October 29, 2011

Louder Than Words

People are really good at telling others how they are. I've been hearing a lot of it lately, and the more I hear it the more I believe it's not true. When I was in high school and all the girls were wearing shirts that said ridiculous things like "Mrs. Timberlake," or "Caliente" it was blindingly obvious that the people buying and wearing them were anything but. I'm well into my 20s now and not only am I hearing it more, but I'm hearing it from people who are older than me and should know better. But they're still wrong.

When I started at my current job the office manager would talk about how her husband makes 6 figures and only works because she gets fulfillment out of making a company grow, something she's done in the past. But certain things make me think maybe she really does need the work: working 10+ hours a day in a highly stressful environment for little money, wearing clothes with holes in them or clothes that don't quite fit, bad spending habits in the past, and her mother-in-law lives with them in their apartment in a shady neighborhood. Granted, some of these things I do too (hell, my apartment has bars on the windows), but I'm not claiming that I don't absolutely need to work, and all of these things make me question whether that's really true for her.

I've also heard "friends" go on about how important friendship is, how much they value others, how they want others to value their friendship, too. Proclamations like these aren't true but I get the feeling that the people saying them likely want them to be true, at least for the time being. A couple years back I was friends with a coworker who said these things all the time and I fully believed it. Then I left that job and realized he was using me for a ride to work and a couch to sleep on. When I started hearing those same proclamations some months back from a different friend I was skeptical. Turns out I had a right to be. Certain people have different ideas of what friendship is, and when your ideas on your respective roles in that friendship differ it's hard to maintain a relationship. Fortunately for me it was good to get out of that first friendship and not too hard to let the second one slip by.

We judge others all the time, but I think our worst and least accurate judges are ourselves. We're so quick to tell others what we're like instead of letting others find out for themselves. And why don't we actually live up to what we say we are? Show your friends, coworkers and acquaintances what you're really like with actions, not with empty words.

October 26, 2011

Palm Oil Invasion

Wish I had my photos... I could show you a lady I know.

Right before bed last night I read an article about palm oil. In addition to the damaging effects I knew about (deforestation, rampant species extinction, encouraging poverty), the article describes how is encourages child labor and slavery. For many months I've been reading the ingredient list on all of the packaged or processed foods I buy (which actually isn't very much) looking for palm oil and palm kernel oil. Turns out I should be looking at the products in my shower, too.

Sodium laureth sulfate is an ingredient in many shampoos and body washes. I recognize this ingredient because for the last two years I've wondered if it's a contributing factor to having irritated skin in certain areas and have been trying to find shampoos that are both cruelty-free and sodium lareth sulfate free. Know how hard that is? I checked the bottles in my shower this morning, including my beloved St. Ives Oatmeal and Shea body wash and Apricot face scrub, and lo and behold SLS. I honestly woke up saddened at the realization that SLS is in fucking everything and then got even more sad as I discovered the ingredient in products I've loved for years. For most of the day I felt a sort of helpless. I really try to make environmentally conscious decisions every day: how many paper towels I use when I dry my hands at work, running errands close to work or home so I'm not driving out of my way and wasting gas, making sure the lights are turned off, turning off my fan every morning... yet by buying products I thought were good for me and good for the Earth I'm actually contributing to loss of forests and the extinction of species.

But this story isn't all bad. On my way home from work I stopped at Sprouts to pick up some groceries and my face lotion. While I was there I figured I was in a good place to check out body products that meet my standards. Turns out Sprouts is a very good place for that! There's a great variety of brands that are within my price range, have the leaping bunny logo, and even many that are sodium laureth sulfate free. I understand my price range for these products is significantly higher than most people's but for what I'm getting I think it's worth it. Knowing the things I use on my body aren't tested on animals, that the money I spend isn't contributing to species loss and also not irritating my skin is well worth the nine bucks.

But it looks like I'm now in the market for a new body wash that meets those specifications and also moisturizes super well, so, you know, if you've got one I'm interested. Otherwise I'll be spending the next several months testing out various brands until I find one I like enough to stick to, which was a rather expensive and disappointing 2 year process with shampoos.

October 6, 2011


Anyone who knows me knows I'm a big fan of Macs and Apple products. I never really had a preference when I was starting out with computers; all I really knew was that Macs were twice as expensive as other computers, so why spend the money?

