Today I had an epiphany; living in a utopia is exhausting. I shall endeavor to explain for those not fortunate enough to live in the promised land. I live in California, the Golden State. The mecca of liberal idealism, the epicenter of tolerance and the
Holy Grail (Christian reference- not allowed signifies religious oppression of non-Christian groups) birth place (border line acceptable) of environmentalism.
Yes, California, where you can let your freak flag fly (unless it violates the personal space of someone more important with more sensitive views than your own, or if your freak flag is deemed offensive by underrepresented groups protected under some state proposition yet to be determined. Check with your local HOA rules and regulations before placing your freak flag proudly in your yard) proudly in the wind.
What could be exhausting about living in utopia? Well it is 10:00 AM Pacific time- my day began early, around 6:30 AM. I awoke to a brilliant California morning, crisp and cold (by California standards) around 30 degrees. There was a layer of crystal white frost on the roof tops and the lawns (which are currently green due to recent rainfall and not watering which is heavily regulated by the state and local municipal water districts- subject to steep fines (taxes) if you water when you should not). The cool clear morning left a noticeable chill inside my home. A nice roaring fire would certainly help take the chill off, and keep me from turning up the thermostat on the furnace.
I opened my phone to check the Air Quality application, free from SPARETHEAIR.ORG. “Crap”, it is a no burn day. I was not able to build a fire and must instead turn up the furnace and use clean burning natural gas imported from somewhere else, pulled from the ground of a less enlightened state that does not care about the environmental impact of such endeavors. As the furnace spooled up, the eclectic fan in the system began to come to life moving air through the ducts of the house, warming the entire house and not simply the room where the fireplace was located. I found myself wondering if the electricity being used was from the burning of natural gas, fossil fuel (icky) or the new green solar plant run by my utility company. I quickly realized (to my shame) it must be either the fossil fuel plant or the natural gas plant because I had not yet signed up for the green solar power. You see, for the privilege of getting my power from the solar farm I have to sign up online and agree to pay a higher rate than my neighbors. This higher rate means my power will come from the solar farm and be sent across the same power lines as my less enlightened neighbors.
Next, after walking my dogs (and picking up their waste in biodegradable poop bags) I began the morning chores. I took the trash out to sort, yes it must be decided what is trash, green or recyclable. This done, I fired up my truck to run up to the grocery store and pick up a few items I will need for the upcoming holiday (Christmas- but I figured you would know it was Christmas even though it is sort of offensive to say Christmas because of the Christ part). The “change oil soon” light popped on in the truck, yet another environmental dilemma. My truck is a diesel (shame-shame-shame) and it takes a lot of oil (3 gallons). I am always careful not to spill any when I change it and collect the waste oil in the proper containers for recycling. The problem is the county will only pick up a single gallon during each recycle pick-up (every other week) so it will take six weeks to dispose of the oil. I could go to the dealer or an oil change place where I can pay a disposal fee (tax) to get rid of the oil when they change it, or go buy oil and pay an environmental fee (tax)…..I shall ponder my options.
I went to the grocery store and picked up my items. I saw they had variety pack of specialty beer on sale. I figured this would be nice to have around for
Christmas (damn- I mean Holiday), so I add that to my basket.
“Shit” I admonished myself. I left my environmentally safe bags at the house again. Now the dilemma, do I skip the bagging or pay a 10-cent fee (Tax) for each plastic bag that is likely already paid for by my purchasing of these items.
“No bags thanks”. Now I will have to endure the walk of shame to my truck with a shopping cart full of un-bagged groceries, man I hope nobody judges me.
“I need to see your ID for the beer please” the checker
pulled me from my self-loathing.
“What the hell?” I am clearly over 21 (by more years than I care to admit) what sort of regulatory nonsense is this. I pull my wallet and show my ID to have the privilege of purchasing beer. A purchase that also comes with a recycling fee (tax) and an alcohol tax (tax).
