Sunday, April 29, 2018

On Potable Water

As any of you who live or work near me probably know, my town is currently under construction. They're tearing up the main road in order to level it out because it's basically been a huge hump my entire life. They named the project "Down with the Crown" which is actually pretty clever. Anyway the construction started at the beginning of April when they tore up the Northbound side of the road and the Southbound side won't be done until November (fingers crossed it actually gets done early, but we'll see!) with a "ceasefire" for the month of July. The traffic all got rerouted so there are a bunch of one way streets and it's a real pain but ultimately isn't that big of a deal.

Unfortunately, on Monday they hit a water main. My mom came over to my apartment to ask if my water was working and when I turned it on, it was just a trickle. Then we discovered letters telling us that the construction had hit the water main and that we'd need to boil all our water before drinking it or brushing our teeth with it until Friday, when the test results would come back. May I remind you that it was MONDAY at this point?!?! And when I tried to wash my dishes later that night it came out of the faucet brown. Decidedly not potable.

(Side note: my friend Lexi from China Lake Camp is the person who taught me about the difference between potable and palatable water. Potable means safe to drink, palatable means tasty. Plenty of water is potable but not palatable. But when a sign tells you there's no potable water available at a spigot or something, you got problems. So this whole no potable water in my town thing keeps reminding me of my friend Lexi. Kind of a silver lining!)

Luckily I had a jug of water in my fridge that I could use for drinking that night and brushing my teeth (Although let's be real, I totally kept accidentally using the tap water to rinse my toothbrush because it's just a habit, ya know? But I haven't died- or even gotten sick- yet!) and I decided to just not do my dishes. It was a bit of a struggle finding clean dishes, but the good news is that my mom lives right next door and she has about a zillion, so it was all good.

And, ultimately, Friday came around and I found out that the water is, in fact, safe to drink. Life as usual resumed. The week was a bit of a pain in the ass, but all things considered it was a pretty minimal impact. When I was at work I filled up my water bottles to make sure that I would have water to drink, and my toilet still worked and I was able to shower in my water. I just couldn't actually consume any of the water. It wasn't potable.

Here's the thing though: at no point in that week was I ever unable to get clean water. See, even if I hadn't had a safe water source at work every day I could have just boiled some water for five minutes and it would've been fine. I never bothered to do that because I didn't actually need to and also because my only pot is one that holds about three cups of water and I just figured it wasn't worth the effort to sterilize water in such small quantities. But if I'd needed to, I could have. Or I could have borrowed a larger pot from someone. I had many options at my disposal for how to manage my mini water crisis.

You know who doesn't have that? The residents of Flint, Michigan.

I went four days without in-home access to drinking water. It has been over two years since the residents of Flint found out that they didn't have drinkable water. And it's been over four years since their water was safe to drink and they didn't even know about it. But that's not even their biggest issue- their water is full of lead and other chemicals that aren't safe to bathe in, either. When they take showers and baths, they get rashes. The lead absorbs through their skin and causes internal bleeding! That is way WAY worse than anything I dealt with.

Here's something I read about a while ago: parents in Flint have to keep paying for their deadly water because children living in a house without running water could be taken away by Child Protective Services. COOL. You might be wondering why they wouldn't just move away. Well, first of all that's not always something people have the resources to do. But you know what another factor is that I just learned? People who live there aren't able to sell their houses (not that anyone would want to move there and buy them anyway) because it is illegal to sell a house with leaded water.

How many of you would be able to pick up and move your family somewhere safe and just eat the cost of the house you own? Probably not many. These people are literally trapped by the legal system, and their government recently ended its bottled water distribution for them. Meanwhile, the state of Michigan just granted access to Nestle to pump 100 million gallons of groundwater for basically no cost. WHAT THE ACTUAL FUCK. Something is seriously wrong with the world. It makes me sick.

Something needs to be done for those people, and the answer for sure isn't just ignoring the problem. It is absolutely unthinkable that the government hasn't stepped in to rectify this situation. It is horrific that here in America, where we consider ourselves one of the leaders in health and safety of our citizens, we have allowed this water crisis to go on for so long. I am ashamed. We should all be ashamed. Consider the fact that we just bombed Syria because of their chemical weapons attack (first of all, bombing another country because of their acts of war and aggression makes ZERO sense to me, but that's another story) and then think about the way we have responded as a nation to SO MANY humans rights violations here. If the rest of the world conducted themselves the way we do, the United States should have been bombed for the ongoing poisoning of an entire city for YEARS. It is absolute insanity.

On a slightly more positive note, below is a video that I saw the other day that gives me hope. I don't think that this girl's invention is going to be able to help the people in Flint directly (they already know their water is poisonous), but it absolutely blows my mind that a child can see a problem in the world and have more sympathy toward it than the United States government and actually do something about it. This kid is my hero. I hope she continues for the rest of her life to be as persistent and dedicated to making the world a better place as she is as a twelve year old. I wish that half of our elected leaders were as moved to help the people of this country as this girl is. I hope that someday we learn how to take care of each other a little better.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Book Club!

