Friday, December 11, 2009

Anarchy in the Morning

Apologies for the less-than-punctual blog posts, but I do hope you’ll believe me when I say that things have been a bit crazy over here in the COP 15 Bella Center bubble. I haven’t been outside of the center for more than 3 hours a day since the conference began on Monday and am beginning to understand in more depth what people mean by ‘fried’ when referring to a mental state. Politics are endless, exhausting, circular, absurd – especially on this level.

The past 5 days have been packed with all sorts of action. The topic of conversation within the US youth recently has been the statement made by Lord Monckton of the UK at an Americans for Prosperity meeting which we crashed a couple days ago (video here) calling us 'crazed Hitler youth' - this has been projected everywhere from the UK Guardian to Now Magazine in Canada and the YouTube video has 18,000 views. I'm kind of proud that something that I filmed has been viewed so many times (even though I really am not a fan of the edit, which I didn't do). Although ideally the youth climate movement would get this kind of attention for the action that we're taking towards it's great if we can put a face to the climate-denier movement. I'm really interested to see how things pan out over the next few days.

One thing that I’ve found really challenging since I’ve been here is trying to grasp the scale of the process that I’ve found myself somewhat in the middle (but really watching from the edges) of. The realization that around 200 people are supposedly representing the views and desires of 6.6 billion is absolutely absurd, not to mention the fact that in reality about 20 of those 200 are really pulling the strings in the game. This frightens me, and to be frank, it's just plain fucked up.

One thing I love about this blog is that I can be entirely (sometimes probably too much so...) honest. That's what I've done in the past and that's what I will continue to do. That being said, I have to say that being here in Copenhagen and understanding more about the weight of the decisions being made here is really freaking me out. I will likely never be able to grasp the process of international politics in it's entirely (and am beginning to think that everyone who says they understand it is just a really good bullshitter), but what I do feel like I understand is that this issue ('climate change' or however you want to call it), it's causes, effects and implications essentially encompass every issue that we face and every issue that we will deal with for the next century. Now I hate being told what to care about or what kind of action I should take on a particular issue, but to be honest this is one thing that I want every single person in the entire world to be thinking about. This is not an issue of climate change. This is not about green jobs, aggressive mitigation, saving climate refugees, ensuring food security or even saving the environment. How can I say what I feel in so many words? I likely never will be able to. But I guess what I'm realizing is that this 'movement' (I hate that term...) is not about one thing, or even 5 things - it is about the system that we exist in, the system that created us and the system that we depend upon intrinsically. I don't know. This is just what has been on my mind as of late, and at the moment I feel so fried and ready to give all this critical thinking a rest that I might just leave it at that. All I know is that we have created a system in which a two week period of time and a gathering of 200 people is going to decide much of the future of the world, and that is just plain bass ackwards. This world is so much more beautifully complicated than we give it credit for.

I cannot imagine what will happen over the next week. Oh lawdy. This world is so strange. I promise to blog more this coming week, as I really want you all to know what's going on inside this absurd bubble I've found myself in. How on earth did I get here?

Also, if you have something you think the US should be doing regarding climate change, please tell me. The youth have an amazing line into the Obama administration at this point and it seems as though they are actually listening to us (I wish I had made time to tell you all about the fucking awesome presence we have had in every single State Department debriefing and the meetings we've been having with Jonathan Pershing and Todd Stern...holy lord...) and I want to know what you guys think. Just saying.

Looking forward to enjoying the tail-end of the holidays with you all. Nothing like coming home.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Copenhagen Yesterday!

