Friday, November 18, 2011

Go local to lose the holiday loco

I’m not sure how it can be November already, and already everywhere I turn I see the glossy Christmas ads and hear about Black Friday.
            If you know anything about me, you can probably guess that I’m not a fan of Black Friday and in fact refuse to shop on that day. From my eco-friendly perspective, the extreme consume-consume-consume mentality that our culture fosters leaves in its wake a tremendous amount of waste.  After Christmas, garbage cans will overflow with wrapping, with boxes, with plastic shrinkwrap, and the discards that are ‘so last year.’       
            Will anyone be the happier for it? 
            There is also that ‘waste’ that is less obvious—the time spent driving to and from the stores, the gas used to get there, the time spent looking and in line, and likely a huge amount of money spent on things that aren’t wanted or needed.
            I don’t like a lot of stuff, and clutter makes me twitchy. However, I live in a house with five other people, so I have had to learn to deal somewhat. More ‘stuff’ to deal with = not fun for Mom. Last year we got our kids art lessons, along with a few clothes and a few toys and books.
It was a great balance. No one was overwhelmed by heaps of stuff, we paid cash all the way, and we supported local businesses.  And of course, I recycled all the packaging and wrapping (I use newspaper, kraft paper and aluminum foil. I also like to use cute fabric bags—even better!).
            This year I plan to do the same. It’s a conscious decision to turn away from the marketing, from the greedy culture that always wants the next big thing. I’ll shop the independent stores, eat at the independent restaurants, and support the local artisans. They are numerous here in and around our town, and as an independent artist myself I was so grateful that people bought gifts from me. I can’t think of a better way to spend my holiday dollars.

Friday, November 4, 2011

We are the grasshoppers

             I’ve had the nagging question in my mind for awhile now—just how essential is it that I do what I do? Why do I spend time and energy writing what I do? Why do I spend an hour playing in my hoop when I could/should be doing something ‘more productive’? When I’m driven to create, what does it even matter, really?
 I’ve lived in Noblesville for over a decade now, which in and of itself blows my mind. It was a fluke that we even landed here, lured by a real estate ad in the Indy Star one lazy Sunday. It was as though, in brief moment of perusing the ads we decided it was time to buy a house, and since the old house listing we ‘fell in love with’ was in Noblesville (wherever that was) we decided this was ‘it’ and fell in love with this town, too.
            I thought back to this after attending the recent launch party of Noblesville’s first literary journal, The Polk Street Review. My husband and I walked from our house to the party, which was held at our friends’ lovely home just a few blocks from ours. The wide, shallow front steps led to the inviting wraparound porch. The tables of libations beckoned me and I poured some wine and said hello to our Old Town friends gathered on the porch in the crisp, cool air.
            The rooms were full of chairs and people, the light was welcoming and I was aware of the satisfying click of my brown boots on the oak floors. Of course, I also noticed the table of delicious food and made that my second stop.
            I’m so glad to live in this town, and that night full of readings and creative energy and laughter is one of my best memories of living here. I’m always so inspired by the talented people here who create—not for glory or money or recognition but because they love to and they want and need to. The final reading of the night, The Ant and The Grasshopper, answered my nagging question.
            “Work is important. But play, and discussion, and love of non-essential things is also important. We are the grasshoppers and we are necessary. Long live the grasshopper!” (Introduction to The Polk Street Review)