Looking back, I remembered the first computer I was exposed to was a Mac in 4th grade. But it wasn't until I was in 7th grade that my family got our first computer. I have no idea what it was but it didn't last very long. That was the age of AOL and dial-up and me getting yelled at for taking up the only phone line for chatting online with my high school boyfriend. After that computer we got an e-machine, which was assembled by a family friend who was our go-to computer guy. This family friend later told us the computer had problems because we rearranged the shortcut icons on the desktop. I didn't know much about computers, but I knew that couldn't be true.

When I was 18 The Ex introduced me to Macs. He was frustrated with my limited access to the family e-machine so he lent me his old, black, plastic Mac. Six months later I bought my first PowerBook (ironically, I'm using a PowerBook to write this...) and I never looked back. I used that computer for 5 years, all through college and beyond. I loved it because it was mine: I bought it, I used it. But it was amazingly easy to use and didn't have the same problems the family computers had.

Since then I've used a Mac at home and a PC at work, and I just get frustrated at work. Also since then, the company that created that PowerBook has changed the way the entire world communicates. Even if you're a PC person you have an iPod, you use iTunes, you want an iPad and you use or are super familiar with the iPhone. All of these inventions? Steve Jobs.

Also, Pixar. Some of the best Disney movies were great because of the animation Pixar did, which was headed by none other than Steve Jobs. He changed movies, computers, cell phones, music and the way people communicate with each other. He talked about passion, determination and making a difference. It wasn't just a fad or just a popular thing to like Apple products: they were easy to use, intuitive, and endlessly stylish.

The world lost a great person yesterday when he died, but he's one of the lucky ones who was able to live to see his ideas change the world for the better. When I buy my MacBook Pro in a month or so, and when I likely eventually get the iPhone, I'll be remembering the genius behind the person who put all these ideas together.

October 3, 2011

364 Days

On October 3, 2010 I woke up on a couch after a night of partying in San Francisco with my best friends. I remembered having one of the best nights of my life and certainly the best night of that year, but in the next second I realized my dad never even sent a text saying happy birthday.

On October 1, 2011 I went over to my dad's house to gather the few boxes of old books, photo albums and knicknacks from my childhood because the previous three hundred and sixty four days had made it abundantly clear that he wanted to forget he had any ties to me.

I felt the strong urge to tell my dad what I'd been thinking for the last 364 days. I knew it wouldn't help anything but getting it off my chest to the person who's caused me more grief than anyone else would have made me feel better. Instead I said 4 words:

Me: *knock knock*
Him: Come in.
Me: We're good.
Him: *comes to the door and indicates the garage* Your things are in there.
Me: Thank you.

And in about 6 minutes we packed our things and ourselves into my little car and left. He didn't overtly watch us pack up and go, but I hadn't even started my car before he'd closed the garage door. No goodbye.

On the upside, I remembered just how much elephant things I've accumulated since childhood. My sister tore into a garbage bag with all of my old stuffed animals and tossed them to me: "Elephant, elephant, elephant, bear in an elephant costume, Raggedy Ann..." Some things just never change.

I now have some amazingly embarrassing pictures, some treasured pictures of Milo, my high school cap and diploma, and cards and keepsakes from friends. I'd completely forgotten the vast majority of the things I had there, but we had a great time going through them and laughing and remembering being kids. But some things I just don't have room for, and can't justify keeping in an apartment especially with as often as I move, so I'll be keeping only the things I absolutely can't part with.

In the end, I'm very glad to be done with my dad. It's hurt me more than I cared to admit the last 364 days (well, more than that, but at least before then I thought there was a chance), and I'm ready to not be angry anymore. If he wants to believe we have a relationship, that he's doing everything he can to be a dad, there's nothing I can do. If this were anyone other than my dad people would be telling me to stop trying. It's only because he's my dad that it's acceptable to keep beating a dead horse. But I have too much self respect to allow it beyond the 364 days I've already allowed it, and a father shouldn't ever treat his daughter this way. This isn't me taking a stand so much as giving in to the stand he took October 3, 2010. I have to accept the things I cannot change.

And hey, I'm 26 now and I've got a pretty good life going on. And I'll always have elephants.