So, I’ve been having a bit of writer’s bloc. Ok, a lot of it lately. I guess I’ve arrived at a point where the novelty of having a blog has worn off and I can’t seem to find new things to write about. So, I have been looking through old lists of blog topics I meant to write about but never got around to it. I’m dedicating my next few entries to these topics, and hopefully I will gain some insight into some new and different topics to write about. In the meantime, I’m trying to avoid temptation in the form of leather bags and suede boots. And I won’t pretend that being swaddled in animal fur doesn’t sound perfect about now, especially in this weather. Give me strength!
Archive for the ‘Miscellaneous’ Category
It’s hard to imagine a world without clean water. And yet, it seems the world may be heading in that direction. By 2025, two-thirds of the world will experience water scarcity, according to the International Water Management Institute. As it stands, one in six people worldwide, or 894 million, don’t have access to a clean water source, says the World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF), making it a viable commodity for those who can bottle this new “gold” says a recent article in Fortune Magazine.
Drought, pollution and changing water patterns have contributed to an increasing lack of global drinking water and it doesn’t seem to be improving. However, according to experts, it’s not just a lack of natural water sources, but how the water is captured, treated and stored as well as a steadily-increasing population putting a strain on the demand for clean water. In the U.S. we’re fortunate enough to have an abundance of clean water available from bottled water to tap water and water fountains. Still, we can help to reduce the amount of water we use each day.
I am sinfully guilty of using too much water. I drink multiple bottles of water a day, I shower, brush my teeth, wash clothes and wash dishes, letting the water run from the faucet. I rarely pause to think how much water I am using unless I am without it, or traveling in another country. But what surprised me in the Fortune article was the breakdown of how much water is used for non-drinking consumption. For example, one pair of designer jeans uses 2,906 gallons of water while a piece of prime steak requires 1,857 gallons. Your car? 104,000 gallons … mostly from rubber. And the demand for consumer goods from countries like China puts even more stress on the water supply. Still, as long as countries are working on alternative solutions for collecting and disseminating clean water, there should be hope.
I was having dinner with a male friend of mine recently when the conversation turned to shopping and re-usable bags. Washington, DC recently passed a law charging five cents per bag at all stores, from grocery stores to Mom and Pop boutiques, catching some people off guard who end up paying for bags either because they don’t have one or left one at home. My friend was looking for a bag that was practical, yet manly. No polka dots or floral-patterned bags need apply. Here are three bags that I found on the web—-green, durable and just for men. Testosterone not included.
Chico Bag-Micro Keychain Tote
For the absent-minded professor, this cool, ultra-manly tote by Chico Bag conveniently folds up and can be attached to your keys. It’s perfect for trips to the grocery store or shopping mall and it’s made of a durable non-rip fabric and comes in a choice of five colors: black, green, blue, red and navy. $19
Made from 100% organic hemp, this simple, yet understated bag is perfect for laidback days or impromptu shopping trips to the local farmer’s market. Even smells like real hay! $8.50
Reuseit Earth Tote Orignal
An alternative to the paper shopping bag, this nylon bag folds up like a paper bag, yet stands up on its own. It comes in two colors: tan, black. $9.95
Reading an article on Oprah’s Life Lessons inspired me to write a few of my own:
1) Talk to strangers
Sometimes it’s good to talk to strangers. Especially while traveling. While walking in Genoa, Italy one day I started chatting up a guy at a fruit stand. He introduced me to some friends hanging out on a bench nearby. They invited me to sit and chat and offered me cheese and snacks. We laughed at our broken Italian/English (each person was from a different country). I learned things about Italy that only they could share, and even ended up with free food! (Of course you should always exercise good judgement with this lesson).
2) Never let your parents set you up on a blind date
My mother set me up with a chain smoker and deadbeat dad. Enough said.
3) Date an environmentalist
It was this lesson that inspired me to lean towards a more green way of life. It was from an ex that I learned about wind power, organic foods and clothing, and saving energy. I even learned a little bit of Italian!
