Posts Tagged ‘experiments’

Life in the Fast Lane: A Thanksgiving invitation for my experimental/sociopolitically-motivated friends:

Monday, November 19th, 2018

Howdy facebook. How’s it hanging. As y’all surely know, it’s Thanksgiving in the U. S. this week. And if you’ve been around here much in the past, you might remember a little bit about what I think of Thanksgiving. :poop emoji:

I’m taking a bit of a different track this year, and I wanna share about it and invite you to consider my words or even join me.

First, a babbly history: I grew up celebrating “pilgrims and indians” thanksgiving like most suburban white kids with their turkey hand drawings in the 80’s. With a tense and often bickering family environment, Thanksgiving was so quickly a soulless tradition or annoying obligation (how ameri-white can you get eh?). I don’t really recall having a genuine connection with it after childhood, other than a convenient excuse to force myself to connect with chosen family.

Over the years I have boycotted, half-heartedly participated, hosted orphans, and increasingly shared my dissent as I’ve learned more of the authentic origins of the holiday and how continuing to celebrate it harms people I have spent a lot of therapy money and cognitive effort as an oblivious privileged white person learning to actually care about.

My M.O. since radicalizing in 2014ish or so has generally been to water fast on Thanksgiving and fill my social media feeds with trauma porn about the origins of the feasting and how fucked up it is that we do it. You’ll be glad to know I’m (mostly) over that now, in part due to actually dipping my toe into legitimate advocacy by working with orgs like Duwamish Infrastructure Restoration Training – DIRT Corps and recognizing how deeply impactful the various Native therapies I’ve experienced have been to my personal life as well as my work.

Another big factor in letting go of that rage-stance has been my exploration of my gender identity (they/them), and how getting real about the origin of my binary brainwashing being centered in whiteness has allowed me to authentically connect with the ideals in Native culture in a personal way. Without that connection, all I felt entitled to interact with was the shameful anger of the bloodshed inflicted by my ancestors, so that’s what I signal boosted.

As a developing activist advocating indigenous rights and human person adopting basic indigenous principles into my anti-racism, someone who has worked with the Duwamish and learned from native healers, and someone who is privileged to celebrate my connections any day I chose, I feel it’s important for me to reject the holiday outright in my actions as well as my public talk.

Fasting may seem pointless, and I’ve wondered sometimes what greater good lied in my time during Thanksgiving while hanging out in a van alone and starving myself; whether it was simply selfish and personal or more than that or just self destructive.

As a political/community artist, I understand the value of documenting personal praxis in a performative way. One of the things that I write about in The Book are my personal experiments and what makes them legitimate artwork and not just self-help advice: Year of the Nee in 2014 (of which I spent a year weening from romantic relationships, drugs, alcohol, and sex), W.A.S.T.E. in 2009 (in which I kept my recycling in my living space with me for months), etc.

My Thanksgiving fasts have been this sort of art for me, and I do think, when presented in conjunction with others, they are valid outside of myself. While I think it may be best to stop fasting as a means of reverence because I’ve developed such disordered eating in my last year of vanlife that it’s much more risky for my health now, I’m proud of those years in which I fasted, talked about fasting on social media, and sat with and communicated with my hunger as a means to process the reality of Thanksgiving. This year, perhaps for the last time (?), I’d like to fast again.

Which brings me to my invitation: Wanna fast with me this Thanksgiving? There are multiple elements to my approach, which I expect to expand annually if I get other people on board:

1) Water fast for the day of Thanksgiving (this is the “accountability” commitment) – Including peer-based aftercare support for the fasting to help ourselves as a group continue to healthy eating habits after going a day without food (I will personally need this from my community to continue Thanksgiving fasting in a way that does not endanger my health)

2) Funnel the money I would have spent on Thanksgiving food into a one-time donation directly to my local Duwamish and Puyallup tribes (even if it’s just a couple bucks).

3) If I’m active on social media at the time, post at least 2 local call-to-action Native advocacy resources on each of my social media accounts on Thanksgiving day. Post historical and cultural educational content about those tribes as well.

4) If a local group forms (I’m based in Tacoma now), work to create a meetup event in nature for next year, and include resources used in social media posts as lit for meatspace gatherings.

I am considering creating a group of some sort, preferably NOT using facebook, for event planning and information sharing. My idea for this is to include a national online element as well as a local in person one, though this year I expect I’m approaching this too late for a local gathering.

