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Just a quick reflection on all sorts of topics, from global warming to the job market to American consumerism to whatever I feel like putting into my first diary here. Let's do this.

I'm writing this the day before I rent a car and spend a few days driving across the state, visiting family during the week before I report to my new job. My first post-college job...snagged only months after graduation, with decent starting pay and benefits. Thanks to the wonders of sites like DailyKos and ThinkProgress, I am fully aware of how this is the exception these days and not the rule.

Your typical Tea Partier would probably tell me I achieved this through willingness to work hard, pulling myself up by my bootstraps (whatever that means). Of course, something tells me any such admiration would vanish upon learning I received Pell Grants and took advantage of subsidized loans, and didn't exactly work through college, instead doing unpaid healthcare work as a live-in caretaker for permanently disabled family members. Oh yeah, and this is a job with my state's government. So cue the calls of taking handouts and being a lazy loafer wanting a cushy government job.

Naturally, I'd dismiss such vapid insults with a wave of my hand. But should I feel any pride at all? Again, I was lucky to find out about this particular occupation, which has considerable job security and plenty of opportunities for advancement. Countless other grads with bachelor's degrees, however, will be left out in the cold, even those with degrees similar to mine. Would it be right to feel any sense of accomplishment, knowing luck factored into my good fortune along with skill and perseverance? Knowing that thousands and thousands of other fresh grads don't even have the spark of hope I have now? I'm not sure what to feel.

More rambling under that ornate orangey thing.

So before I start work, I'm renting a car and visiting other family before I get bogged down. A small, fuel-efficient car that will get me at least 36 mpg, naturally! I did the math, and my trip will require 19 gallons. But is that still too much? It still adds to the total amount of CO2 coughed up year after year, contributing to the environmental damage Tea Partiers insist doesn't happen, but is. Quantifiable ocean acidification, droughts, heatwaves, vanishing Arctic Ice...the observable evidence belies their claims. So does renting the most fuel-efficient vehicle available, plus committing to using the bus to get to my new job, really absolve me of my part? Again, I don't know what to feel.

Speaking of the environment, for many years, the only affordable apartments have been in complexes with NO recycle pickup. And like a dumbass, I never bothered to find a dropoff place, and thus spent years tossing out plastic bottles and tin cans. Thankfully, there's a plant near where I'll be working, so at last I'll be doing my small part again. But is late truly better than never? Can those years of laziness be excused?

Going back to cars...even though I'll be using the bus to get to work and I use a bicycle for everything in a five-mile radius, a new car would be nice. My current one gets 23mpg at best, has no air conditioning, and is difficult for my mother to get into (half-paralyzed from stroke). So for shits and giggles, I went to a couple dealerships to test-drive hybrid sedans for when I'll have enough to buy one. It did feel good, driving a spiffy new car, and knowing one may be within my reach soon. Still, is that giving in to the consumer culture we liberals tend to decry? Is this taking that dangerous first step, embracing greed?

And now veering back to global warming, which has been on my mind a lot, ever since the response to Steve King's claim that merely accepting global warming as reality is religious, pointing out that photosynthesis shuts down above 35°C. Should I feel the least bit optimistic about the future, or accept our collective doom is inevitable? Going on Google, I see links to promising new technologies. More efficient solar panels, harnessing fuel by extracting CO2 from seawater (Helps with ocean acidification to boot!), claims that the world can run on only renewables by 2050...the list goes on and on. I have just enough faith in the, ahem, 'free market' that once corporatist meddling from fossil fuel's lobbyists is overcome, alternatives can take root and become cost-effective. But is this all a pipe dream? Would feeling any optimism about this issue invite complacency?

But for the moment, I'm moving on to a new stage in my life, while I'll be able to accomplish more, and thus help more people. I have Asperger's Syndrome, so I feel I can show younger folks with the same diagnosis that this disability can be overcome. Yet I know there will always be Aspies incapable of holding a full-time job, and in turn will be ridiculed by Tea Party types. Called lazy moochers living off Social Security Disability, or even faking it altogether, as Michael Savage once claimed. Is it wrong to feel any pride in overcoming Asperger's Syndrome when many, many other Aspies haven't?

This was just a rambling mess of a first diary, but I felt compelled to get this all out before the mini-vacation and starting my job. I want to help the progressive cause in this country, but lately, I've had reason for self-reflection about where I'm going. Where our country and our world are going.

I just don't know what to feel.

Originally posted to Infected Zebra on Fri Aug 09, 2013 at 02:51 PM PDT.

Also republished by Kitchen Table Kibitzing, Headwaters, and Community Spotlight.

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