Tag Archives: environment

i just noticed i’m a paper bag hoarder.

in my quest to be environmentally friendly and lower my carbon footprint, i save all the paper bags from all the environmentally friendly supermarkets we shop at, namely whole foods and mom’s organic market.

i get so excited about these bags thinking YES. YES I WILL MAKE PAPER BAG FALL FOLIAGE AND MACRAMÉ OUT OF THESE. then i immediately think: no, no i won’t. i’ll buy fake fall foliage from michael’s that’s probably made in china, and macramé, which i just looked up, is actually knitting with knots, which sounds kind of cool, but has nothing to do with paper bags.

no, what i actually think will happen is that i’ll reuse these bags, responsibly and carefully bringing them back to these supermarkets, casually telling the moderately friendly cashier, oh! i actually brought my own bags today so i won’t be needing new ones. i will pretend not to care that she forgets to give me 5 to 10 cents off (depending on the supermarket) for each bag that i brought, because in the end, i’m doing my part to save the environment, right? who needs 1o cents off my bill for each bag i bring? (I DO DAMMIT. LADY GIVE ME MY DISCOUNT.) ahem.

anyway, here’s what actually happens: i forget to bring back the damn bags. and instead bring back MORE paper bags each time i shop. and they pile up in our laundry area until the extra-large non-supermarket paper bag that’s holding them all is actually about to burst. and then, when i can’t possibly fit another one in, i think: oh. i’m actually a paper bag hoarder. and i won’t be satisfied until every last inch of our home is filled with paper bags, so many that i won’t even be able to find my own spouse.

HOLLY! i’ll shout, when this day inevitably arrives, panicked, swimming through the paper bags like it’s a giant, adult-sized, environmentally friendly ball pit. HONEY WHERE ARE YOU. GIVE ME A SIGN THAT YOU CAN HEAR ME.

and i’ll hear a small, soft voice–and crinkling–from somewhere in the house (i won’t know where because the sound is so muffled from all the paper) saying, out of breath from the effort of shouting through piles and piles of densely packed paper bags–honey! over here! i told you. to start. bringing. the bags. back. 

i’ll hang my head in shame. except for i can’t even hang it. there’s too many bags. so i’ll just place my chin on a pile and weep. i won’t even have to wipe my eyes because my tears will flow directly into the highly absorbent bags made from 80% post-consumer waste.

OK NO. what actually happens is that i use these bags as recycling receptacles and to bring snacks on long car rides. but unless we start running some sort of after school program, there will never be enough recycling to fill all these bags. and there’s just not enough long car rides. so what’s happened is that i’ve now accumulated (i counted them yesterday)…43 paper bags. FORTY-THREE. PAPER BAGS. who needs that many paper bags? no one! only supermarkets!

my favorite part is that i actually save all these small paper bags. you know, the cute ones? thinking: i’ll pack my lunch in this! yes! i’ll reuse it and pack my organic lunch in it! but no! DUH, i work from home! so i’ll carry something in it, i think. YES! something artisanal. and i will hand whatever it is (dark chocolate, probably, or some kind of sheep’s milk cheese or an annoying IPA beer) to a hipster guy with a beard, who will reuse this little bag until holes begin to form in it and then he and his bearded friends will compost it while wearing fitted plaid shirts to grow, i don’t know, lima beans or pumpkins or something and make aioli out of them.

NO. you know what happens with these little artisanal paper bags? THEY GO IN THE RECYCLING. in fact, i recycle them in the large bags that i fill with all the other recyclables each week. so now i actually have paper bags within paper bags within paper bags (if they’re double bagged, which about half of them are).

PLEASE TELL ME I’M NOT THE ONLY PAPER BAG HOARDER OUT THERE. PLEASE GIVE ME IDEAS OF THINGS TO DO WITH THEM SO I DON’T WIND UP ON THAT TLC SHOW. I DON’T WANT AN INTERVENTION. I’M JUST A FORGETFUL PERSON THAT WANTS TO HELP SAVE THE EARTH. AND DON’T TELL ME TO GET THOSE REUSABLE BAGS. I FORGET TO BRING THEM, TOO. I HAVE LIKE 10 OF THEM, SOME OF WHICH ARE NOW HOLDING PAPER BAGS.