I anticipate most participants to be white because that’s my lane and this is our work, however anyone who is interested is welcome to participate.

If you’d like to be looped into the development of this project, comment here with the word DECOLONIZE and I’ll make sure to include you in whatever list/group/discord/slack channel or whatever the fuck it ends up being. And if you wanna participate virtually in some way this Thursday, let m know how.

Thanks for taking the long read. Also note that I have a post pinned to my artist page right now to a fabulous writeup if you want to delve in more, and many links supplied in the comments if you’re interested in supporting Natives this week.

National Day of Mourning is nearly upon us, and CHRISTINE NOBISS of www.seedingsovereignty.org has done a great service to those of us seeking to resist the colonial gaslighting that is Thanksgiving. https://www.bustle.com/p/thanksgiving-promotes-whitewashed-history-so-i-organized-truthsgiving-instead-13154470

NON-LOCAL ADVOCACY: If food justice is your thing (For instance, if you were enraged by the new SNAP benefit changes and think people on food assistance deserve fresh food), then you should know about food availability on reservations and what Queer Appalachia and @ndn.o are up to: https://www.facebook.com/QueersnAppalachia/posts/2060243613997313

EDUCATION: THE SUPPRESSED SPEECH OF WAMSUTTA (FRANK B.) JAMES, WAMPANOAG
To have been delivered at Plymouth, Massachusetts, 1970

http://www.uaine.org/suppressed_speech.htm

EDUCATION: The Duwamish people of the inside still exist. You can visit their longhouse, attend events, sign up to their mailing list, among other things at https://www.duwamishtribe.org/

And here is their wikipedia page https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duwamish_people

EDUCATION: REAL CHANGE, a publication that I support whenever I have cash in my pocket (and I hope you will too), published this about the Duwamish in 2016 https://www.realchangenews.org/2016/11/09/duwamish-tribe-continues-160-year-fight-federal-recognition

DONATIONS: The Duwamish tribe has created http://realrentduwamish.org as a pathway for Seattlites and other supporters to pay reparations, and is a way you can impact the lives of those whose land we settled despite the federal government’s 160 years of refusing the tribe their rights. I pay real rent myself and encourage every Seattlite to do so as well.

DIRECT ENVIRONMENTAL ACTION: DIRT CORPS, a restoration training program I worked with in 2016/2017, works closely with the Duwamish tribe while restoring wetlands in Georgetown, White Center and South Park; areas most impacted by industrialization and training local communities, and they are regularly in search of volunteers.

https://www.urbansystemsdesign.com/dirt-corps-program

THE ORIGINS OF MY FAVORITE SALT –
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coast_Salish
https://www.britannica.com/topic/Salish
https://www.warpaths2peacepipes.com/indian-tribes/coast-salish.htm

The Year of the Kat

Tuesday, July 4th, 2017

In 2014, I began the Year of the Nee, choosing to go a year (and change, it turned out) celibate and without intoxicants of any kind.

Overlapping that year, the two years of unofficial survival experimentation of #vanlife began.
And now I float, disconnected, purposeless, again in need of healing and self acceptance. It’s about time to embark on a new experiment, I’ve been thinking.

From July 4 2017 to July 4 2018, is the Year of the Kat: the year I go on brain medication, and officially return to the discipline of writing regularly in a private, offline, SOC journal.

Turns out after all this searching for an avenue to rediscover and reintegrate the wisdom of my long lost teenage self, all I had to do to reconnect, was write to her.

Funny, how that works.

Thanks for giving: a shit. 

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Third rockin’ass orgasm of the day. Enjoying the hell out of my solo day-long water fast. Fuck your oppressive shitass holidays. — https://instagram.com/p/BNNjpf5hffd/

Water fasting as of midnight last night. Had no idea when I decided to do this a year ago, take the next step in personally divesting from the lies and the cognitive dissonance, how apropos it would be as I closely follow Standing Rock.

This is the thing about trying to figure out how to meld my art with activism. I fasted today as a self care and development experience because I believe we must decolonize ourselves, and that includes, perhaps most importantly, the means and motivations for our connecting with each other. So we can stop passing up connecting with real friends to complain about being “alone”.

I could have made it into art, I could have organized people who wanted to do it together and bare witness in a collective. We could have decided to have made it disruptive and done it in the street, or in a plaza, or quietly somewhere for the groups healing and told our actual friends about it. Part of the reason I didn’t do any of those things, is because I didn’t realize this was art until now.

