Monthly Archives: October 2007

Halloween: Then and Now

Think back a bit.  No, further… further…a little further…  Nice try.  You aren’t THAT young.  Go all the way back to when you were a kid.  Six years old, maybe eight, maybe ten… Remember when you got all overly excited about Halloween?  Remember the costumes that came in a box and consisted of some type of cape or gown and a cheap plastic mask with a really thin elastic strap to hold it in place?  And if you didn’t buy one of those you likely made your costume, or your mother did.  You were a girl from the 50s, or a cheerleader, a vampire or a witch, or for those who waited until the last minute, a ghost or a hobo.

Remember school parties and school parades where you lined up and marched around the school parking lot or the school playground wearing your costume?  When I was in second grade (or was it 4th?) I was Casper the Friendly ghost and I wore my costume to school and my mom packed Cheetos in my lunch and I wiped my orange cheese dusty fingers on my costume.  I remember my mother wasn’t happy about that.  I mean, who ever heard of an orange streaked ghost?  Even a friendly one?

How about trick-or-treating?  Do you remember how it took FOREVER to get dark enough out to go trick-or-treating?  It was only recently that I realized nothing significant had changed with the general flow of time or light and darkness.  Rather, it took forever to get dark back then because I was a kid ripe with anticipation, home from school at 3 p.m., and it didn’t get dark until nearly 7.  I had hours to kill.  Now I’m an adult and driving like a bat out of hell to get home from the office in time to flip the porch lights on, light the jack-o-lantern, and scarf some dinner down before the first band of ghouls come knocking at my door with their little hands all outstretched. 

Remember how it was almost always cold out on Halloween night and your mom always insisted you wear a coat over your costume to keep you warm and how that pissed you off (although you didn’t know “pissed off” because you were too young.  You knew it “wasn’t fair” and nobody would see your costume and “I won’t need a coat! I won’t be cold mom!”).  But often, your mom made you wear a coat anyway, because conventional wisdom and old wives tales said that being out in the cold would give you a cold.  Now we have global warming, thicker skin, and stronger defiance, and coats are rarely seen on Halloween.  Now we know that colds are caused by GERMS. 

Then remember how you would go house to house to house to house trying to collect as much candy as possible?  And sometimes people would go a little crazy and their whole family would be dressed up in scary costumes and sitting on the porch to scare you or they would play frightful music from speakers aimed out their windows?  Sometimes they’d answer the door in costume and that was always a little strange too.  A grown up dressed as a witch, or a pirate and you felt, but couldn’t express how exactly, you found it a bit creepy.  Not scary so much as just wrong somehow.  That was an adult, and adults were too old for Halloween.  They were supposed to open the door and give you the goods and that’s it.

Remember the candy?  The chocolate and peanut butter and caramel gooey goodness?  Remember the candy that you loved and the candy that you hated?  I hated the lollipops and the bubblegum and the hard candies.  Especially the red hots and jaw breakers.  Yuck!  Me, I was all about the chocolate and the peanut butter. Mmmm, mmmm! And years ago candy bars were bigger, weren’t they?  Sure, lots of people gave out snack size bars, but I swear that even those were bigger and then there was always that one house that gave out full size candy bars.  Everyone wanted to go that house, get there before the big candy bars ran out! I always thought the people who gave out the full size candy bars must have been rich to afford that.

Then there was the house where a dentist lived, and it was obvious it was a dentist because they always gave out toothbrushes.  Or the houses where they gave out pencils or stickers or pennies.  BORING!

There were also the houses where the people gave out homemade popcorn balls or candied apples.  They always looked good, but of course your mother wouldn’t let you eat them.  They were homemade.  Maybe the person who made them was a little bit crazy and had poisoned them just for fun, right?

When you got home from trick-or-treating you always had to dump your bag out on the table and let your parents look it over, let them inspect the candy for hidden needles and razor blades before they let you dig in lest you slice your tongue off.  Later on, hospitals started offering to X-ray the candy…

Those were they days, weren’t they?

