"Cummins leaned forward over his paper-strewn desk and told me about a poet who had been walking along the beach one morning at low tide. The poet saw thousands and thousands of starfish that had been stranded on the shore, baking in the sun. If they were left on the beach surely they would die. In the distance, he saw a boy sifting through the sand on the beach. The boy would stoop down, pick up a starfish, and throw it back into the sea. When the poet reached the boy, he said, 'What are you doing? You can't save them all!' The boy knelt down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the ocean, and said, 'I saved that one.' And he did it again. 'Saved that one.' And again. One by one, until soon the poet joined the boy, and together they saved as many starfish as they could.
"That's how people who make a difference think and live."
I found this today as I was reading a parenting book, and it struck me as a good explanation for why I'm still trying to eat as locally and sustainably as I can. No, I can't singlehandedly change the food system in this country - or even in this town. But by choosing to buy local/organic/sustainable products whenever I can, at least I'm doing something. It's not as obvious as throwing a starfish back into the ocean, but when I drive past the vegetable lady's house or the farm market where we shop in the summer, I think to myself, "Helped that one."
The other night I watched Ghost Busters for the first time in years, and I was really surprised by a couple of things.
1. Aside from some occasional crap-tastic special effects, you can't tell this movie was made more than 25 years ago. Okay, okay, the actors look really young (especially since I just saw the modern-day Bill Murray in Zombieland a couple of weeks ago), and Dana's wardrobe and interior decorating style scream 1985, but other than that, it's a solid movie.
2. Does anyone else find it creepy that Dr. Venkman happened to be carrying 300 cc. of Thorazine with him to his date with Dana? 3. Even after all these years, Jason and I each remember startlingly large portions of the movie, word-for-word. I guess it wasn't just me and my friends who spent our formative years quoting it at each other. Some of my favorites:
Dr. Peter Venkman: oh, wait, wait, i've always wanted to do this! and...
[he yanks the tablecloth off of one of the tables, upsetting and breaking everything except a vase of flowers on the center of the table] Dr. Peter Venkman: [shouting while offscreen] the flowers are still standing!
Gozer: [after Ray orders her to re-locate] Are you a God?
[Ray looks at Peter, who nods] Dr Ray Stantz: No. Gozer: Then... DIE!
[Lightning flies from her fingers, driving the Ghostbusters to the edge of the roof and almost off; people below scream] Winston Zeddemore: Ray, when someone asks you if you're a god, you say "YES"! Dr. Peter Venkman: All right! This chick is TOAST!
[a giant marshmallow man crashes through the streets of New York] Dr. Peter Venkman: Well, there's something you don't see every day.
[in front of the library ghost, their first ghost sighting] Dr. Peter Venkman: So... what do we do?
[Egon and Ray stare at each other in silence. Peter grabs Ray's ear] Dr. Peter Venkman: Would you come over here, please? That's it, c'mere Francine. What do we do?
[Egon pulls out a calculator and starts punching in numbers. Peter slaps the machine out of Egon's hand] Dr. Peter Venkman: STOP THAT!
Dr. Egon Spengler: [about the storage facility] Wow, its getting crowded in there and these readings point to something big on the horizon. Winston Zeddemore: What do you mean big? Dr. Egon Spengler: Well,
[shows a twinkie] Dr. Egon Spengler: let's say this twinkie represents all of the psycho kenetic energy in the New York area. According to this morning's sample it will be a twinkie, 35 feet long and weighing approximately 600 pounds.
[Ray coughs, in disbelief] Winston Zeddemore: That's a big twinkie.
And my personal favorite, the quote that will live on forever in the minds of junior high school kids who can only get away with cursing by quoting a movie...
I had all these intentions of starting the year off right, making substantive, thoughtful posts for a whole year.
Then I spent the whole day alternately crapping or puking my guts up (or moaning and clutching my stomach and wishing I would hurry up and complete one of the former actions so I could feel better for 10 minutes). I'm the third person in my house to come down with The Great Intestinal Discomfort of 2010/2011, and hopefully I'll be the last, because I wouldn't wish this on anyone, not even my husband who decided it was a good idea to fill the house with a cloud of bacon grease this morning while I was hiding in my bedroom trying not to puke. Sorry, dude, but that ranks right up there with the Burrito Incident of 2007 in terms of thoughtlessness.