A photo of lots of paper bags.

an actual photo of my paper bag collection. there’s more but they couldn’t fit in the shot. do you want some? i’ll send them to you. maybe we should just get a fire pit and use them as kindling. we could turn off our heat and stay warm by the fire. we could also cook meat over the fire. reduce. reuse. recycle.

i want to go hunting but i don’t want to kill animals or shoot a gun.

ever since i wrote about “hunting gear” a couple years ago, i’ve been on this kick that i really want to hunt except for: a) i don’t want to actually kill an animal or b) shoot a gun.

shooting a big furry animal? one that’s cute? (and let’s face it: they’re all cute. even the ones that want to eat your face.)  i just couldn’t do it. i’ve also learned that when hunting, you need to drag the dead animal back to your car, then at some point, gut it. which, no. please, i can barely make a meatloaf!

i also don’t like shooting guns, because they’re a) loud b) dangerous and c) have kickback. and i try to avoid all loud, dangerous things, especially those that might wind up tossing my body like a beanbag. (hah, that was a funny visual.)

so i guess what i actually want to do is wear cool hunting clothes while hiding out in the woods looking at animals.

is there a name for this activity? because it’s definitely not hunting.

i think what might be a good solution is to take a moderately short hike in camo and hunting-appropriate boots, stop in the prettiest spot, and watch animals in their natural habitat while i picnic on a variety of forest-appropriate snacks, including but not limited to fresh fruit, sheep or goat’s milk cheese, and/or a selection of meats that don’t need to be heated. and pumpkin seeds. oh, and tea, from, like, a stainless steel thermos that keeps it really really hot for hours, because, really, who knows how long i’ll be out there? OH AND CHOCOLATE. DARK CHOCOLATE. mmmm.

other items to pack:
-a blanket
-matches (in case i need to make a fire, which, how do you make a fire? whatever, i’ll figure it out.)
-a tent (in case it rains)
-one of those wind-up lights that’s also a radio and a cell phone charger
-S.O.S. flares (in case of emergency)
-bear spray
-a knife (don’t ask; this just feels like something i should have)
-first aid kit

ok, i guess what actually want to do is to go camping, in which case i’m going to need one of those portable camping stoves. and some kind of stove top coffee pot. breakfast foods. canned beans. things like that. OH WAIT: BUG SPRAY. but without chemicals. natural bug spray.

this is turning into kind of an ordeal. maybe i should just go fishing. except i don’t want to bait the hook or touch any fish. so i guess what i actually want to do is sit in a boat or stand on a pier all day, catch and reel in a fish, and basically make someone else do all the gross stuff. (note: i have actually found someone to do this for me!)

so yeah. that’s actually all i wanted to tell you. how’s your summer been? mine’s been a little on the crappy side (hence not posting much). HOWEVER (however!) i’m thrilled to tell you that I HAVE COMPLETED MY E-BOOK, “THAT’S NOT A KITTEN, IT’S A RAT,” AND IT WILL SOON BE AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE FOR THE LOW LOW PRICE OF $2.99.

the gist of this e-book is that it’s actually a mini e-book (hence the reasonable price), designed to be read in one hour or less. it contains lots of what i call dvd extras for regular readers (like how i unknowingly peed my pants in kindergarten while listening to phonics records in my elementary school library) but also tries to reel people in that haven’t made it to this blog yet with tales of eddie the rat and the bottomless abyss that is my bag.

BONUS: if you’re somewhat local i am willing to come to your book club (yes! your book club!) to answer questions, or, you know, just to eat your food and talk trash with you and your friends. i will also bring HOLLY, whom, as you all know, is the real hero of this blog in that she is endlessly patient with me as i talk/complain about her and spill our business on the internet. (LOVE YOU, HONEY!)

trust me, i will let you all know the moment it’s available for download. in the meantime, does anyone want to sit and watch animals in the woods with me? make sure you wear camo. i’ll bring the forest snacks and the bear spray.

there’s a hole in the ozone above where i do my hair

so now that it’s may in baltimore, two things are certain:

1) i will be sweating until early to mid october. possibly til halloween, depending on weather patterns.

2) my hair is now huge, only to get huger, unless i press no less than 400-425 degrees of searing heat directly against it, taking down baltimore’s power grid in the process and creating a hole in the ozone directly above our house.

this is compounded by the fact that i’ve started to go to the gym again, to “lose weight for the summer,” (LOL) seeing how it’s may 15th and i like to plan in advance and all. 10 minutes on the damn stairmaster this morning and my DIY blowout is shot to hell. totally going to have to do it again now. totally going to get carpal tunnel, which, whatever. you know i’m going to get it anyway because i’m a writer. might as well have nice hair while i’m sitting here in my home office where no one can see me (except holly, who somehow loves me no matter what my hair looks like, even on exceptionally large hair days that make her eyes wide with alarm as she whispers babe, your hair is really big today. bless her).

