12 January, 2009

Unconventional Interconnectedness

...simple things you see are all complicated/I look pretty young, but I'm just backdated, yeah/I was born with a plastic spoon in my mouth....

The low cut sock fails to meet the hem of silk leggings, allowing leather of the fringed boot I wear to press against bare skin of my ankle like a warm mouth. My feet, lately liberated from the confines of closed-toed shoes (sandals in January provoking puzzled looks from people sharing sidewalk space with me) protest quietly. Upstart blisters on baby toes led to flat soled sandals first only indoors, then, when changing shoes (and hunting down matched socks) seemed too much bother, out into the wide, cold world.

My accumulating oddities mark me; by the time I look fifty, I shall be well past eccentric and wandering into whacked. All black all the time was adopted as a convenience for daily dressing, then proceeded to rule apparel purchase decisions. Feeling the ground beneath thin leather soles of suede superhero boots, (borrowed during the off-season from Mimi, who never speaks a word of objection), the relative textures and temperatures of slick granite flooring, porous marble stairs, flexible linoleum tile, biting rough concrete, smooth semi-cushioned carpet, led me to wonder how much we miss when we isolate our feet from their surroundings.

It wasn't surprising to learn that shoes are bad for our feet, but it struck me that few people realize this. It is in the best interest of the industry that the buying public remains ignorant. Though I've no intent to reduce my stockpile of Cute Footwear, future purchases will permit communication between foot and surface. I've enjoyed the comfort of a funky brand rating high on hip, but still can't feel the motion of my foot, or the surface on which I step. I loved a pair of sandals from a company I'd never heard of before, even though they prevented me from feeling (with) my feet, but when the company went super-green, they stopped making that sandal altogether. There exist shoe manufacturers who do adopt a minimalist approach to the realities of germs and injurious litter, and a shoe with toes represents the most extreme example of bio-correct footwear, though none of these products are likely to make it into MY shoe stable unless they are....that's right, black.

All of this is complicated by my sudden awareness (thanks to The World Without Us, by Alan Weisman)of a monstrous heap of garbage swirling in our ocean. An addition to the list of pre-purchase qualifications: I need to be able to feel my feet move, feel the ground beneath them, the shoes must be black, and now also, digestible. This Vibram material; I am suspicious. I don't know what's in it.

Go ahead, veggies, and boycott leather shoes if you wish, but while you consider candy-colored Crocs, consider also: every piece of plastic manufactured since the invention of plastics in the 1940s, with the exception of those we've tossed into space and left as astro-junk, IS STILL ON THE PLANET. Where? A significant portion is in the sea, outweighing plankton 6 to 1. And even degraded to its molecular form, there is nothing alive capable of consuming polymers.

And the ocean, it's big. Because it's big, it's hard to get a gut-wrenchingly motivational photograph of the problem. It's much more complicated than that, but against the controversial Global Warming hubub- I'm not convinced global warming, if it's happening, is an exclusively human-driven change: planetary cooling and heating has gone on through geologic time, and this is not alarming, or shouldn't be, no more than continental drift or volcanic activity- oceanic pollution is an unheralded mess. And every bit of it IS because of human action and inaction. Inedible plastics shoving biologic organisms into fewer places and fewer numbers changes the environment, and perhaps temperature, of the ocean. Which is really big.

Not as big as space, which Douglas Adams says
"...is big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space."
Space, already littered with marks of our presence. But the ocean! Smaller than space, okay, but still a big ocean, and an influx of plastic sufficient to create a 6:1 ratio of plastic to plankton in the last sixty or seventy years is very likely to create some sort of biochemical change. The food chain! Plankton feeding on plastic, which has absorbed oceanic toxins... fish feeding on plankton, and plastic the same size as plankton. Bigger fish...until the flesh of a dolphin qualifies as toxic waste.

Fluff and Fuzz have been infected as well. When we shop, Fuzz spots every item made of or packaged in plastic, and has begun to grab trash from the streets. Fluff agrees that we need to support digestible products, and has spotted creative reuse opportunities for things pegged for discard. Chips Ahoy cookies? Packaged in plastic, so we gave them a pass. Instead, we bought locally produced cookies in a bakery bag... once emptied, Fluff grabbed it, "This is a perfect bag for kitty poop!" and off he hustled to scoop the litter box.

He notes my good humor this dark season: "You've been grumpy, but not like usual." I credit the bath remodels. There was leakage, damage, mold. Once I'd found someone I trusted to do good work and not shaft us financially, we embarked upon the project, a combination of art and plumbing that has kept me engaged in wall-sized art, and the redo of lighting that creates a bright, cheerful background for daily beautifications.

So I step out, bare-toed, to greet the world, sporting my quirks like flair, like bling, glittering with each stride, walking as if I own the world... and don't I? At least the part on which I walk, at least for the moment I am in it, and then, like a spring wade through a snow-melt stream, I step onward, and relinquish my space to the next user.

Beautification. Blisters. Plumbing. Plankton. Walking. Weirdness. Mold. Mood. Recycling. Revolution.

I just never know what's going to show up in my head.

(Substitute; The Who)

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