finding myself through dish washing

more talk about washing dishes. brace yourselves.

1 – when i have dinner at someone else’s house, i like to do the dishes afterward not only to help out and reciprocate their kindness but also because i want to avoid the awkwardness of drying the dishes and having no idea where to put them. trying to help out but requiring ample assistance when doing so is a horrible, pathetic thing.

on a similar note, it’s funny how good i feel about helping clean up at get togethers because i used to absolutely loathe it. the fact that i was soon going to feel obligated to help out always cast a gloom over whatever fantastic meal the host was graciously providing me. oh yes, i was incredibly, ridiculously lazy and selfish, and i am still ashamed of it. i was the same way with thank you letters after christmas. my parents would be on my ass to write to uncle bill and aunt lois and the various other mystery relatives who kindly sent money every year despite having never met me (at least as far as i could remember), but i couldn’t have given less of a shit about thanking them back then. the worst part is that the war of attrition with my parents sometimes ended with me winning, not writing any thank you letters. it’s awful. i’m so embarrassed. it might be residual guilt from those thankless years that drives me to try to be more vocal about my gratitude now.

2 – when i wash the dishes, i no longer fill the sink with dish water. instead, i fill the largest pot or mixing bowl and use that for my dish water. it probably uses less than 1/4 of the water of the sink. i started doing that a few years ago when we were put on severe water restrictions due to drought and it’s stuck with me since. i’m proud of this method because it’s super simple yet very effective.

taking it one step further, when i’m finished washing dishes i can take the pot or mixing bowl outside and water the fruit trees and ornamental plants with the stuff. marion showed me that part, bless her eco-friendly heart.

i must be really thin on material these days.


the shame of the father

yesterday i was chatting with a woman of german heritage about my trip to berlin and how impacted i was by the crash course in WWII history i received while i was there. she mentioned how impacted she was by the same history, even though she is about my age and grew up here in canada. she said that as a teenager, she felt a lot of shame in her german ancestry, as if she were in some way responsible for the genocide of millions of people.

while i don’t think it makes sense to feel guilt about something you had no part of, i can still understand why she would feel that way — i’m sure i would too — and it got me thinking that there is probably a huge number of germans and people of only partial german heritage who felt or even still feel the same shame as her. i mean, the holocaust was such a significant event that it’s basically omnipresent in our collective social consciousness. if you felt guilt about it you would probably be hyper aware of any reference to it — each mention of jews, hitler, the holocaust, german history, etc would be another needle into the already pin-cushioned flesh of your pride and self-worth.

that would be a fucking hard thing to live with, i think. i think the effects of such a constant shame would be felt in most aspects of a persons life — work, romance, friendship, whatever. if that is so, then there must be a massive sub-culture of people of german heritage who struggle with that guilt every day. but i’ve never heard of such a group of people or such a guilt complex, so i wonder: is this a documented thing that i’ve just never come across; or is there a large group of depressed people who are good at hiding their problems; or am i needlessly dreaming up a guilt complex for a group of people?

who knows. boy, there’s always a good reason to feel rotten, it seems.


as part of my job, i had to step inside a church today during sunday worship (or whatever it’s called). when i left, i looked at the sports cars and SUV’s in the parking lot and wondered how religious people reconcile their beliefs with daily life. i mean, what do they think god’s position is on the vehicles they choose to drive? if i were religious, i would imagine i’d feel even more compelled to live humbly. i feel guilty about the enormous consumption and waste involved in almost everything i do, and think i’d feel even worse about that if i believed in a god watching me, shaking their head in disappointment at my wasteful lifestyle.

then i started thinking about how basically everything bums me out. i see cars, i think of the environmental destruction involved in mining the metals and shit used to make the car. then i think about the extraction and refining of the gas and oil which that car is going to need to run. then i think about the pollution it spews out when it gets driven. same with food. i think about the toxic chemicals and pesticides used to grow food, the shitty ‘use once and throw away’ plastic packaging that everything comes in, all the uneaten food that ends up in the fucking garbage. everything humans do seems to be like that. we’re horrible, greedy, wasteful vermin, just using this planet up as fast as we like, dashing madly, heedlessly, towards a cataclysmic climax. i constantly think about this.

