Friday, November 26, 2010

Echo!


I just realized that I awkwardly have a blog that no one reads or knows about. I feel like this will probably change, once I go to Peace Corps or once I give the address to people, but for now...it's sort of uncomfortable. It's like I'm shouting in a dark room...or running in a deserted forest...or crawling on a silent sea floor, or maybe screaming my name in a limestone cave. One of those, at least.

I think I feel good about it, anyway. I don't really know how to be a blogger or network or anything, so if this blog is for Ilse-eyes-only, then I guess that's okay. Also, it's great self-affirmation. Like, for instance, today I am wearing a new red hat that my aunt(ish) Esther knit for me for Thanksgiving. And, it's really comfortable and looks awesome on me. This is something to celebrate, no? Today I also received the welcome news that I was finally medically cleared for the Peace Corps. This is really exciting news and I only hope that the remaining leg of the process (i.e. getting in touch with my placement officer and getting an official invitation) goes quickly because I do not want to miss my nomination departure date in February.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Slackerology, a way of life.

I just recently sat down to read VITAMN, a great local Twin Cities guide that you can usually find piled in coffee shops. Usually, I just browse through to see upcoming shows or events in the cities, but this week the featured article caught my eye. Leif Pettersen, a local Minneapolis dude is an experienced travel writer, and blogger in the area. Not only is he a very interesting guy, he also has a rather rare Norwegian name like I do. And, he once lived in Rome. These things make me excited.
Anyway, in this article he writes about "Slackerology" which he defines as 'A countercultural, modern, minimalist lifestyle choice built around sensible consumption, judicious work habits, increased personal time and reduced stress." I'm not sure that I'm sold on the name because to me it recalls images of ska and punk bands- which aren't necessarily bad, but I have been in a skaband before, and believe me---it's neither relaxing or judicious.
Here is a link to the article:

http://www.vita.mn/story.php?id=108768589

The article is essentially about how Leif, in the start of a very prosperous career, decided to quit his job, pack up a few belongings, attempt living as a traveling writer abroad. While there, he discovered the simpler and happier existence of people in other countries. We Americans fill our lives with so much unnecessary shit that sometimes it's hard to sort out where our lives end and our belongings and technology end. In addition, we put so much emphasis on working and increasing our salaries and prosperity that we sometimes kill our spirit. Taking a step back, Leif writes about how we can diminish the stress and distractions in our life by cutting down on our consumption (shopping, starbucks, etc), getting rid of shit we don't need, living in smaller, more manageable and energy-efficient houses, working less, and ditching our cars.
These are all subjects that have become increasingly interesting to me within the past year or so. When I moved back to the cities a few months ago after 5 years of living in the green Madison where I got into an automobile maybe 10 times throughout, and walked/bused/biked everywhere, I experienced some whiplash. (And that's only moving 4 hours away in the U.S.!) Like I have written earlier, I haven't really lived in the cities for more than two weeks since I was 18. The life that I live here now is immeasurably different from when I was in high school. I'm trying to reconcile myself to these differences, make some important changes from my previous lifestyle, and find a good way to spend life here until I leave for Peace Corps. The Peace Corps itself will throw me into a completely different lifestyle than I have ever experienced here, in Madison, or in Rome. I know I will be living without starbuckses, shopping malls, a pervasive car culture, and hopefully many other things.
I think it's important to examine my current lifestyles and figure out a way to make it greener, simpler, and less packed with stuff. For me now this means using a car (read: my parent's car) as a last-ditch resort, taking advantage of living downtown, and downsizing all the stuff I somehow own after 23 years.
Anyhow, ranting aside, this is a great article.
For more about living car-less, here is a link to Leif's recent blog about the perks of ditching your vehicle. I realize that this simply isn't possible or realistic for some folks, but it might be interesting to some
http://thisiswhyiloveminneapolis.com/2010/03/dump-your-car-and-get-a-whole-month-of-your-life-back-every-year/

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Michelle Bachmann is the worst.

Today we found out that we are going to be in a even greater political gridlock in Washington, which will lead to absolutely nothing substantive getting done (which is exactly what we want from our government, right?) except for maybe the repeal of the new healthcare plan. Great. We just can't stand the thought of poor people getting more accessible health care for more than a few months, I guess. How can people vote for candidates whose main platforms include a complete disregard for poor people, the environment, and civil rights?

The only bit of hope is the gubernatorial race here in Minnesota, which is so close that it may lead to another recount.


It's a godawful depressing day when people like Michelle Bachmann and Ron Johnson get elected. I have nothing else to say, except to show a winsome collection of sound-bites from Michelle, herself.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZxQZMSl-o0&feature=related