Saturday, January 12, 2008

But Honey, the Crazy Woman on the Blog Made Me Do It!

The moment I realized that I was a bad influence was when my co-author Aaron reported that his wife Jennifer had, during some dispute over environmental practice, suggested that Aaron should "Just go live in a cave with Sharon." Or maybe it was when I was sharing a ride from the train to the Community Solutions Conference with Matt Mayer, who told me that his wife had thought him nuts when he came home with bushels of apples, but that he showed her my writings on the subject - and then she thought *I* was crazy. Or maybe it was when I got this email from Leah,

I just want you to know how much I love your blog. You've totally changed my life - we've started gardening, storing food and staying home more. Ican't say "we" love your blog, though - after I asked if we could turn off the fridge hubby actually asked me, as a Christmas present to him, "to stop listening to that crazy-environment woman with all the weird ideas." I got him a hand drill instead, though. And we just turned off the fridge"

May I officially apologize to Leah's hubby? To Jennifer, to Wifey and all the other spouses who feel like I'm an evil influence on their husbands and wives? You see, you have a point. And not only do you have a point, but my husband kind of agrees with you. In fact, the only consolation I can offer you all is this - just be glad you aren't married to me!

Every so often I list off all the radical changes in our lives since Eric and I have been together. He's not a guy who likes change, and I enjoy asking him "So, if you knew that 12 years later you'd be living on a farm with four kids, and trying to get your energy usage down to the same as your average Cuban while shovelling manure and growing your own food, would you have married me?" My husband's answer generally comes out like this "Not only no, but -obscenity deleted- No!!!!!"

That's not to say he isn't happy now - he is (yes, I know, I would say that, but really). But the sum total of all those changes sounds so overwhelming - even now that we've done them. And living with someone who has "cool" ideas about how to use less and do more for a living is a severe trial on the kind of guy who, left to himself, was perfectly content to think about peak oil and climate change as an abstract problem that "someone" should do "something" about. Marrying a woman who thinks that "someone" always means her, and "something" means inconveniencing him is, well...tiring. Occasionally even just a weensy bit annoying .

I'm lucky - my husband is an incredibly good sport, and secretly (ok, maybe not so secretly) likes being dragged along by his nutcase wife. In fact, just last night he admitted he didn't totally hate the idea of transforming our farm into a place where we could run sustainability classes. There wasn't even any eye rolling involved - but it is still early days yet.

So I'm perfectly able to imagine the expressions on the faces of various husbands and wives when their beloveds approach them with an excited grin and a printout with my name on it. More than one person has mentioned that their helpmeets have suggested that the words "Sharon says" might be uttered less often - like once every decade or so. Again, my sympathies. All I can say is that when I seem an unbearable burden, again, remember how fortunate you are not to have to live with me. (Note, I realize that I recently suggested that some people on the internet *should* come live with me, and this pretty much means that no one will ever want to. Pity - I'm really not that...oh, wait, yes I am ;-))

The thing is, I'm pretty comfortable in the role of wacko-environmental Svengali. It isn't easy running against the mainstream in our society, much less against a spouse, who, committed as they are to the environment, doesn't necessarily think that the desire to be clean, warm and eat in a restaurant once in a while is so ridiculous. Everyone needs someone to take the blame when their spouse gets frustrated. Heck, anyone who has been married realizes that part of the secret to a happy marriage is deny, deny and blame others .

So why not blame me? After all, I'm conveniently far away, and available only through the internet, whereas the actual spouse who is suggesting that you should eat only what is available locally in Saskatchewan all winter is right there. If I can prevent a single divorce, night spent in the car or intra-marital knifing, I'm glad to do my part.

Besides, this is the first time in my whole life that I've ever gotten to be a bad influence. How cool is that? You mean I'm now, at 35, the kind of person spouses don't want their husband or wife hanging around with? If only I could have figured out how to be that cool at 15!

Sharon

41 comments:

helwen said...

*grin* My husband now sometimes gets to your posts before I do, so I guess we're okay with your name being mentioned here -- then again, mild as our changes have been compared to yours, we're both considered to somewhat whacko by our friends :D

Great idea to have classes! That's something we've been wanting to do for a while, but haven't had the resources. We've done craft workshops over the years, but wanted to more... Some negotiation may have to happen, but hopefully this year we can add in some agricultural stuff, like learning to use a scythe.

Heather G

Crunchy Chicken said...

Well, I must admit I elicit a similar response, albeit on a different scale. At the very least I can contend that I'm not as "nutty" as Sharon! Although I suppose that is debatable...

jewishfarmer said...

Having (avidly) read your diva cup challenge posts and descriptions, I'm not really sure which one of us is going to win the crazy contest, CC. Maybe we should set up a poll ;-)?

Sharon

helwen said...

Did you see this article at Energy Bulletin?
Energy Smackdown. It was a reality tv show this past year in eastern MA that pitted 3 families with different consumption bases against each other in an attempt to become more environmentally friendly. The show was a success so it's being expanded.

Crunchy Chicken said...

Methinks you are mocking my poll obsession? Don't get me started or you might just find one up there tomorrow :)

LimeSarah said...

Thank you for this; it made Ben grin :-)

Anonymous said...

I just recently realized/learned that judgment is grounded in ignorance. (Another way to put it, in the form that matches what a friend of mine taught me about expectations--that they're the seeds of resentment--is that ignorance is the seed of judgment.) Yesterday I played with that idea and eventually came to the understanding that ignorance is behind much of our fears of change.

Referring to you, Sharon, as "crazy" is a judgment, and it sure seems grounded in fearful ignorance in this case.

Unfortunately, for some of us, just hearing or reading about what can be done and how it can be done isn't enough--we need hand holding and reassurance. Sometimes a direct challenge is just too much to handle.

