Secret Messages

Secret Messages

Garret wasn’t what Susan expected. 😥

Did you mean? Susan wasn’t what Garret expected.

that photo I sent was old…

Suggested Response: That’s not right!             Funny.               That was assumed.

It wasn’t his looks. She said he acted like a dick. 😡

sorry 😦

maybe he was having a bad day

Suggested Response: That’s no excuse.          That’s too bad.             He ruined their date.

Everyone has off days. 😉

😉 u think she’d give him a 2 chance

We could try to set them up without them knowing. >:D

Did you mean? We should leave them alone to live their lives.

great idea!

what if we pretended to double date and brought them along?

Amazing!

Did you mean? I want to date you but I’m using my friend as an excuse.

cool c u later 😉

Suggested Responses: Goodnight.       luv u :-*         Can’t wait!

Later.

SEP 14 AT 11:13PM

dis not going well…

Suggested Response: No duh.       Obviously.         It was doomed from the start!

Susan is crying in the bathroom. 😥

😥

Garret just left the bar with someone.

Suggested Response: He is a dick!         Good riddance.           She can’t be better than Susan.

I’m going to call an Uber for Susan.

r u leaving 2?

I guess so.

Did you mean? No, I’m staying. This is our date. Susan’s just playing along. 😉

SEP 15 AT 1:34AM

Sorry I ditched you at the bar.

10:05AM

no worries 😉

Did you stay at the bar long after we left?

Did you mean? What were you doing all morning?!

12:45PM

not long

Maybe me and you can go again sometime?

Did you mean? Why are there such long gaps in our conversation?!

3:59PM

sorry Garret and I are busy

Suggested Response: That’s not what I expected.             WTF?!             Figures

*This is a work in process. Criticisms please!

Photo by Paul Hanaoka on Unsplash


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Stuck vs Rooted

Stuck vs Rooted

*Photo by Imaginings, Red and Black Mangroves in the Florida Keys 2017

Maybe you’re like me and feel restless when you’re in one place for a long time or at times feel like you’re not moving in life. Recently, I’ve begun to understand the differences between being stuck in a place or situation and being rooted in a place or situation.

When I’m at my parent’s home, I get this overwhelming feeling of being pulled into the ground or chained down. My family is loving and I miss them when I’m gone, so I felt guilty about having this negative feeling. It wasn’t until I began to think of that pull as roots that I began to understand. (Read more about it: Bird Becomes Tree)

There are a few major differences between being stuck and being rooted.

Red Mangrove tree roots protect coastlines from erosion and provide shelter for a variety of creatures below and above the water especially during hurricanes and tropical storms!

 

WHEN YOU’RE STUCK, you feel immobilized, sinking, as if your strength is being sapped away. Being raised a Christian, I’ve constantly heard the analogy of depraved lifestyles that make one “thirsty.” In the Biblical account of the lady at the well, Jesus talks about living water (aka everlasting life through Him) that quenches all thirsts. But the analogy of the well goes a bit further than sin. During that time period, it was common for wells to crack and run dry. Old, dried-up cisterns were often used as prisons and even graves. Even if your lifestyle isn’t necessarily sinful, you may at times feel that you’re stuck in a pit or have run dry, because you haven’t been doing the things that spark your spirit and you haven’t been surrounding yourself with people who fill you up with love.

Above all else guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23

What better way to keep a healthy heart than with roots sunk into springs of living water?

WHEN YOU’RE ROOTED, you feel stable, healthy, able to grow. Being still or waiting for the right moment of action doesn’t mean you’re stuck. Being rooted in God doesn’t just mean going to church and reading the Bible. Whether you’re religious or not, you have to sink your roots into people and actions that fill you up so that you can in return grow branches extending love out to others.

Roots aren’t necessarily your family or past; you choose where to sink your roots. If you invest your energy into people and actions that drain you—they may not be bad things to do and may help you grow in other ways, but those aren’t roots. Roots feed nutrients and water to strengthen and grow the tree. The people and actions you surround yourself with should feed love and support to your soul.

Sequoia trees can grow upwards of 300ft tall and 25ft wide at the base. They are some of the largest trees in the world, yet their roots only grow about 10ft deep and 1ft outside the base of the trunk. Even with shallow roots, they drink 500 gallons of water every day!

IMG_7071
Imaginings in Sequoia National Forest, California

When I moved across the country, I made sure to find a church dedicated to serving the community, trails to explore, an environmentally-minded community, and a writing community (virtual communities) because those are some of my roots. However, there are other roots that are harder to pick up wherever I go. My best friend has always been a strong root, and living long-distance for most of our lives, we know how to stay in touch despite any distance. However, my family relationships are very much based on time spent with one another which is harder to do across the country. I’ve neglected my roots and branches to my family for too long, and those are channels I don’t want to dry up. Whether that means moving closer to home or finding other methods to keep our relationships strong, it’s something I cherish and will be working to protect forever.