Hello again cyber family! It’s been a while, huh? As in 7 months…no mind…well, it’s currently 5:40am here in Copenhagen and I awoke about 20 minutes ago plagued by thoughts of what could possibly transpire here over the next 2 weeks and I couldn’t help but write about it. As many of you know (I hope) today marks the beginning of the UN Climate Change Negotiations (referred to as COP 15 for Conference of Parties 15) taking place here in Copenhagen, Denmark. Over 190 countries will be represented and it’s estimated that around 40,000 observers will be attending the conference, both inside and outside of the actual negotiations. The negotiations are scheduled to last until December 18th though they will likely spill over into the weekend of the 19th. I will be here blogging and doing video updates (which the photo from above is from - our first one!) on what’s going on from my perspective and the perspective of the other US and international youth who are attending the conference.

The fact that I am here and will be inside the negotiations for the next 15 days is more surreal to me than I can possibly describe. What began as a whimsical idea in August quickly became a reality as I joined the COP 15 team within the Cascade Climate Network and made the decision that I would be here, no matter what it would take. Turns out it would take a few painstaking conference calls, a mad dash over the past 5 weeks to finish the term 10 days early (luckily I won’t know what my grades are until I return…), fundraising letters, and a whole heap of incredibly supportive professors, family and friends. I really can’t thank everyone enough for contributing to my efforts to get here.

As a city, Copenhagen is stunning so far. The Danes are some of the nicest Europeans that exist (and have a sense of humor that the French seem to have missed out on…), and they have a predilection for pickled fish, rye bread and alcohol, therefore we get along quite well. Their way of life just seems to make sense. Or at least it makes sense with the exception of the whole “go out at 12:30am and party til 6am” thing…I don’t quite get that, but give me a week or so – I’ll do some investigating and report back. The couple that’s hosting me is awesome – they’re both 30, he works for the Danish Ministry of Education and she works for an NGO that does energy efficiency work. They have a sweet apartment (in which literally everything is from Ikea, I shit you not) in the middle of the trendy ‘formally-red-light-district-but-still-kind-of-red-light-district-but-we-ignore-that-and-open-wine-bars-next-to-sex-shops’ neighborhood, so I feel right at home.

I need to briefly apologize for my writing, as it’s been months since I’ve written anything anyone has had to read with the exception of a few essays. I don’t doubt that my writing will be pretty rough over the next few days but hopefully I’ll get back into it (plus, knowing my father, he will be sending me edits to my blog posts, so that always helps). Though for those of you know who know how my blog has traditionally been it will likely be more like my mental diarrhea translated onto a blog. Awesome.

I will also be posting blogs and video updates to the Cascade Climate Network blog: so feel free to follow along there and pass my blog on to anyone who might be interested! One of my biggest goals with being here is to connect people at home with what’s going on at the negotiations and to convey how important the decisions being made here are. For all of the youth who are here (over 500 US and 1000 international), we are here out of our own desire to change the way things are working in our governments. The vast majority of us are not paid and are in school (my GPA suffers in solidarity! Viva!) and have made sacrifices to be here. I’m sure I’ll go on a rant about this all later, but for now, I’m going to go get myself ready for the madness…

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Can I Do It?

I am determined to do it: write a blog entry in 5 minutes. I don't want to write a blog entry in only 5 minutes, but that's what I have at this moment. In light of this limiting fact, I will use a few simple sentences to sum up what's been on my mind: 
1) In 24 hours I'll be leaving for a youth summit in DC of ELEVEN THOUSAND undergraduates from around the country all focused on energy efficiency. Will I survive? I don't know. Stay tuned. Just hear this: 2 hotel rooms (i.e. two beds), 16 full-grown people. Madness? You betcha. 
2) I am a human. I cannot do everything. I learned this again last week. I had some reminders - a friend's news of the last weeks of his life due to cancer, failing a math class, overloading myself with activities/expectations. We have to stop sometimes and remind ourselves what really matters. 
3) Bread. I don't eat it. I wish I did. Cheese. Again, wish I ate it, but I don't. Normally these aren't big problems for me, but ever the past week or so all I want is a gooey grilled cheese sandwich of extra sharp Tillamook cheddar and sourdough bread. Simple. Amazing. Yesterday in my biology lecture the girl in front of me was eating what appeared to be this exact sandwich and I had to stop myself from swallowing my binder. Instead I stared at the back of her head with contempt as she finished every bite of it. What an insensitive bitch. Shouldn't she be more receptive to us gluten-and-dairy-free (also known as everything-that's-good-in-life-free) people? She just HAD to eat that in front of me. I feel a feast coming on...
That's all I have for now. But assuming I survive Powershift this weekend, I'll hopefully make time next week for a longer entry, cause I have a feeling this weekend is going to be SO AMAZING that I won't be able to resist writing about it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Countdown