Art is how I sneak up on myself. It’s how I tell me my own story, and I warn myself of things, and the fucking CURSE of it (and also what makes it work?) is that most of the time I can’t see it until I’ve experienced my own fucking art! It’s like Westworld, I look at the poem or I sketch the choreography or I sew my own mouth shut in watercolor and I go ‘meh. doesn’t look like anything to me’. Until one day it does look like something, and I laugh at myself for not seeing it then.

Developing ourselves is art.

The world needs more art.

Make more art.

PTSD no moe

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

EXPERIMENT: Cognitive Process Therapy to address nearly 30 years of a Post Traumatic Stress Disorder: Fin.

Here are the results.

Experiment: 1000 words

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Challenge: Relegate my targetedly offensive language (against women, mentally ill, etc).
Duration: Ongoing

Compendious Result: The road, she is long.

I’m exploring how my language use reflects in the social consideration I’ve been developing the last few years. I rather automatically say a lot of things that bother myself now, after discovering that everything I historically thought was funny, isn’t.

Looking at this closely and exploring new words is how I’m re-establishing a sense of humor. The things we say matter. Basically what I am going for – in general, but not necessarily with this exercise specifically – is cultivating the skill of expressing rage in a way that respects my emotions AND other people.

I REALLY don’t want to give up motherfucker! Or bastard. Or bitches. Or bitchery. Or douchebag. I will very much miss cuntary too. Such a classic. I dropped ‘pussy’ years ago, because calling someone that is fucking stupid. ‘Wuss” or ‘fucking twit” is way better.

But what’s been seen can’t be unseen. I want shit to fucking change, and if I as one dedicated person can’t consider ways to make fun of someone without insulting their single mother, insulting the lovers of mothers or their fucking feminine hygiene, what god damn hope does the world have.

I’ll be keeping my blasphemy, though, thank you very much.

How it’s going..

I have been racking my brain for a long time trying to come up with a quippy fun insult like ‘bitchez!’ or “motherfuckers!’ that isn’t a) Degrading of femininity and/or b) culturally appropriated, since I can’t say either of those things anymore without feeling like a fuckass. And “fuckasses!” doesn’t ring.

I’m also working my way out of calling shit retarded, since battling mental health stigma is important to me. That one is hella hard. ‘retard’ and ‘fucktard’ and ‘lactard’ and ‘glutard’ — all those ‘tard’s — are where I slip up the most. Currently the frontrunner replacement is “lobedonor”.

I posed this conundrum to facebook and got a lot of good response. “Shit for brains”, “fools”, “wankers”. I am rather partial to “Knuckle Draggers” and “punkass”.

Also considering “suckers”, but wanna say it suckahs, which brings up the appropriation aspect. I like ‘homies’ but I’m white as your 6000 thread count fucking sheets, and save for a slip up a couple days ago when calling EBT grocery shopping ‘ghetto shopping’ I’ve dropped ‘ghetto’ too.

I’ve been leaning on ‘shit’ for my cussing a lot more of late, and “Meatbags” is a pretty solid staple of mine. For more direct insults, I quite like using “prolapse” to get my point across.

Interestingly enough, ‘bitchez’, which is what spawned this whole examination, gets to stay:

Alright. I have done my due diligence. I have explored my intentions, my stances and my sensitivity. I have searched far and wide for a manner of expressing that feels as right or as gleeful and I have found mostly self censorship and confusion. I have walked the path and searched the soul and hence forth it is written: I am keeping ‘bitchez.’

YEAH BITCHEZ!!

Funny, how things work out.

Experiment: Daily Post-it challenge

Saturday, August 30th, 2014

Challenge: A post-it sketch in ballpoint for every day in August.
Duration: One month

Compendious Result: Fine for 8 days, then trainwreck failure — and I’m ok with that.

This was one of many, many production challenges I’ve given myself over the years, none of which I’ve completed fully.

It is said in most circles that ‘real’ artists art every day. Perhaps that may be so, but I don’t work that way. I go in spurts and phases between my various art forms, and always have. I am inspired and proud for my artist friends who bust out a sketch a day and stick with it, but that just ain’t me.

While the idea of a more structured and disciplined life appeals to me, with more focus and mastery of less, I doubt it will ever show up as rigidity in how I create and practice my artwork.

