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9/20, 9PM





Monday, May 06, 2002
5:26 AM      

My waking dream came early this morning- somewhere before 4:00 am. I fell asleep on the couch around 9:00 last night. A combination of good food, a good amount of Chardonnay, walking around Brooklyn earlier in the afternoon, and who knows what else. Eventually, we made it to bed but of course now I'm wide awake at five-something in the morning. This is not my normal time of day.

The dream started with Denise and me driving our other car past the dealership where our Jaguar was being worked on. [One really nice thing about dreams is you get to own things that are way beyond your real-life means!] The door to the garage was open, and the car was up on the lift nearest the door with its door open, and the window half way down. There didn't seem to be anyone working on the car at the moment, and the weather was bad.

I stopped the car and went inside. "Excuse me!" I said. "Could someone close up this car? I don't want the interior to get messed up."

Someone told me that I'd have to talk to someone at the service desk. For who knows what reason, I complied and walked over to the service area. I found a spot to lean against the counter and began to wait. The people at the service counter seemed to be steering clear of me, making it a point to take care of other customers first. I waited a while.

At some point, a couple with three kids came in. The kids were in a playful mood, and the parents seemed to be ignoring them. The kids began to chase each other around the room, including under furniture and between the legs of other customers. One of the kids ran right into me, and didn't say excuse me. I glanced at the parents, who said nothing.

A short while later, one of the kids ran up and leaned against my leg as if I were part of a playground set. I shifted my weight hard, causing the kid to fly away. Now the father was miffed with me. "They're just kids. You don't treat my kids that way," he said.

My response: "Just because you have kids doesn't make you the center of the universe! You have kids-it's your responsibility to teach them manners..." Well, that was the gist of it anyway. I think I was about to start cursing the man out in front of his kids, but I woke up instead. I can't believe I was shouting at someone in my dreams!

I think the dream was in response to the article I read yesterday that essentially said that people shouldn't feel guilty for driving SUVs, even if they do consume far more fuel and emit more pollution than other cars - people should be free to buy and drive whatever they like. It also offers some mumbo-jumbo about how the real problem are the government's CAFE (fuel economy) standards, and how many of the compact cars that manufacturers make to meet the standards are unsafe in crashes [uh, particularly when they collide with SUVs]...

It's a funny thing about civilization: you start living with other people, at some point, you need to consider the impact that your behavior has on everyone else. The SUV argument seems to say, "Hey, I like these vehicles; I should be able to drive one." With arguments like that, GE should be allowed to keep dumping PCBs into the Hudson River, too.

Shucks, maybe I'm just an irritable almost-tree-hugger. I don't even own a car, and resist the idea. My brother at least used to own a Ford Explorer, and my sister-in-law owns a Bronco, so maybe I'm stepping on their feet.

But, I think the real driving force behind the SUV phenomenon isn't simply "consumer demand." US auto makers in particular have been struggling to find successful designs for some time, and SUVs caught on. That's where the right to make money/saving American jobs argument kicks in. So what if US oil consumption is at an all-time high, and the explosion in SUV sales isn't helping? Let's blame Congress, instead of our own collective selfishness.

There's possibly another reason that I'm so aware of our culture of waste right now. On Dreamwalker, we had to manage our water consumption carefully. During our week-long trip, we were able to take care of our normal hygeine, cooking, and more while using considerably less water than we would on land. We responded effectively to a necessity.

Yet, in New York, we're in the middle of a drought. Manhattan restaurants only give you tap water when you ask for it, but I don't see any statistics on how much water we're really saving. I doubt that many people are really taking shorter showers at home, or running their washing machines and dishwashers less frequently. It would be useful for the news to report on things like that: successful efforts to reduce water usage.

That would be a different kind of consumer reporting. Instead, we get wishful comments tacked onto the weather forecast about how we need more rain... Useful information: "At the current rate of consumption, New York City has about a 30-day supply of water." Not particularly useful: "The reservoirs are at 50% of their normal level for this time of year. If we dont' get much rain soon, we'll really be in trouble."


I scanned a bunch of photos from our trip to paradise this weekend. They need a little color correction, etc., then I'll post them. I have moments where I look around, and wonder if it wasn't completely insane to return to this, when we saw what we saw down in the Virgin Islands.

A funny New York kind of thing happened the other day: I was on my way to the convenience store across the street, when a man asked me if I had a light. I said "Sorry... I don't smoke." Barely missing a beat, he said "Well then, do you have a match?"


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