SELF REFLECTION QUESTIONS: Are you stuck or rooted? Do you have wells that have dried up and become prisons? What are your roots? Are there new roots you would like to build or ones you would like to strengthen?

 

 

Bird Becomes Tree

Bird Becomes Tree

In the past, I have felt a call or tug on my heart and willingly spread my wings and flew without any fear of falling. This time, I felt like I was being pulled into the ground or chained down.

After I graduated college, I realized I couldn’t hold onto that same community. If I tried to stay while everything around me changed and everyone else left, I knew I would wilt. So I flew like a bird out of control, traveling around the country and career jumping multiple times in the past year. People said they admired my courage for going out on my own. I was proud of myself. But I always get restless.

I could never shake those heartstrings tying me to the ecology and city-scapes of Michigan and my family. It’s a dull pain, like waiting, like treading water, like holding your breath. My homing beacon is blazing, but I’m not homesick; I’m terrified of going home. When I’m home, I feel like I’m drowning in everyone’s love and don’t know what to do with it.

Take a look at my Spotify playlist and you’ll find songs about travel and escape right beside songs about returning home. Right now, my favorite song is “Pictures on a Wall” by Ira Wolf. She sings of all the places she’s traveled (many of which I have also!) and her longing to have a place/person to miss her and return home to, but she says that maybe she’s homesick for all the places and experiences she’s had. My love of home and itch to travel have become quite a tension.

A while ago, I read Thoraiya Dyer’s Crossroads of Canopy, a book about a forest world separated into canopy and under-story. The main character is enlightened by the concept that the trees grow tall, broad canopies because of their roots. The two worlds—roots and canopy—are intrinsically tied into one. Even as the trees grow taller, their roots grow deeper.

That tension of being pulled isn’t always a bad thing—it may be the feeling of growth. It is because of my family, my college experience, and my experiences growing up in Michigan that have allowed me reach so high. As I started to recognize the feeling as roots rather than chains, I didn’t feel the need to fight it so much.

I used to think of going home like giving up because I couldn’t make it on my own, but I’ve proven that I can make it on my own. I’m free to go home, stay home, leave again, return again, wherever and whenever I feel pulled. But the stronger the roots, the richer the soil, the more acclimated to the climate—the more I’ll be able to grow higher and branch out.

For a creative fiction take on this, read my piece “Rooted” on Presticogitation

*Picture taken by Imaginings in Sequoia National Forest 2018

Why I “Hate” Recycling

Why I “Hate” Recycling

Anyone who knows me would do a double-take at that title. My roommates in college called me a Recycling Guru, and I spent ten months living on a minimalist budget as an AmeriCorps volunteer informing residents of Clark County, Washington how to “recycle right.” Sustainability and resource management is one of my driving passions; however, our recycling systems have a lot of flaws.

Here’s a list of the top 10 flaws with current recycling systems, but the markets are so complex that there are many issues that I won’t even touch on or go in depth with here.

1. Recycling is a Profit-driven Business

Recycling is driven by markets and profits. That can cause barriers to making choices that will benefit people and the planet the most if that choice will damage the business’s profits or sales. Read New York Times Article “The Conflict of Interest that is Killing Recycling”

2. Lack of Unity

While some cities or counties create contracts with a specific hauler, there are many different haulers out there. All are independent businesses and have different types of sorting capacities and access to markets which means that they don’t always accept the same materials or collect them in the same way. The recycling symbol is universally known, but its meaning has been reduced to “may or may not be recyclable in your area.” There’s not many universal rules when it comes to recycling.

3. Lack of Communication

A material passes through many hands from resource extractors, processors, package designers, processors, marketers, consumers, recycling haulers, and recycling processors. There are a variety of individual companies in each segment located all over the globe, and they don’t always communicate across the board. Often the recyclers are working backwards to try to find buyers or processes to recycle more products rather than producers making products that can be easily recycled. And consumers are stuck in the middle of all of the turbulent confusion.

4. Single Stream Recycling

Recycling can be especially confusing for consumers. In order to increase recycling participation, in the 2000s haulers started switching to single stream–or mixed recycling: where paper, plastic, metal, and sometimes glass can all be thrown into the same cart. Even with single stream recycling, US recycling rates have teetered out at around 30%. Additionally, it takes a lot more effort to sort those materials out later, and mixing them increases contamination. Paper is especially vulnerable to being contaminated by moisture from water or food residue on other materials or getting ripped up or stuck to other materials. How much was really gained by converting to single stream?

5. Contamination

A combination of the above flaws leads to increased contamination which reduces market value of the material. Residents sometimes throw outright trash (hoses, medical needles, hazardous waste, dirty diapers, etc.) into recycling receptacles. But a lot of contamination is specific types of plastic like grocery bags or materials that can be recycled separately through certain programs but not in curbside recycling. Haulers are in trouble of closing if they can’t find buyers for their bales and contamination increases that risk.