Halloween now, it’s different.  Costumes are different for one thing.  Masks are considered dangerous, everyone needs a flashlight or a head lamp, the parents are all out supervising the trick-or-treaters (Halloweeners my dad calls them) to make sure nobody grabs their child off a porch and drags them into their house never to be seen again…  And with the parents out, nobody is home to answer the door and hand out candy at at least half the houses!

Schools don’t celebrate Halloween anymore because it’s too scary or too violent or it violates somebody’s religion or it’s not politically correct, or whatever. 

Some towns don’t even encourage trick or treating anymore.  They advise parents to take their youngsters to the mall and the merchants all hand out Dum Dum lollipops and bubble gum in a well lit place and they do this a few days before the real Halloween so the real day can go unmarked.  “You already celebrated Halloween, honey!  We did that three nights ago, remember?  At the mall?”

In my neighborhood we still have Halloween and trick-or-treating.  My son is going out this year dressed as Darth Vader.  He’s got a cool costume with a mask (but he will probably have to take it off to walk between houses) and a red light saber.  And he’s excited, as he should be. It’s kind of funny that he should be so excited considering that he cannot eat the candy he collects.  It’s not that I am afraid someone will have poisoned the candy.  He can’t eat the candy because for him, IT IS POISON.  He’s got food allergies.  He is allergic to milk, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts.  And there aren’t many candies free of those ingredients.

So milk chocolate is out.  Peanut butter cups, Charleston chews, Mary Janes, Mounds, Almond Joy, Snickers, all out.  Marshmallow candies, out.  Chewy, gooey, caramel goodness, out.  There are a few treats he can eat: Nerds, Twizzlers, Dum Dum lollipops, a few others as well.  So my son will go out on Halloween night.  He will go trick-or-treating.  He will collect candy just like his friends.  And when we gets home I will sort through his bag of poison, (and yes that is how I think of it, he is out collecting poison) and I will take away all that he cannot eat. 

In truth, for all that he can’t eat he might as well be out collecting farm pesticides and household cleaners.  I am just going to take nearly all the candy away.  Some of the candy that I have to take away, I will eat.  Some my husband will eat.  Some of the “unsafe” candy as we call it, candy full of his allergens, we will re-Halloween-gift into our candy dish to had out to the kids still knocking at our door.  What’s left after that we will probably haul in to the office and share amongst co-workers.

As I separate the poison from the few candies my son can eat, I count it all, putting hatch marks on a piece of paper.  I’ll give my son something in exchange for all the candy he cannot eat. Maybe a toy.  Maybe a video.  Maybe we’ll pay him a nickel, maybe a dime per piece of candy we have to take away (hence the reason for the counting).  He did work to collect it, after all.  Anything safe that he collects, any candy that doesn’t contain his allergens, he can eat. Not all in one night of course!  That much about Halloween remains true.

You might wonder, “Why, if she feels like he is collecting poison, does she let her son go trick-or-treating at all?”  Well, because he likes it.  This is life, right?  Halloween is part of life and trick-or-treating is what you DO on Halloween.  My son doesn’t mind all that much about the candy.  He’s never tasted a Reeces Cup so he’s not missing anything.  I’m the one who’s had to make the biggest adjustment, the holiday no longer the same as it was in my youth, and certainly not the same as I’d imagined it would be for my son that day six years ago when he was a tiny infant, just a few weeks old, and I dressed him in a chili pepper costume for Halloween. He was screaming bloody murder but I propped him up on the sofa, next to a Halloween bag filled with baby bottles full of breast milk and a few pieces of candy tumbling out as well, and I took a bunch of photos.  I thought of the future, how one day he would like dressing up in costume, going out and collecting candy, sitting in his room and stuffing his face with chocolate until he was too full for dinner… Ironically, I am the one missing what he can’t have, what I imagined he would one day have.

My son is six now.  He likes choosing a costume and going trick-or-treating with his friends.  He’s excited this year to pretend for a while that he is Darth Vader, that he has the ability to scare others, all the while being a little scared by the scenes outside: the other children in costume, the adults that dress up, the flickering jack-o-lanterns, the frightful music playing at some houses, the mean scary guy down the street who decorates his house in an alluring manner then grabs children’s hands as they reach into his candy bowl.  He’s scared my son two years in a row now, left him crying.  We won’t be fooled a third time. This year we’ll only look at his house from afar. 

