Monday, October 30, 2006
Sunday, October 29, 2006
With ten days to go before Election Day and the Virginia Senate race too close to call, George Allen noted that "this campaign ought to be about issues, ideas and a proven record." Shortly thereafter, the Allen campaign released the shocking results of its careful review of challenger Jim Webb's military fiction and accused Webb of "a pattern of disrespectful behavior toward women" based on eight sexually explicit paragraphs culled from his five novels.
Rather than leave it at that, the Allen campaign then wondered, "How can women trust him [Webb] to represent their views in the Senate when chauvinistic attitudes and sexually exploitive references run throughout his fiction and non-fiction writings?"
Right. Better to trust a guy whose chauvinistic attitudes have been shaping public policy for the past 25 years; who (as Congressman) voted against the Family and Medical Leave Act; who (as Governor) opposed women's admission to the state-funded Virginia Military Institute, advocated tougher welfare-to-work programs, and signed a parental notification abortion bill into law; and who (as Senator) opposed over-the-counter sale of emergency contraception and voted against funding for pregnancy prevention programs.
The guy I'm supposed to be concerned about is the one who writes steamy sex scenes?
Saturday, October 28, 2006
Which is all true. But what seems to be overlooked in these discussions is that an awful lot of the blogging that goes on is actually about bacon. Bloggers worldwide (or at least a handful of the bloggers I know) ADORE bacon, and they tell you so on a fairly regular basis. Whether it's a simple declaration of love, an odd homage to cats and bacon, or elaborate plans to combine bacon with things bacon should never be combined with, bacon gets a lot of press.
And as a vegetarian, I often feel left out of all the bacon-related fun. Until now.
Don't even tell me there's gelatin in there.
Posted at 1:11 PM
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
About a year ago I was preparing to go on a first date -- not just any first date but my FIRST first date since leaving my fiancé a year earlier. Sure, rebound boy DH and I had gone out drinking together a number of times after the big break-up, but we never had anything to eat so I don't think any of those encounters actually counts as a real date. Anyway, it was a first date, so naturally I was nervous, particularly because I suck at making small talk.
My friend Eileen is no stranger to first dates -- she rather enjoys them, in fact -- and the task of calming me down fell to her. It went a little something like this:
Eileen: What are you gonna wear?And then she made me a list of things I am not allowed to discuss on a first date, presumably for my own good.
Me: Um, jeans?
Eileen: That works. Do you have dressy jeans?
Me: Doesn't that sort of defeat the whole purpose of jeans?
Eileen: Okay, so just your regular jeans. With a cute top, like a going out top.
Me: Have you ever seen me in anything that even remotely resembles a going out top?
Eileen: You know what, just wear something red. You look good in red. Or pink.
Me: Oooh, I have cute brown mocassins with a pink bow on them.
Me: Okay, but what are we gonna TALK about?
Eileen: Well, I can tell you what you're NOT gonna talk about.
I mention all this because I just discovered that list still hanging on my fridge. It reads:
Things Megan is not Allowed to Discuss on a First Date
- President Bush
- the Bill of Rights
- the Supreme Court
- the Bill of Rights as interpreted by the Supreme Court (and definitely do not mention the 5th grade Sandra Day O'Connor Halloween costume!)
- sports (because you suck at that)
- the war in Iraq
- land use (see logging)
You know, all the things I like to talk about. Well, except for sports -- I definitely do suck at that.
Tuesday, October 24, 2006
I recently found out that my neighborhood is an eruv. Everybody knows what an eruv is, right? Okay, fine. I didn't either until I learned that my neighborhood is one.
Here's the deal with eruvim (the plural of "eruv"), as I understand it. Under Jewish law, one may carry or push things only in private, not in public, on Shabbat. But that's a real pain in the ass, so the Talmud describes a procedure by which a public domain can be transformed into a private domain through the creation of an eruv.
I find this whole eruv thing very interesting. I'm not a religious person and I'm not a person who accepts rules simply because they're rules, but I do consider myself to be both a tolerant and a curious person. I'm not sure I even understand the no-carrrying-things rule in the first place, but what I really don't understand is the ease with which this rule can be circumvented. If you truly believe it's sinful to carry things on Shabbat, shouldn't you just not carry things on Shabbat? If you create a loophole to excuse you from practicing whatever it is you profess to believe, how deeply-held are those beliefs?