Experiment: Face the Book

Friday, August 1st, 2014

The challenge: Read a book rather than a newsfeed.
Duration: 3 weeks

Compendious Result: Unexpected success! Rather than stopping myself mid-refresh loop to go read a book, I found myself choosing to read more often and internet less. I also finally removed facebook from my phone.

Explanation: My goal was to read more, after taking a trip to the bay area last week and spending a fair bit of time re-familiarizing myself with the consistent fact that I love to read. Why I keep forgetting this, I don’t really know.

In supporting this goal, which stems from the desire to cultivate more play and leisurely activity in my life, expand my vocabulary and writing ability, and simply spend more time at rest.

I decided that any time I recognized that I am lingering on Facebook or Twitter, reloading social media feeds in search of new posts to entertain myself, instead, I would pick up a book. A fun book, a story book, not a self-help or save-the-world related book. Because if I am frying my brain waiting for something to happen on Facebook, it’s clear I need a break, anyway.

That happened rarely. It turned out that by deciding to do this experiment, I just spent a lot less time online in general.

In Process Experiment: Walk a Day

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

The challenge: Get up at the same time every day to walk around the block (.3 miles)
The duration: 8 weeks

Explanation: I have never been a creature of morning routine. However, for most of my life, when I’ve noticed that, I’ve felt sorry for myself. Like I am missing out, and failing myself somehow. Like I just don’t have it in me to take that 30 minutes a morning to care about myself, in that tough love parenting sort of way, but if I did, it would be sorta like magic.

I suspect deep down that a disciplined, automatic routine in the mornings would do awesome things for me, both physically and in my sense of myself as a productive, capable person.

As well, it would align me further with my integrity, as I teach my clients routines to do in the mornings and see them enjoy consistent progress when they follow my advice.

Yet, I’ve done very little to support myself in doing what I advise and know to work for others. It’s just felt too big. I’d much rather lay in bed until the last possible moment, most of the time.

So, this challenge is about starting small, and cultivating my discipline one baby step at a time. Every morning, at 8am, rain or shine, mostly asleep or already awake, I will get up and take my bedhead morning breath ass to the pavement for a walk around the block.

Perhaps I will come home, and fall right back into bed. Perhaps I will start my day at that time. What I do after this doesn’t matter. How body aware and zen about it I am while doing it doesn’t matter. What matters, is that when my alarm goes off, I get out of bed, put my shoes on, and walk.

Experiment: The June of Noncomplaint

Sunday, July 13th, 2014

The challenge: Stop complaining
The duration: A whole month

Compendious Result: Moderate success! I complain less, have an idea of the difference between social/productive complaints and the sticky grumpymaking kind, and am generally content to not only think less caustic-denouncingly, but express less of it too.

Yep. My goal, was to not complain for a month.

Keep laughing. It’s ok.

There are too many reasons why this was a good idea to list out. The most applicable one here, is that I think fighting fair, which is something I’ve discovered I am still rather abysmal at, starts with the little things, and the things I say to myself, which are mostly, frankly, still pretty awful.

The beginning

I’d like to say that I hit the ground running with my first month-long personal experiment as part of Year of the Nee and did really well with it. Boy, did that really not happen. At first.

The first few days of this challenge were awful; at every turn, I saw myself failing. I’d say, if I were to guess, about 75% of my unmanaged thoughts in the first week of June were complaints of some sort.

Mostly things like the stupid fuckers behind my apartment fighting, or something on my computer not working. My food not being warm enough. Stupid shit. Useless shit.

And roughly 20% of those, I wanted to post online. It was nearly a physical struggle to stop myself. Because my complaints are WITTY and BITING and FUNNY and SNARKY and BUUUURRRNN.

The first step was not to do that, to let the complaints come and go without honoring them by immortalizing and spreading them. But that wasn’t tempering the frequency that they were occurring as much as I wanted.

I realized I needed some help to succeed in this. So I adopted an oldie but goodie, and started documenting three good things that happened every day.

The conclusion

Documenting Three Things and Why helped me focus (and also observe that on particularly bad days I had to stop myself for backhand complaining even then..), and I think was integral to my success, in that it anchored me and helped me get through the hard part.

My goal is to continue to stick with this awareness, reverting to daily “3 things” documentation when required, to maintain a better relationship with complaining, and avoiding using it as a past time too automatically.

Year of the Nee: 1 down, 11 to go.