So, I get to start off my year with ... intestinal discomfort. Not very life-affirming, or substantive, or thoughtful. It's very hard to find inspiration while drowsing in a sour-smelling bed, dry-heaving in a trashcan, or sitting on the toilet. Well, okay, the toilet can be very inspiring***, but it's hard to work up a good blog entry when every minute or two your thought pattern is interrupted by "ohmygodjustkillmenoooooooow." I got a few rounds of knitting done in between rounds of illness, so I guess I get to Lysol the heck out of my new sweater once I'm better. And I have no idea how to disinfect my iPod, which has been propped on my pillow playing hour after hour of old This American Life and RadioLab podcasts to keep me from sleeping all day.
The annoying part of the situation is that ever since my mother came down with something similar right around Christmas, we've been vigilant about cleaning up and washing hands and flushing with the seat down and all the other stuff you're supposed to do to prevent transmission of a stomach bug. Only it turns out that Norovirus isn't killed by standard soap and water, so unless we'd completely Chloroxed everything she touched or breathed on, we were still at risk of transmission. Me sitting there with the kid on my lap while she puked probably wasn't the best idea to slow transmission, either - but in my defense I almost ALWAYS get whatever she comes down with, no matter how far away I stay or how much I wash, so I figured the proximity wasn't going to do anything other than speed up the show. I'm just hoping that by staying in my room (and the bathroom) until after my mother-in-law changed her flight and left to go home a day early, I've kept the germs away from her. She visits her mother a couple times a week, and I'd rather not have some offspring of my illness infect anyone in Mom-mom's nursing home.
What's really ironic is that, after Liza had been puke-free for more than 24 hours and was back to actually eating something other than Pedialyte and crackers, we went to the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and spent a lot of time exploring the Disease Detectives exhibit. You know, the one with all the hands-on exhibits where you can try to figure out what got various mannequins sick by checking their temperature, listening to their heart, or exploring other the very touchy-feely-movey-aroundy exhibits of the data the doctors used to diagnose the real-life cases. It's a really cool exhibit, and Liza loved it, but about 1/3 of the way through you learn how long bacteria and viruses can live on dry room-temperature surfaces, and all of the adults in our group started looking for hand sanitizer stations and making up excuses to go to the bathroom so we could wash our hands. I'm willing to bet that the museum's water bill has skyrocketed since they installed the thing that demonstrates exactly how long you have to wash your hands to get them fairly clean. Twenty seconds seems like forever ...
I feel bad that I didn't find out until about 10 minutes ago that Liza was probably still contagious when we went to the museum, and she may be able to spread the love for another week or so. Me? I'm potentially on the hook for another day of two of active symptoms (whimper), followed by up to two weeks of being contagious. Guess I'm not helping with Pizza Day at school on Thursday, huh?
At least I've managed to keep down the 1/4 cup of flat ginger ale I've been sipping for the past couple of hours. Maybe by tomorrow morning I'll be able to nibble on a cracker! Yay! In the meantime, I'm off to see if I can locate a copy of Fever Dream by Ray Bradbury, a short story I read as a child (while suffering from stomach flu at my grandparents' house, as I recall) that I just now finally found confirmation actually exists and wasn't just a dream of my own. Do you have any idea how frustrating it is to know the name and author of a story and STILL not be able to find a copy of it? I'm just happy that, at least according to Wikipedia, I remember the story pretty accurately. It would have been even more annoying to finally locate it and have it be nothing like what I remembered. At any rate, I'm off to request the book from the library so I can lick all the page corners and spread my infection to EVERYONE! BWAHAHAHAHAHA!
(5 minutes later) Well, I'd have to special order one of the short story compilations in to my local library, but there's also ... HOLY SHIT WHAT KIND OF SICK FUCK MADE THAT STORY INTO A PICTURE BOOK FOR KIDS?!?!
(5 minutes later) Anyone other than me notice that my sentences get even longer and my punctuation gets even more creative when I'm sick? Another day or two and I'll be at one with good old e.e. himself. And is it just me, or is that poem totally about sex, not cars? Wait, not just me. And why did they let us read it in high school, if that's the case? Ms. Leonard-Peace, you dog, you!
***Ari, remember Pete in high school and his legendary bathroom trips to get "inspired" for Stage Crew? Good times, good times.
I guess he decided tonight was the night to unload some of the excess inventory he's been storing since the cops busted his July 4th extravaganza before he was even halfway done. Here's to freeing up lots of space in the garage to stockpile next year's display!