Monday, September 1, 2008

Oy Vey

Wow, so it's been a long time. I have excuses, though. Flimsy ones, perhaps, but excuses nonetheless. I've been out of town. I've been moving. I've been lacking internet access at my new place. I haven't been picking up trash.... Okay, so that's the worst one. However, I am now fully moved into my new place, which is fabulous by the way, and it abuts Forest Service land, which means there is plenty of trash for me to pick up. Woohoo!!

I'm also not leaving Boone until December at the earliest, so I no longer need to pick up trash as my legacy to this fabulous place. I realize,though, that is no excuse to sot the trash picking up, so I am bagged and gloved and ready to proceed (of course I'm heading out of town, but I'll be back). I will keep all my lovely readers (or at least myself) entertained (or bored) with my exploits.

More coming soon!

Monday, July 14, 2008

I can't think of anything witty - I ate too much ice cream to think well

So I was picking up trash on Holloway Mountain Road again today (it's a never-ending chore), and I was thinking about food. Food is very important to me. I'm obsessed. Addicted. All that stuff. I get an immense amount of pleasure from cooking and eating and drinking. I also love to cook for other people. And I'm completely baffled by people who aren't as obsessed with food as I am. There are a lot of people in this world who simple eat because they're hungry. They don't take time to savor each bite, or to create something in the kitchen. I was wondering what the correlation between litterers and people who don't appreciate food is. A lot of the trash that I've picked up has been from fast food restaurants. And it's not that I don't enjoy a Whopper on occasion (well, I really only eat fast food in airports, and I have no idea why I crave it so much there), but I'd bet that if you asked a bunch of litterbugs about their eating habits there would be some sort of statistical significance to their answers.

In non-trash related news, my life is utterly confusing right now. I'm moving by August 15th; I just don't know where. And I just read a book called "Sabbath Creek," which is exactly the kind of book I want to write: it's got baseball, coming-of-age, family relationships, a little racial tension, and surprisingly not really any sex.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


I know I've been boring lately. I've got some excuses though. One, I've had company. Two, I've been out of town. Three, it's been raining almost every day. Four, turns out that trash is pretty boring. My big finds of recent times have been a Spiderman band-aid and a Laffy Taffy wrapper (I do like the Laffy Taffy).

I did buy ecologically conscious clothing today, and in the process donated money to the World Wildlife Fund, so I'm still doing my part. And I now have multiple clothes that make my breasts into environmental messages.

In unrelated news, guess who wins in a fight between my dog and a goat? If you guessed the dog, you'd be right. And goats who are getting beaten up make very, very unpleasant sounds, especially when echoing off the walls of a metal building (the sound was echoing, not the goat).

I promise that once Boone stops drowning I will be off to pick up more trash. Right now, however, the sky is gray, it is drizzling, and according to the weather radar, a downpour could start at any moment. So until the skies clear, I'll stick to the occasional piece of litter and promoting cleanliness with my body.

Friday, June 27, 2008

"Head for the Mountains"

Holloway Mountain Part 2: Busch seems to be the beer of choice. Which makes a sort of sense, since people are drinking it in the mountains. Coors Light used to be my cheap beer of choice, but then one of my professors talked about how her brother worked in one of their factories and everyone pissed in the beer. Now, I'm sure this happens everywhere, but having definitive proof of it happening at Coors turned me off from them. Now I just don't drink cheap beer, unless someone gives it to me.

I remembered the bags this time, but forgot the gloves, which is worse. It made me picky. I left some trash. I'm not hardcore yet, so I couldn't handle the thought of picking up McDonald's bags half buried in wet sludge. I'll get hardcore. It will just take time.

I bent down to pick up what I thought was a piece of trash, then screamed, said "Holy shit," and jumped back. Here's what I almost picked up:

On a pretty note, the native rhododendrons are starting to bloom, and Holloway Mountain is slowly being framed in white and pink:

On a musical note, I'm currently obsessed with Amos Lee and a song by Hayes Carll called "She Left Me for Jesus," which I think is very funny.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Bad Start

So, being utterly disorganized and morally opposed to much planning, I forgot an important part of my first clean-up: a trash bag. I drove out to Holloway Mountain Road, the dirt road that links 105 to the Blue Ridge Parkway. I drive this road a lot, since I hike the Parkway a lot, and last time I was on it I noticed the large number of bottles on the side of the road. I thought it would be a good place to start. Once I parked, I realized my lack of trash bags. Luckily, since I have dogs, I've always got a couple plastic grocery bags lying around the car in case they poop (not in the car - but if I'm walking them and they poop in some public place with short grass). I had three bags and lots of road to cover. I made about a quarter mile before the bags were full.

I found a tail light. I found some unknown part of a Honda - it was a round piece of plastic the size of a small plate. I found a lot of bottles. I managed to spill beer on my one pair of clean jeans. I tried not to think about who had been drinking that beer, or how long it had been fermenting in the sun. There was everything you'd expect: McDonald's bags, chocolate wrappers, styrofoam cups, beer, more beer, Smirnoff Triple Black (which is probably the same as Smirnoff Ice, just with a more macho name), things like that.