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

It’s been just over a month since I began my year of celibacy and no intoxicants, coupled with the lesser goals of avoiding sugar and not cutting my hair, for the purpose of supporting and providing a foundation to integrate the metaphysical growth spurt I am going through.

The celibacy and lack of substances has been so natural I’ve barely noticed a change, other than to smile a little when I think about how much money I save by not having a drink when I eat out, which has only happened a couple times since I’m saving for a trailer and didn’t make ‘not obliviously starving myself’ a priority this time around.

Another observation I’ve had is the overwhelmingly positive response of people when I have occasion to share about this – usually when I’m being offered weed or a beer. They offer, or ask if I drink/smoke, and I say yes, that I do, but I’m a month into my year off. They invariably respond with pleasant surprise, immediate acceptance, and sometimes praise and pensiveness and questions.

Which is funny, since I had imagined being cajoled or mocked most of the time.

People aren’t doing that. They are interested and impressed and respectful. That in and of itself has felt very healing and grounding. And it’s been nice for my faith in humanity; It appears perhaps I am not the only one who has grown up some.

I will just mention briefly that I’m very glad not to be putting this aspect of things to the test regarding sex, and simply removing the option from my life has been ideal for me.

The hair cutting thing didn’t go as well, which is fine, because a) I cut my hair myself b) I left part of it the length it was and c) it looks completely awesome.

This will come as a shock to.. probably nobody. But it’s been unsettling for me, after 34 years of manufacturing identity reliant on the opposite. I am starting to get that I am, fundamentally, a really fucking genuinely nice person.

Like, painfully caring.

Perhaps it’s not so much that I’m only just now getting that; It’s likely more that I am starting to finally accept it.

Like, really accept it.

In my guts and in my cells and in my felt senses, rather than just carrying my squish around in the back of my head to fuel my general distaste for dumbfucks and mean people.

I am starting to experience with acute awareness and observation how the things I’ve come to automatically do to protect myself, like blame, and pick arguments, and being verbally abusive, have corroded my integrity and my ethics; I’ve moved beyond simply philosophizing and mentalizing about them to stewing in it — not wallowing, but stewing. Feeling it. Feeling what it really means and does to me to be that way.

Here’s the tip of what I’ve learned:

I value compassion and kindness more now than I used to. I’ve been seeing it in the people around me. In how I’ve suddenly become intolerant to witnessing anger and aggression, even justified anger and aggression, yet have been caught in the reality that I default to being that way myself if I’m not really careful.

I’ve been really fucking tormented by it. Really screaming about it and pushy and compassion baiting and disgusted with people, but struggling to accept my anger and own capacity for cruelty.

“When I was young, I used to admire intelligent people; as I grow older, I admire kind people.” ― Abraham Joshua Heschel

I can admit that deep down I want everyone to be ok and for everyone to be harmonious; I can admit that my desire to blow up every fuckass government and financial facility full of fuckass government and financial people in the country is a wish rooted in the desire to do better for the world I live in.

However my sense of self hasn’t caught up to that. I am still in a deep state of transition and identity dysphoria (Ok well to be fair when am I not really THANKS MENTAL ILLNESS THANKS A LOT).

The problem is that while my admiration is shifting, and has been shifting for a very long time, and I’ve made strides in that direction, I still too often value my own intelligence and biting wit more than my kindness.

I’ve as yet been unwilling, and truthfully, unable, to give up and let go of my biting intellectual bratty truth teller call-you-on-your-shit tough love ‘fuck most everyone except you of course’ identity.

Plus, as with all significant personal transformations, most of the people in my life also identify me in that way, and largely unconsciously encourage me to stay there.

Moving further toward the balance point I am seeking there (the snark is staying, mmmkay.) has helped me see how this inner turmoil presented itself in my life; I’ve equated that need for harmony, with wanting people to like me.

Unpacking that has been a real bitch.

I’ve discovered that at the heart of this, I, the person in the room who most often says what others are thinking, who calls out the shit and the elephants, who asks the hard questions and gives the hard answers, absolutely hates confrontation (“Which is funny, since I had imagined being cajoled or mocked most of the time.”).

Yes. I do. I hate it. My face gets hot. My voice cracks and wavers. I shake and feel like I might cry. I feel as though I’m on a chopping block or in front of a firing squad. My guts knot up and I feel prone to attack and rejection and death. My legs shake. I want the ground to open my up and swallow me. It feels fucking horrible.