6. Accursed Plastic

Plastic bags are the bane of the waste system, most places don’t have the equipment to efficiently sort them out. They get stuck in gears and belts backing up the system; they get caught up in winds and become pollution; they are stuffed with other materials and end up being thrown out as trash. They even cause problems at the landfill.

Plastic in general is a headache. Within the #1-7 resins, there are different chemical combinations, mixed materials, and shapes that make sorting and processing complicated. These subtle differences between products and what specific haulers accept is confusing enough to make people either throw it all in (leading to higher contamination) or stop recycling all together.

Plastic is also one of the least sustainable materials to recycle: it can only be melted and reformed a few times before the bonds are too broken down; it releases a variety of chemicals during its lifetime; it can easily become litter that persists in the environment; it is made with oil and requires a constant supply of raw resources even with recycling. So far, the new bioplastics made of plant products are not recyclable and only compostable under certain conditions.

7. Downcycling

Some materials like glass and aluminum are recycled into the bottles and cans like the original product, but paper and plastic is often recycled and processed into new materials which are not recyclable and destined for the trash such as tissues, toilet paper, plastic bags, rigid plastic objects (cutlery, toys, etc.), and mixed material products. Or you get products like t-shirts made with recycled water bottles when there are so many other material options that may be more environmentally-responsible for a t-shirt. Additionally, raw materials are still needed to make the product that is being recycled. If you always recycle paper but you don’t purchase paper with recycled content (note it’s really hard to find 100% recycled content), are you really saving that many trees?

8. Lack of Life Cycle Thinking by Manufacturers and Consumers

New products and packaging are constantly being produced, much of which is not easily recycled. Haulers try to meet the demand of consumers to recycle more materials but end up reducing the quality of end material for recycling processors. If everyone made choices with the whole life cycle of the product in mind, we might be able to connect the loop.

9. Recycling’s Environmental Footprint

Recycling takes lots of energy and can create pollution during processing and transportation. Most materials are shipped around the world for processing. In many places around the world, regulations are so loose that much of the material can end up as litter and during processing pollutants may be released into the environment. It’s important to know your hauler and also where they are selling their sorted bales. China has been placing strict laws on their waste and recycling imports to help clean up their environment (research China Green Fence, National Sword, and Blue Sky policies).

10. Recycling will not save the World

The most major flaw is the public’s conception of recycling as some magical solution that will save the planet. Even if everyone recycled, even if they all recycled only what was accepted by their haulers, the planet would still be in trouble. Recycling should always be the last “R”. Reduce, Reuse, and so many other terms (ReThink, Rot aka Compost, etc) should be actions that dominate our thoughts and actions before recycling.

While the state of Washington has a 50% recycling rate, they also produce 7.3 pounds of waste per person per day compared to the US average of 3.5 pounds, which is still unreasonably high (EPA stats). Recycling is not an excuse to produce waste.

All that said, DON’T STOP RECYCLING! Use recycling as a stepping stone towards living a more sustainable lifestyle where you think ahead to reduce waste and environmental impacts with every choice you make.

RESOURCES:

Always confirm with your local hauler which materials they accept. There may also be other opportunities for recycling items like batteries and electronics at local stores and drop-off locations. Follow my blog for more posts like this one! 

Earth 911 

Zero Waste Wisdom

EPA – Recycling

How2Recycle

PlasticFilmRecycling.org

RecycleYourPlastics.org

Carton Council

TerraCycle

Pataphysics

Pataphysics

Where did I put that research report on quantum physics? I dig through files, through bookshelves, through libraries, through memory.

Here it is: on my desk, right under my nose. I cannot blink or look away or it will disappear again. It is this precise—or rather immensely imprecise—phenomenon that has consumed me. It’s hidden between the sense of deja vu and the moment when you walk into a room and immediately forget…

The report is gone. I just had it. Now, it has slipped through my fingers like grains of sand, like water, like emotions, like thoughts passing through the mind to be immediately forgotten.

I clap my hands in the still air, as if my motion might stimulate those molecules to rearrange and bring back what is now lost. Lost? Or just displaced? Misplaced? My books are always organized on the shelves, but I can never find anything. One day they are in alphabetical order by author’s name, the next day they are sorted by genre, and later that day by some numeric system that only makes sense to librarians like I am (or was?). Can you stop being something that you are? Can identity disappear? It must continue to exist in the past, even now, when it does not in the present.

“Dad, have you seen my textbook?” Tommy asks from the door of the library.

