Sunday, June 14, 2009

Toxic time

I have a cold. Not the same cold I had in Pittsburgh--a different cold. This one is more about sore throat, coughing, and a sinus infection. It is crappier than the last cold. I only bring it up because I was just having a ironic chuckle at the fact that I was smearing parabin-laden moisturizer all over my face/nose to fend off dry skin.

Yeah, I'm back thinking about toxins again. They're in everything. It's a toxic world. And pretty much every personal care product is full of carcinogens and we rub them on our skin and it's intense absorption time. Ever since I found that lump in my armpit, I can't bring myself to use real deodorant. I'm back on the natural kick. Sadly, most "natural" products are also rife with shitty chemicals, so read labels.

The thing is, at my last toxics presentation/work shop thing-y I went to, I went as a cancer survivor. My feelings about cancer and toxics are kind of complicated. On one hand, I have absolutely zero interest in the "why" of cancer. It seems like our combination of toxic water, air, and soil, compounded by evolution/genetics is a perfectly tidy and satisfactory explanation. No need to find blame (whether its placed on the victim, society, whatever, blame is boring) for misfortune. Of course everyone has cancer. Of course sometimes weird shit happens and healthy 25 year olds develop tumors. There are bigger things that we have a lot more control over to worry about--like using our tax dollars to spread war, hate, injustice, intolerance, and terrorism. I don't need more things to worry about or feel guilty about or speculate about.

On the other hand, I am spasmodically squeamish about toxics and cancer-y type things I have some agency in: like deoderant and moisturizer and vegetables and diet coke and the like. Some days I have the energy to care passionately about where my apple came from--I feel physically repulsed by the idea of putting pesticides into my poor chemo-stricken body. On those days, I eschew diet coke for organic kombucha and don't get water out of our water cooler (which is bogus anyway) because it's totally leaching BPA into my BPA-free water bottle. I drive my gas guzzling car to the fucking co-op and buy really, exclusively expensive produce. But I put it in a reusable bag.

And then I have days where my toxin-phobia recedes and I drink Diet Coke, smoke a cigarette, and buy non organic vegetables from MacPhersons, don't wash them, and don't give a shit.

So what was my point? Just that when people get all "and this could cause CANCER!!!" as a scare tactic, I am not impressed. And I don't think it's as simple as avoiding toxins because what's so freaking depressing/absolving about these presentations is that toxics are every where. You can't avoid them! They're in your mattress! And car seat! And your mouse pad! And your shampoo! And your drinking water! And you might get cancer!

How to wrap this up? I don't know. Obviously, I'm in a rant-y, inarticulate mood. I know other cancer patients read this--what do you think? Or fine. Lurk. But I guess I do wonder how much agency people feel in their own health and mortality? Obviously, there are things I do "to be healthy" like yoga and eating a mostly healthy diet of mostly healthy and organic food, etc. And there are things I do in direct violation of that health like miss out on sleep to blog, continue work at a high stress job, don't wear SPF, drink heavily several times a month...

I guess it's like all systemic, circumscribed, insurmountable, colossal problems (climate change, globalization, cultural violence, oppression): hard to know where to start when the whole thing is on its way down anyway. I guess what keeps me getting up every morning and doing my stupid job and buying my stupid organic vegetables is that I am always interested to see how the universe will continue to unfold and I feel in my gut that what I'm doing matters in little selfish ways. Like, for the most part I like my non profit/kids/environment job and like the way I feel when I eat lots of vegetables and practice yoga and I might as well be happy if I'm going to bother to wake up at fucking 6:30 am. Fuck. I need to go to bed!

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