I spent a lot of 2008 counting down. In fact, come to think of it I've spent a lot of my life counting down. When I was younger it was counting down to the end of soccer practice, or to summer camp, or to dinner time. Then it became counting down to my next birthday, to high school, to boyfriends. Not long after that it was to the end of high school, to a year off, to graduation, to freedom. But throughout my entire life as I can remember it, I've spent a decent amount of time counting down. I don't think this is unusual in our culture by any means (after all who of us doesn't count down to the weekend or to the summer?), and I think it's an issue. Which is why I've decided to stop counting down. Or, at least I'm going to try, and I've made it my main New Years resolution. Maybe I've finally learned that all of this is actually temporary and that wishing it would past faster is just not how I want to go through the rest of my life, especially right now. There is too much opportunity in Now to wish it were Then. Does this make sense? I don't know. It does to me, and I hope I can start being more present and knowing that it will all pass faster than I can fathom, so I should enjoy right now. 
On another note, I think my intellectual metabolism has sped up. What? You've never heard of intellectual metabolism? Weird, maybe that's because I just invented it. I like it. Basically I think of it as the rate that my brain is consuming information, and the feeling that no matter how much educational fodder I feed into its chomping mouth, it never seems to be satisfied. My brain is hungry. It's really a cool feeling - like my brain is expanding, like it's seen how vast the world of knowledge is and it won't be satisfied until it devours it all. Sometimes I think my brain is a little over enthusiastic. Maybe bites off more than it can chew? Oh I suppose that's why I take fish oil. So my brain can eat more. Oh my god if people actually let me be a doctor it will be either a miracle or an accident. Maybe they're the same thing.  
So I know my blogging history isn't exactly reliable, but as another New Years goal I'm going to try and blog once a week, whether it's for me or for others, which at this point I think I'm doing it because I enjoy it and want to be writing more, not because anyone's necessarily reading it. Damn those RSS updates. Maybe I'll start editing my entries....or maybe I'll save that for 2010. 
Also: inauguration. Too many words, not enough adjectives to describe my sorry state on Tuesday morning where I found myself splayed on the couch in front of the TV in my floor lounge in my slightly discolored grey old-man sweatpants, shoveling oatmeal into my mouth between occasional tears and clamorous exclamations at a certain GIANT and awesome grey sparkling hat that made quite an appearance on the national stage. Oh Bama. Oh jeez. That guy brings tears to my face. I have a real good feeling about him. 
Anyway, off to do honors chemistry (on a SATURDAY! What's wrong with me?). Eat for your brain!

Friday, November 21, 2008

Deep Bowls

What do you think of when you hear the words "college food"? Instant mac n' cheese? Ramen noodles? Hot Pockets? Burgers? Pizza? Chances are, it's some combination of cheap white bread, dairy, and low-quality meat, decorated with regular pints of ice cream, half-racks of piss-cheap beer, and lots of chips and candy for "study snacks". At least, this seems to be the dietary schedule of the kids here at Oregon State, and I have a feeling it's not too different from that of other universities around the country. This was emphasized for me the other day when I was in Albertsons (for I believe the first time ever) with a friend and they did their "shopping for the week": a package of bagels, a block of cream cheese, a bag of hot dog buns, and a pack of 8 hot dogs. What more could anyone need?
I meanwhile walked around the endless aisles of pre-packaged food reading one label after another, getting more and more appalled at the things that are allowed to be in our food. The Albertsons employees were giving me very nasty looks indeed by the time I made my way out of there with a single apple in my hand, grumbling about the amount of shit food in their store. Sorry, guys. I get emotional over food. 