My son likes to hurry home after trick-or-treating to help me hand out candy to all the kids that come to our house. I am careful not to let on that I feel a vital part of Halloween has been lost, that I am nostalgic over what he cannot have. I can’t talk about the deliciousness of chocolate and peanut butter mixed together, of Snickers and Almond Joys.  I cannot suggest he is missing out in any way.  I am sure in some way he suspects this, but thankfully he’s never had those candies to know.  He’s happy with the hard candies and lollipops that I despised as a youth (and still despise).  He’s happy with a new toothbrush or some stickers, a pencil, a few pennies.  Those things aren’t boring to him at all, rather, they are things that he can keep.  And that’s fine.  And this is life.  It’s Halloween!  And besides, that’s the whole point of Halloween, right?  It’s supposed to haunt you, just a little.
 

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Filed under costumes, food allergies, Halloween, life, nostalgia, then and now

After the Party

Driving home after a birthday celebration for my mother-in-law, we pass the site where my brother-in-law’s pastry shop is going to be.  It’s officially under construction, but so far the construction looks like a lot full of turned up dirt with a few stakes in the ground. 

Snags, riding in the back seat of the car, says “I hope Uncle Mikey isn’t an astronaut by the time they finish building his pastry shop!” And since construction generally takes six or eight months around here, and since Mikey isn’t a pilot of any kind, nor does he work for NASA, the chances of him becoming an astronaut in the next six or eight months are somewhere between pigs flying and hell freezing over.  My husband said “If Uncle Mikey is an astronaut before his pastry shop is finished, I’ll eat my hat!”

Snags thought that was pretty funny, you know, eventually… like after we spent several minutes explaining what “eat my hat” meant. But then Snags went on to demand “What hat?” and my husband said, “I don’t know, any hat…  Some hat…  A hat.  It doesn’t matter…”

Snags (the optimist) considered all this for a few minutes then said, “Well, if Uncle Mikey is an astronaut by then that’s okay because I will take over his pastry shop!”

To which I replied, “You will?  Oh really?  How are you going to do that?  What about school?”

“Oh, I’ll go to school! School can come to me while I am at the pastry shop!” Snags said, the air of a child actor in his tone.

“Besides,” he continued, “They aren’t even teaching us anything at school anyway.  At least it feels like they aren’t! I don’t think we’re learning anything.”

I called him on that.  I said “Well, what about all the sight words they’ve taught you?  And all the words you can write now?  You even write whole sentences by sounding out words yourself!”

“And math!” my husband added.  “You know how to count by ten.”

Snags obviously felt bolstered from our pointing out all the things he had learned in school.  “Yeah!” he said, “And I can count by eleven! Listen… 11, 41, 51, 61, 71, 81, 91, 101, 1000…” 

My husband couldn’t take it.  He interrupted. “How about 11, 22, 33, 44, 55….”

“You don’t know Dad!  Snags cried.  “I can count by twelve too, wanna hear?” Snags asked.

“Sure,” I said stifling a laugh.

“Okay… 12, 32, 42, 52, 62, 72, 82, 92, 102, 1000!” he proudly proclaimed.

And there, in the darkened night, with a low slung but full and bright moon shining in front of us, I thought to myself, maybe he’s right.  Maybe they aren’t teaching him anything in school afterall.

10 Comments

Filed under astronaut, counting, humor, Kindergarten, learning, life, pastry shop, Snags, Uncle Mikey

Was That a Bat That Just Flew By?

So I was listening to NPR yesterday and… Yes, I listen to NPR!  You got a problem with that?  Anyway, like I said, I was listening to the Diane Rehm show on NPR yesterday morning and Diane and her guests were talking about Bram Stoker’s Dracula.  It’s a book I haven’t ever read but now I am going to.  I hope it’s not as scary as Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot because I don’t think I can take scary anymore.  When I was a teenager, scary movies and books were fun.  Now… well, now I’ve got a child and I am an adult and I’m supposed to be brave. For my child. It wouldn’t look so good to jump 10 feet in the air and scream in fear because I just read a scary passage and Snags climbed out of his bed to ask for a glass of water…

But I am definitely going to go to the library and check out that book.  This weekend, if they have it.  And the reason I am going to do it is because I learned something very valuable while listening to the story.  So I am going to read the book as a Thank You! to show my appreciation for Bram and for NPR.  If he hadn’t written the book, they wouldn’t have been talking about it on the radio.  And I wouldn’t have learned one of the finer points about vampire safety. 

