Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Pony Up

Like that creative writing teacher in high school, Blog Action Day has provided me with a prompt today: “The environment. You have till midnight, the end of Blog Action Day. Go!"

It is with pangs of guilt that I write about the environment. Not only am I currently driving by myself to and from work every day, but I am doing it in a car that is more liberally spewing pollutants into the air than other cars on the road. I am, in fact, a hypocritical ass.

I recently made a huge life decision: that I would get rid of my car and try to, like, save the Earth and stuff by personally accounting for less pollution than I usually do. As soon as the idea entered my mind, it just felt right. Not only would it help out the aforementioned Earth, but it would make me feel better about myself, and that’s really what ultimately matters.

My plan hit a snag, however, when a little light depicting a submarine and the word “check” flashed on my car’s dashboard. I took the car to a mechanic, who informed me that there was in fact no submarine to check and also that the drawing was of an automobile engine. After checking the engine, he told me that the catalytic converter in my car was no good.

The mechanic now put my two options before me. One: I could fix the catalytic converter for an absolutely obscene amount of money and dismiss all hope of even breaking even on the sale of this car. Two: I could just have him turn off the submarine light, because Minnesota doesn’t have emissions standards. With what I’m assuming would be a flick of his wrist, he could make my little submarine problem disappear.

I looked up the catalytic converter and its function when I got home. If I’m understanding the internet diagrams correctly, the catalytic converter is like a magical pony attached to your car’s undercarriage whose favorite food is pollutants. She could eat that stuff all day. Sure, some gets by her, but she eats what she can, and the air is better for it.

Oh, Universe! Why do you got to make shit so difficult? The price of a new pony was truly atrocious, and, so very soon after making my resolve to get rid of my car and be less of an asshole to the planet, the Universe was like, “Hey, asshole, why don’t you just go home and watch some TV instead?”

So, sadly, that’s what I did. What difference would it make anyway? I’m just one person with one car, and it looks like I’ll be keeping it for now.

If I believed in fate, I’d think it was a sign that "The Day After Tomorrow" was on television the day I decided to sell my car and take up the carless lifestyle. In this film, mankind has puffed so much pollution into the air that the weather gets apocalyptic and ushers in a new ice age. Cities are laid to waste by massive tornadoes, and golf-cart sized hail squishes unsuspecting Asian people. The entire Northern hemisphere is plunged into frozen chaos, all resulting in poor, lovely Jake Gyllenhaal being trapped in the New York Public Library with a killer superstorm fast approaching. That is how bad shit can get, people.

And if I had any hope that there was a deus to ex-machina our asses out of the trouble mankind is in, none of this stuff would seem scary. But the cards are stacked against hope for children of the ‘80s. Ours was one of the first generations to be sat down and told in firm tones by reliable authority figures that the environment was in trouble. Furry creatures were endangered. Exxon was a dirty word. There was a hole—a giant freakin’ hole—in the protective ozone barrier between us and the careening asteroids. Had we been allowed to swear, our collective cry would have been, “Holy fucking shit!”

And the world seems to have stalled in that moment, if pop culture—which is really the only culture, if you ask me—is any indicator. All the end-of-the world references have me scared out of my mind. According to my exhaustive research, mankind’s destruction by global war, pandemic zombie infection, asteroid collision or robot uprising seems a foregone conclusion. Sometime after that “holy shit” moment in middle school and all these glimpses into the dismal, dismal future, me and many of my generation seem to have lost all hope that we as a species might actually pull this one out of the fire.

But wait; it gets worse. Having gathered a great deal of evidence in watching a great many of these scenarios unfold on TV and in movies, I must conclude that I’m not pretty enough to survive the apocalypse. While I enjoy the stories of the ragtag group of survivors eking out an existence after the decimation of their cultures by war or by superstorms or asteroids or cylons, I know that were it to come to that now, I’d be among those cautionary tales the good-looking ragtag survivors would tell.

“You’ve got to pull yourself together, Chloe! Sure, food is scarce, human skeletons are lying everywhere, and all the wild animals that were in zoos are now roaming the deserted streets of ruined cities with enormous chips on each of their four furry shoulders, but you’re a survivor. You don’t want to end up like those people who gathered their most precious seasons of TV on DVD and wandered around for weeks, finally succumbing to the ravages of hunger and disease on the plains of South Dakota? Do you? Huh?” Man, if the apocalypse hits, I just know I’m going to end up in South Dakota.

The problem seems too big. What we need, children of the ‘80s, is a sledgehammer of hope to break it down! South Dakota looms large, but it seems the first step, the only step we can take is to believe that what we do makes a difference. In my case, that will allow for possible future steps: a new pony for my car, carpooling, getting rid of my car altogether. Who knows? It’s easier on my conscience and my wallet to ignore the submarine light, but Jake Gyllenhaal is counting on me not to be a jerk to the environment. Just say no to superstorms!

So while my point is vague at best, as if seen through a veil of smog (See? It's an intentionally hazy blog entry.), and I don’t seem to be taking any immediate action myself, damned if my blog can’t be active on Blog Action Day. Just you wait. On Crotchety Girl Action Day, I’ll be all kinds of motivated and specific. It’ll be sweet.


K said...

Could it be that you're just depressed from watching Resident Evil, where only Milla Jovovich is pretty enough to survive the apocalypse? Surely most heroines need a group of assorted friends and rivals with varying talents, who all work together to survive the wilds of South Dakota? There are so many parts for you to play. The wise-cracking best friend who says the funny comment just after the zombie gets beheaded. The girl who can MacGyver a weapon or trap from smoking automobile parts. The second-prettiest girl, to whom the heroine gives the cute guy, possibly Jake Gyllenhaal, because she personally has too many asses to kick to have time for romance. See, it's not so bad. Although you might think an apocalypse would be a good thing when I tell you that I have no idea who Jake Gyllenhaal is.

Tejas said...

tsk tsk Jessica - I am dissapointed! *sabotages polluting car*