Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'd like to call this post "Talking Trash," but that gimmick has been recycled too many times.

Remember when I mentioned my "list of things to blog about?"

Lately, I've been looking through it and all I can find are notes about ecological sustainability--mainly regarding the topic of consumer waste.

Yes, I know I'm a tree hugger, but I used to have a fairly varied repertoire of things that I thought worth writing about--lately, I do not. Lately, all I can think about (other than broken hearts, but we all saw how well that went over...) is whether I can find a scrap dealer that would like my broken office chair, what to do with my broken toaster oven, what to do with the rags that are too unwearable to sell at a thrift store, and whether it's better to buy leather shoes that will kill a cow but last a long time and ultimately biodegrade or pleather shoes that are not directly responsible for any animal deaths but will fall apart after a year and perhaps contribute microscopic bits of themselves to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch after the bulk of them has been relegated to a landfill where they'll languish, wasting valuable space and resources until the time eons in the future when humanity is long gone and some silicon-based organism has become the new dominant life-form on Earth.

I could write blogs and blogs on these topics. I come up with a new environmental conundrum every couple of days! However, I fear that by doing that, I will transmogrify Val's Galorious Galaxy into something that is not necessarily worse, but is not what it was intended to be--primarily a source of entertainment for you, and secondarily an outlet for me when I want to gripe about something. I think it would be delightful if some legitimate publication would take me on to write about the environment so my Galaxy can remain star-spangled, sparkly, and essentially frivolous.

Until that time, though, I just can't resist broaching the interesting topic of "plasphalt."
Plasphalt is a trademarked term for paving materials incorporating recycled plastic--which I heard about for the first time just a few days ago. While it sounds really exciting, producing paving material that's more resilient and lighter to transport, it makes me worry. Whenever we hear about a new earth-saving technology, people always get really excited, go overboard in trying to implement it, then later on discover it might not be so great for the planet after all (e.g. ethanol, which requires so much corn input that the food industry suffers, or bioplastic bottles, which can't be composted at home, produce greenhouse gases when composted commercially, and contaminate recycling when recycled in large quantities). What kinds of problems are plastic-infused roadways going to present for our planet? Let's think about this now, before we do something we regret!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

I changed my mind

All right, let's end this uncomfortable silence. No more talk about broken hearts. Let's talk about my car. Again!

As you must surely remember from your faithful reading of my blog, in January, I named my new car "Axolotl." However, after several weeks of referring to the vehicle as such and feeling strangely dissatisfied, it occurred to me that I was wrong! Axolotl is a great word, but just because it's a great word doesn't mean I have to use it gratuitously!

A few weeks ago, a new name popped into my head. I thought about it. I turned it over and over in my mind. I looked out my window and mentally superimposed the word over my retinal image of the car. It looked right.

This word, fortunately, does not conjure up mental images of frilly-gilled amphibians. It sounds solid. Boxy. As a bonus, it's only one syllable, making it much easier to pronounce than the tongue-twisting name that I gave my car last month. (I suppose, now that I think about it, renaming the car every month is an interesting option...)

I worry sometimes that I will hurt my car's feelings by consigning it to an identity that emphasizes its plainness. But the new name has another side to it that's highly flattering. My identity-challenged car will almost certainly like its new name, because it has that sort of underground appeal, and it is associated with the coolest stuff in the world--electronic music!

Is the suspense killing anyone yet? The car's new name, at least until next month, is:

Sunday, February 14, 2010

What becomes of the broken hearts?

Hearts are breaking every day. The remarkable thing about them is that they almost always recover. And so last night, while I was in bed half asleep, (having my new recurring nightmare about receiving strings of very important instant messages but being unable to comprehend them, and alternately) thinking deep thoughts, it occurred to me to wonder, what happens when hearts break? And what is the mechanism by which they heal?

Judging by my obsessive ponderings, the answer to this abstract and thoroughly metaphorical question is apparently crucial to know, so let's consider a few possibilities.

When hearts break, do they shatter like glass? Scattering in all directions, leaving shards to injure anyone who touches them? Must you repair them by hand, laboriously gathering up the pieces one by one, fitting them back together only with intense concentration? A broken glass can only be glued with special resins, and it will always bear visible cracks. Is a heart, once broken, also doubly fragile and riddled forever with the marks of its past ordeal?

Being of biological nature, perhaps a heart does not so much break as "suffer," exhibiting such symptoms as oozing blood, cell necrosis, and neurological pain. In that case it would heal all on its own, over time, but it would never be the same afterward. Are broken hearts like wounded flesh, disfigured, scarred, still working but crippled?

Broken bones are biological, too. Maybe hearts break like bones do--screaming agony followed by months of dull aching. Properly treated, a broken bone can't be detected from the outside, and I suppose the same holds true of a broken heart. But however undetectable, a broken bone is always broken. A little too much stress can fracture it again. And I suppose that holds true of a broken heart as well.