in other news: holly’s semester’s almost over and OMG THANK GOODNESS I’M SO HUNGRY I’VE BEEN HUNGRY SINCE THE FALL OMG BABY PLEASE START COOKING FOR ME AGAIIIIIN. no but seriously: this year’s been an emotional roller coaster! now i see why getting your mba is such a friggin big deal. it’s hard. it’s hard on spouses, too!

it’s like holly’s school stress travels into me through osmosis or something. i’m not taking econ BUT I FEEL LIKE I’M TAKING ECON. please! i don’t want to know about econ! like all good journalists/ex-journalists/copywriters, i pride myself in becoming an expert in confusing fields completely foreign/uninteresting to me, writing an article or website about said field(s), then promptly forgetting everything like it never even happened. don’t tell me about your econ class, holly, unless i’m writing web content/email marketing copy/a script/etc. on the life of an mba grad student with a partner who’s needed a home-cooked meal since august. (trust me, you don’t want me to write that.)

no. i’ve been cooking. i cook sometimes! i’m actually a pretty decent cook. i’ve made butternut squash puree, like from an actual butternut squash. (holly had to cut it down the middle for me because i’m scared of knives and, you know, blood.) i excel at grilling chicken. oh one time i made like…a chicken piccata-type thing! you know, with capers? i also excel at roasting any and all vegetables. i’ve made some vegetarian soups featuring trendy greens like kale and chick peas (the humble chick pea: always on trend, never out of style). i made a beef stew with red wine in it. (fancy!) i made my old friend diane‘s excellent sweet & sour gummy gelatin snacks because we’re hippies now and don’t eat anything artificial and everything in our cupboards is some kind of dried thing or seed sealed in an airtight container.

i started each semester out strong saying to holly i got you, babe! i’ll do the cooking! but then quickly petered out after three days, telling her on her way out the door to please go to starbucks during your break, honey, and get a latte and some kind of egg sandwich for dinner while i ate low glycemic foods such as green apples and various tree nuts at my desk. then i’d work on my e-book for five minutes, go downstairs and binge watch gay man shows like will & grace and the golden girls, spitting out pumpkin seeds as i laughed, thinking oh i should go do the dishes now but i probably won’t! oh that karen walker! oh blanche! oh sophia! i think i need an organic cheese stick! …but there was no one to get it for me because holly was in class. and then i’d feel sad i didn’t try harder to cook for my spouse. but then millionaire matchmaker was on and…what was i talking about again?

still. i would give up the chance to binge watch my favorite reruns for some home cookin that i don’t have to actually cook.

in conclusion, i started out talking about my hair and i have no idea how i got onto this topic. anyway, here’s a picture of the hole in the ozone above our house, three hours before i shut down the power grid.

Image

psych! it’s totally not. but wait: is that even real?? see, this is what happens when you google images. i have no idea if this is even legit. but it’s scary.

ok let’s stop talking about it now.

in conclusion (i love it when i try to “conclude” my blog posts). IN CONCLUSION: i have no conclusion. i was going to say something about hair to wrap up this post, but instead i’m going to tell you that while i was writing this (i wrote the majority of this post yesterday, about half of it alone in the house), the tv kept going on and off downstairs. it was really freaking me the hell out. i should have gone downstairs to investigate it, but there was a small part of me that thought it might be a poltergeist. (and we all know how well i handle spooky poltergeist movies.) i was trying to convince myself that some weird thing was going on with some kind of recording holly had set up but yeah, mostly i was thinking poltergeist.

i finally decided enough was enough, that i’d confront this invisible beast once and for all. i kind of expected to be sucked into the tv like that little girl in the movie (MOMMY HELP I’M STUCK IN THE TEEVEE! MOMMY MOMMY HELP! *shudder*). instead i found a box sitting on top of the on/off switch of the remote. i was flooded with the sweet nectar of relief one only feels after a close encounter with another dimension. (very few people have ever felt this.) i’m really glad this story had a happy ending or else holly would be really busy right now trying to get me out of our damn tv.

poltergeist hand comes out of the tv to get the little girl in the hit 80s horror movie, poltergeist.

COULD HAVE BEEN ME. WASN’T. ANOTHER CLOSE CALL.

city girl goes country

yeah. not me. in case you didn't already guess.

i am a city girl. this is not news to anyone that knows me or has spent two to five minutes with me. even if i try to pretend to be a country girl, my bangs, aversion to all bugs and need to have a purse and hair straightener with me at all times will give me away. however, the city can even get to a person like me–esp. baltimore and esp. when it’s suddenly nice out–and make you pine for fresh air. 

by “pining” i guess i actually mean “get stupid.” case in point: monday morning. we were in pee-ay for a long weekend, and i was demented enough in my imminent need for “fresh country air” to decide that yes, i would ask holly’s 6’5″ brother-in-law if i could ride his quad, you know, by myself around a wooded path thru his huge-o property. 