I hand him the book, and he leaves the door open wide enough that my thoughts follow after him down the hall until he turns up the stairs and ascends. There is a crash upstairs, and I run

Where is that blasted report?! Oh, here is page 5 in the desk drawer and page 2 pinned to the calendar and page 3 tucked in the back cover of Tommy’s physics book. The back of page 3 is blank; page 4 sucked into the textbook’s page on black holes. And with…it…my…memory… What was I doing?

I take the textbook upstairs where Tommy is all at once laying in a crib, playing video games, studying under the desk lamp, and Skyping with his girlfriend.

I set the textbook on the desk and it falls through the desk to the floor. The room is empty.

The book falls through the floor into the library again.

I’m in the library again. The physics book is on the floor. I remember. Tommy moved out years ago. He’s living in Alabama and training to be an astronaut. He’s building cardboard rockets in the backyard. He’s looking down at me from the stars.

I read through my draft of a report on quantum physics………………………and now

………………………………………………….leap…………………………………………………………………

scattered………..they all are………………………………………………………….around the page,….

………………………………………words…………..when I’m not watching,……………………………

I can never keep a thought because as soon as I write it down the words trade out with others and change. There’s something missing: page 4.

Where is Tommy?

I feel like I can almost grasp an idea, a memory, a guess? But it disappears into a void the second it lands on my tongue leaving only a flaming sensation like hot sauce.

I dig through files, through bookshelves, through libraries, through memory. What am I looking for? My research report? Tommy’s textbook? Tommy?

The house is deadly quiet.

 


Also Posted on Presticogitations

Cover Photo by Tbel Abuseridze on Unsplash

Mercurial

Mercurial

I could hear them all night. Skittering across the rafters, eating the walls, and clawing into my dreams. Their little voices surround me with whispers of secrets I couldn’t know.

The morning finally came. I rose early to fill the bird feeders. There had been another dead mouse in the birdseed bin.

Suddenly, the peaceful morning was shattered by the sound of pots and pans flying around in the kitchen. Not again. I dashed into the house spilling the bird seed in the grass.

The sink faucet was spraying wildly. Another cabinet was off it’s hinges. Cindy’s red hair spiraled off her head like fumes. She grabbed the next frying pan and threw it at the gap between the ceiling and the light fixture.

The sound of scurrying. Hissing.

As she reached for the cast iron pan, I wrapped my arms around her. “Please, calm down, dear.”

“They’re mocking me, Gregory!” She collapsed into my arms. “They call me old, ugly, insane! They’re in my head. I can feel them eating my mind.”

The sink spray streaked the clouded window pane.

I kissed her forehead, dabbed her eyes with my handkerchief. “Come sit out on the porch before it gets too hot.” I sat her down in the rocker and turned the radio up as loud as it would go. They announced a heat wave coming in.

Already the thermometer on the porch read 76 degrees.

When I returned to the back yard, ants had already carried off half of the seeds that I had dropped in the grass. I scooped what I could back into the can.

In the house, all of the linens and dishes had brown smudges. All of the wood had chew marks. Most of the lights no longer worked. Even out in the garden, everything was either rotten or mauled. And surrounding it all…the odor.

The thermometer continued to rise to 87 degrees.

I moved Cindy inside and gave her a glass of iced tea.

I made a call to Victor down the road. He came within the hour saying, “I brought you my best mouser, caught three mice just this morning.” He opened a box, and a black cat leap out and bolted under the deck. Squeals went up immediately and moments later the cat pranced out licking its chops.

“Give up on the traps?” Victor asked.

“Cindy, found a couple when she was in one of her moods and threw a fit. Nearly sprung them with her hand.” I shook my head as I looked at the old house. “There’s too many of them now. I find them shriveled up—dead—in my boots, in the bird seed, in the cabinets. Heck! Even in the toilet bowl, drowned. We’ll see how it goes with the cat.”

The red line of the thermometer was already pulsing upwards of 90 degrees.

In the sitting room, Cindy was singing, “Three blind mice. See how they run…” Her fingers worked diligently threading together tiny patches of fabric. The shirts and dresses were too small for any doll. “The poor mice! They’ll die in this heat!” she said.

I sighed. I’d have to wait on telling her about the cat.

I flipped the television on and adjusted the antenna, but the image was fuzzy.

The thermometer trembled at 100 degrees.

That night, cat yowls rose above the sound of mice. I ran out to the porch. Cindy chased the cat around the house and up onto the porch screaming, “Don’t eat my friends, you damn cat! They’re the only ones I have left!” She hurled the cast iron pan.

The thermometer shattered into tears of glass.

Then, as if in slow motion, I watched the cat pivot, the pan ricochet off the house, and the black body and the pan sail as one off the porch and land limp in the weeds.

Cindy returned inside singing lullabies to the mice. In the morning, she would be throwing pans at them again.

I stood in the shadows watching the moon drip silver light over the cat’s corpse. Mercury from the thermometer soaked into the wooden deck, darkening it with its poison.

Photo by Daniel Apodaca on Unsplash