You see, they said on the radio that Bram Stoker left out a few characteristics about vampires that were pretty common folklore at the time he wrote the book. One of them being that vampires like to count things.  I seem to recall that Sesame Street got that part right, but Bram Stoker, he left it out altogether. But it’s important, because according to the folklore, one way to keep vampires away is to scatter things about.  That way, if a vampire comes to get you, he will get distracted and start counting all the things you left scattered about.

Which is why, I am pretty sure, that I haven’t had a problem with vampires in my house.  I’ve got piles of shit everywhere.  Magazines, books, toys, clothes, you name it.  I was going to clean it all up, but now I’ve got a reason to keep the place just the way it is.  This isn’t clutter.  It’s vampire deterrent.  And my neck, it’s staying bite free. 

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Filed under clutter, Dracula, humor, NPR, radio, vampires

Running for Tiffany

Once upon a time there was a girl.  She liked to run.  She liked Tiffany’s.  The jewelry store, that is, not other girls named Tiffany.  Although she assumed they were very nice as well.  The girl in our story wasn’t rich enough to shop at Tiffany’s very much, and she’d never eaten breakfast there at all, but she loved looking through their catalogs.  In fact, she often flipped through Tiffany catalogs while she ate her breakfast in the mornings at her own kitchen table.  And there, with milk from the cereal bowl dribbling down her chin, she could imagine, if only for a few moments, that she was beautiful like Holly Golightly and she was adorned with glittering gems from her favorite store… Until her six year old son interrupted her glorious daydreaming by demanding something like, “Belle!  I need you to put this axe in Princess Leia’s hand.  Thanks!”  
 
Then the girl would snap back to reality and attach the LEGO axe to the LEGO Princess Leia, and the little boy would run off to play and the girl would glance at the clock, realize she was running late, and wolf down the rest of her breakfast before dashing up the stairs to get dressed for work.

This was all pretty routine until one fine fall day when the girl received an email from a running friend of hers, telling her about the Nike Women’s Virtual Half Marathon and how instead of a finisher’s medal, all participants who finished the race would receive a keychain designed by Tiffany.  Well, if THAT didn’t get the girl’s attention, nothing would.

Now the girl had already run a lot that year as it was.  Still, she had hoped to squeeze in just one more race that fall. The girl had given some thought to using her husband’s entry in an upcoming race that he had to skip due to his sore knee and his foot that he had run over with his lawnmower.  She thought long and hard about it, but in the end she chickened out because, well, it’s against the rules to run a race under someone else’s bib number.  And even though the girl suspected that other runners did that kind of thing all the time, she was afraid SHE would get caught and kicked out of racing forevermore. So she told her husband she wouldn’t use his entry after all.  Imagine! The girl was actually starting to hang up her racing shoes for the season when that fateful email arrived!

The email explained that in order to participate in the virtual race, the girl would need to purchase her very own Nike+ iPod sports kit. The kit contained a little accelerometer that the girl would attach to her shoe and a receiver that would attach to her iPod.  All wired up like that, the girl would run 13.1 miles any time of day and anywhere in the world on October 21st and the sports kit would track the distance she ran, the length of time she’d been running, and the calories she’d burned.  If she completed the miles, the Tiffany keychain would follow in the mail.

The girl decided that this was a fantastic plan and she liked it even better when she discovered the whole Nike+ iPod sports kit was fairly inexpensive at $29.  The girl compared that to the $200.00 Garmin Forerunner system that some of her running friends wore and she decided that the Nike+ iPod system was a bargain.  Plus, the Garmin system didn’t come with the promise of a Tiffany anything!

So the girl bought herself a sports kit, set it all up, and went out to run.  Once outside in the cold fall air, the girl learned very quickly that nothing keeps a girl running like trying to calibrate a new Nike+ iPod system.