I think these questions are at the heart of my distaste for organized religion, and why I feel much more religious pursuing my own unique brand of nature-worshipping spirituality than I did as a young Catholic following rules that seem to have so little to do with the divine.
Although I'm quite happy with my own spiritual beliefs, I'm also interested in those of others. Well, unless their spiritual beliefs include one that says I'm going to hell for mine. Then we probably don't have much to talk about.
I think Shabbat is a beautiful tradition, but I admit I find the whole eruv thing extremely odd. Am I missing something?
Monday, October 23, 2006
This afternoon I came home early from school -- well, earlier than normal for me. I walked into my building and found my downstairs neighbor sitting on his couch watching TV with his door wide open. “Uh, hey,” I said, passing by as if this sort of thing were perfectly normal. And maybe it is. I mean, I’m rarely there in the middle of the day, maybe this is just how shit goes down. I already know the dude has issues with doors.
Anyway, I managed to unlock my apartment while juggling bags of groceries and had just greeted the kitty when I heard my neighbor’s voice behind me. “Would you mind if I used your internet?” he asked frantically. And despite the fact that I’d just walked in the fucking door, despite the fact that I have dial-up and using “my internet” is a chore even for me, despite the fact that I often see him hanging out at the coffee shop around the corner where there’s complimentary high-speed internet access, despite the fact that this guy occasionally knocks on my door to frantically ask if he can use my phone and then proceeds to sit around my apartment for 20 minutes at a time casually chatting with his friends and making plans to meet up with them later, I figured this must be some sort of internet emergency, so in he came.
“I signed up for match.com,” he explained with his characteristic sense of urgency, pulling up the website on my internet. “I’ve been emailing with this guy. Look, he’s really cute,” he said, calling me over. The guy didn’t strike me as particularly cute or un-cute, but I did note that he’s 47 whereas my neighbor is a twenties-ish college student.
Plus match.com?! THIS is the fucking internet emergency? I mean, I guess I can sort of get that. There’s a strong possibility that I’d go out of my mind if I couldn’t check my email every few hours, but I don’t know that I’d go so far as to stalk my neighbors in the hopes of sustaining a budding internet romance.
As almost anyone will tell you, the internet is a sketchy place to meet men. You're supposed to meet them at places like the grocery or the laundromat, which is why I was home from work early in the first place. (To do laundry, not to meet men.) Although my parents have a friend who met his wife at the very laundromat I patronize, there is about a 0% chance that I will meet the love of my life while doing laundry. My laundromat is frequented almost exclusively by men who are either A) gay or B) in the Navy, neither of which are really my type.
Today’s crowd was no exception. In fact, today’s laundry outing was fairly uneventful save the brief but terrifying moment of panic I experienced when I removed my long-time favorite pants -- pants I wore last week and wondered what the hell I was thinking when I decided not to buy them in every color they came in -- from the dryer and noticed that the care instructions directed me not to tumble dry them.
Don’t worry. They’re fine. And it's a good thing, too. I guaran-damn-tee you it'd be a lot easier to find a man than it would be to replace those pants.
Wednesday, October 18, 2006
Tuesday, October 17, 2006
To the editor:
Why do school administrators and legislators cry out for a solution to school shootings when the obvious and ready answer is ignored? Arm teachers and parents. It has a proven track record in Israel, where the threat of violence against students dropped to near zero after its implementation.
The Second Amendment is America's orginal homeland security.
Why do people who neither work in nor attend schools always seem to think they have the obvious answers to the problems that exist therein? Arm teachers? Are you fucking kidding me?!
I mean, I can see why the idea would appeal to some people, but I'm just not sure I understand the theory behind it. Most likely the argument is that if would-be shooters know that teachers are armed (and will shoot them if what?), this will act as a deterrent. I have trouble convincing my kids I really mean it about detention. I can't imagine trying to make them believe that A) I have a gun that B) I would actually use to shoot them.
Even if I COULD convince them of this, and even if that did prevent school shootings, would we have really solved the problem? Those kids probably still WANT to shoot somebody. Unless we address that, we haven't done jack shit about the problem.
Try implementing a bullying prevention program, try treating the freaks and geeks the same way you treat the jocks, try improving race relations, try listening to kids for a fucking change, try any proactive thing you can think of to address the root of the problem before you decide that the "obvious and ready answer" is putting a gun in my hand in the hopes of preventing your unaddressed problem from manifesting itself.