I put my ATM card into the machine and select to use it as a VISA. I have read it is much safer to use this way in the event the store is hacked, so this is how I tend to utilize my ATM/VISA card.
“I need to see some ID” chimes the checker……
“Ummmm, you just saw my ID” I replied
“Well yes but that was for the purchase of the alcohol, this is for the visa”
“It’s the same ID” I say. The checker smiles and shrugs. I pull out my ID again
After completing the walk of shame to the truck with my un-bagged groceries. I begin the drive home, stopping to top off my fuel tank at the station. While the fuel is pumping, I began reading the sign disclosing all the fees (taxes) built into my purchase 2.25% state fuel tax or .50 per gallon. I’m buying diesel so there is an extra tax of 9.67% per gallon plus my local sales tax amount. Well it’s a good thing our roads are smooth and our air is clean. These fees (taxes) continue to go up year after year because our 300 year old governor wants to build a choo-choo train to remind him of his youth.
Truck fueled I continue home dodging potholes as my unsecured groceries fly around in the back seat. I see orange construction signs up ahead and a lane closure. It appears there are a few Highway Patrol cars and I begin to wonder if this is some sort of day time DUI check point. Traffic slows and an officer waves me into the closed lane and directs me to a tented area with a pad for the tires of my vehicle. A worker approaches the driver door and advises me this is a road-side smog check to check the effectiveness of emission testing. The test is voluntary he tells me. I explain the effectiveness of emission testing is done every other year when I am privileged to pay $80 on top of my registration renewal fee (tax) to have a smog check on my 5-year-old diesel truck filled with enough emission control devices to choke a Prius. Besides, I implore, I have un-bagged groceries in my back seat, I really need to get home. Reluctantly, and with some serious stink-eye, I am waved through and on my way, home again.
I smell wood smoke in the air, I wonder what horrible person did not check the spare the air app and fired up their vile carbon pollution chamber; a flagrant violation of the laws of decent utopia. Well the fireplace police will deal with those people, certainly the neighbors will call the hot line and turn them in. They probably didn’t check the weather before putting out their freak flag either.
Getting closer to home I stop for a red light and watch the less well-off scurry like insects to the median strips with tattered cardboard signs and open hands as they slowly walk car to car looking for a hand out. Near the intersection I can see a group of makeshift tents, tarps and carts mixed among the shrubs by a creek. I can see the banks of the creek, covered in garbage, discarded plastic bags, mattresses, various containers full of who knows what and the obligatory tire or two. I remember this creek when I was a kid, before California was a true utopia, we used to play near it. You could catch crawdads in the shallows and in the spring, you could take a make-shift raft down the mighty white water. I used to let one of my dogs swim in the creek, but not anymore. The creek is now basically an open sewer, filled with human waste and discarded stolen property. In fact, a couple summers ago my daughter had her bike stolen, I found it down in the creek bed with a dozen others. When the creek is empty, it is a shanty town of the homeless, the drug addicts and the illegal dumpers. When the rain comes, it purges the creek like the flushing of a giant toilet, moving the trash downstream; someone else’s problem.
Finally, I make it home, I unload the armloads of loose groceries and make it into the house. Proud that I live in a true utopia where I can express my feelings, dress how I want, do what I want and be what I want…all mine so long as I pay the necessary fees (taxes) to keep my sense of utopian entitlement in check…(unless it violates the personal space of someone more important with more sensitive views than your own, or if your freak flag is deemed offensive by underrepresented groups protected under some state proposition yet to be determined. Check with your local HOA rules and regulations before placing your freak flag proudly in your yard). Meanwhile, while I try to limit my carbon footprint, the bums down the way shit in the creek and toss food wrappers at the vehicles that refuse to give them a hand out. Later they will return to their tarp town and use gasoline (probably siphoned from a parked car) to light a fire so they can be warm.
It is 10:00 AM and I am worn out from living in utopia…..I can’t wait to see what Facebook has in store for me.