The girl was the responsible sort and so she read the directions to her new gadget rather carefully.  The directions suggested the best way to calibrate her new gadget was to run ¼ mile on the inside lane of a track.  But the girl was running out of time.  The date of the virtual half marathon was fast approaching and she didn’t know where to find a track.  So the girl took her new gadget to her favorite trail and started running.  The girl ran one mile but her Nike+ iPod system said she had run 1.05 miles.  So the girl started over.  She ran a second mile, and her gadget said she had run ANOTHER 1.05 miles.  Frustrated with the inaccuracy, the girl continued on her quest to properly calibrate the device to her satisfaction.  In the end, the girl did calibrate her Nike+ iPod kit, and she did it by running 11 miles…  

A week went by while the girl dreamed about that Tiffany key chain.  Then the morning of the 21st arrived.  It was cold and dark as the girl awoke to dress for her race, but stars from the Orionids Meteor shower streaked over head and promised to help light the girl’s way as she headed out once again to her favorite trail.  She started running just as the sun rose at 7:00 a.m., her favorite songs playing faintly in her ears.  She ran and she ran and she ran until she had gone a little over 14 miles.  When she was done, she stopped.  She hopped in her car and drove home where she uploaded her running results into the computer and took a shower.  She ate some lunch then took a restless nap by bribing her six year old son into taking his own nap.  “I’ll pay you $5.00 if you sleep for an hour!” she said.

As she lay in her bed, tired and a little sore from all that running, the girl realized that everyone has their price.  For her, it was the promise of a Tiffany’s keychain that will arrive in the mail.  For her son, it was $5.00 cold hard cash. 

The girl’s husband laughs at all of this.  He says to her, “You better hope the keychain was designed by Tiffany the jewelry store and not Tiffany the teenager who used to sing in malls!”

The girl doesn’t think that is funny at all.  Regardless, she’ll be waiting by her mail box…

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Filed under humor, life, Nike+ iPod, running, Tiffany's, virtual half marathon

R.S.V.P.

R.S.V.P. It’s French.  It means répondez s’il vous plait.  Translated into English it means get off your lazy ass, pick up the phone, and call the number on the invitation I sent you and let me know if you are coming to the party or not.  If I don’t answer the phone, just leave a message.

Okay…okay.. translated into English R.S.V.P. actually means  respond please.  But for some reason, it appears that people are completely ignoring the little note that says R.S.V.P. on their invitations. They’re not responding at ALL.  And I’m not sure why.

Is it because it’s French and not that many people in the good ole U.S. of A. speak French?  Well, if that was YOUR excuse, you can’t use it anymore.  I’ve just translated it for you and so now you know what R.S.V.P. means.

The same holds if you were going to say you don’t R.S.V.P. because YOU think it means REGRETS s’il vous plait and that you only need to call if you AREN’T coming to the party.  It doesn’t.  If I wanted you to only call if you weren’t planning on attending my party, I would have written the words “Regrets Only.”  But I didn’t.

And while I’m at it, let me also tell you that the date written after the letters R.S.V.P. means that you are supposed to call and announce whether you are coming or not BY THAT DATE.  It’s kind of like the sell by date on a package of ground beef.  Or the expiration date on your carton of milk.  You are supposed to do something BY THAT DATE.  When the date is linked to an R.S.V.P. it means you are supposed to let me know BY THAT DATE if you plan to attend or not.  It does not mean wait until the day after the party to say “Oh, by the way, sorry we missed your party, we went camping that weekend…”

And now, dear readers, I’m sure you are asking yourselves what on earth is Belle’s diatribe all about?  You might even be shrugging on your jacket this very moment to run out and check your mailbox again, just to be sure you didn’t over look an invitation from me.  Don’t worry.  You didn’t.  My anger isn’t directed at you.

It’s directed at THE PEOPLE I SENT BIRTHDAY PARTY INVITATIONS TO for Snags’ 6th Birthday.  And yes, I know his birthday is over and done with and that the party has already come to pass, but sheesh!  I realize I should let it go, but I can’t.  This is  STILL bothering me.

