When I was younger, living sustainably was called “being poor.” You lived in a small space and shared resources with other people—sometimes unknowingly, like that incident with my bath towel—and bought stuff used, and patched things up, and made do. Not that you couldn’t have a perfectly fine life, being poor in New York; I remember an article from the Village Voice, back when people would pay for a copy of it ... Aww, crap! I’m starting to sound like Andy Rooney! … Anyway, I believe the author used the term “privileged poor” to refer to people who made, like, $20,000 a year as entry-level writers or p.r. assistants, and who ate for free by going to press parties, and dressed for free with swag from designer photo shoots, and took awesome free vacations by convincing someone they were travel writers, etc. But now the term “privileged poor” is mostly used to refer to rich kids who go play artist in Williamsburg for a while, kinda like those jerks in La Boheme. Plus, nobody’s giving away all that free stuff anymore.
Sluggo and I tend to describe our deal as “sustainable living,” and I can give you the whole spiel about why we don’t replace the 85-year-old falling-apart wooden windows in our house (“heat loss blah blah manufacture new blah carbon blah footprint”) or why we bathe out of a plastic bucket like it’s a choice. But really we're just broke. Sluggo just finished reading a book by a guy who went to live in hole, which he thinks sounds pretty good. Of course, this was a hole the guy built himself, not a hole that he just found, like the one Sluggo’s friend D. lived in, which was a caved-in sidewalk next to a building on the Lower East Side where D. went to live after a knife fight with his dad. Apparently, the trick with living sustainably is to live in an intentional hole.
The main problem with living sustainably is that you have to learn all the rules, and sometimes the old rules are replaced by new ones. For years, I’ve been refusing to buy those bags of chemicals that people put on their slippery winter sidewalks; instead, I buy plain kitty litter, because I learned that it was the Good Environmental Thing and also would not eat away your 85-year-old brick front steps. But then today here comes our fine County Government with their free Stormwater Rules refrigerator magnet that says, “Salt before it snows and never use cat litter or sand to melt ice.” So the rules have changed! But why? How come cat litter was Good, and now it is Bad? Or was cat litter always Bad, and kitty litter is still okay? (I don't think there is a difference.) Or what happened? And what am I gonna do with the 10-pound bag of kitty litter that Sluggo just bought? I can think of only one way to recycle it, and we don’t have a cat.
Thanks for reading my blogpost this time, and may God bless.