25 September 2006

Coming Out of the Non-Consumer Closet/Kugel

1981. I’m sitting in the local coffee shop in Cotati one evening when Lisa, a woman I’ve known since 8th grade, pops in and expresses delight to find me. "Just the person I was looking for!" she says. "I’m writing a paper on Existentialism for my class, and I knew you could help me with it."

Ah, come on, Lisa. Just because I spent my teen years wandering around barefoot and exclaiming that "life is absurd." (I think I was often found muttering "chauvinist pig," too, but it was the mid-70’s and I was being raised by a left-wing feminist.)

I no longer believe life is absurd (although I’ve no doubt that god has a bizarre sense of humor and we’re best off learning to laugh with her), but I often feel as though I am living in a surreal time and place, something out of a sci-fi novel – you know, those novels where The Corporation rules every part of our existence? Of course, the writers are probably only slightly elaborating on what already exists; nonetheless, I frequently experience flashes of "this is so scary-weird."

A minor case in point. I was recently reading the letters in Costco Connection (I’m a compulsive reader; what can I say?) and came across one from a Costco fan entitled "Ubiquitous Brand." The woman writes about how, as she "went about my… daily chores I kept noticing the Kirkland Signature brand throughout my house. It was on everything from clothing and laundry supplies to items in the pantry." I realize she’s expressing pleasure with the quality of Costco’s brand, but all I could think was: "Does anyone else think this is scary?" Ubiquitous, indeed. Try, insidious. Sends shivers through my spine.

It’s a mixed blessing, this being out of step with mass consumer culture. I’m very happy with my life. But I am timid about "coming out" as different. Another example: There’s a discussion currently ensuing on the chat group for one of the professional organizations to which I belong. The participants have been discussing what they carry with them as part of their "bag of tricks." The lists are impressively long, and – to me – bafflingly complex. I take my calendar, business cards, and a pen – all of which live in my purse – and that’s it. I’ve been chicken about going public on the group with this information. However, A. spoke up, which gave me the courage to post my perspective. The nice part is, I received an e-mail thanking A. and me. The gal said that, as she’d "been furiously taking notes on things that I might want to add to my case, I stopped myself and considered how well I've been doing with the few items that I do take with me. Much of it stays in my car and, as you, I enter my client's door with a pad, pen, (maybe a tape measure) and a smile."

And there’s the key: Choice, driven by mindfulness and a willingness to not do what everyone else is doing (or buy what everyone else is buying).


You know what? Here it is, September 25, 2006, and I’m still running around barefoot, albeit only around the house. (And I’m more likely to exclaim that "life is good.") Here it is, Monday, an unusually warm day (Indian Summer arrived on the first day of Autumn), and I’m puttering around in a full-length gauzy sleeveless dress (not suitable for public) and a pair of shorts. I’ve washed and hung the laundry to dry, baked a loaf of bread for Anthony, and picked some tomatoes, strawberries, apples, and kohlrabi from the garden (all of which I’ll take over to Ant’s house tonight so that he has some food when he gets home from 3 weeks in Maine). The Corporation may steal other people’s souls, but it ain’t got mine. I like Mondays!


Recipe time. Rosh Hashana arrived along with Autumn this year. Traditionally, one eats apples dipped in honey in hopes for a sweet year. My version of this tradition is to make a Lokshen Kugel, which I’ll be doing later this week. Here’s the recipe. (None of the ingredients came from Costco.)

Boil 8 ounces of wide egg noodles until just tender. Drain, butter, and set aside.

2 eggs
1 cup cottage cheese
4 ounces cream cheese
1/4 cup honey
1 Tablespoon lemon juice (fresh)
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg

Add in
1/2 cup raisins
2 to 3 peeled, cored, and chopped apples

Mix noodles in with the cheese/fruit.

Add the whole kit and caboodle to a well-buttered 9 x 13 pyrex.

Crumble about 1 cup’s worth of (organic!) Corn Flakes over the top.

Bake at 375 for 35 to 45 minutes.

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