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A Kid in a Candy Store

You’d think I had been out of the country for 20 years with the amount of salivating that occurred at the grocery store yesterday.  It wasn’t just any grocery store though; it was an amazing little coop in my hometown that has expanded into a beautiful butterfly of a store.  And so, I walked through it, drooling all over myself and throwing FAR too many things into my shopping cart.  Because organic kale.  And cashew cheese.  And teff torillas.  And personal care products that don’t contain a myriad of endocrine disrupting chemicals.  ENDOCRINE DISRUPTING CHEMICALS [sighs and then rolls eyes at self].

And then I looked around me and at my reaction to such things and went WOAH.  The store was full of super hip hippies (if I had a better word for it, I’d use it, but I don’t, so I will).  And I was in heaven.  I was like a damn kid in a candy store.  Were these my peoplePart of the confusion was a result of my hometown all of a sudden feeling like Portland or Fairfax, CA (strangely, two of my most favorite places)… all hip and shit.  Hip people who grow their own veggies.  Hip people who consume hemp and chia seeds rather than resource consuming meat.  Hip people who only buy locally and make their houses out of straw bale.  Hip people who care about the planet they live on and the impact their choices make. 

You see, where I’ve been for the past few months (Shenzhen, China) is most definitely NOT full of super hip hippies.  Or anything that resembles a hippie for that matter (though, you do occasionally see a dreaded, shoeless, napping on the ground Chinese guy around – and they all look eerily similar and oh so out of place – we still haven’t figured out the mystery – YOU don’t happen to know, do you?).  I often feel like I’m [one of the] only one[s] barking about the atrocious air/water quality and lack of clean/ORGANIC produce (though, I should mention, China has a more restrictive policy on GMO’s than many western countries).  In those short months, I think I forgot that I’m not in fact [one of the] only one[s] who thinks about these things.  Had I forgotten what my people looked like?  I looked down at what I was wearing.  No super hip hip bag.  No super hip rustic cowgirl hat.  No dreads.  An arm full of bracelets, yes.  No super hip locally made skirt.  No handmade leather sandals.  Fresh out of river bun, yes.  No basket for my produce.  No bag AT ALL, disposable paper bag used.

Here’s my deal.  I care A LOT about all of these things, but I still kind of want to barf on myself when I reflect on my deep entrenchment in these very much elitist problems (i.e. those who have enough to worry about the details).  I start to think of all of the suffering and malnourishment and turmoil occurring across the globe AND THEN, in the next thought, I think about how totally TERRIBLE it is that I can’t find raw honey and organic produce in China and I’m like… “come on hunny, stop your bitching.  Relax.  Your kids aren’t going to die if you put white sugar in the quinoa, rice flour scones this one time”.  But then in the same reflection, I see the connection between feeding ourselves in a sustainable [healthier] manner and our planet, as a whole, becoming healthier [sustainable].  LOUD and CLEAR.

SO, when I look in a mirror at myself, I get a little confused.  Am I a super hip hippie?  Were those my people?  I tend to live in shades of grey, so I think that the answer is yes!, depending on which day you’re asking.  Most days I can find the resolve to live out my convictions (you can read about them, as well as our carnivorous children, here), but dammit, some days I just want a brownie or worse yet, barbequed honey pork.  It’s true.  Sometimes, I eat pork.  Have you ever been to China?  Let’s just say they’re pretty into pigs over there (I wrote a bit about it, in a post that kinda makes me feel like a broken record, quite a while ago, here).  Point is, it takes A LOT of self discipline to live out ones strictest values ALL of the time, and well, I have two young kids, so sometimes, breaking down is merely a matter of survival (if you actually read the last linked post, now you understand the broken record bit).

What I DO know is that I very much took for granted living in the land of plenty (i.e. California), where you can find fresh, seasonal produce 12 months a year at a farmer’s market.  Where you could taste test a different store bought nut milk every day for a month.  Where there are more natural personal care product companies than cigarette brands.  Where micro brews on tap and organic, fair trade coffee beans are the norm.  [Where the water fountains flow with coconut water and the streets are paved with vegan chocolate chips.]

