Sunday, April 27, 2008

My Dark Side: Stop Bitching Already

This is risky. I kind of hope some of my clients don’t read this. But, that is what writing is for…expression, right?

Call me self-righteous, spoiled, privileged, whatever you like. I own it. I am all those things and more. I have earned those criticisms fair and square. My parents didn’t spoil me. I spoil myself when I feel like it. I wasn’t privileged by standard definitions (I had no indoor toilet until I was ten, for god sakes). But I mostly consider myself privileged now. I live in a modest apartment, have a good marriage
and healthy kids who are paying attention to their studies. I have work that I love and healthy food to eat. I can be scrappy and resourceful. We have one small car for the four of us. I am blessed with good health and a curious mind so I am never bored. My parents are still living – so is my 97-year old grandmother. For all THESE reasons I feel privileged – not because there is a pot of money waiting at the end of my rainbow – or my husband’s rainbow, for that matter. And I can be incredibly self-righteous if the right buttons are pushed. Well, they’ve been pushed.

The New York Times today reports that people are on a “Recession Diet,” which is primarily affecting middle- and working-class consumers. Well, that would be me. Last time I checked I was working. So, my family is part of this group of people that are “tightening the belt.” Most of it is blamed on oil and the rising price of gas at the pump, which affects the cost of shipping food, the cost of an airline ticket, and the cost of staying warm in the winter (which I know a great deal about since my apartment is heated with oil and in March I spent $1500 to fill the tank twice – for a 1200 square foot apartment! Still I’m not complaining and I’ll tell you why.)

I am weary of the complaining. Why do we think we deserve cheaper gas than the Europeans? It has to be shipped a lot farther to get to us than it does to get to them! They’ve been paying $4 and $5 and $6 a gallon for years. And guess what? They figured out that, because it is a pain in the ass to pay for it, maybe public transportation is a good idea. Maybe using a bike is a good idea in cities when weather permits it. Maybe walking would be good for your body as well as the environment. Maybe almost 50% of Americans wouldn’t be obese! Maybe we would eat less. Maybe that would keep us from being the world’s leader in diabetes, and heart disease. Maybe we could design cities for people instead of cars.

Frankly, I’m thrilled that gas is going up – I say, “Let it rise. Let it rise. Thank God, We'll let it rise!” Maybe then we’ll begin to take personal responsibility for our choices instead of living with the entitlement we’ve come to know. For example: “What do you mean I shouldn’t own an SUV? I live in LA. Things are so harsh! Sunny and 70 almost all year round, but you know….once in awhile I hit those speed bumps along Montana when I’m shopping and I’m so glad to have an SUV to cushion the ride. Besides, it’s easier to throw the yoga mat in the back.” Or….”Well, you know, the kids need a car.” (Actually, they don’t.) “They are just so busy. So, we buy each kid a car when they turn 16. It saves wear and tear on us. We now have six cars in our garages. Isn’t that just something!” It certainly is something. What? I can't imagine.

God, my poor kids. No cars. I recall saying, “Walk, ride the bike or bus, catch a ride with friends. If I have time, I’ll drive you. You can use the single car that we own if I don't need it. I’ll pay your tuition, but I'm not buying you a car. Figure it out.” In three weeks, my son graduates from George Washington University in DC. He’s spent the last four years on foot, on his bike, on the train. He would ONLY consider a job in a city that has public transportation. No car. Doesn’t want one. He’s moving to New York. If you don’t like paying for gas, get rid of your cars. Don’t complain around me about the price of gas if your garages are full.

According to the Times article, people are cutting back on Dominos and Ruby Tuesdays. “Sales of Keebler Fudge Shoppe cookies have slipped by 12.3 percent.” A top seller at Home Depot now is a programmable thermostat and insulation – all which save energy. Do ANY of these things seem like a problem to you? Healthier Americans using less energy!

Another milestone? Sam’s Club is “rationing” white rice. People are freaking. My question? Why are you eating white rice anyway? It is worthless in terms of nutrition. And why are you shopping at Sam’s Club unless you like giving your money to anti-abortion people and the Republican Party? A limit on white rice at Sam's club is simply not a problem for me.

The article goes on to say, “by no means has the economic downturn been bad for all product categories. For instance, sales of big-ticket electronics, like $1000 flat-panel televisions and $300 video game systems (VOMIT! – my word choice here – and WARNING! More self-righteousness on the way! My 22-year-old son was not allowed to have video games because, god-forbid, he spend his time using his imagination and they cost quite a bit of money I would much rather spend on travel or books or, yes, even clothes.) are on the rise, according to retailers and research firms.” One man is cutting expenses by buying a $2000 TV at Best Buy to save on the cost of going to movies. Ouch. That really is painful. Has any ever thought of going without a TV and the fricking video games? Read. It’s cheaper and makes you not so stupid.

So, now that my infantile grandiosity had been mediated by dumping all over the masses - the sheep - of this country, I will go open my $10.99 bottle of vino and enjoy it thoroughly. Then I will self-righteously eat my yummy homemade curried lentils with a spinach salad, blue cheese, and walnuts with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. All organic, naturally. The whole darn thing costs less than dinner at Ruby Tuesday’s, I promise.

Sell one of the cars. Cook in. Read more. Walk to the store. Move to Europe. Get a life. And, stop bitching already.


  1. Well said!

  2. Our dark sides could have many an enthusiastic conversation about these things! Reading this, I could've swore I was reading my own writing!!

    I'm a designer, just starting out on my own. I caught the link to your website via Apartment Therapy, where someone suggested you take on a blogging position should AT take on a Minneapolis/St. Paul blogger. Please do ~ it would be fantastic!!