Because the last time I checked it was difficult to bring about peace through a mere show of force. (Case in point: Israel.)
And the Second Amendment, just for the record, is America's original homeland security against a tyrannical government. Not against emotionally disturbed teenagers.
Monday, October 16, 2006
I went bra shopping this afternoon. At Nordstrom, a place I typically do not frequent. I rarely wear a bra and I can't remember the last time I actually bought one, as I pretty much gave bras up at the height of my second hippie phase (hippie phase number one began my sophomore year in high school, but then I went through an inexplicable preppie phase in college, even going so far as to A) match things and B) tuck my shirts in. I don't really like to talk about this period of my life, but I'd recovered by my early twenties).
Every now and then I TRY to wear a bra, but I always end up sneaking into a bathroom to take it off within a few hours. Bras are uncomfortable. Plus, I teach high school -- sexy is not exactly the look I'm going for.
But then Lulu started posting pictures of her boobs (for a good cause) and when I mentioned that I had boob envy, she assured me the secret lies in the right bra. Which is exactly what my friend Kate who runs a chic-chic lingerie shop in Charlotte lectures me about almost every time I see her. So I emailed Kate and she sent me to Nordstrom.
And that is where my heart got blessed by the bra lady. After she measured me (because did you know that 85% of women are wearing the wrong size bra? the horror!), brought me some bras to try on, and checked them out to discover that none of them were working for me, the bra lady said, "Well bless your heart!" as she rushed off to find ten or twelve more bras for me to try on.
"Bless your heart," for my readers in The North, is what Southern women say to indicate that they feel sorry for you. Most of the time, they really do feel sorry for you and "bless your heart" is a genuine expression of sympathy. Some women, however, use "bless your heart" to disguise bitchiness. As in, "You look like you've gained about 50 pounds, bless your heart."
I think the bra lady meant it nice. But still. "Bless your heart" is not exactly what you want to hear when you're trying on bras. It kinda makes you feel like your boobs might be, well, fucked up.
As it turns out, my boobs are not fucked up (or at least that's what I'm gonna keep telling myself). It's just that on those rare occasions when I do wear a bra. . .get this. . .I've been wearing the wrong size. Like by a lot.
So I bought a bra. A LACY bra, for the love of god. And I think I might even like it.
There you go. One small step for Wacoal, one giant leap for patriarchy.
Once again, I spent the weekend at my parents' beach house, this time with my sister and her boyfriend Mark. I mentioned last weekend how beautiful October on the Outer Banks is, and this weekend was particularly beautiful. The weather was great -- sunny and in the mid-60s with a brisk west wind. AND the olive bushes are in bloom, which means the whole island smells like heaven, or at least like heaven SHOULD smell.
It was a great weekend for a wedding, which was why we were there. Our friend MC, who my sister and I have been friends with since the early 90s when we all worked at a bathing suit shop together, finally got hitched to the great guy she's been dating for years.
The wedding was about 42 miles from our house, all but 15 miles of which were down 45 mph two-lane rural roads. We left the house at 1:23. For a wedding that started at 2:00. You do the math.
I was driving and I'm proud to say we rolled up to the wedding at 2:15, in time to catch almost all of the ceremony. I am, however, sorry that I scared Mark by passing three cars at once, although if he'd gotten in the shower sometime before 12:50 such maniacal driving might have been avoidable.
Anyway, the ceremony was awesome -- a small casual affair right on the beach, with bare feet all around.
Everyone slipped back into their flip-flops for the reception, which was on the Sound (west side of the island), and which, with the west wind, was fucking freezing. We spent most of our time chatting with our former bathing suit store employers about the evils of chain stores and then left right after cake, which was not too long after my sister looked at me and said, "Um, your nose is running" and I said, "Oh crap. I can't even FEEL my nose."
We snuck out the back to say goodbye to the caterer, who I used to work for and who was still cooking. "Damn, ya'll are still steamin' crabs?" I asked as I watched the poor little bastards scrambling around in a cardboard box. "Shit, we have about a bushel left, and there's still a bunch inside," the guy said. "What are you gonna do with them all?" I laughed. "Do you wanna take some home with you?" he asked.
And so we did. Two dozen of them, in fact. Then we went home and I made some hushpuppies (30 of them, in fact) and we sat around and picked crabs for the rest of the night. Yum.
