11.03.2008

Thinking about Shrinking


I'm married to a huge Obama fan. You know, the kind of person who gets on his laptop before he brushes his teeth, just to find out what the polls say. He can quote Rachel Maddow since he watches her so many times. It's amazing how much one person, one older person can change.

I don't know how it happened. When we were dating, he'd say, "I loved Ronald Reagan and I'd bet you did, too." I'd change the subject. I'd change the subject during the Iraq war, and I changed the station when he left it on Fox News and left the room.

I figured I only had so many battles to fight. First I had to wrestle with that big, furry, dyed caterpillar on his face. You can't see everyone's politics written all over their face, but you could see Tom Selleck when you looked at Charlie. The eighties are coming back now, but five or six years ago they were embarrassing.

The mustache and the Reagan-lover have gone. I can't take the credit, but I like the results. It's nice being able to freely talk back to the TV, and to be able to freely see all my husband's face.

So now my Obama-adoring husband says, "Did you know 40% of the world's current population lives on less than $2 a day?"

I got all intellectual on him. I figured this would be better than bursting out in tears. It's hard to admit how lucky we are to be born here and now. Especially now.

"It's different," I said. "When you're not in a market economy, you don't really need money the same way we do. People grow, farm, or produce what they can. They trade the surplus to get what they can't produce. It's not like they only have $2 a day to go shopping."

"Still makes you feel pretty guilty," he said.

We talked about it more and we figured there must be a few more things we can do. The less we need, the less we spend and the less we mess up life for everyone else.

"Think of ten things we can do," I say, "and tell me in the car." We tend to be boring in the car. Having a subject to discuss is good for everyone stuck in a car in the rain.

"First," he says, "we sell the car."

"Can we do that?"

"No, but it's a goal. Let's work toward it. Someday, okay?"

"Okay," I say. Our car gets 38 miles a gallon, and more when I drive. It's not wasteful, but it's still not public transportation. We do our best to have ZDD (zero driving days) as much as possible.

"Second, we sell everything in our storage unit which isn't much anymore, and we sell anything around the house we haven't used for a while. Other people can use our things and I want to pay down our credit card."

"Our credit card has $7001 on it," I say. "We have a tile saw and some tupperware in storage. But it's a start."

"Third, we Goodwill our closets. There must be something we haven't worn that someone else can use.

"Fourth, we do things we can do for free. We can run, walk, do sports, play games, bicycle, and of course go to bookstores and the library.

"Fifth, let's eat closer to nature. Be mindful and eat nothing processed.

"Six: Zero Dollar Days/Zero Driving Days. As many as possible, as often as possible.

"Seven: Only cash. Credit cards are evil.

"Eight: Help Habitat For Humanity on Fridays. It may not help our finances, but it will help our soul.

(I volunteer for Habitat for Humanity Portland Metro/East for twenty hours a week already. It really works for anything you might be worried about.)

"Nine: More reading books/less TV.

"Ten: Continue to unplug everything to save vampire energy; use cold water as much as possible; turn off lights; keep the heat and A/C down or off; keep our tires inflated and drive slower -- all that Jimmy Carter stuff we should be doing anyway."

That's the end of our car conversation. Somehow we ended up at Powell's, the mecca of all things good. We read lots of books and decided to buy a $5 magnet for my Mom's birthday and a couple cups of coffee for $1.50 each to compensate. It felt like we were starting something good.

I wonder if I have something like Charlie's mustache or views on Reagan that will change soon.