The January Blues
Jan 13
Do you get the January blues? I do, and this year I have 'em bad. And it's not because I'm missing the holiday season. On the contrary - I'm absurdly relieved to have the holiday season in the rear-view mirror. Buh-bye! And, don't hurry back.

Maybe it's the news. Refugees in Syria, assaults in Germany and on Turkey, women and children coming north to the U.S., people starving, Bowie. And it's cold out. Life was already hard for so many people and now it's cold. Do you ever find yourself really pissed at some huge kink in your day - say your favorite flavor of potato chip (Backyard BBQ) is out of stock at the store. You step back from surveying the other 100 flavors of potato chips, realizing that none of those flavors is good enough, and your day is ruined? Your day is ruined, that is, until you remember there are at least six more grocery stores within a mile of where you're currently standing, and you feel a little absurd. Perhaps that feeling of absurdity expands as you start thinking of all the people who are legitimately miserable all over the world, and you want to kick yourself in the ass. That's the nature of my January blues. I have a lot to be grateful for, but perhaps I'm not grateful enough. And so I distract myself by reading, working, purging, trying to see all the movies that will be possibly be nominated for an Oscar. But I'm about to amp my distracting activities up a notch. I'm thinking of distracting myself by taking some kind of drastic eco-step. What the hell am I talking about? Here's some the hair-brained ideas that are rolling around my bean, ideas that I want to believe will help the world in some way. Or at least maybe help one person or one landfill for one day a little bit. But they will definitely distract me or you from the awfulness that is around us.

1. Go toilet-paper free. This idea is so drastic and horrifying that all thoughts of societal problems will evacuate your brain. Instead you will be thinking about the air-tightness of your used TP-cloth pail. Here's an old post for more details.

2. Reduce your possessions until they number no more than 100. I've read about people who do this, and although it perplexes me, it is certainly a candidate for distracting activity of the year. You probably have more than 100 items just sitting around your car.

3. Commit yourself to raising money for your favorite charity by selling your excess. See #2 above. If you are reducing your possessions, maybe your can also raise money for the Humane Society, a women's shelter, or org helping refugees.

4. Collect salvaged tile until you have enough to redo your bathroom. Do not buy new tile. Haunt the Rebuilding Center or the scrap pile at Pratt and Larson until you find everything you need. Take a tile setting class, rent a tile-cutting machine, and do the work yourself. It should take approximately 400 years if you have average hand/eye coordination.

5. Get a library card and start reading the classics. Don't buy another book this year. Support your local library. Pick one the infinite "50 books to read before you die" lists and get going. Here's a list of 50 that is particularly difficult and time consuming. And here is a list of David Bowie's favorite 100 books, for the truly ambitious.

6. Plan an eco / volunteer vacation. Gather data to protect dolphins or patrol beaches to protect turtles from poachers. Basically you can help turtles while still enjoying the sun. Going to the Arctic is also an option. The volunteer vacation idea seems too good to be true. But it is true.

7. Take a welding class, get yourself to a scrap yard, and start making art. Start with functional yard art, like tomato trellises, and move onto to bigger things, like that duck sculpture behind Twist.

8. Collect old bricks (on Craigslist or Freecycle) until you have enough to repave your driveway. If you have a really big driveway, this could take a while, distracting you for months to come. I suggest starting in little viewed corner, because this is probably harder than it looks and you'll need to hide early mistakes. There's a DIY driveway down the street from me, and it ain't too pretty. You can do better.

Maybe some of these ideas will give your January blues a run for their money. Maybe you've already got some good distractions of your own planned. You don't have to limit yourself to one new project. Plan an eco-vacation AND sell all the stuff in your house. I think I might just go watch the turtles after I sell some more shoes on ebay.
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