Two Steps Forward...

You may recall me complaining about what I perceived to be the precocious push toward ____________at my son’s daycare. I don’t know what to call it. It’s, you know, when people feel the need to show their affection through sugary treats and junky toys, but it’s not even necessarily true affection because it’s more of an obligatory recognition of mostly meaningless consumerism holidays. Mothers of two year olds stuffing every child’s cubby holes with from-China-to-the-landfill “goodies” and stuffing their tummies with high fructose corn syrup. (Is there a word for that?)

I asked for advice on how to handle the situation, given my misgivings about it and was wholeheartedly told to stick to my guns and do what I believed in. So, for Turtle’s 2nd birthday, when I was reminded that I was welcome to bring something to school for a special celebration, I declined. When I was then asked whether I minded if the teachers created their own special celebration for him, I happily welcomed them to do so, as long as the focus was friends and fun, rather than unhealthy food.

I was happy with the result. They created a construction paper birthday “crown” for him to wear all day and at morning snack presented him with a banana with candles to blow out after they sang Happy Birthday. And there were somebody’s leftover monkey patterned napkins. 

That's it.  No cake, no crap, just a fancy banana.  We picked him up and his eyes were still sparkling under his crown from the excitement of being the center of attention for much of the day. Score one for us!

A few weeks later, I was reading the parent newsletter they send home and saw this:  

Now, I never even said anything to anyone, so I can take no credit for this policy change, but who cares? Score two!

Then we were out sick for a few days and apparently missed someone else’s second birthday. We returned to find --- (cue dramatic music) --- a goody bag in our cubby. And, to add insult to injury, it wasn’t some kind of hand crafted goody bag filled with thoughtfully selected items. I didn’t know this, but you must be able to just go to the party stores and purchase pre-made and sealed goody bags, every molecule of which are covered with licensed characters, which just personally annoys me.

When you are just shoving impersonal “gifts” in everyone’s box, including people who aren’t even able to attend the celebration, what is the point? And how am I supposed to respond? Do I need to thank you? What is the etiquette? I’m sure that if you are the person who bought these goody bags and brought them I sound really ungrateful and bitchy and overly righteous. And you were just wanting to do something fun and cute for your kid and their friends.

But we just don’t see eye to eye. I don’t appreciate having to accept the stuff and bring it into my home, which I am constantly trying to de-clutter. I don’t appreciate my son getting used to the idea that he will get gifts all the time from everyone or begging to have the junk that’s in the bag even though it might be unsafe to play with or I don’t want him to eat it. And I feel guilty just throwing away the bag directly, even though I truly don’t want it, because it seems like such a waste. Of course the real waste is that a pre-sealed goody bag was ever even created in the first place! Aaahhh, don’t get me started…

Well, at least the POLICY is that goody bags are banned.


Mid-Life (Shoe) Crisis

OMG! I really never thought I'd blog about this, and I feel like SUCH a girl, but I've been drooling over the website of a shoe company I discovered over the weekend for the past hour.

I was in Nordstrom on Sunday, trying in vain to buy myself a pair of cool, funky, just for fun heels, because why not?, dammit! I have been on a slippery slope toward more and more responsible shoes for the past decade or so, limiting myself to that which is necessary, comfortable, a good deal, matches multiple outfits, etc.

I walked around and looked at EVERY solitary pair of shoes in the giant women's shoe dept at Nordstrom and could not find a single pair that turned me on. I left shoeless and with a gift card I've been needing to use still burning a hole in my pocket.

Earlier that day, I had driven 30 min away to check out a vintage clothing store that I read an article about. I poked around and wasn't as impressed as I'd hoped based on the journalistic exaggerations of the article and felt badly for emitting so much CO2 to drive to the place as I headed for the exit. Then I saw them.

The T.U.K. "tattoo" heels.

And a bunch more
cool shoes lined up next to them. Something inside me stirred. A deeply buried memory of days gone by, platforms, Doc Martens, fishnets, Mary Jane's. Neurons fired, epinephrine oozed. I remembered coveting and enjoying cool shoes.