“are you sure you don’t want to ride with me first so i can show you the path?” holly asked. 

“no,” i told her, suddenly feeling very independent even tho i didn’t know, oh, how to start the thing or where the gas or break was. “i want to go by myself. we’ve gone on the path before together.” 

once. like five years ago. like i said: demented. 

“o-kaaay,” she said slowly, sounding concerned but ultimately–surprisingly–resigned to my sudden bout of strong country will.   

then shawn, the aforementioned huge country brother-in-law, started the thing for me (the “thing” is a quad, also known as a “four-wheeler” or an “atv,” i.e. all terrain vehicle) and showed me where the gas and break were. that is, after i managed to climb up on the damn seat b/c it’s made for a 6’5″ man. but these are details. 

“be careful,” he said. “the gas is…” 

then i zoomed off into the country distance. his last word must’ve been “sensitive” b/c hot damn, i was really flying. 

wooohooo! i thought in my mind, as holly’s four and two-year-old nephews peered wide-eyed at me from the bottom of the yard. if this episode was a movie or cartoon, one of them would have dropped his sippy cup.  while they couldn’t put words to it, i see now that i think they sensed danger. they must’ve known that a girl like me shouldn’t be riding a quad by herself in western pee-ay. or anywhere for that matter. they knew this and yet, they couldn’t tell me. 

i went around and around this big horseshoe-shaped clearing. i knew it wasn’t the trail but it was fun. then i saw shawn running up the hill. 

“that’s my neighbor’s yard!” he shouted over the booming, smelly exhaust. “trail’s over there!” he pointed. 

oh the crazy old lady neighbor. the one you were talking about inside about 10 minutes ago. that’s watching me drag an atv thru her perfectly manicured horseshoe-shaped yard. oops

“k! sorry! thanks!” i yelled as i entered the path. 

i zoomed past tall grass and trees and flowers. the air smelled great. this was really what i needed. then i passed a big powerline shawn had mentioned. i was on the right track. until, that is, i got to a spot where it looked like there were two paths. and both of them went straight into the woods. ummmm…. 

i entered one and immediately panicked b/c it suddenly didn’t feel like a path anymore. it felt like…the woods. i stopped and decided maybe i would turn around and go back. except for i was stuck in between trees and couldn’t turn around. i twisted the handlebars around in a sad attempt to do a 180 and stopped midway b/c i was about to get my eyeballs poked out by branches and, you know, hit a tree. 

this was bad and i was starting to panic. 

i sat there with the motor running (b/c if i turned it off i was sure i wouldn’t get it started again) and looked down for a gearshift. this thing has got to have a reverse or something, i thought. yeah, this from the girl who learned how to drive on a highway, like, two years ago. that’s just learning how to parallel park. that mixes up her windshield wipers with her blinker. yeah. me. 

so i find shift-type thing and move it back to the letter R and try backing up but it seems like i’m in neutral b/c i’m not moving. i play around with it some more and finally go backwards a little. then i can’t go forward. i’m stuck between trees and there are branches that are obviously going to scratch my retinas and i’m going to asphyxiate from the diesel or gas fumes coming out of this machine and i’m going to collapse. right here in the woods. 

i sat there for what felt like a really long time deciding what to do. i felt holly worrying about me. why did i think i could drive around an atv in the woods w/out holly? i wondered, panic-stricken, mad at myself for my unusually rash behavior. what was i thinking? i am usually so level-headed. oh my gosh i think i just heard a bear. i’m going to die out here. a quarter mile from her twin sister’s house. 

“i told her not to go by herself,” i could hear holly saying, crying, when they found me hours later, half-conscious and dehydrated, mauled by a pennsylvania black bear (do those even exist? they probably do) lured by the fruity smell of my garnier fructis-flavored hair and the shiny studs on my flip-flops. 

i could get off of this thing right now and walk back, i thought.  just leave the motor running and go back. but who the hell knows how long it’d take me to walk back and holly’s probably already wondering where i am.  

what i really wanted to do was cry. but i resisted and instead decided to do a k-turn right there in the woods between the trees. i backed up, i went forward. i got stuck in neutral. i backed up and turned and went forward and backwards and forward again until, omg, i actually did a 180 and made it out of the goshdarned woods. 

i zoomed out and started back the way i came, cursing myself the whole time. fresh country air my a**. jersey girl in the woods. what a joke. i’d had had enough of the damn country. drop me off in the friggin city. i was ready for an overly complicated coffee drink and some wifi.

i came down the big hill that is shawn and heidi’s yard. the boys peered out at me. holly and shawn looked up. i would pretend nothing happened. that’s what i’d do.

 i slowed down and shut the motor off next to the house.