4) Appreciate hot water but don’t waste it
I lived in Heredia, Costa Rica for six months without hot running water. Twelve years later I experienced days without hot water while in Ecuador. I now appreciate every hot shower that I take, but still limit my time in the shower to conserve some water.
5) Anything can be re-purposed
I have learned this lesson over and over again while creating vases out of glass water bottles and using old contact lenses as storage cases for small beads and materials. This lesson has also served me well when low on funds.
6) Lie about your age
Some of you probably follow this one already. This works best for the 30-and-over crowd (I don’t condone teenagers lying about their age). I know a number of people who won’t try things because they say they’re too old. Go out and have fun and don’t get hung up on a number. Telling yourself that you’re as young as you feel will help you to experience everything in life without restrictions.
7) Appreciate family
Perhaps the most important lesson of all! After my seizure, I learned to lean on my family and to accept and appreciate their help. I’ve always been uber-independent, so getting constant calls from family checking in on me was a bit annoying at first, but I’ve learned to look forward to these calls and to appreciate their love and support.
8) Be an introvert
Ok, I cheated on this one, since I am one already! Constantly being around friends and family can be exhausting. And with the constant social chatter of Facebook, Twitter and cell phones, sometimes you just need a little peace and quiet…a night in. Take some time for yourself to read, write, meditate, watch a favorite movie or read old love letters.
Follow me on twitter @niatravelwriter
My parents aren’t the overly supportive kind. They’re not those parents that say, “it’s ok, sweetie, you’re better off without him.” Instead they’re the, “why aren’t you married?” type. Still, because I’m not a drug addict (or dealer, although they do seem to lead a glamorous life), a teenage mother or an alcoholic, and I have two college degrees, I would expect them to give me a little bit of slack, considering my recent seizure episode. But while sitting at the kitchen table one day at my parents’ home (where I swear I’m being held hostage and monitored for my breathing), my mother proceeds to inform that I should have already called my job, aka the recruitment agency to inform them that I am ready for work and how I wasn’t “sick.” As if I intentionally had a seizure and am enjoying this long, unpaid vacation. Note to self: Never. Tell. Mom. About.My. Life. Anyway, I proceeded to argue with her to no avail and went storming off, as I always do when we have these types of conversations.
On another, similar note, I was still facing a hair crisis (see “Nose Job”) yesterday. After frying my hair with a crimping iron, I noticed crispy pieces of my hair clumped together on one side of my head. Ok, so, I’m not a trained hairstylist, but I’m pretty sure that’s a bad sign. After coercing my hair into miniature bobby pins, and gathering the rest into a rubber band and knotting it just above my neck, I felt I had a decent style. However, I was knocked back into reality when my godmother came for a visit and commented on my hair being haphazardly pulled back.
“My hair is damaged,” I replied. As if that were the definitive answer for everything.
“Come here, and take out your hair. Let me see it.”
“Your hair is not damaged it just needs to be bumped.” Read: curled.
Despite my protests, I submitted myself to getting my hair did. I have to admit that after a little heat and grease it did look ten times better. But the whole time I was complaining about how much work it would be to maintain and how I wanted a low maintenance hairstyle. Turns out, I have been able to maintain my hair so far. Later, I thought about all of the excuses I use on a daily basis that have prevented me from accomplishing goals that I set for myself. And I decided that I would go for what I really want and not let anything or anyone, especially myself, get in the way. So, I’m going for the job abroad, I’m working on my book and I’m launching my jewelry/accessories line. And dammit, I’m going to be a travel writer!