then i remembered what a friend told me about a therapist they saw a while back. my pal said they moaned about a bunch of stuff to this therapist, and the therapist said, “you know what that is? that’s the voice of depression talking.” and that helped my pal. but while i thought, “my inner dialogue sure sounds like the voice of depression talking,” i don’t feel any better about it.

the problem is, i think my concerns are real and valid. i think our situation on earth really is that bad, so i don’t want to delude myself with the idea that everything is just fine when i truly believe it’s not.

so what do i do? i think it’s right to feel like fucking shit about virtually everything i do but it’s not very pleasant for me or anyone that has to deal with me. as much as i think everyone should be just as fucked up about this as i am, i don’t want to be a person that everyone hates seeing because everything i say is doom and gloom. i don’t want to be a caricature, an eeyore.

it’s a tough balance to be miserable yet pleasant but i’m not sure there’s a better way. i guess i just need to re-read some of my old blog posts and cheer the fuck up.

out of mind

i hate how satisfying it feels to chuck junk in the garbage, dust your hands off, and think, “well, that’s dealt with.” because it’s not dealt with. it’s just out of sight. the next step is for that junk to sit in a landfill for thousands of years, waiting to break down. much of it will be eaten by wildlife, making them sick or killing them. no one has any right to feel good or satisfied about that. all you did was get the mess out of your vision and dump it somewhere else. congratulations.


“my house is clean so i don’t care.”

sometimes this line of thought bothers me when i notice people leaving trash and littering in otherwise beautiful places. because i think, “ok, now this place is uglier but if the person put the trash in a garbage can it would just end up at the dump and make THAT place uglier” — the root of the problem remains: we create mountains of garbage. so while i hate seeing trash in this otherwise pristine place, i have to think that whether it’s here or at the designated landfill, it doesn’t really matter. the garbage is going to have a negative effect on whichever place it ends up at.

i do what i can to mitigate this problem. i try to use as little stuff as i can, to buy as much used stuff as i can, to repair the stuff i have and use it until it can’t be fixed anymore, to use the remains for parts, and lastly, to recycle what can’t be reused. but i still produce what i consider to be a lot of garbage, and i feel guilty as all hell about it. and then i think about the average family with two kids, busy as fuck trying to juggle jobs and child care and whatnot, and i know they don’t have the time or energy i have to devote to shrinking their footprint on this planet. and that makes me wonder why i even bother trying since it seems so hopeless.

and i don’t really have an answer for that. i guess it’s the guilt that compels me to just keep doing the best i can, to feel the least guilty i possibly can for sucking up resources and spitting out nothing but shit and waste in return.

guilt is an unpleasant thing but i find it to be an extremely effective motivator.

can’t do nothing no more without feeling terrible

i just learned how to make my own rice milk. turns out it’s fucking easy: cook a cup of rice, blend it up really good with 4 cups of water. ta da! i’m really happy to learn that it’s so easy. why? because i’ve been feeling guilty as all hell for drinking almond milk for the last month or so.


almonds are great — for fueling self-loathing

milk had been hurting my guts recently so i’d started drinking almond milk instead, and it’s been groovy — tasty, and no pain. but i had a vague memory of reading that it takes tons of water to grow almonds, and that was giving me sweaty palms every time i bought almond milk. was my consumer taste contributing to california’s multi-year long, record-setting, godawful drought?

i finally took a deep breath and looked it up, and it was as bad as i thought: 4 L of water to make a single almond. that’s a lot! and how many almonds go into making a 2 L carton of almond milk? it’s tough to find consistent answers but the lowest number i saw was 16 — 16 almonds. that’s at least 64 L of water to make just 2 L of almond milk. meanwhile, california (which produces over 80% of the worlds almonds) is drying up.


my taste for almond milk did this

this shit keeps me up at night. almost everything we do in this world makes me feel guilty for even living. we’re sucking this planet dry of any and all resources, and we’re filling the empty spaces back up with garbage. it makes me want to live like a monk and use less and less. pretty soon i’ll become an ascetic.


then i’ll be happy

but until i reach that point, i’m really happy that at least i’ll be able to drink my milk substitute feeling just a little less horrible.

until i look up how much water it takes to grow 1 cup of rice.