And it’s bothering a friend of mine too.  Natalie recently mailed out invitations for her daughter’s birthday party.  When we received ours, I picked up the phone to call and say that yes, Snags would very much like to come to the party and we were looking forward to it.  My friend then informed me that I was the ONLY person who had responded so far, and she was getting a bit worried.  Why weren’t people responding?  Had the invitations been lost in the mail?  Did people not like her daughter? 

I assured her that people loved her daughter.  Her daughter is beautiful, and smart, and friendly.  I explained that I had experienced the same thing over Snags’ party invitations.  I told her how I had sent out 15 invitations and only half that many bothered to respond. 

“So what should I do?”  my friend asked.

I suggested she give it some more time.  Be prepared, I told her, to feed and party with all the children you invited, but understand some of them won’t show up.  And they won’t tell you they aren’t going to show up.  And then, I went on, understand that some children WILL show up even though their parents haven’t called to tell you they are coming. And those children will likely bring uninvited brothers and sisters with them.  It’s a real mess, I agreed.  But plan for a full house and maybe half will come.  “You’ll probably have leftovers,” I told her.

I’ve discussed this issue with friends and co-workers alike.  I’ve asked them all what they would do, if they sent out invitations with a clear request for people to R.S.V.P. and the R.S.V.P.s weren’t coming in. Many people said they’d pick up the phone themselves and call their intended guests.  They would outright ask people if they were coming.  Others said they wouldn’t call.  They said they would hope for the best but expect the worst.

I think in the future I won’t write R.S.V.P. on my invitations at all.  I think I will come up with something new, an R.S.V.P. alternative.  I will write it on the invitations in fat red magic marker so it’s hard to miss. 

I’ve thought of a few already: 

C.A.T.M.I.U.R.C.T.T.P.O.N.B.4.12.O.S. (call and tell me if you are coming to the party or not before 12 on Saturday)

Or

W! T.I.W.E.& S.D.S.A.O.Y.K.I.U.D.C.A.T.M.I.U.R.C.T.T.P.O.N.B.T.D.S. (Warning! This invitation will explode & spread dog shit all over your kitchen if you don’t call and tell me if you are coming to the party or not by the date specified).

Or, maybe simply:

U.SUCK.IF.U.DON’T.R.S.V.P.

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Filed under birthdays, invitations, life, parties, R.S.V.P.

Letter to My Son

Dear Child of Mine,

You know those little squares of a papery material that I put in your lunch box everyday?  Those would be NAPKINS.  You are supposed to wipe your hands and face with them during and after eating your lunch.  And then you can throw them away with the rest of your trash.

You don’t have to bring the napkins back home all sparkling clean and untouched at the end of the day.

You know the SHIRT UPON YOUR BACK?  It is NOT A NAPKIN.  It is a shirt.  You are supposed to wear it, not wipe your hands and face on it.  It is a shirt.  It is not a cleaning rag.  There IS a difference.

The same goes for your PANTS.  They cover your lap and your legs up to your waist and as convenient as they may be for wiping jelly off your hands, they are also NOT A NAPKIN.

Napkins. We use them at dinner and at breakfast, too.  So I am pretty certain you have seen them before. Many times.  And yes, I understand that the dog will snatch your napkin off your lap at dinnertime and so I have to let you leave your napkin on the table while you eat here at home.  But as far as I know, there aren’t any dogs roaming under the cafeteria tables at your elementary school.  Are there?  Please, by all means, correct me if I’m wrong.

I know your grandfather likes to talk to about money and stocks and stuff.  Did he perhaps mention that he had bought you some stock in laundry detergent or stain remover?  Is your disregard for napkins a ploy to increase my purchase of those items and thereby, the value of your investments?  If so, you might want to reconsider.  Because I think we could be working at cross purposes here.  I mean, when you grow up and become wealthy off your stain removal stock, you’ll be spending at least an equal amount of money buying your own product line to clean your dress shirts if you don’t break this hand wiping on clothes habit now.  And fancy suit pants?  Honey, they have to be DRYCLEANED.

