Saturday, October 2, 2010


So far the hardest thing about being back here, after having been away and cultivated a different way of living, and I knew this would challenge me, is shopping and eating the way I want to. I just stopped at the neighborhood supermarket on the way home from running some errands. I didn’t have bags with me. I was buying some fruit, lettuce, a quart of half and half. As the cashier was ringing up my items, I said to the guy bagging groceries, “You can put it all in one bag,” and he nodded as he pushed one plastic bag into another. While I was paying, he put the lettuce in the double bag and then grabbed another bag and started putting lemons into it. I said, “One bag is enough.” I don’t think he understood me – stressful moments like this are exactly when I need to use my Spanish, but they are the moments when I am least able to -- because by the time I had paid the cashier, he had my 8 or 10 items waiting for me in 4 double bags.

Feeling like a total asshole, I started pulling everything out and putting it in one bag. He said, “It’s too much!” I said, “It’s not too much. I live less than a block away. I don’t need 8 bags to carry home my groceries.”

Eight bags! It’s so absurd. I can’t even get my mind around what motivates that kind of behavior. On the other hand, I was able to buy local apples.

But it’s not just the bag issue. It’s the fact that natural food stores are in neighborhoods I can’t afford to live in, and it’s not easy to find local produce, especially not in the cold months. And because life is very busy and hectic here, I won’t be doing as much processing and preserving and cooking all my meals from scratch at home.

I’m not going to fret too much about it, not so soon. I’ll allow myself time to discover ways to get as close as I can manage to the kind of conscientious life I want to live given the circumstances of living in New York. One thing that will help a lot is having a bigger kitchen.


One thing I’ve noticed, living in so many very different places in the last 10 or 15 years, is that the dust in different places has very different qualities. Different texture and color, different rates of accumulation. I think it was Jersey City where the dust was blue. Like blue blue. Here it’s more black, but it has a bluish cast and it’s very fibrous, almost wooly. In Austin our yard was mostly dirt and there was often some kind of construction going on, so the dust was more like dry earth, powdery and brown, and it built up fast. I’d wipe things off on my desk and within a couple hours there was a visible layer of dust again.