SteveB

Susan Buhr said...

Sharon,
I really liked your post on a Sustainable Marriage, and think that would be apropos here.

One environmental advantage of being a single parent, perhaps the only one, is that I don't need to negotiate any whacko ideas with anyone. Like Captain Picard, I get to "make it so" to the best of my time, money and ability. The kids think it's a fun thing that sets us apart, as long as I don't embarrass them. My boyfriend is a good sport who doesn't mind eating turnips and wearing a coat in the house.

One of the tricks is to approach all these things as "fun", not to be dictatorial, as in don't get mad at the kids when I go around turning off the lights ad infinitum, and if I don't actually have the power to bring the family along, don't sweat it and do something else.

katecontinued said...

This was a really good essay. I have the beginning of a piece about shooting the messenger and IMHO you struck exactly the right chord. I applaud your wonderful sense of yourself. The ability to laugh at ourselves is as important as drinking enough water and getting enough sleep.

BTW, I have often felt the freedom of my not being married and my parenting of little ones completed. Sometimes this gets overlooked in the blogs I read - where the white, married, middle-class experience is the assumption.

kaat said...

Ha!
Same here, I should say...
I have a question: how do you think your *kids* will feel about you when *they* are 15?
(I think they'll think you're super cool)
Katrien at MamaStories

Kevin (Gypsy) Rose said...

Sharon,

I'm not looking for someone to blame for my behavior, but what I have found with you and the rest of the "gang" is a community of like-minded wierdos that make me feel right at home! :)

All the best,
Kevin (Gypsy) Rose
http://www.paddleways.com/blog/gypsyrose

Ailsa said...

We're still pretty suburban here, nowhere near as evolved as you are, but we did sell off our minivan and are in the process of selling our second computer, and my mom took me aside the last time she visited to ask if we were in financial difficulties. I said "No, no, we're just trying to reduce our environmental footprint," and she looked at me like I was nuts.

Despite the fact that I am so much farther back on the path, I love reading your blog, because it makes it all seem possible and normal and reasonable. I love having you and the other 90%ers as a peer group. (And my DH thought this essay was a hoot.)

Anonymous said...

You'll be even cooler after menopause!

~Vegan

Rosa said...

If it helps, Sharon, I never name-drop you.

I just say "hey, have you thought about doing this...?"

And in a few months he comes back with it as if it were his own idea. Sometimes, improved.

It's like magic.

On the other hand, we are never, ever, ever going to have a farm. Never. He's only moved more than 2 miles once in 28 years and he's done.

Kati said...

I'm a fairly new reader, but when introducing ideas such as yours to my hubby (a non-believer in peak oil, the environmental crisis, or anything that may be associated with either dilema), I never name names. I just say "ya know, I've been reading up on...." and since I "read too much" for him anyway, he never questions who or where I'm getting my info. *grin* Of course he rarely goes in for my ideas without a strong fight, either, but hey... 10 years on & he still hasn't divorced me. *wink*

Keep writing, 'cause I guarantee your posts are being read & digested even by those who don't comment.

spelled with a k said...

I have to agree, I've never posted a comment but I could be considered one of the silent adoring masses. Even now I find myself feverishly combing posts at four in the morning while my spouse sleeps, desperate for some way to compromise on the issue of putting a pool on our already cramped suburban lot.

Lynnet in Loveland said...

Sharon has had a big influence on our family too, but I try not to do too much "Sharon says....". It started when we replaced our 23-foot side-by-side frig with an 11-foot Vestfrost. It gave us an instant 35% reduction in overall electrical bill. We're not ready to turn it off yet.

But the big change was going on a 100-mile diet starting Nov 1, 2007. Hubby has been a very good sport about this, as some of his favorite foods disappear one by one. He has even developed a taste for borscht and parsnips!

It's been fun getting to know local producers, and talking to people about local eating. I'm doing lots more cooking. The meals are tasty, seasonal, and very satisfying.

Thanks for all you do,

Lynnet

Deb G said...

Your just lucky I'd sold my car before I started reading your blog...otherwise my family would really consider you a bad influence :) I guess you can take the blame for my "crazy" idea to give my dryer away.

Trina said...

I consider myself lucky. Since we both read your blog anything that I dismiss as too hard he typically brings it up and vice versa.

annette said...

I just had to reply to kaat - I've NEVER met a 15-year-old who thought his OWN mom was cool. I raised 2 sons (now 21 & 26) and in a community where I was also intimately involved in raising 6 or 8 of their close personal friends ( I would literally wake up in the morning and find 6 teenage boys sleeping in my living room and/or my son's bedroom floor). To many of my sons' friends, I was the "cool" mom, but to my sons, particularly the younger one, I was old and clueless and hopelessly out of touch with what was really going on in the world now (as opposed to the 60's, which I was obviously stuck in!). The good news is, they do get beyond that, and now that they're in their 20's, we all thoroughly enjoy each other's company - and they've even decided some of my ideas aren't so wacko after all. I particularly got a kick out of my younger son describing to me last year how he would like to form a community with some of his artist friends where they could pool some resources, grow some of their food and disconnect from corporate America. I said "wow, son - that sounds a lot like the community you grew up in!"

Anonymous said...

I haven't read all the comments yet, but I wanted to say that a climate scientist at the National Climate Data Center researched the question of whether scientists ever agreed the climate was cooling. What he found was that at NO point in the seventies did they ever, Newsweek cover stories notwithstanding.

http://www.citizen-times.com/
apps/pbcs.dll/article?
AID=200880116159


He presented his unpublished paper (or whatever you're allowed to do with an unpublished paper) to about 300 people this week in Asheville, NC.

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