Actually, I get really emotional over food. I might even say I get obsessive over food (good food of course) and often wake up in the middle of the night or early in the morning with an idea for a meal in my head, and I'll scramble to write it down before I lose it. Mostly the things I crave are simple: white bean and kale soup, roasted chicken with corn muffins and broiled asparagus, crustless smoked salmon quiche, pupusas, pumpkin teff pancakes with walnuts, roasted chestnuts.
 The last one struck me particularly hard the other day, and I decided that if I couldn't get roasted chestnuts in a little newspaper baggie from the streets of Paris like I did last year (the first time I had ever had them, mind you), I would have to make my own. So I did, and in the process of doing so learned that they are so painfully easy to make (and so effing good) that I might have to be making them all winter! I was very pleased with how they turned out, even in my little dorm kitchen on my electric stove, but peeling them was still a bitch - I hear you have to do it when they're still hot, but I pretty much failed at that part.  
Another one of my recent massive cravings has been purple kale. At the co-op they have GIANT bunches of it for $1.99, so each week I end up with a massive amount of kale that I don't know what to do with. Last week I had a kale, roasted chicken, pumpkin seed, oil and vinegar salad with buttercup squash for lunch. That was delicious. This week I decided to do a little experiment with what I'm calling my "college soup" where I took all the bits of leftovers from my week (a cup or two of jasmine rice, some leftover cooked beans, a handful of baby carrots, green beans, pickled ginger) and threw it all into a pot with large amounts of kale, water and whatever spices I had. I tried to think like Louise when she cooks, and follow the culinary doctrine of "It's done when it's done." Does it taste done? Then it is done. If not, keep cooking. Simple for her at least. If you've ever tasted Louise's cooking, you know that she gets it right every time. I may not have the Louise Touch (a very rare one indeed), but my first souping experiment last night went pretty damn well if I do say so myself. 

While most of the kids in my dorm have stopped asking me "What are you making?" every time they pass me with my complex cooking accoutrement, I still get the occasional curious person. Usually as soon as I say "kale" or "squash" or "quinoa" (that one really gets a lot of good looks) their face turns kind of pale-ish and they nod and walk away. It's really too bad. They're missing out on a lot of good food we have available so close to campus. I find it amazing that in such a developed and rich farming community like Corvallis the dining services import the majority of their food from other places around the US and abroad. It's too bad, cause I can only eat so much purple kale - just imagine if we got the whole campus to eat it! My my, that will be the day. As for now I'll stick with my roasted chestnuts and College kale soup...

Saturday, November 15, 2008

On Fiddles

Fiddles make my feet hurt. They make my hands sweat and my legs burn. They really get me going. I've recently had a lot of fiddling in my life suddenly, and it's absolutely amazing. 

Last Tuesday (a week after our new nation, America Jr., was born!) I drove an hour south with my friend Tyler to good 'ole Eugene, Oregun for an Old Crow Medicine Show concert. We stopped by at a friend Colin's house and the three of us sat in the living room talking about Indian art, fermented food, and the glories of Trader Joe's frozen food while we waited for the time to pass so we could walk to the theater. Our conversation was punctuated by shots of whiskey and one bluegrass song after another to get us in the mood before the show. 
We arrived at the Mcdonald theater with just enough time to shove each other through to the front of the crowd just as Ketch Secor started fiddling the first tune. With my Frye boots on and a fair amount of Seagrams in my system (for what would American roots-music be without cheap whiskey?) I was an unstoppable jigging force. I jigged until I could jig no more. I jigged through the slow songs, the fast songs, the super fast songs, and pretty much all the way back to Colin's house at the end of the show. And goddamn it felt good! Just to let go a little bit, to remember how it feels to be a fool and not care what the people around me are thinking - it felt damn good. 
It's really quite therapeutic, in fact I think they should start prescribing "unabashed dancing/jigging" as a remedy for various emotional and psychological problems. I'm obviously ready to be a trusted medical authority...