Yesterday morning we got up and drove up North to what everyone calls four-wheel drive country because, well, the only way to get to it is by driving on the beach, and you need a four-wheel-drive for that. I had some reservations about this, what with it being completely environmentally irresponsible, but I'd never been up there before and I kinda wanted to check it out. This is one of the least developed parts of the Outer Banks, and it's also where the wild horses, who used to roam freely throughout the area, now live.
When I was a kid, it was not uncommon to walk outside and find a horse in your front yard, but as Corolla got more and more built up, life for the horses became more and more dangerous. Tourists fed the horses from their cars and perched their children on top of them for photos, and oh! ran over them, until the herd was finally rounded up and moved north away from civilization.
I miss seeing the horses, but it's merely one of the many things I miss about the Corolla of 20 years ago. And moving them was probably the best possible compromise between "progress" (I mean "rampant development") and conservation. It's been a good thing for the horses. When they moved the herd in 1994 I think there were about 20 horses. Today the herd is about 75 strong. And we saw five of those 75 yesterday. You're not supposed to go near them, but there's no law against them coming near you.
Anyway, some pictures. . .
Friday, October 13, 2006
Thursday, October 12, 2006
This afternoon I walked from school to Christ and St. Luke's Episcopal Church in preparation for tomorrow's field trip -- we're exploring how and what architecture contributes to the cultural landscape. I tried to time the walk so I'd know how long it would take my students (twice as long as it takes me, because god forbid they appear to be in a hurry to get somewhere), but I kept stopping to admire churches and buildings and other people's houses.
I adore my neighborhood. I may have mentioned this once or twice before. I love that there are a variety of different architectural styles, but that almost nobody (except me and my lame-ass fire escape) is without a wide front porch. I love that there are coffee shops and bars and restaurants and the indie cinema interspersed with schools and churches and temples and houses. I love that I can walk to pretty much anything I need to get to, including the river.
But more importantly, I love that the graffiti in the unisex bathrooms at my favorite local dive bar is geared toward politics rather than who one should call for a good time. My favorite example: "class war not oil war," a new one I noticed this evening.
Really, drunk people who take the time to make political statements while they're peeing? My kinda people.
Tuesday, October 10, 2006
I gave my first test of the year last Thursday. The test was what I refer to as a big-ass test. Not a quiz, not a test, but a BIG-ASS test. You know, the kind you should study for. We spent most of the preceding week preparing for the big-ass test. We talked about study techniques and test-taking strategies until I was bored out of my mind and the kids assured me they were golden on the whole big-ass test thing.
Then we made a collage.
The tests scores were decent, but not great. I gave the tests back today and had the kids do a reflection on their approach to the big-ass test. I'm big on reflection. In fact, inability to reflect on and learn from experience is on my list of dealbreakers. It's right up there with dishonesty, bigotry, and living in some cold-ass state like, I don't know, maybe Michigan.
Anyway, this little reflection activity revealed a shocking truth: Most kids did not study!
I know, I know, it's hard to believe. I mean, I TOLD them to study, right? I even told them HOW they should study and devoted three or four class periods to helping them do said studying. But kids these days have their own ideas about test preparation.
Check it out:
Describe in detail what you did to prepare yourself for the big-ass test.
On Wednesday night I was semi-aware of the test. I downloaded a few songs and listened to them. I then looked at a videogame I wanted. I then talked on AIM for a little while. (grade = 82%)
There is no "detail" in describing how I "prepared" for the test, because technically I didn't. (grade = 67%)
I came to class with a pencil. (grade = 82%)
I did Zen meditation. I lit scented candles in my room. Then I turned my room into a geography shrine. I had to do 500 push ups for every time I answered a question wrong. (grade = 95%. Little bastard.)
To be fair, many of my kids did what passes for studying in some circles.
I read over my notes and read over the vocabulary sheet. Like you TOLD us NOT TO.And then there's this guy.
I opened my notebook and looked through all the papers that had terms on them.
I looked over all my reading quizzes.
I made little notecards of all the vocab but I spent more time making them than studying them.
Went to sleep early, woke up and ate a good breakfast.
I don't remember. (grade = 62%)And speaking of not remembering, I also had a kid who stared blankly at the reflection assignment and finally announced, "I honestly don't remember a thing about this test." "That's because you didn't take it," I said drily while standing under my National Sarcasm Society poster. " Oh shit," he said.