I've mentioned a couple times here about the book club I'm in now. It's pretty great, so I wanted to share a little bit about that.

Now, despite loving books a whole awful lot, I was never in a regularly meeting book club until now. I believe there was one that my high school library ran, but they never seemed to be reading books I was interested in (which is ridiculous, because I know for a fact that book club is the reason I heard of the Glass Castle which is a book I loved immensely, I just didn't read it when they did or participate in the book club). Also, it was recently brought to my attention that in my 27 things about being 27 post I said that I'm in a book club for the first time in my life which is not, in fact, true. When I wrote that, I was just thinking about book clubs in the traditional sense. But I was, in fact, in another book club a few years ago with some of the kids I used to take care of who aren't really kids anymore (they are all currently in high school). It didn't come to mind when I thought about regular book club gatherings, because we skyped each other and since I didn't have a computer at the time (how come I never seem to have a computer?! *eye roll*) and multi-person skype calls don't work on phones,  I could only ever voice call into the meetings, and couldn't see anyone. It didn't really have the same communal vibe that my current book club has. I do admit, though, that it was an error to claim that this book club is the first I've ever been in. Because that other one was definitely a book club and we definitely read all seven Harry Potter books and had virtual meetings to talk about them. So I stand officially and publicly corrected. (Happy now, Tricia??) Anyway, back to the topic of my current book club! In July I asked some local women approximately my age if they wanted to have a book club and they seemed all for it.

At the time I was funemployed and kept buying books nonstop, so I had all sorts of books on my shelves that I hadn't yet read. I asked if they were interested in reading The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter and How to Make the Most of them Now with me. They agreed. We proceeded to pass around the same copy of the book and never find a time to meet up and talk about it. In December, when we still hadn't met up to talk about it, we decided to pick a completely new book and a date in January and start this whole thing off for real.

And wouldn't you know, that actually worked for us! See, we learn?!?! A few more people ended up joining, too, and so in January six of us met to eat food and hang out and discuss The Wonder by Emma Donogue (who also wrote Room). It was immensely fun.

In February we read All the Single Ladies by Rebecca Traisor, which was less fun but was really really good. It's all about how women are increasingly choosing to wait to get married (and have children) until they are much older than ever before historically and how that impacts the society we live in right now. It was a heavy read, but was fascinating all the same. It was also really cool to talk about it with a bunch of young, unmarried women.

On Monday night we met up to talk about The Power by Naomi Alderman. The book was INTENSE. The premise is that it’s written a few thousand years from now, but in a world fairly similar to our own with one notable exeption; women have evolved to be the more powerful of the two standard sexes. The book is written as a history, cataloguing events from many different primary characters throughout about a decade of time that presumably takes place now and for the next ten years. It was really interesting. It was fascinating to see how the author examined the effects of power on the human psyche. She really challenged us to think about the way that humanity has shown itself to act, regardless of sex or gender, and how the idea that women would run the world in a more peaceful way than men. It was thought provoking and disturbing and, ultimately, a really good book for us to read as a follow-up to All the Single Ladies.

We haven’t yet picked our next book, but I’m sure it’ll also be great.

Oh, we also make/eat yummy food and often drink wine. So like no complaining there, either. 

Friday, March 30, 2018

A Moment of Celebration.

Some of you might remember when I bought my car. I never gave it its own post, but I did mention that I’d bought my first car in this update about my life back in July of 2015. It was a big deal at the time. And really, it still is. I had to navigate that whole process by myself and it was scary and overwhelming and I made a mechanic tell me whether or not I should buy the car. He said I should- thanks for that advice, dude!

In the intervening two and a half years my car has served me well. I’ve driven it all over the country and it successfully brought me to work when I had to drive a half hour on the highway to get there. Now I mostly just drive within five miles of my house with it, but that’s cool too. It gets great gas mileage- my $25 tank fill up usually lasts me a week or more.

Anyway, the point of this post is to say that as of today

 I’ve got my car fully paid off! 

It is a good feeling. It took me two years and eight months (which is still two years and four months early, so that’s solid) but it is finally over.

Here's a picture of the receipt I got from my credit union after the teller transferred money onto my loan. (She circled the 0.00 balance for me haha)

I also did all the math on my student loans earlier this month, too, and determined that I will maybe be able to pay off all of my debt by the time I’m 29, which is kind of exciting. A few years ago I made a five year plan to pay off my car and my student loans and since I was 25 at the time, I figured I’d get it all paid off by 30 and was fairly excited about that. And now it seems I might actually get it done a year ahead of schedule.

Although things happen. The way I plan my life isn’t always how it goes and any number of things could derail my financial plans. Like if I want to move away to the California sunshine (which I DO), my living expenses will go up considerably. And then maybe I won’t be debt free by 29. But that’s okay. Also, I’m pretty sure that (barring long-term unemployment) I’ll definitely be able to pay it all off by the time I’m 30 even if I do move. And that’s a nice thought.

In other news, if you hadn’t already noticed: I am completely OCD about money and paying bills. COOL!