Thursday, October 06, 2005


The publisher may be finished with me, but the radio station wants me to come down and record the following:

By Satya C

One of the four noble truths of Buddhism is that life
is full of suffering.

But some of us have spent our whole lives making
things harder for ourselves.

Some of us have even turned it into an art form.

In my case, it's often due to a conviction or belief.
Other times it's because I'm poor or afraid of
identity theft or distrustful of authority.
Sometimes I just like a good challenge. Whatever the
case, my belief system makes life complicated.

It dates back to college, when I had a Mohawk. Not one
of those little fakey faux-hawks all the kids are
wearing these days, but a foot-high one with the sides
shaved to the scalp. It took a half hour to style
it. It was so tall I had to squash myself down in my seat so
I could drive my car.

I can't take one multi-vitamin; I have to take seven
of them. I don't have one career, I have two -- which
means twice as many receipts and checks and tax
returns. I quit three graduate school programs before
I found the right one. And I pay cash at toll booths,
so The Man can't keep track of me.

I've dated a former drug addict, a vet just back from
Iraq, a cancer guy and someone who only ate orange
food. And that's just over the past few years.

I've never used an ATM. Instead, I make bank
deposits in person, at the teller, and plan my cash expenditures ahead
of time.

I'm a Mac person of course, and I can't count the
number of times my iMac has frozen up, been bumped off
websites, or refused to load software. My editors
can never open the stories I send, and just about
everything I do requires a call to tech. support.

I recycle everything I can. But first I have to sort
it, rinse it, and haul it down three flights of stairs
- Why rent on the first floor when you can live on the

I can't use regular soap, toothpaste or shampoo. It
has to be cruelty free, and purchased for top dollar
at the health food store.

But it can't just be any health food store - it has to
be locally owned. That means I have to make a special trip. On my

I ride it everywhere, which means I must check the
weather every time I leave the house. Then I must put
on the special, ugly shoes that click into the pedals.

My exercise consists of doing a two-hour yoga practice
six days a week. And I can't just throw my yoga
clothes in the washer; they have to be hand-washed and
dried on the clothesline. No wonder I never have time
to call people back.

But yoga is all about letting go, and one day after
practice I was accompanying my friend to the suburbs
when I had an epiphany. We were about to hit the
toll booth, and I had started digging in my purse for
change. But like most normal people, she had I-Pass.
So instead of slowing down and choosing a lane and
counting out the pennies** and waiting in line and
hoping the coins would register properly, we flew
through the toll gate in record time.

It made me feel light and happy.

So the next day I installed I-Pass in my car. Sure,
the government can track my comings and goings. But
life is so much easier now.

It's working so well I may just have to take it back.


*Difficult, high-maintenance -- potato, poTAHto, it's all the same

**Dorian Black (Gray) too puts pennies in the toll basket -- also as a form of protest.

***That photo is *not* of me -- mine was bigger. And blonder. And minus the Hasidic side-curls.


  1. Anonymous11:53 AM

    You know, I used to worry about grocery cards and how "the man" would be able to keep track of how much milk and how many condoms I bought in a year, but then I thought - who cares? I get added savings and they can better identify products to keep in store for my use. So what if they know I prefer skim over soy?

    I-Pass is the best. I got mine in 2001 when you still had to go to the main I-Pass office at Ogden and 355 (Downers Grove) to get it. There were no discounts for using it back then, only the knowledge that you didn't have to worry about being stuck behind someone blocking a toll lane trying to count out 40 pennies as a futile sign of protest.

  2. Anonymous1:27 PM

    i always wanted a mohawk, but i was too afraid to actualy get one.
    i really like your npr stories. they are so unlike anything else you hear. if we miss them, is there anywhere to hear them on-line?

  3. Anonymous1:29 PM

    Check the info in the link on my name and be ahppy all the time.
    (gurls only)