I've also found that jigging is a great pick-me-up during lonely times in my dorm room when I am faced once again with the startling fact that I live in Corn Valley, OR and that most of the people here think I'm a complete freak for not even wanting to go to frat parties and also not owning a hair-straightener. I mean really, that alone is enough to expel me from the OSU female population.

Lately I've talked with a few people who ask me incredulously: "Well, you're not going to stay there, are you? I mean, you'll probably switch schools, right?"
And my answer is always: "No, I don't think so. I just have to find my people yet." Which at this point I truly believe. The way I see it now the liberal "people-like-me" (we'll call them the Jiggers) are just harder to find in Corvallis, less-obvious than in the pachouli-infested city of Eugene, and much more stubborn than other liberal populations. The Jiggers of Corn Valley will not be driven away by the seemingly endless stream of beef-necked frat boys and workoutaholic makeup-caked girls parading up and down Monroe avenue every Friday and Saturday night, nor will we be frightened away by the assemblage of tail-gaters that take over the entire town every two weeks for "GAME DAY". 

Yes, I do believe there's a Jigger population that's waiting for me here in Corn Valley, and though it may take quite some time for me to discover it, I have a feeling it will be worth the wait. Plus as long as there's enough space for me to jig in my dorm room, I think I'll survive the rest of the year just fine. And by the way, you should ALL check out Old Crow Medicine Show...maybe also invest in a good pair of stompin' boots and a bottle of cheap whiskey if you really want to get in the spirit. I highly recommend it. 
Happy jigging,

Monday, November 3, 2008

Animal Crackers

     Today, all day, I have felt as if I'm about to jump out of an airplane. It's kind of a low, uncomfortable hum in my gut, but I can't quite tell if it's good or bad; if my stomach is anticipating an endless fall or a successful and ultimately miraculous ride. Is there a parachute on my back or just a big, red, balding republican party, ready to hang on for the ride and watch me, the young enthusiastic democrat fall to my end? Because really, it feels like riding an emotional roller coaster from one minute to the next, red and blue gradually taking over my vision, thoughts of defeat and utter emotional disappointment moving in and out of my head between feelings of absolute joy and excitement at what could happen tomorrow night. It's exhausting. I'm exhausted with it, we're all exhausted with it, and I am so happy (am I?) that tomorrow night it will be over. Or rather, tomorrow night it will hopefully begin. But I'm ready to be done with this election, if only so we can stop checking the polls like they're our own heart monitors, sleep full nights again, and go one day without reading another online article about how McCain really can make a comeback, or how there is just no way Obama can't win. Jesus. If nothing else, it's bad for our health. 

There is too much to say about tomorrow night, so maybe I just won't. I've written this entry about 4 times now and don't have the energy to re-write it all over again. We all know how big this is. If there's anyone who doesn't know, you should call them and let them know that Hellen Keller wants her disabilities back. 

It is pretty amazing to me that we (as a country, as a party, as a strange and troubled group of people) get to gather tomorrow and watch it all go down. I am so excited at what could happen; at what the implications will be if we can do it, and what that will mean for the next step. I think we're ready for it, I really do.

Assuming some of you faceless blog-readers of mine (if there are in fact any remaining) have been feeling this same alternating sense of dread and elation all day, all week, all month, or even all year (a feeling that I envision is somewhat akin to what menopause must feel like...), let me tell you my solution to this pre-election anxiety: reading Groucho Marx letters. Ok,so maybe it's not a solution per se, but it's at least 15 minutes out of my day spent away from polls and red or blue colored articles. I guess I find solace in people who take very little seriously and know unwaveringly that we will continue on, that we are intrepid, and that laughter is a cure for most things, with the possible exception of menopause.
Que viva el azul.