New Year’s Day (Rosh Hashanah) is approaching and along with that I am daily more aware of just how ‘different’ I am. Talking lifestyle here. I’ve assembled a few categories, to help me understand/ gloat.
I’ve almost completed the year-long transform of a filthy junkyard/wasteland/hovel into a Paradise, through thousands of hours of unashamed hard work and surprisingly little cash outlay. The place is unrecognizable, teeming with crops, birds, wildlife, quiet stars, and a host of inventions in varying stages of success. Now to the itemization:
1) Electricity: Ten months usage was 650 KwHrs. That’s a bit over 2 KwHr/day, and it cost me about $100 total. An average residence here uses more than that in one month, what with AC on and the windows open (too lazy to close ’em), the TV on 24/7, nuisance outdoor lights blasting in people’s eyes (again, day and night: the timer stopped working a couple years ago), and who knows what other junk draining our poor little country’s generators. Anyway, go me!
2) AC: With daily high temps here making boring excursions from 90 to 100 and back these last few months, I don’t even dream of needing an air-conditioner. Why? you ask. Well, with no buildings nearby to block the on-shore breeze (about 10 mph every day, 8AM to 7 PM), I have free evaporative cooling to spare. The passageway between my main hovel and the tacked-together with spit shed behind it gets a perfect cool breeze which passes through an oak tree. It can be 98 in the shade, but the air blowing past me in the corridor in down in the low 80s. I’ve channeled it into the bedroom with baffles and ducts, installed a pair of free fans high on the East wall to exhaust hot air from the tin building, and I also drip water slowly on the main exposed tin roof. I’m always happy to come here after working at, or even inside other people’s houses. All this is free, by the way.
3) Cell phone: I place an average 1 call every two days, this despite a busy work schedule. (Yes, I converse face-to-face, tough at times but worth knowing in an emergency.) Other jokers here seem to call somebody every time they fart, and spend most of the day with one arm holding phone to ear, the other gesticulating into the wind. Sad and Stupid. Look at the sidewalk; you see at least 50% of pedestrians babbling away. (Or getting an update on walking? “Is it ‘left, right, left, right’.. or ‘right, left’?” Anyway, I pay an embarrassingly pitiful bill for my phone. Average $8 a month. What others pay, I don’t know, or even ask.
4) TV: I have one, but haven’t watched it, or anyone else’s, in months. Probably no more insidious waste of time was ever invented. We have excellent commercial-free radio news and analysis here. Two hours in the morning and you know what’s happening. Plus you don’t have to sit down like a tired zombie to listen to the radio.
5) Clothes: Total clothes purchase this year= one new pair of sneakers, $19 at Payless. I have the receipt. We seem to have a phenomenon here I’d call ‘Newly Nudist Apparel Castoff Syndrome. Piles of perfectly serviceable clothing mysteriously appear on the sidewalk every few days. I have a different colour sweatshirt for every day of the week. No, make that ‘every hour of the day… and week’. Almost costs more to wash them than it’s worth, with my ‘back stock’ filling boxes to the ceiling. (Of course one needs to compromise a bit on fashion choice, but 99% of my day is work or in the fields. Never heard a complaint from the Broccoli.)
6) Transportation: Although my little 1987 car gets about 35 mpg, I still think twice before any trip: ‘Can this be combined with another task? What’s the best time/ shortest route?’ And whilst hordes of bozos here drive useless pickup trucks around just for show, I modestly carry a metric ton or more of lumber on my 2X4 roof racks, bolted snazzily into the car-body. Meanwhile, the hot-air balloon ‘carpenters’ are trying to tie a couple 2X6s into the short bed and rear-view mirrors, ending up with a pathetic load which threatens every overhead electrical line. But I’m already at work.
7) Plastic goddamn bags: Here called, absurdly, ‘nylon’, they litter the landscape like psoriasis. I’ve barely used one in years, preferring to demonstrate to the ‘People of the Bag’ how a grown man can actually carry 5 items in his hands at once. Bags, in my opinion, are for the defective, born with only prongs at the ends of their forearms. We’re supposed to have a law in effect mandating a one shekel cost per bag, in an effort to stop the bleeding, but it will never be enforced. Too many prongies, I guess. We are loudly green here… mainly on paper.
8) Turn signals: Number of turns I make a day: Oh, about 50. Number of times I didn’t signal this year: Maybe a dozen. Must’ve been drunk. Anyway, this is an environmental issue because the Israelis with their close-to-zero use of signals waste each others’ gas, brakes, and nerves every stupid minute they drive. Oh, and time. Like waiting for some brain-dead to pass through a ‘T’ intersection, only to watch the fool turn right before he gets there.
Like I said before, ‘go me’. At least you know which direction I’m going.
Ok, the Reader can easily say “Big Deal, one righteous yid; what about real change?” and yes, my second-by-second attempts to diplomatically effect a sea-change in every one of these issues for 17 years have mainly left me angry and bitter. A few isolated victories, but to call me a one-man whirl-wind whistle-stop of social progress would be to vastly overestimate the wind left in my whistle. Still I persist, though the temptation is to drop by the airport, you know, to see if the planes look up to a transAtlantic flight. Let it never be said that my motto was ‘Veni, vidi, Vacati’ (‘I came, I saw…(!)… I bolted’.)
What I need, reading all this, is some ‘swagger’. Some visible sign in public that my choices give me a life worthy of envy and emulation. (Ok, I want the jealous to just die inside every time they see me.) But I am fighting a very stubborn and deeply-entrenched role model here, the user, the consumer, the ‘don’t give a shit, what, I care? personna. “Wake me up when we run out of oil, or water, or electricity, when the place is finally so slopped-up with thoughtlessness and thoughtless litter that I can no longer breathe. Until then, f*ck it.”
9) Oh yeah, I forgot one: Sound Pollution. I suffer around the clock for every local dildo’s mandatory barking dog, his failed car alarm, ditto house alarm, his pitiful ‘gardeners’ using 120 decibel blowhards instead of working five minutes with a goddamn broom, and all this on an irritating background of cell-phone conversations in my face. Now I can honestly say that in 15 years, almost no one has ever heard me speak a word into my phone. It’s not rocket science, and there’s always somewhere to go for a few minutes if one is considerate. Speaking of which, I don’t even know whether my car horn blows. Never use it. This in a country where they start the clamour even before the light changes. And sit on the stupid thing anytime they
a) pass by someone they know
b) need to brake, whether it’s a crippled old lady in a cross-walk or a child in a stroller
c) and yeah, every time they ‘get somewhere’. To, like, announce to all the mothers in the neighborhood who just spent 4 hours getting the little kid to fall asleep.
Needless to say, I don’t do any of this shit. Now to receive my medal. There was a medal? Uh-oh, no medal.