Monday, 7 May 2012

Being Green

On Beltane, after I published my last post, I went to see a friend in downtown Minneapolis. He lives in a condo, a block from the Mississippi. He had moved, only a block away from his old condo, with it's view of the river, Saint Anthony falls, the lock and dam, the stone arch bridge. His new building is certified green, almost new – but his view is of a parking garage and the condo across the street.

As I was waiting for him outside, I saw the one woman I asked out, when I was managing Monster Halloween last fall. I called her twice but she never called me back. I remember her having her hair pulled flat, but stepping out of that building, her black hair was wild like an amazon. She was wearing a short flower-print dress, and she climbed down the stairs and stepped into a Mercedes Benz. The male driver pulled into the underground parking garage. I'm such a rube, I didn't figure it out until later that night when I was home.

My friend and I toured the lobby and courtyard. He extolled the virtue of the interior wall of hanging plants oxygenating the building, facing the courtyard. I didn't say anything, but they were the sorriest, most unhappy plants I've seen in awhile. Sun would never hit those plants except the lowest of them on the wall, around the winter solstice. He said the previous batch died. Nobody knows why, he said. Too bad, I said.

The courtyard had masseuse cabanas, there was a big gas grill and a sink with running water in an island counter top. There was an indoor/outdoor pool, only four feet deep, and not really outdoor because it was surrounded by glass walls - but there was a glass garage door. My friend told me on the weekend, the courtyard was packed with drunks. He said the mortgages in the condo ranged from 1700 – 3000+. My mortgage is $850.

There was also a workout room, as fancy as any professional gym, and the lobby and hallways were – elaborate, shall we say. Every wall, every floor and ceiling in every transition, had a different material facade, various tiles, ceramic and stone, burnished metals, painted metals, cork, etc. This is how the unattached, successful Gen Xrs and Millennials are living, I thought - in the maw of empirical luxury.

My friend's $1700 condo on the north side of the building is comfortable but dark, and smaller than my house by about a quarter, and my house is only 750 sq ft, finished. I also have a basement and a garage, and a big garden. I asked my friend, how are things, really. Despite the hundred thousand+ he makes, that he can walk to work, that he runs his own business, that he has at least five women vying for his attention, he admitted things kind of sucked. He was looking suave, but he's got the buddha belly with only a little of the mirth, and he drinks nearly every night in the bars, with his fellow yuppies and hipsters. We had a nice visit, I left on my bike, trying to beat the rain.

On the way to my friend's condo, my bike, Fudo Myo, had experienced a semi-catastrophic breakdown, the nut holding the pedal to the bike coming loose. I tightened it with my friend's ratchet set, which he said he hadn't used in a decade. I didn't think to ask to borrow it, for the ride home. It's about four miles, and after about two miles, it was clear, I could pedal maybe a hundred yards before the pedal started falling off, and then it was clear that there was more wrong than just the loose nut. So I walked the bike the rest of the way, in the twilight mist, which was fine, because the weather kept the bike path mostly empty, and then I was singing so loud that my voice was reverberating off the houses across the parkway, and I toned it down, the madman walking his run-down bike in the rain, singing in Swahili (I think).

I told my friend that I had never made more than $28,000 in a year, and not more than $20,000 in any but about six or seven years, of the twenty-plus years of my working life, and not more than $14,000 in any of the last four years. I'm on a pace to make about $4000 this year, maybe. That's not enough to pay for this house – the remodeling of which is keeping apace, which I will be profiling in future posts. There's nothing in my make-up, my education, my up-bringing, my communication skills or my appearance, that would prevent me from living in a condo like my friend, in that condo, and paying for it, if that's what I wanted. Which makes me both a financial basket case, and a fool – which is fine. Because one thing I am sure about, however those folks are living in that fancy condo, most of them aren't prepared at all for what is coming.

That Green building is everything but. It is like the environmental movement, the desire to save the planet, as long as we don't have to change anything meaningful about our standard of living, or question in any meaningful way, the arrangement that has allowed Americans and Westerners generally, to live so extravagantly. That weird, amorphous, almost meaningless word, environment. Environment is where ever you happen to be, indoor or out. Environment as proxy for the earth is the children of empire anesthetized to the vibrant, dynamic, manifold reality of existence, patting themselves on the back because their empirical lifestyle is greener than the average yahoo, for whom the earth is a thing to transform into garbage, and otherwise abuse. Except a typical “green” lifestyle isn't intrinsically any less wasteful, and potentially even more extravagant, and one can consume “green” product without having any meaningful connection to the earth, or living systems that aren't human, or pets.

To be truly green, is to be an active agent in the living systems that envelope us, in a way that is healthy for us and the life surrounding and inside us. In that regard, there are a relative few in America who could truly call themselves green. I am just as beholden to most, to the artificial systems that sustain us. That I know what wild plants are edible and medicinal, doesn't mean I could de-couple from the culture entirely and live year-round in the wilderness. Nor is that a necessity, necessarily, to be that green, though those of my readers who have established a relationship with plants, cultivated and wild and illicit, probably have some idea what I'm getting at. And those who get it are probably further along than most, in the awareness that our treatment of the “environment”, as a species, is very likely to have, shall we say, grave ramifications. Inevitably, really.

And it's my plant knowledge, primarily, that is responsible for me not having much anxiety about that. 


I went ahead and published the first chapter of my unfinished novel, Progress Interrupted, on my website (it is actually, but wordpress has hijacked my domain name, requiring a $13 fee.) There is no subscription option as yet, because the Wordpress people never did get back to my webmaster, and he hasn't been able to figure it out - so, as yet, I have nothing for sale, and it might just stay that way, I don't know. I intend on publishing the second chapter in three weeks, with or without the subscription option.  

I haven't any interest in self-promotion, outside of my blog and website, and the few comments I leave on other blogs and websites. If you like what you see, consider offering me a gift, and drop a dime, and/or spread the word. Blessings.


I'm a bit remiss too, that I forgot to mention that when I woke up the morning after I published my books, there was a donation waiting. $250. I let the man know, he increased my capital by a full 50%, that he paid for my new countertops, and food and some beer. Thank the Goddess.

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