Perhaps you are concerned about the environment and you don’t want to waste paper by putting napkins in the landfills everyday?  Well, let me suggest that the stain removal chemicals going into the water supply might be a bigger problem, and your excessive use of drawing paper isn’t saving any trees either.

So PLEASE USE A NAPKIN!

Love,
Your Mother

11 Comments

Filed under clothes, humor, laundry, napkins, Snags, stains

Environmental Lessons

What would happen if every blog published posts discussing the same issue, on the same day? One issue. One day. Thousands of voices.

Well that would be Blog Action Day.  And that would be today.  And the issue, or theme as it were? 

The Environment

What, you may ask, do I know about the environment?  Well, I know a little.  I know that environmental science was my favorite subject in high school oh so many years ago.  And I know that when I was in college and decided to change majors, I thought back to my high school days, remembered my love of environmental science, and went to the college’s library to do a bit of research.  It was there that I found Geography, a close cousin to environmental science, and the major I finally settled on.

If you reviewed my college transcripts from those days, you’d see that I focused much of my time and college studies on environmental hazards.  Scary hazards like tornados and earthquakes and global warming and the human toll and the human response necessary to deal with to such incidents.  I loved those courses and up until the horror and disaster of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, I would have told you that my perfect job, if I could get it, would be to work for FEMA. As the agency’s director.  But after witnessing that embarrassment, I’ve more or less changed my mind.  Plus, I have a young child and I don’t think I’m up to all the travel a job like that would entail.

And then there’s the fact that I don’t always do everything that I probably could be doing to help the environment.  I think they might ask you questions about your contributions toward saving the environment for positions like that.  You see, I don’t recycle much.  Papers, sure.  Beer bottles, sometimes.  I just don’t have it in me to wash and rinse and sort ALL the varieties of trash we generate in a day.  My husband though, he’s much more on top of all of that.  So while I don’t do much, he more or less makes up for my slack. Except for when he rinses out a bottle or jar and leaves it on the kitchen counter for what I deem an unacceptable length of time.  Then I throw it away in the regular trash can, with the chicken bones and old bread crusts.

Also, I don’t generally buy organic foods.  My most recent foray into the organic world was when I bought a bunch of fruit from Whole Foods, and with it, a bunch of fruit flies that I am still trying to vanquish from my home.  I’ve decided that from now I will stick to the pesticide laden apples and bananas that I can buy from my local grocery store.  I’ve rarely seen a fruit fly with a stomach of steel required to feast on that kind of fruit.  Plus, the well preserved fruits and vegetables don’t tend to rot during my drive home from the store.

I do however, remember the lessons I learned about the environment as a child, and I try to instill at least those values in my son:

People start pollution; people can stop it.  So don’t litter.  It will poison the water, the air will turn black with smoke, the fishes will die and the Indian Chief will cry.

Smoky Bear says “Only you can prevent wild fires.”  So don’t play with matches.

Close the door, you’re letting bugs in.

Close the door.  What are you trying to do, heat the neighborhood?

Don’t leave the door to the refrigerator hanging open.  What are you trying to do, cool the entire house?

Turn off the lights when you leave a room, you’re wasting electricity!  Money doesn’t grow on trees, you know.

Eat your vegetables.  There are starving children in other countries who would be happy to have your vegetables! (and by the way, piling them into a napkin and offering to mail those vegetables to the starving children will get you sent to your room faster than you can blink).

Don’t touch wild animals!  Do you want to get rabies?

and finally…

Stay on the path.  Do you want to get poison ivy?

On top of all that there is a new lesson, one I’ve only come to appreciate since my son was born.  TOY MANUFACTURERS USE WAY TOO MUCH PACKAGING.  Seriously.  Is toy theft that big of a problem?  A simple Star Wars Action figure, for example, is held in place by something like a dozen twist ties when it’s already encased in cardboard and plastic. My son wants to play with the toy RIGHT NOW, but it takes me forty minutes to free the toy from its twist tie asylum…

I’ll make this promise right now:  If toy manufacturers stop it with all the twist ties, I will do my part and recycle the cardboard part of the packaging.  Given that my son is six with years of toy ownership ahead of him, that action alone could make a big difference for the environment.

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Filed under blog action day, packaging, recycle, Star Wars, the environment, toys