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Let me tell you about my friend Paula. Paula is fierce, and funny, a bit off the wall, weird in all the best ways, and generally the best friend you could imagine having. We met in Arizona, working on our masters degrees–mine in religious studies and literature, and hers in integral theory. I had never heard of integral theory (but then, most of my fellow grad students were a bit suspicious about the idea that you could study religion and literature together), and Paula can still explain it way better than I can, but as far as I understand it, it’s an attempt at harnessing a Grand Unified Theory of Everything and then putting it to work to make the world a better place. I’m well at the other end of the academic spectrum, much more interested in details and keenly aware of how many exceptions there are to any attempt at big-picture rule making. But I’m all for making the world a better place, and when I listen to Paula talk, when I see her bouncing around in front of a white board, drawing diagrams of the development of civilisation and waving her arms, I believe that even if the Grand Unified Theory of Everything isn’t the way to get us there, then she’s definitely the person to do it.

Paula’s also way more attuned to global environmental issues than I am. I know that there is Stuff going on, and it is Important and probably also Very Bad, but my ability to understand the ginormous systems that are interacting to produce this Important Very Bad Stuff is limited–as I said, I’m a details person. Also an historical person, rather than a current events person. In twenty or so years, if you want someone to tell you about the language people used to describe this Very Bad Important Stuff, then point me to a library and I’m your girl. But figuring out how peak oil and the mortgage crisis and the internet and public education all add up together and how we can maybe make the numbers come out a bit differently? I will listen, and I will nod, and I will probably do what you tell me to do (if your name is Paula, at least), so long as it doesn’t separate me from my beloved library, but there it ends.

So Paula still shares articles on peak oil and global warming and how to set up a homestead, and I read them and generally get the impression that the world is likely to end somewhat sooner than I’d like, possibly before I even manage to get my next book drafted. And then I decide I’d better get back to work, because if I don’t finish that book, I am going to be seriously, seriously irritated. (Seriously. I just finished the first draft abstract, and I’m super excited about this one.)

I’m doing a very bad job of writing this, because both Paula and I are coming across as caricatures of ourselves. OK, yeah, I probably really am that much of an archive rat, but Paula’s actually an incredibly balanced, cool individual. She has a home, a wife, a kid, a job; while she’s worrying about saving the world for the next generation, she’s also totally involved with the world she wants to save. I am continually in awe of the balancing act she does every single day.

Anyways. Paula didn’t write this song, but I imagine her singing it. It seems like her kind of thing.

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