This isn’t my first travel rodeo, yet this is the first time I’ve been confronted by such a strong yearning for the goods that blossom in the land of plenty.  Perhaps it’s partly because I’m more effected by my environment now that I’m traveling with kids, perhaps partly because it really is difficult to access clean food stuffs in China.  Perhaps it’s just because I’m a hip, hippie.

At any rate, as you see below, we’re smuggling boat loads of plenty back with us, so we should be set for a while few weeks.

A Brief Recap of My Floundering Adulthood

I’ve worn many half made hats, but don’t own any perfectly constructed ones.  I’m a jill of all trades, master of none.  I’ve dabbled in dozens of things, but specialize in nothing.  I’ve explored a million careers, but still don’t have one.

SO, in an effort to validate (or perhaps further confuse) myself, I’ve decided to write down how life has transpired since I graduated from college in 2005.

1) Lived and traveled through Mexico with friends for 5 months.

2) Worked as an Americorps VISTA volunteer in St. Croix for 6 months.

3) Worked as a junior paralegal while applying for law school, for 1.5 years.

4) Traveled through southeast Asia for a couple of months.

5) Was accepted into first choice law school (Vermont Law – a small, private, environmentally focused law school) but chose to defer and help my sister in law realize her dream of creating a line of cosmetics.

6) Accidentally got pregnant (with baby of committed partner).

7) Started said law school and took a leave of absence after 2 months (single mama with a 6 month old – decided to support career of baby’s daddy, who was on the other coast, instead).

8) Let leave of absence expire (timing still wasn’t right for career of baby’s daddy, a family decision).  Then reapplied.

9) Got pregnant, again.  Planned this time (still wanted to go back to law school, so we kinda rushed in to number two so it would be at least 9 months before school started).

10) When it came time to make the final decision to attend law school, baby’s daddy’s career was cooking and I still couldn’t justify mine for his.

11) Determined that law school in Vermont was the ONLY school I wanted to attend, and relocating wasn’t going to happen, so I allowed other interests to take over.

12) Took an Anatomy class (and loved it) because I wanted to become a midwife, or a pediatric nurse practitioner, or a naturopathic doctor.  In all honesty, what I REALLY want to do when I grow up is to be an pediatrician who specializes in integrative medicine (I even started college as a microbiology major)… BUT, with kids, at age 29 going on 30, I’m almost 100% sure that ship sailed long ago.

13) Was trained as a Doula and volunteered at a local hospital as one.

14) After a few births and realizing how difficult becoming a midwife in San Francisco was going to be, again, I let other interests creep their way in.

15) Decided that I’d go to business school instead (something I had pondered way back between #’s 1 and 2).

16) Started an MBA program in Sustainable Enterprise, but left after a semester to again, pursue baby’s daddy’s career (who is now the husband).

17) Moved to southern China and now spend my days hanging with the babies and writing and dreaming of new pursuits.

WOAH.  That list just kept growing.  Even in college, my thoughts on my career changed every month.  I wanted to be a doctor.  Then, I wanted to be a zoologist.  Then an anthropologist.  Then I wanted to quite altogether and go to fashion design school.  Then an attorney working in International Environmental Law.  Then a trapeze artist in the circus.

Sometimes, I wish that I had been born 50 years ago when my options would have been a) a secretary, b) a teacher, or c) a nurse.  The OPTIONS are what kills me.  WHY MUST I HAVE SO MANY INTERESTS?  Combine that with being, oh, I don’t know, the MOST indecisive person who ever lived… and well folks, what you get is a 29 year old mother of two who is still floundering trying to find her career self.  AND, as dreary as it might sound, it’s ALL good, really.  It’s all part of my journey and I accept that there is meaning behind the floundering.  Sure, it would feel great to not have to wake up regularly wanting to research new programs, and schools, and possibilities, BUT, I trust that I’ll get there… wherever there is.

I will finish with 3 things that I would like to accomplish in the next year:

1) Take trapeze classes and become a BADASS trapeze girl.

2) Learn Mandarin as well as my VERY American accent will allow me.

3) Make some stuff and sell it.

What new things do you want to accomplish this year???