And my classroom may be free of hats, caps, do-rags, coats, cell phones, iPods and all other electronic devices, but I draw the line at profanity. Really. Because you can't give a big-ass test and not allow kids to say "oh shit" when they realize they missed it.
Monday, October 09, 2006
I returned a call from my mom yesterday afternoon. I debated whether I even should, because I figured she probably wanted me to measure something to assist her in her never-ending mission to redo the beach house. She is currently occupied with making her "white vision" a reality.
The white vision in its original incarnation involved, as you might imagine, varying shades of white. Then my mom decided that was a little too boring so now blue is allowed. But only light blue. Nothing too crazy. You still get an overall white impression, unless you go into my room where you will find both *gasp* yellow and *double gasp* paisley (which I know is not a color, but which is also totally not in keeping with the overall cabana stripes theme).
Anyway, I don't mind measuring things, but inevitably my mom wants me to measure something that A) I've already measured 14 times before or B) is impossible to measure by myself. But I called her back anyway because, well, I was raised Catholic and I figured there was a strong possibility that I'd go to hell if I spent the weekend in my mom's beach house but couldn't so much as measure something for her.
"What up dawg?" I said when my mom answered the phone, mostly because she often responds to that greeting with "what up dog yourself?" and I find it amusing. Yesterday, though, she responded with another favorite, "who is this?" "It's your daughter," I answered. "Which one?" she asked. "The good one," I said jokingly. "Oh hi, Laura," my mom said happily. And I laughed even though I'm not entirely convinced she was kidding. I USED to be the good daughter, but then I started voting Democrat and liking colors and stuff.
Mom: Are you still at the beach?
Me: (hesitantly) Yes.
Mom: Oh good.
Me: Why? Do you want me to measure something for you?
Mom: (indignant) No. I want to give you something. A birthday present that I have there for you.
Me: Oh cool. Thanks.
Mom: You know how you said you like that little vacuum that I have there?
Me: Uh, yeah. . .
Mom: Well, I hate that vacuum so why don't you just take it with you when you leave?
Me: (laughing) Happy birthday, here's an old vacuum I don't want anymore?!
Mom: Well, you might as well have it.
Me: Okay cool, thanks. But when Laura gets a new car for her birthday you are definitely gonna hear about this.
Mom: (laughing) Oh, I'm sure I will.
She won't, actually.
I'm pretty stoked about my birthday vacuum. It's small, it's quiet, it's light, it doesn't freak the cat out, it gets things clean. . .what more can you ask of a vacuum?
"What are you going to do with your old vacuum?" my mom asked. "Give it to poor people," I answered immediately. "Why don't you keep it as a back-up vacuum?" my mom suggested. "Who the hell has a back-up vacuum?!" I ranted, working up to a full-on tirade about decadence. But then I remembered I was talking to a woman who finds it necessary to have both an upstairs vacuum AND a downstairs vacuum, so I just said thank you for the vacuum and explained that I didn't have the space for a back-up.
I've added two new links to my blogroll.
- Clipped Wings in Kitty Hawk. My friend Meaghan, who runs the bookstore I work at during the summers, recently started a blog of book reviews and the occasional derogatory remark about Yankees. If you like books, I bet you'll like this blog. Even if you're a Yankee.
- What's the Story? My colleague and friend Ronin, who likes to make fun of me by quoting back lines from my own blog, finally broke down and started a blog of his own. Not much to make fun of yet, but I have high hopes. He's a big sportsfan, so I imagine I won't understand half of what he blogs about. For instance, in just two posts he's already mentioned both the NFL and the Dodgers. He also mentioned Congress though, so I guess it all evens out.
Posted at 9:47 PM
Sunday, October 08, 2006
Yesterday morning I got up and drove down to my parents' empty beach house, mostly because I needed my hair done and we've already established that A) my hairdresser is cool and B) I don't care enough about the planet to find a less cool hairdresser in Norfolk.
Aside from that, though, it's been a while since I spent some quality alone-time at the beach. I mean, sure, I was at the beach in Jacksonville with my best friend just last weekend, and she was totally cool with the fact that I spent most of our beach time wandering around on my own picking up shells and wading in tide pools. "I love the beach," she said as we were leaving, "but I don't have the same spiritual connection with it that you and Trey (her husband) do."