Wouldn't it be nice if hearts broke like Silly Putty? Stretch them to their breaking point, and they snap, with a satisfying little popping noise and crisp-looking edges that are so fun to poke at. But put the pieces back together, warm them up, and, voila! Brand new heart! Like nothing ever happened to it!

I guess any of these analogies are possible. It's all in how the heart's owner looks at things, and how selective their memory is. In any case, now that Valentine's Day is over, you can be spared any more of my depressive ponderings and my relentless search for the perfect metaphor for everything. Next post, back to your regularly scheduled facetiousness.

Friday, February 12, 2010

That four-letter word

Guess what's coming... it's every single person's favorite holiday! In honor of Valentine's Day, let's talk about love.

There are many types of love in this world, including the type that's a many-splendored thing and the type that makes the world go round, but the type I would like to talk about today is the type that's like a cocaine addiction--you know, the type that you keep pursuing even as you see it steal your appetite, tear you away from your work and everything else that used to be important, and generally destroy your life from the inside out. When you want it, you'll do anything to get it, and when you can't have it, you go stark raving mad. Ahh, love--it's so beautiful!

I spend a lot of time being in love, falling in love, being in love with falling in love, being mad at myself for falling in love, and generally ordering my whole life based on how much in love I am at any given moment.

There is, in fact, a song that says, "Thou shalt not fall in love so easily." You should listen to it. It's entertaining. I often think that I should take this song's advice, but I never do. Perhaps that's because my heart is a notoriously bad listener.

Whenever I see it running off on one of its flights of self-destructive fancy, I say to it, "Hey, Heart? I think that's a bad idea..." and it says, "HA! I laugh in the face of danger!"

I say, "Hey, Heart! Come back here and be sensible for once!" and it says, "No way! You're not the boss of me!"

In general, my heart seems to be pretty generous and caring, and would do just about anything for other people, but it seems to have a vendetta against me personally.

One of these days, my heart and I are actually going to agree on something. For now, is anyone looking for a bitter, heartbroken date to cry with you all through your Valentine's Day dinner? Perhaps we can compulsively listen to Christian Brown's "I'm Stupid" bonus remix (with electric organ! Bonus indeed!) together! Or let's get back at our errant hearts by stuffing their arteries full of all the cholesterol we can get our hands on! Look who's the boss now!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

'Snow way I'm gonna use one of those bad puns like "snowmageddon"!

I remember the first year I lived in Maryland, all starry-eyed and in love--in love with the climate, that is.

After having spent the past four years freezing to death in Ohio (I spent the rest of my years before that in Ohio, too, but that was before I turned poikilothermic), I was charmed by the Mid-Atlantic's weather. I found Maryland summers to be hot and muggy and long -- just the way I like 'em -- its autumns to be mild and colorful, and its winters to last what seemed like about a week before getting on with the delights of my favorite season, spring.

Apparently my findings were wrong. This winter has been cold and long and snowy. The past week, I have pretty much done nothing but sit at home under a steadily accumulating pile of snow that now equals something like three feet. Twice now, my place of employment has closed due to road conditions. That never happened in Ohio. The street I live on has not been plowed, and since Friday, I have seen 5 separate vehicles get stuck on it. I think in general, Ohio is better equipped to handle large amounts of snow, but I don't remember ever getting 3 feet of snow in Ohio, either.

Hello! I didn't increase my cost of living by 42% for this! Someone turn off the snow and deliver me to Costa Rica!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Misguided strategies for coping with depression

Sometimes, when I'm feeling particularly unhappy, I like to crawl into bed and cry my eyes out. Then get out of bed resolving to do something productive, and sit on the floor for 20 minutes staring at the bookshelf. Then turn around and spend 20 more minutes staring at the window.

Sometimes, when I'm sick to the teeth of feeling beaten down, I get in the fighting spirit, upon which I start compulsively thinking of inspirational quotes from pop culture.

During a particularly extended fit of gritty optimism, I once spent several days in a row trying to remember a song that I thought would be just perfect to describe my newfound attitude. I was absolutely delighted when it came to me: "Ain't nothing gonna breaka my stride! Nobody gonna slow me down! Oh no! I got to keep on moving!" Why don't I ever hear that song any more?

Sometimes, when I am tempted to revert to my usual puddle of grief, I think to myself, "Never give up! Never surrender!" That comes to you direct from Galaxy Quest. Yes, I get my chief motivational quote from a nonexistent trashy science fiction television series played by a bunch of imaginary washed-up actors. No wonder I always want to lie down and cry.

Oh well, sometimes I up the ante a bit and lift my inspiration from blockbuster science fiction instead--Independence Day! Consider this uplifting speech: "We will not go quietly into the night! We will not vanish without a fight!" Oh my gosh! A speech that rhymes! How cool! "We're going to live on! We're going to survive!" Wait, now that doesn't rhyme at all. What are you doing to me, Independence Day? You can't just start rhyming, and abandon it halfway through! Obviously I can't look to you for my moral support!

Oh well, bring me some more 80's pop then! Just don't bring the clothes and hair with it, or I'll never be able to stop weeping.