My high school best friend, sister, and I used to drive from San Antonio to Austin to visit an old house-cum-retail-shop called Atomic City. It was a pilgrimage for
cool shoes. Anticipation ran high opening the door to find out which funky rebel shoes had come in, shipped from the UK! (extra cool factor) for our wearing pleasure.

I'll never forget the purple 10-hole Docs I wore to death in high school. 

Or my sister's banana yellow patent leather ones that became her trademark.

We were the few, the proud, the punks. We had to take road trips to freaky dive shops to find our shoes.

A few years later, they started importing Docs to Journeys at the mall and it was downhill from there. Eventually, even the department stores picked them up and they had officially become mainstream. Boring people starting wearing them. Parents didn't mind them. Yawn.

I moved on to skater shoes (yes, that's me, in a former life), chunky platforms, Vans, then adulthood came and slowly turned my collection brown and black and navy instead of purple, patent leather, and skull covered. Sensible low rubber heels instead of 4" platforms. The only mary jane's I have now are made by Keen and are a hippie-pleasing earthy tan suede.

Don't get me wrong. I appreciate all manner of shoes. And I'm partial to
Simple Shoes in particular for their eco-ethics, Keen, Teva, and all those other REI-ish, granola shoes and the lifestyle they represent.

But, come on. They aren't wild crazy different out there sexy subculture shoes. They aren't shoes your parents don't want you to wear.

If I order a pair of shoes from
T.U.K., what will I wear them with? My wardrobe matches my current blah shoes. Where will I wear them to? I go from work to grocery store to park playdate to home. My nightlife is sitting in pajamas drinking tea checking email before bed by 10 pm.

F*&# it! If I have to wear them to the playground, I will! 

I HAVE to have cool shoes again!



This is 6th in the Earth Week 2008 series.  

Sanjay- I don't know what to say!  You've been outgoogled.  Finding you online is the proverbial needle in they haystack because a certain famous someone has got your name.  

Here you are in the car on our trip to SF a few years back.  A group of us went up to participate in the UN's World Environment Day International Student/Youth Forum.  It was so cool to be a participant in a workshop facilitated by you.  I love role reversals!  

You were a star at PR, shameless with a video camera or onstage with a bullhorn.  Our Healthy Foods and Recycling Campaigns were so successful because of your creative and tireless promotion.   Oh how I wish I had one of those VHS to laptop converters so I could share your recycling videos with the world.  But you are safely protected from embarrassment by old school tech.  Actually, I know a place that could convert it for me...hmmm... 

What has the infamous San-man been up to since then?  I wish I knew.  


This post is number five in the Earth Week 2008 series.  

Shan, here you are at your  Earth Day Festival.  It was your harebrained idea and I brought up every good reason why it couldn't be done by a handful of high school kids in a few short months.  I'm glad you didn't take no for an answer.  It's a toss up which of us was more proud that day when it all came together and really happened.  

After graduation, you became a banana slug, grew your hair long, and went to live in the trees, or so the rumor goes.  A year later, you returned to bless our 2nd Earth Day with your presence.  Look how earthy you'd become!

And what of your harebrained ideas?  Luckily for the rest of us, you've nurtured and expanded them.  You are committed to working for social change and teaching as many others as possible effective strategies for doing so.   

Majoring in community studies, working with the SEC, the CSSC, the LRDP-SSIC, the XYZPDQ...I mean, the Student Environmental Center, the California Student Sustainability Coalition, contributing to the Long Range Development Plan Strategic Student Involvement Committee, and creating a compost and garden plan for the UC Santa Cruz Blueprint for Sustainability. Whew!  How do you keep all of those acronyms straight?  

Most interestingly to me is your work with the Transformative Action Center, an outfit inspired by the methods of Gandhi and Martin Luther King whose goal it is to promote creative, non-violent, effective strategies for social change.  You've helped bring a Transformative Action course to several UC campuses so that hundreds of students can learn how to empower themselves and others to change the world.

And when you really want to inspire others, you sing!  (Here's the video.)

Shan, it's a good thing that you are still going strong, because I'm getting tired.  I've spent more time changing diapers than changing the world in the past two years.  But, reading about all you are doing re-inspires me to re-awaken some harebrained ideas of my own...