Follow me on Twitter @niatravelwriter
I thought the worse was over when my attempt at crimping my hair failed miserably, and I ended up with a bad permed fro rather than the cute crimp throwback style I was going for. But, like many things in my life, I should have known that there would be something else. So here goes the story…
I arrived at the In and Out surgery department at a hospital in Washington, DC to repair my nose after undergoing a seizure at work two weeks ago (see Walk.Live.Learn). After filling out some paperwork and praying that my insurance would pay up for yet another procedure… because seizures are expensive… I settled in to wait for my name to be called. My father is a physician at that hospital, so I figure I’d at least get some preferential treatment. No such luck. I knew I was doomed when the nurse assigned to my pre-op kept repeating the same questions to me over and over, as if I couldn’t comprehend a question unless it was repeated multiple times. Then, when I was handed the “pee cup” as I affectionately call it, and was told to fill it up after being formerly instructed to withhold liquids for at least 8 hours, I knew she had to be joking. How was I suppose to fill up a cup when my body wasn’t producing any urine? I sat on the toilet contemplating how I was going to explain to her…yet again..that I couldn’t relieve myself. I got up, washed my hands and exited the bathroom. With a shake of my head I signaled “no.”
“That’s ok, we get it next time,” she promises. “Let me finish paperwork and then we go try again.”
Not likely, I’m thinking.
After answering more mundane questions, she goes in for the IV. Now, whenever I’ve had an IV put in my arm, there have been complications. My veins are too small and I don’t drink enough water, so I was prepared for the worse, as she tied my arm. Finding no available vein she stuck me, then kept wiggling it in my arm, just under my skin, moving butcher-like along with my wails of pain, to which she was impervious. After a feeble attempt, she taped it up multiple times to keep it from coming out, but I could still feel it sliding under my arm. In obvious pain, she insisted that I go to the bathroom a second time. I knew this would be another failed attempt, but I went anyway, protesting that the same would happen. On my way to the bathroom, a nosey nurse in the hallway proceeds to give me a stat about my kidneys producing urine every 30 minutes, or something like that, and how cold the bathroom is, so I “should have no problem going to the bathroom.”
This time, I sat on the toilet for 10 minutes and only came out when the nurse proceeded to bang on the door.
“That’s fine, I guess we can do without it,” she sighs.
“Good, cause I’m obviously not an IV drug user, as you can see from my veins, and I’m not pregnant.”
I’d won the battle of the bathroom, but the IV one was just getting started. At this point, the IV had started to slip, so she removed it and re-stuck an IV into the back of my hand. Ouch! Thank goodness I would be put to sleep soon. At least I had the anesthesiologists to keep entertained with my laundry list of allergies and predisposed conditions that I discovered after submitting my saliva for genetic testing. Explaining to a doctor why I was allergic to a blood thinning drug that I’ve never taken in my life, because it said so in my genes, even I have to admit was pretty comical.
Surgery done, I slept through the whole thing. All of that drama for a 25-minute procedure. It took longer to wake up after the surgery then for the actual surgery. Still, I was relieved that the postoperative vomiting that was also listed in my genetic review was replaced by a half hour of crying for no reason. Oh well! I just hope my nose comes out ok.
To read more about my life and about eco travel, health and more, follow me on twitter @niatravelwriter
I’ve been walking now for over a week. It’s been an adjustment, and I’d like to say that this was a planned change, but I’d be lying. The truth is that I suffered a seizure about a week and a half ago, while at a new job. According to eyewitnesses, I moaned, fell face first onto the carpeted floor and shook for five minutes, while a co-worker I barely knew, pried my mouth open so that I wouldn’t choke. Talk about making an impression! I was rushed to the local hospital where I found out that I had a broken nose, but otherwise, no obvious brain abnormalities. Still, my world changed in that instant.
Because I suffered a seizure, the state I live in requires that I be seizure free for three whole months before I can get behind the wheel of a car. So, here I am at day 10…with 80 more days to go. I am an extremely independent person, so this was perhaps the hardest adjustment I’ve had to make, despite having a broken nose (which will require surgery tomorrow) and the realization that I could seize at any moment. I have had to rely on my walking skills and ride offers to get around. It’s amazing how being without a car makes you re-think your daily schedule. All of a sudden, I am planning my days around rides and essential errands. I have also been saving money by not paying for gas and avoiding unnecessary spending, since a) I don’t want to have to lug around items if I am walking and b) I have to plan my rides/transportation. However, it hasn’t stopped me from online shopping. (Afterall, do I really need those new rear tires if I’m not driving)?
