Mar 29, 2006

Compacting My Cold

My brain is committed to the principles behind the Compact, and thus is my wallet. But I’ve come to discover that my body is revolting against my decision to not acquire new things. The strategy is genius: It’s acquired a brand new virus without my consent. Though I could pretend, this is NOT the virus we picked up in December. At least I didn't have to pay for it.
Could this be a physical manifestation of withdrawal from the consumer grid? Was I that addicted?
As I wiped my nose in the tea aisle at GoodLife, I felt guilty about my decision to buy individually packaged cough drops and tea bags. I’ll need them in bulk anyway. Using handkerchiefs will have to be my remediation. But just walking away with them, my body began to respond. Suddenly I wanted some DayQuil, TheraFlu, Vick’s, anything with any hope of making me feel less like crap. Or maybe just buying them would make me feel less like crap.
Ugh, maybe I have a fever. Or maybe my body is trying to lure me back into an overly consumptive lifestyle, after only 3 months. I’ll only know for sure if I make it through this cold without a new humidifier.
For the love of science, Cold, GO AWAY!
***Note: The Compact is medication friendly. Dogma above assumed for dramatic effect.***


Maya said...

Get well soon...I hope you can continue on this compact because then after you pass the "withdrawal" period you'll become "immune" from exess consumerism :-) You'll prove yourself and everybody else that it's just a matter of motivation and getting used to a 'new' kind of bugs and understanding inside of your body...all for the good of us and our world, no? Cheers and good luck for the next 9've been an inspiration.

Tiffany Martini said...

My name is Tiffany Martini and I am a freelance writer with Plenty Magazine and they'd like to do a profile on you. Who should I speak with? Can you help me get in contact with some of your members?

Tiffany Martini

Anonymous said...

Hi, I love your posts. Your one about new bike components is so true for me, but I have yet to make the resolve to stay away from them. You say you have three bikes, I'm curious if any of them are a fixed gear.
On a different note, I am a doctoral student at the University of North Dakota and I am doing my dissertation on voluntary simplicity. I am looking to interview about 10-12 voluntary simplifiers and was hoping I could have your permission to post a request for people to volunteer for an interview through The Compact. Also, if you are willing to be interviewed (it takes about 20-30 minutes) that would be great too, but not necessary.
Hope you feel better soon, and I hear the negative effects of Affluenza are temporary! Hang in there and keep up the fabulous work! Tim Beecher

Oh, you can contact me via e-mail at

Anonymous said...

My name is Tina Pisco and I live in West Cork , Ireland. Just looked The Compact up. I read your blog and feel your pain. I write a column here locally and thought this week's might cheer you up.

Taking to the Bed

It looks like I jumped the gun in my last column. Though I declared that winter was over we still had to endure another couple of weeks of freezing weather before feeling anything remotely like Spring. I wasn't the only one fooled. I am sad to say that the butterfly hibernating above my head was also duped. It woke up too soon and died on the windowsill as it tried to get back outside. I think it probably froze. Being more hardy than your average butterfly, I did not freeze to death, but I did finally succumb to one of the many illnesses that have been plaguing West Cork for the last few months. In fairness it was my turn. Everyone in the house has had a bout of some sickness or other. A few have had two courses of antibiotics this season. It seems like all my friends, and their friends and relations, have come down with some dreaded disease: vomiting bugs, flus and colds, even bouts of pneumonia and pleurisy. The pharmacies must be raking it in. I had, so far, managed to sidestep the pestilence by force of will. I have always believed that you could just refuse to get ill by denying it at the first sign of a sniffle. Admit to having a sore throat and you're a goner. Carry on regardless and the germs will get bored of you and go infest someone else. It's a coping mechanism for when I'm really busy. Having "no time to be ill" allowed me to avoid the vomiting bug and Co through the freezing months from January through March. Most working parents develop this skill after their second or third child. The only problem with this strategy is that you have to stay busy, and ever vigilant. The germs are lurking. If you let your guard down, they'll pounce.

I knew however, that I was running on empty. After three intense months of work, home, family, financial and legal issues to deal with; I found myself tired, worn out, and frazzled- but not ill. I decided to take to the bed for a few days of well-deserved rest. I should have known better.

A word of explanation: "Taking to the bed" is a concept well understood in Ireland. It is not unique to the Irish, however. Many cultures have it. In fact, I believe that all cultures used to have it but that many have sadly lost it in their rush to get to the shopping mall. To take to the bed is to admit that you need a break. It could be an emotional upset. Or a bout of illness. In trendy magazines they call it suffering from "burn-out". To take to the bed is self-explanatory: You go to bed. You stay there until whatever ails you passes. You don't get up too soon. Stories abound of grandmothers who took to the bed for a number of years. That may sound a bit dramatic, but it sure beats getting an ulcer or going crazy (Though some people think that staying in bed past 9am IS madness.. Frankly they don't know what they're missing.)

It had been a hard three months. I decided to take to the bed for four days. A long weekend. On Monday I rose feeling refreshed. I took an extra day off for good measure and did nothing more taxing than doing the dishes while watching Oprah in the middle of the afternoon and planning the week ahead. Tuesday I went back to work full of the joys of life. 24 hrs later I was down. Those sneaky germs caught me off guard.

Eyes streaming and nose blocked I dragged myself into town for medication and sustenance. In my fevered state I thought I might buy something healthy to help me along. Little did I know that I had stepped into a mine-field. The range of products on offer in the chiller cabinet alone had me reeling. When I was a child, eating something to "build you up" usually involved cooking up a chicken in a pot. Now all I have to do is drink a little bottle of magic potion. But which one? I had to choose whether I wanted strong bones, low cholesterol, a healthy heart, or just to loose weight. Frankly, past a certain age I think the answer is "all of the above". The number of little bottles offering me digestive health was mind-boggling. They even have one that promises me 50% of my fresh vegetable needs in just one shot. What ever happened to eating a carrot? When did food as medicine take over? Whatever happened to food as food? My head was pounding. I turned my back on all the vitamins and omega-3 on offer and shuffled down the aisle to a section of the supermarket I understand: Food as comfort.

So now I'm sitting looking like death wrapped in a blanket, while outside the birds go mental and the weather jumps from gales to brilliant sunshine every hour. Not to worry, I have a stock of chocolates, cheesecake, and ice-cream to see me through. Back to bed.

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Chelee said...

Just found your blog and have decided to "compact" our family.

Great Idea.

Pink Raven said...

Hopefully by now you are feeling much better. I had the cold from hell this year. The first one in many years. You can handle a cold without pharm companies. Put a good amount of ground clove in a pot of water and leave it simmering on the stove. Each time you pass by, pause with your head close to the steam and breathe deeply. Clove kills the germies. Chew horseradish root, chew ginger, make and eat lots of chicken soup loaded with garlic and hot pepper.... I could go on and on, but it's probably a moot point by now! LOL!!!

Anonymous said...

Believe it or not, I've been doing this a shorter time period than you (about a month) and I'm having the same problem. Only it's not just my cold and allergy meds: it's food and the other things I'm 'allowed' to buy. Suddenly, I'm wanting to buy everything foodstuff on the shelf because I can, even though I don't eat half that stuff!

Anonymous said...

I love your website. It has a lot of great pictures and is very informative.