I do have a spiritual connection with the beach, but I also find a great deal of comfort in solitude. When I was a kid we had a forsythia bush growing against the side of our house like a mini weeping willow tree. I used to crawl under the branches and just sit there until my sister discovered me and said something like, "What are you DOING in there? Aren't you BORED?" As a teenager, I can remember being thrilled on Saturday mornings when the rest of my family went off to soccer games and I had the house to myself. In college, when solitude is nearly impossible to come by, I started spending occasional weekends alone at the beach just to maintain my sanity.
It's not that I'm antisocial, it's that sometimes I just need to be by myself. And yes, obviously I live by myself (well, aside from all those cats), but there's a big difference between not having anyone else around and actively experiencing solitude. For whatever reason, the beach has always been where I feel most alone and most at peace.
So last night I poured myself a glass of wine (okay, fine, I poured myself several glasses of wine in succession) and I sat on the deck under the full moon listening to the waves crash onshore and breathing in the scent of pine as the wind rustled through the trees. Not a particularly hip way to spend a Saturday night, but I loved every minute of it and today I feel completely relaxed and rejuvenated (plus my hair looks good).
The MS Word thesaurus lists "loneliness" as the closest synonym for "solitude," but it is precisely because I am NOT lonely that I so enjoy being alone. I don't know. This certainly helps to explain why I'm single: I imagine it's somewhat difficult to connect with a girl who often prefers pine trees to people. But does taking such pleasure in solitude make me a weirdo? I mean, I'm not the only one who enjoys sitting around on a Saturday night with nothing but my own thoughts to keep me company, right?
Posted at 11:26 AM
Wednesday, October 04, 2006
I finally figured out why I've been grumpy for the past few days: I'm not in Florida anymore. I had a great time visiting my best friend, but it's always hard to leave her. Maybe I'll just move to Jacksonville.
Anyway, that's not the point of this post and if I tried to tell you about the weekend A) you'd probably be bored and B) I'd probably start to cry.
Although I've been feeling grumpy since I returned to school yesterday, the depth of my grumpiness didn't really register with me until this afternoon at our Young Greens meeting. (In retrospect, it probably should have registered yesterday afternoon when I told my friend Steve I was about to punch him in the face over something as trivial as a flyer.) Steve and I co-sponsor both the Young Democrats and the Young Greens. Neither organization did much last year -- the Greens got together fairly frequently to watch movies (Outfoxed, Fahrenheit 9-11, The Corporation, The End of Suburbia, etc.) and the Dems held a lot of meetings about getting t-shirts.
This year though, the kids at least have a lot of ideas about what they want to do. The Greens, in addition to wanting to get t-shirts, want to start their own Food not Bombs chapter, which is incredibly ambitious and admirable and impressive. But as I sat there listening to them talk about it, I found myself whispering to Steve about how crazy they were. "How 'bout volunteering with organizations who are already feeding the hungry, like the Union Mission or the Food Bank, so you can get a sense of what that's like before you take on something as time-consuming and complicated as Food not Bombs?" I suggested. "That's a good idea," the kids said. By which I'm pretty sure they meant, "Way to rain on our idealism parade, you naysaying bitch."
And I'm usually not a naysaying bitch. I'm usually pretty idealistic myself. Food not Bombs is, in fact, right up my fucking alley. So I tried to rally my old idealistic self for the inevitable t-shirt discussion.
"What did we decide about t-shirts?" some kid asked. "We're gonna get white t-shirts and tie-dye them green," the Vice President answered. "With eco-friendly dye!" the President added happily. "Are you gonna get sweatshop-free t-shirts?" my idealistic, non-naysaying self asked, mostly because I am madly in love with a little sweatshop-free t-shirt company in LA and will take advantage of any opportunity to plug them (see? I just did it again.). "Yes! We are not going to be selective liberals," the President announced proudly.
And good for them. But shit. Unless you are prepared to get all Thoreau on everbody's asses,* selective liberalism is where it's at. You can't go to work every day in sweatshop-free eco-friendly clothes made entirely of organic hemp. Believe me, I've tried. So, for the sake of practicality, we compromise some values while holding fast to others. I won't set foot in a Wal-Mart, but I'm no stranger to J. Crew and Anthropologie, neither of which are particulary ethical (nor particularly UNethical). However, you will not find a single cleaning product in my house that's not completely biodegradable, phosphate-free, and therefore eco-friendly. I may be a selective liberal, but I'm a prioritizing liberal. What else can you do really, aside from selling all your worldy possessions and moving to the woods to tend your bean patch?