With all of this happening, I am grateful that I have a supportive family and that I live in an area with pretty decent public transportation options. It hasn’t been easy. It’s an everyday struggle for me, especially when I got into a fight with my aunt over driving my own car. I don’t want to feel like an invalid, but I also want to be more present in my life, and I am finding that this change in transportation/scenery has opened me up to exploring new things about my city and where I live. And hey, I’m actually contributing to a greener planet!
Any responsible environmentalist knows the importance of the three R’s: Reduce, Reuse (or Repurpose), Recycle. But I’ve recently learned that these environmental actions can be applied to more than paper and plastic. So, here are three areas of my life where I’ve found that I can apply them to:
Food (Reduce)—After a miserable month of bloating constipation and headaches, I’d had enough. I resolved to stop feeling miserable and take control of my diet. I reduced my salt, sugar and carb intake and cut out fast food, pizza, and fried foods. After a week of this new “diet” I felt better; more energetic, slimmer and generally healthier. And because I was eating less and wasn’t frequenting fast food joints, I was reducing the amount of waste going into the environment.
Friends (Repurpose)— I have a somewhat tight knight group of friends whom I can count on to be there for me. People who I trust with my life, my feelings, myself—many of whom I’ve grown up with, but also some I’ve met along the way during different stages of my life. There are the ones who helped me learn my ABC’s, those with whom I navigated the treacherous world of adolescence, ones that were there for me through a break-up, a failed engagement, or a new job. Those who were far away, but always willing to listen. As my life evolves, so do my friendships. And as I’ve learned to let some go, I’ve learned that the ones still in my life have unknowingly been re-purposed to fit new parts of my life. For example, I have single friends who I go out with, and married friends who give me advice (usually to wait to get married). I have friends I’ve met through work, and have similar ambitions. These friends may switch roles from being single to married and vice-versa, and so I’ve re-purposed their friendship to fit a new role in my life. There are also BFFs who have become acquaintances and exes who have become close friends. Changing their part in my life without changing who they are, is in essence, for me, repurposing.
Organization (Recycle)—Ok, so this one I’m still working on. I’ve always hated the idea of waste (at home, I was always the one separating the glass bottles from the newspapers), and being a pack rat that saves 15-year-old birthday cards and high school love letters hasn’t helped. I’ve decided that instead of tossing these memories, I will have them recycled into notepads, notebooks and wrapping paper. This way, I get to keep my memories close by while keeping them away from a landfill.
- You look for the recycling bin at other people’s homes after a meal, and give them a funny look when they say they don’t *gasp* recycle.
- You get upset when you pull up to the grocery store and realize that you left your re-usable bags at home. Or, you attempt to carry 12 items or more in your arms while walking out of the store and looking for your keys at the same time.
- You stop eating meat, and make others feel guilty for doing so around you.
- You scribble things on both sides of the sticky note, just to save paper.
- You start to think that your environmentalist boyfriend/girlfriend was actually smart to use a flashlight at night to avoid turning on the lights, even if it did go out and he walked into a few walls.
- You start to rationalize staying in on the weekends because it saves you money on gas.
- You wrap your friend’s one-year-old daughter’s present in Victoria’s Secret tissue paper because it’s pink.
- Al Gore starts making sense.
- This article starts to make sense.
-If any of these signs sound familiar, don’t panic. You’re not alone.
I wear contact lenses, and for the last two years, I’ve purchased my lenses through 1-800-CONTACTS. Every time I order a new box, I get a new lens case, and it either ends up in the trash or in a pile of other cases thrown in my makeup bag. So, I came up with a new way to repurpose the cases and also get some much needed use out of them. I now use them as storage for my jewelry findings, replacing the plastic bags that used to hold these items. They’re just the right size for my jump rings, earring posts and small chains. The covers screw in tight, so that the pieces stay in place and they are better for traveling.
Now, if only I could find a way to recycle the box and plastic containers that hold my new contacts.