It’s 2002, a year after 9/11. It’s an extremely turbulent time politically, but especially so for someone like Shirin, a sixteen-year-old Muslim girl who’s tired of being stereotyped.
Shirin is never surprised by how horrible people can be. She’s tired of the rude stares, the degrading comments — even the physical violence — she endures as a result of her race, her religion, and the hijab she wears every day. So she’s built up protective walls and refuses to let anyone close enough to hurt her. Instead, she drowns her frustrations in music and spends her afternoons break-dancing with her brother.
But then she meets Ocean James. He’s the first person in forever who really seems to want to get to know Shirin. It terrifies her — they seem to come from two irreconcilable worlds — and Shirin has had her guard up for so long that she’s not sure she’ll ever be able to let it down.
This is the first instalment in a blog series I’m doing about my own personal zero waste project. Or as zero as zero waste can be, anyway.
Many people see going zero waste or reducing single-use plastics as a daunting task, or something that won’t make any impact. I personally think every little bit helps, and it seems totally doable if you divide the massive task of ‘living a more sustainable lifestyle’ into smaller, more manageable tasks. One thing at a time. Once I’ve completed a task, I move on to the next thing that strikes my interest.
One of the first zero waste swaps I made was straws.Scientists estimate there are anywhere from 437 million to 8.3 billion plastic straws on the shorelines around the world. Each year, 1 million seabirds and 100,000 marine animals die from ingesting plastic. In 2015, a video in which researchers tried removing a plastic straw from a sea turtle’s nostril went viral. That video was the last straw for me, literally.
I chose this song because I spent most of my time outdoors and was working in the garden a lot these months, so it has quite a literal meaning. I also picked it because of the whole ‘slept (waited, been down) for too long, work to be done (life goes on)’, see the following lyrics:
How long have we slept How long have we wept There’s work to be done
Sky above So vast and so deep You know what I need Rain down on me Rain down on the garden Rain down on the garden
The reading slump has been defeated, hooray! Getting back into fiction has definitely helped, I absolutely flew through some books.
Very slowly, I’ve been applying my minimalist lifestyle to my book collection, so from now on, every mini book review will include the question, “Would I bring this book into my tiny house library?” I’m not 100% sure that a tiny house is for me yet, but thinking of it like this helps me keep only the books that I really love.
Note on Dutch books: A Dutch flag emoji (🇳🇱) next to the book title means that I read a book in Dutch. I haven’t added affiliate links for Dutch books because I believe a great thing about the fixed book price is that you can choose who you buy from (without paying too much), and for me, that will always be an independent bookseller. If there is an English translation, I will provide a link.
Mijn achterlijke kat Lola by Sylvia Witteman 🇳🇱
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling (audiobook, re-read)
Rates of stress and anxiety are rising. A fast, nervous planet is creating fast and nervous lives. We are more connected, yet feel more alone. And we are encouraged to worry about everything from world politics to our body mass index.
How can we stay sane on a planet that makes us mad?
How do we stay human in a technological world?
How do we feel happy when we are encouraged to be anxious?
After experiencing years of anxiety and panic attacks, these questions became urgent matters of life and death for Matt Haig. And he began to look for the link between what he felt and the world around him.
Notes on a Nervous Planet is a personal and vital look at how to feel happy, human and whole in the 21st century.