Why I am not an Environmentalist

I don’t consider myself an environmentalist. I realized this about a year ago, when, deep in a discussion of the merits and dangers of nuclear energy, my friend’s mother said to me, “I know you consider yourself an environmentalist, but…” And I thought, actually, no, I don’t.

I consider myself a human, and I’d like myself and my offspring (if any) and the offspring of my loved ones, to have a place to thrive in the future.

Besides, calling myself an “environmentalist” kinda implies there is some kind of division between humans and “the environment.” There isn’t.

I don’t care about “the environment.” I care about the health of myself, my family, and the ecosystems of which we are a part.

I am not an environmentalist. I am a human. And by virtue of being human, protecting–nay, building the vitality and future health of my habitat is self-evident.

All y’all who aren’t concerned about this are the odd ones out.


Is Spring Here Yet?

I had an idea for a children’s book which turned, quickly, into a climate chaos nightmare:

Vermont Father explains to his young daughter that spring is coming soon — some spirit or other has wrapped it up all nice and neat and put it in the mail, but it’s coming from a long way off so we don’t know exactly when it will arrive. She goes to the post office and asks the clerk if spring has come yet, and he says, not yet, any day now, and then spring comes and it is really exciting and beautiful (and it didn’t come from a box in the post office, either).

But then she grows up and she has some kids (still in Vermont) and when they ask her when spring will come she has to say, “I don’t know,” because she doesn’t.

Or she tells them that story and they say, “what’s spring?”

Or that is how she explains spring, the idea that the seasons used to be predictable, to them.


…I haven’t figured out how to make this have a happy ending except the part where there is still a family telling stories, and having children who are curious, learning, living…

That’s still worth striving for, isn’t it?


Defiant Hope

Let’s be real. The future doesn’t look bright for the human species. As the IPCC prepares to release it’s report on the impact of climate change, leaked draft documents reminded us this week of just how much doom is in the air–literally, in the form of CO2–especially given that the IPCC tends to be conservative in its predictions.

Life as we know it is over. In many ways, it has already ended, only we frequently fail to acknowledge it. According to some, it is too late to return the climate to 350 ppm of CO2 or less. It is too late to stop the accelerated changes in weather we face in the coming decades. If the economics hadn’t been stacked against my parent’s generation when they were my age and trying to get the big systemic powers to do things differently, we might have been able to prevent 1, 2, 3 degrees of warming. My potential grandchildren might have had a shot at a comfortable existence. Instead, the glaciers are almost gone, the corporate engineers of our doom still reign supreme, and all is uncertainty.

That doesn’t mean life has to end. 

On any given day, I wake up, eat some food, go to work. Sometimes I  even drive my car someplace. I don’t spend every waking hour worrying about how or whether I and my family and friends and communities and country and etc are going to survive the next 50 years. I can’t. But when I do think about my future there is a big question mark.

Given what I know about the potential impacts of climate chaos on the world economy, on the US economy, and on the infrastructure and food systems we take for granted right now, these are the narratives that run through my head, often concurrently. I always strive to choose the last one. Continue reading “Defiant Hope”

The Footprint of a Beast

New snow had fallen only a day before the tracks appeared, great, oval prints the size of three dinner plates with strange, sharp looking indents in the center. The animal that made them must be enormous, or else have unbelievably large paws. It was strange, though, how in four feet of snow the prints never sank more than six inches. None of us knew what to make of them, even Ana, who had been tracking for twenty years, had never seen anything like it.

“It looks as though there are three of them,” she said, pointing to the different shapes at the heels of the tracks, “And not very agile. See how close together their steps are? Nevertheless, whatever it is must be quite large. I’d keep the children inside until we kill the beasts or find out more about them.” Continue reading “The Footprint of a Beast”

I want a cookie

I want a cookie because a cookie means yay.

I want a cookie because a cookie means yum.

I want a cookie because I don’t have a cookie.

There are no cookies in my house.


if I have a cookie, I will still want a cookie,

because one (cookie) is not enough (cookies).

This is why

there are no cookies

in my house.

Integrity & Sex

Integrity: noun. 1. The quality of being honest and having strong moral principles; moral uprightness. 2. The state of being whole and undivided.

To have integrity is to be whole, undivided in moral uprightness, whole in not violating the boundaries of ethical behavior. In Harry Potter speak, Voldemort splits his soul into pieces by killing people. The act actually rips him apart. And of course (spoiler alert) in the end he dis-integrates.

A year or two ago a good friend of mine did a brief stint writing the sex column for our alma mater’s campus newspaper. That summer she applied to work for a youth summer camp. She had the job nearly offered to her and then yanked out from beneath her feet after a google search for her name revealed her column. Frankly, I would rather my child have teachers who, if necessary, were comfortable and open and sex-positive to address their questions. But unfortunately I am apparently an outlier. I am also apparently not in the majority in comprehending that someone who writes a sex column for a college newspaper might actually have the capacity to discern between their newspaper venue and a camp for learning about other things. I find this irretrievably pathetic. Continue reading “Integrity & Sex”

Sick poetry

Not much emerges
when the body says, “sleep.”

A mumble, an exhalation.

“Here I am,” my shoulder blades say
as they press into the pillow,
“why would you do anything now

My neck curves backwards,
My eyelids drop
like one of those dolls

who can’t lie down

without falling asleep.

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“Ladies & Gentlemen!” Shouts the announcer,

“Be on the edge of your seats!” He says.

“You may not be prepared for what you are about to witness:”

The crowd leans in.

“The one and only
Ms. Jacket
will now perform

the daring feat

of getting out of bed

in search of food.”

Alice looked out of her hiding place
in the rose tree.

“Roses don’t grow on trees,”
she remembered. “Still, it’s a nice view.”

“Alice, wake up,” says her sister. “You’re going to be late.”

As she stumbles out the door into blind sunshine

sister calls after,

“Don’t forget to pick your lunch money
from the money tree.”

Money doesn’t grow on trees, either, Alice thinks.

The bus arrives.

She will wake between green flannel

ankles aching slightly

craving an apple

just not the poisoned kind

because who knows

what is real


Some risks are worthwhile.

Kisses for instance.

This poem might be one of them.

Three Saturday Night Videos

I have been working all day on my Saturday post but it really deserves longer attention than I can give it, so for tonight, I present to you three music videos made by some great musicians that offer a refreshing, fun, sometimes challenging, and fascinating set of perspectives on sexuality. Incidentally these are also all great songs to dance to on a Saturday night.

1. Ingrid Michaelson’s recent tribute to Robert Palmer:

This is fun, sexy, androgynous, and straightforward. Plus these folks look like they are having FUN. I watched Palmer’s 1988 video out of curiosity and Ingrid just blew him out of the park.

2. Marina & the Diamonds “How to Be a Heartbreaker”

This was one of the first gender role switcheroo videos I really really noticed. It has its own elements of disturbing (“at least I think I do!”) but the narrative about power and sexuality is so completely different than what I’m used to seeing. If the genders were reversed the story here would be really old but also perhaps we wouldn’t be as sensitive to it. Also, as above, everyone is super attractive and having fun!

3. Amanda Palmer’s “Map of Tasmania” (NSFW)

If you don’t know what a merkin is you will by the end of this video. This is an old favorite of mine, with just the right mix of sexy, celebration, and “fuck the patriarchy.” Grow that shit like a jungle. Or don’t. Whatever. Let’s dance!