Now, I'm all for going out into the woods and drinking beer. I did that in the Garden of the Gods and got kicked out. There's a picture of me driving down the Dalton Highway drinking beer (I do not normally condone drinking and driving. In fact, I despise it. One beer on the Dalton doesn't really count though, and if you've been there, you'll understand why). I've chugged Budwieser while driving (I was passenging) through downtown Fairbanks singing Willie Nelson at the top of my lungs while dressed as a pimp. However, on none of these occasions did I throw a bottle out the window, or just leave it lying in the dirt. It is not difficult to keep cans in the car, and then toss them in a recycling bin. And if you do that, next time you're out drinking beer in the woods, you'll be surrounded by beauty instead of trash.

And maybe I'm stereotyping but I generally think of people who drink organic beer as fairly environmentally conscious, and maybe even as having hippie tendencies. So the bottle of organic Stone Mill beer lying in the ditch was a little surprising.

There's still a lot of trash to pick up on Holloway Mountain, and next time I'll bring the big bags!

Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Reason

A couple months ago I wrote a personal manifesto. I'm posting it here to provide a reason behind this blog:

"There is a certain kind of person I’m attracted to, whether as a friend or lover. This person is, over and above everything else (the humor, the smarts, the good-looking, stubbled men with sexy hands), curious and adventurous. He will trade in a plane ticket for a canoe and paddle down the Yukon on a fruitless quest for gold. She will hitchhike across Alaska. He will go to prison for his beliefs. She will join the Peace Corps, then fall in love and stay. These are my friends and lovers in life, and there are thousands more in the books I read.

I have never done these things. Sure, I’ve hitchhiked across the Yukon, but out of necessity (a broken car, an empty road), not desire. As a woman, hitchhiking scares me. I’ve driven long, lonely roads. I’ve lived far from home. I’ve hiked, I’ve fished, I’m attempting to start my own business. I've had one-night stands. I've traveled. But I’ve known for a long time that I fall woefully short of what I look for in others. The full tragedy of this struck me last night: how can I expect the friendship and love of others if I cannot dedicate myself to my own ideals? The unfortunate and painful truth is that I can’t. I don’t mean to say that I don’t deserve love; I do: I’m a good person, a good friend, a good daughter, sister, lover. But there is an incongruity between my expectations and my actions. It is this gap within myself that I hope to close.

New Year’s is the traditional day for resolutions, which strikes me as odd: a day firmly entrenched in vacation, gluttony, and consumerism. Can you resolve to lose weight on the same day you indulge in that ham or rich oyster stew, while Christmas cookies still fill the refrigerator? Can you resolve to appreciate nature in the dead of winter? Or to be a happier person as the darkness sucks serotonin from your body? You can, and I applaud you if you succeed. I never have. I’ve also never tried very hard, because until last night I was pretty content with my place in the world.

April 1st seems much better for resolutions. The daffodils are blooming, the trees are budding, signs of new life are everywhere. It seems a fitting time for me to embark on my new life. And there is the additional bonus of it being April Fool’s Day. If, two weeks in, I’m already a failure, I can always tell myself it was one big joke. I might not believe myself, but it’s a loophole that the New Year sure doesn’t have.

I don’t want to give the impression of radical change. I have done things with my life, and I do have a deep curiosity about the world, and I do learn things every day. But I can do so much more. Instead of saying, “I want a garden,” which is true, I can go outside and plant a garden. Actually, I’m renting and can’t dig up the yard, but there is a tiny area I can use, with enough room for a couple heads of lettuce and some herbs. And I can learn about gardening so that next year, when I (hopefully) own my own home, I can be successful with a garden. It is a small thing, but there are an endless number of small things that can help me build my bridge across the gap. And it may be a swinging bridge with wooden slats, precarious in even a light wind. A slat may splinter and fall, leaving a hole my foot could get stuck in, or a hole I need to leap across, but it will be a bridge, not a canyon that I gaze over, admire the beauty of the other side, and wish I had a way to cross."

A brief update: I have a small garden (two tomato plants, one okra, cilantro, basil, possible eggplant and lettuce). I'm hiking all the time. I tried to take a pottery class, but they were full, so instead I'm learning about making things out of glass. It's fun. I am very slowly building my bridge.

I've also fallen in love with Boone, North Carolina, and will probably be leaving it in less than two months, because Boone has not fallen in love with me, or at least not enough to give me a job. As a way of saying goodbye, and of living up to my own standards of humanity, I'm sponsoring (in a moral support sort of way, not a financial sort of way) a one-woman clean-up, unless anyone out there wants to help me. Basically, I'll carry a trash bag around and put stuff in it. I'm not making specific plans as to where I'll be cleaning, or when, because I know I won't live up to them. I'll just pick places, or instead of walking directly to my car, I'll take a detour. Since I hike a lot, I'll clean up the trails. I won't do this every day. After all, I have a very busy life of leisure that needs attending to.

This blog will be a record of my cleaning. I'll try and make it interesting. I'll probably write a little about me in the process of writing about other people's trash.