And I do it anyway. It’s part of who I am and it’s part of what I value about myself. At my best I stand up for myself and for other people and am the person who first says “This is wrong.”

Yet even asking a person to stop rudely yelling on their cellphone in the open lobby of my office building gives me a flowering anxiety deep in my guts, as though I were attempting to tweeze a chunk of corn from between a rabid demon lion’s teeth. With my face. With loaded guns pointed at my head.

Though I call it to me dozens of times in a day, and berate myself when I don’t engage in it (I kicked myself for weeks for not confronting a teenager who hit her dog in front of me; which I didn’t do because I would have been fucking batshit at her about it), I hate confrontation so much that I constantly prepare for it when it isn’t there.

Like the diarrhea inducing anxiety waves I ignored for years when I’d be putting on my face and armor to go out clubbing, a classic example of invented confrontation that I’ve since overcome by accepting myself as an introvert, I’ve known this for some time, but avoided really feeling it.

Ok. This moment, like the last few thousand moments today, might be a confrontation. So let’s armor up. Big breath, suck it down, be commanding, be rigid, be no bullshit, walk fierce and scowl a little, tell them to stop, stand up for yourself, what the fuck is that shaking in your voice, what kind of weakling are you anyway, why are you so afraid of some dumb stranger, you’re in the right, they’re annoying everyone else too you just have the balls to say something, you’re always the one who has the balls to say something, you’re the strong one why don’t you fucking feel like it, see it’s over now but you’re still freaked out, but nothing happened, but you’re still freaked out like 10 minutes after, you won! You’re a FUCKING LEADER! What the hell is wrong with you?

I know what’s wrong with me; Though I’ve cultivated esteem and self caring over the years, and yes, I am a natural leader, I’ve yet to master in myself the art of fighting fair.

And for me, as someone who has a lot of fucking fight in them, that is an absolutely vital foundation to have. And I DO NOT HAVE IT.

I’ve the skills, and knowledge, the drive, and I’ve done a lot of work here; but what I’ve been missing is consistent practice. Only in my direct work with clients, and in very important, long thought personal confrontations, or in rare-ish charmed instances when access to that toolkit was quick and easy, have I consistently actually incorporated my knowledge of compassionate asskicking.

So, confrontation — of any kind or scope — most often feels like an untamed wild card that could explode at any moment. Because I often handle it like an untamed wild card that could explode at any moment, and I desperately want for the person I am confronting to manage that for me; By liking me. And oftentimes I approach that by being, basically, as unlikable as possible.

“It’s not your job to like me – it’s mine.” – Byron Katie

Now that I’m settled into YotN a bit, the experiments can begin. Each month I am going to try to root something new and specific by going to an extreme of some sort. For June, my goal is to not complain for a month.

Yep. My goal, is to not complain for a month. Keep laughing. It’s ok.

There are too many reasons why this is a good idea to list out. The most applicable one here, is that I think fighting fair starts with the little things, and the things I say to myself, which are mostly, frankly, still pretty awful.

And, I don’t really know how to limit my complaining to doing so effectively. I mean, I do, I just.. don’t.

I’m doomed to repeat this pattern as long as the fight in my head stays the way it is; biting, judgmental, self righteous, intolerant, offensive, aggressive, dehumanizing, self-pitying, belittling, alienating and superior. So it’s time for a bath.

Approaching fighting with compassion and fairness is a life long practice. I will never be perfect at it and I don’t expect myself to be. I choose to live an intense life; I will devolve sometimes, understandably, and that’s ok.

But I have seen this as a hurdle to jump over all my life. In this quiet, in my healing cocoon nest space I’m evoking, I see it as a hurdle I can topple over, and start stomping on, instead.

Experiment: Being With My Own Filth (W.A.S.T.E.)

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

The challenge: Save all my recyclables in my living space
The duration: Two months

Compendious result: Life altering. As aware as I thought I was about packaging and unneeded waste, this experiment brought me to a whole other level, and I am deeply thankful that I did it.

Inception of the W.A.S.T.E. project

I suspect simply embarking on this experiment will produce an immediate decline in the waste I produce.

I’ve had it with consumerism, yet I’m neck deep in it. I’ve had it with plastic bottles, wrappers, packaging, waste. It pisses me off. It’s unnecessary. It bugs me. A lot. I’ve been noticing again. From Sara’s glass jar that she takes to the smoothie place to get filled instead of a Styrofoam one, to the “My canvas bag means I am better than you” bag I saw on set today, I’m noticing what these things are saying.

