless there is a huge sea-change in the way we use resources, in the way we treat the 'least of our brethren', then all the vacation homes in the world won't help escape the horrors of our own creation.

We can talk about prosperity evangelism in America some other time.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you...

Hey hey! This is the post where I actually tell you all about me. Because you're dying to know. Deep breath, here goes...

I didn't learn how to ride a bike until I was 19. I failed my first driver's test. I have a growth in the back of my...wait. Wait. This is all wrong. Do over.

I'm 26. I'm from Seattle. I love the shit out of Seattle. I love the rain (have you noticed the title of my blog? C'mon people, try to catch up), I love our inability to play with the big boys like Chicago, New York and LA and our utter desperation to do so anyway. I'm a savory, not sweets kinda gal. I'm goofy and I have goofy friends. I'm learning to play ukulele. I will hopefully be doing more and more ukulele'ing as I progress, for it is the shit.

I love homeless people. I started working in a homeless advocacy center when I was in college (Evergreen, represent!) and loved it so much I decided that hanging out with homeless people for a living was way better than anything else I could ever do. So five years later, I still do.

I have a lot to say about homelessness, about the future, about my hussy of a cat who just pees on everything, about how I know nothing of music but totally want to be in a band and pretend I'm Frank Zappa, about how hard it is to find cute clothes if you're fat but not super fat, about how soul-sucking office life is and why we will one day move the entire american workplace to a google-plex model or fail as a society, about so much stupid bullshit. That's why I have a blog.

I'm super excited, you guys.

Self Indulgence at Its Very best

Can you possibly believe I've never really had a go at blogging? I'm not going to lie, I have pathetic half-ass live journal entries from 2007, a failed tumblr account, a way too self-serious other blogger blog with one post...but this one feels good, guys. It really does. I totally won't ditch it like the others. It's special.

Notice how many times I said 'I' in that paragraph? This is what I'm talking about. Can anyone who has ever met me really believe I do not already have a regular blog where I write about...myself? I love me! I think I'm rad. I also like to think I temper this attitude with beautiful, understated humility. Hah. You see what I did there?

So what started this particular foray was a facebook post. Facebook- for people like me, who are too lazy to blog, right? I get responses to my status updates, but it's all nice and safe because theoretically I know, like, at least half the a-holes I've friended on FB. Well I caught myself saying, in all self-aware honesty, 'I totally get off on major facebook response.' And it's true.

I totally fucking do.

But, coming to this realization, I now know I must expand my self-indulgent stuff to a better, more appropriate platform. One that people would actually have to bother clicking to from my facebook page, because hey, I don't want to alienate folks who don't want to know my personal distaste for hugging (save it for another blog, I know). I need a little walking around room. There's a crazy awesome word for that and Hitler used it to talk about his need to invade the fuck outta Europe (cause Mr. Artistic Temparment needed his 'walking room) but I don't now it 'cause I'm too lazy to look it up. I totally just compared myself to Hitler. Rad.

Anyway, I like to write, I'm not too awful at writing, and I should probably do more since what the fuck else is the internet for than to help me indulge myself? I sure as hell don't know.