“well?” holly said.

“i…i got stuck in the woods,” i whispered. “there was a fork in the road and i couldn’t figure out where the path was! i…got scared. i panicked. i had to do a k-turn in the woods except for i was stuck and almost scratched my retinas and,” i held my breath, trying not to cry. “i think i heard a bear.”

 “you see? i told you we should have gone together. you could have gone yourself after that.”

“i know.”

 i was very grateful to see her smiling instead of crying over my mauled, famished and dehydrated body. this relieved me and i was able to contain my emotions. she convinced me to go on a ride with her on the actual path even tho i didn’t want to anymore b/c i was sick of the country. i hopped on and put my arms around her and suddenly felt kind of excited again. until i told her not to go too fast at which point i felt like a wuss.

moral of the story: jersey girls don’t belong in the woods and they certainly don’t belong alone in the woods on quads. from here on out, it’s my rav-4 only and i’m going to pay more attention b/c i’m tired of the damn windshield wipers scaring the hell out of me every time i make a turn.

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is it weird that i find the sound of all the noisy daytime summer bugs incredibly relaxing?

cicadas

how can something so scary-looking sound so awesome??

anyone else with me? or am i just crazy? (ok don’t answer that one)

it’s cicadas, i think. and heaven help me if i ever come face to face with one (oh and i have. if you were in the maryland-dc area a few years ago, you, too, experienced the 18-year cicada phenomenon. yeah, they bury eggs or something and then they hatch 18 years later and basically take over your life once you step outside. *freaky*!) i’m not such a fan of bugs (who is? if you are i’d like to hear from you and hear your rationale tho i bet it something w/the friggin ecosystem or something and you’re probably right) but hot damn! there is nothing on earth like walking outside of an air-conditioning building or stepping outside of your house or car and just hearing that whoosh of sound combined with summer heat and sun…it’s like slipping into a warm bath. 

it wasn’t until a couple years ago that i finally figured out why i love it so much: it’s august. that giant cicada sound to me means august. and august for me growing up in northern new jersey was returning from summer sleepaway camp (i only went for the first session, only three and a half weeks but it could have been a year, it felt so long) feeling like a champion that i had braved it on my own for “so long” and with the names, phone numbers and addresses of a gazillion new friends not to mention a golden tan and a new appreciation for everything i had left at home. before that it was day camp (also only the first session), always kind of tedious tho fun. and always a great sense of relief that it was over so i could be at home.

august was the pool with my mom (a teacher; i was lucky enough to have her home every summer), homemade cut-off jean shorts and errands together on our little mainstreet and visits with my dear grandma, the three of us going to friendly’s and then just grandma and i, sitting on her third-floor cement balcony surrounded by little pots of red geraniums, her smoking her unfiltered pall malls (and putting them out about a minute later, telling me never to smoke the whole time) and me, listening to the cacophony of bugs, watching the planes fly by high above, thinking about the new school year about to start (promising myself that i’d start my homework earlier after school, which i probably only did for the first month, if that) and dreaming about what it’d be like to be grown up one day.

i guess, stepping back a little bit, the sound of the cicadas just takes me back to a simpler time. one where i was surrounded by all love, all the time (i was a lucky kid), shielded by my parents and grandma from the crueler, less comfortable parts of life (namely, adulthood)…a world where my biggest worries were homework and friends and then, eventually, studying for my bat mitzvah. when sweat was something that meant i was outside playing, something that dried off in due time, not something that ruined my dress shirt after a quick lunchbreak outside in the heat.

i think, also, it’s just…summer. and even if many of us are stuck in sterile, air-conditioned offices the majority of the day, those moments when we can slip out for a few minutes during the day, or just walking in or walking out for the day, the rush of cicadas–with their soft-to-loud and then loud-to-soft clamour–reminds us that outside four walls is nature and summer and heat and, yes, bugs. they were there when we were kids, and they’ll be there always, waiting for us, sounding exactly the same year after year. i have also determined that, b/c i am one of those freakazoids who doesn’t actually go ga-ga over summer (i go ga-ga over fall), their sound also means that fall is not far. oh fall. fall fall fall, how i absolutely love and live for fall.

so really, that’s just about it. and if you’re new to my blog, no, i don’t always blog about wildlife (kittens yesterday, bugs today). i’ve just been meaning to tell you all how much i love the sound of cicadas. very un-rocknroll of me, i know. but i love puppies, too. and deer. and pretty much anything cute and furry. so don’t even get me started…