I feel like a raging tool every time I take my garbage out and sort all the recyclables, and see how much stuff I’m still generating. As it should be. I’ve supposed that because I dont bag each piece of my produce in 17 different bags I’m like, better than people who do or something – meanwhile each cup of tea I drink has a wrapper associated, every smoothie I drink has a cup I toss, I have vitamin water bottles all over the place, I buy stuff in boxes and wrappers all the time…

Thankfully though, I don’t think about it often – perhaps once a week when I take out my trash, sometimes 2 weeks if I’m really conscious and careful. But maybe I shouldn’t be thanking myself for that. Maybe I should be embracing my wastefulness full hilt and welcoming what a hypocrite I am.

In a rush to get to work and need something quick, someone else bought it for me, I’ll reuse it a couple times – All things I say to rationalize the bottles, wrappers, plastic bowls and other random shit I throw away on a regular basis. Recycling is still close enough to garbage to urk me. It’s an energy and resource suck that I initiate with my thoughtlessness and being lazy, that just doesn’t need to happen.


(Thanks for the video link, Miah!)

I’ve decided to live with all of my trash (sans yard waste, which we already compost and reuse), for two months — 2 weeks longer than it takes to form a habit. The effort is to document the process, and in the end, form better consumer habits based on the experience. I’m focusing mainly on things like vitamin water bottles and single serving packaging, grocery bags and other such things.

I want to see how much of this stuff I really contribute to our world. I just went and fished all packaging I could find here from the last week or so out of the trash and collected the various bottles from around my room.

I kept a few things I know are older to balance out the stuff I know I don’t have, like some clifbar wrappers and at least one paper to-go carton from my Pink Door gig last Sunday. I’m calling my official start date Sept 1. From now until Nov 1, the day before my 30th birthday, I will pack-out all of my consumer packaging waste and bring it home with me. If you’re someone who’s chosen a lifestyle that includes creative ways to be conscious of waste, I’d love to hear your advice.

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Looking at the word brought an acronym to mind – Why Always Soil The Environment? I hereby dub thee, the W.A.S.T.E. project.

Week 2:

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So far, I have started carrying my water bottle around again, and am noticing that while TJ’s is a great deal, I’m not so keen on the packaging that their produce comes in.

On the lookout for a wide-mouthed metal bottle, so I can get smoothies and such put in it. Oh, and I am still trying to remember that I carry a tupperware for leftovers at restaurants. I am cringing from that styrofoam container from the indian place. Ugh.

Week 5:

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I’m having to pan out quite a bit more to fit it all now, and I’m about on the track I thought I would be. My water bottle, containers for restaurant leftovers and heightened awareness have been making a huge difference in what I bring home with me. I’ve been very diligent about bringing home my trash from Qliance as well, though that won’t be as much of a concern now that I will be working from home again. *sigh*

Partially because of this project, I am eating out a lot less too. Generally when I’m hungry I will hit a produce section instead.

Even switching back to loose leaf tea has improved my waste output – and my quality of life. It’s such a more savory experience to make myself tea in the mornings or offer it to a guest.

During our Vita Arts meeting last week, we came up with the idea to use most of these plastic bottles as funnels for a project we’re doing – making juggling balls. Perfect.

I am thinking to glue all the layers of flattened cardboard waste together into a canvas.

Any other ideas on how to reuse this stuff?

Project Wrap-up

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It’s been two months since I pledged to keep my recyclable trash. Today, I bag it all up and send it on its way.

I imagine I would have had about 3x this if I’d not made the following changes the first week:

* carrying a tupperware for leftovers when eating out
* carrying a wide mouthed (metal) water bottle
* switching to loose leaf teas and bulk items over packaged

Other things I’ve changed because of this experiment include favoring glass bottles over plastic (they are the most ecologically friendly, and safest for you) and hitting the produce section for lunch a lot more often. I generally use my backpack for groceries and favor reusable bags.

Obviously, I don’t do this every minute of every day. The times I do, however, outweigh the times I don’t, and I’m really glad I did this experiment. The trash didn’t disrupt my life much and gave me a very clear visual point of reference for how two months of my existence effects the earth.

And it really staggers me to actually sit with how many estrogen leaking plastic bottles people plow through in a given day. Terrifying, really.