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Not My Favorite Spring Break

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Not My Favorite Spring Break

Thank goodness school started again today. Our spring break kind of……sucked. Not only that, but I’m suffering an uncharacteristic  — for me — amount of mommy guilt over the whole thing. Gotta be honest, mommy guilt is normally not in my wheelhouse (whether it SHOULD be is another question), but this week threw me for a loop.

I had all kinds of grand plans: a thorough spring-cleaning and purge of all boys’ rooms and belongings; outings to the zoo, the science museum, and hiking; frolicking in the great outdoors; garden planting and yard work. Not to mention relaxing extended family reading time, etc., etc.

We made it to the zoo Monday, but after that the week just kind of kerploofed. (It’s a word now, people, it’s perfect for the sort of imploding-while-disappointing sound I was imagining.) I had made just a few wee commitments for the week, but each of them somehow had other meetings appended to them, including meetings for and with my nieces that were really important and out of my control. Then mid-week my poor dad experienced a serious back injury that required a chaperone and multiple appointments, it rained most of the week so no one could play outside, and …… kerploof.

Lessons were learned though, and I record them here for your potential benefit, should you ever experience a disappointing kerploof of a holiday.

1. Huh, I’m raising relatively self-sufficient small people. Instead of adventures with mommy all week, my little men spent record amounts of time alone and in charge of themselves and each other. As the oldest is 13, this should be no big deal on paper, but we’re talking several big chunks of hours of time and three boys. And you know what, people? No blood was drawn, no disasters were had, lunches were prepared and consumed, and all was well.

2. Much less laundry is required when your family members spend most of the week in their jammies. This reduction in laundry was a small side benefit to the fact that the boys got dressed maybe twice between Monday and Friday……oh, look, here comes the guilt again……

3. Multiple Jammie Days??? My boys think that’s the Best. Thing. Ever. So instead of being disappointed at the lack of mommy outings, they were thrilled at the added responsibility of being on their own combined with the luxury of relatively unlimited electronics (truly not the norm in this house, honest) in their pj’s. By their accounting: SCORE.

A sleepover in the basement is the perfect end to a jammie day. Well, that and piles of Oreos.

A sleepover in the basement is the perfect end to a jammie day. Well, that and piles of Oreos.

4. Unlimited Electronics Buffet + Rainy Week Still = Squirrelly Boys. This is just basic physics, no changing that. Thank you Jesus for a sunny afternoon yesterday, or there might have been intra-familial fisticuffs.

5. I have discovered a basic, and to my knowledge, previously unnamed law of human behavior. Other people at the zoo cannot stop making up what are clearly dumb explanations for the animals’ behavior. The Corollary to this Law of Uncontrollably Fabricating Animal Behavior Explanations is the Inability to Control Mocking Others Ridiculous Explanations While Believing Your Own Understanding of Zoo Animal Behavior is Unquestionably Stellar.

6. Baby elephants are so cute, one cannot be blamed for compulsively taking what are clearly awful pictures of them….

Awww....look at the baby elephant. Well, she is cute, but there was all this glass in the way...

Awww….look at the baby elephant. If you can, through the glare, the glass, and her mother’s legs.

7. Much to my shame and dismay, I am not immune to Facebook-related jealousy. Having never really experienced it before, I was pretty confident I was above the capacity of Facebook to effect my perceptions of how fun our life is or is not. Until this week, when the pictures of Palm Desert, Hawaii and Mexico flooded my newsfeed while I went from meeting to appointment to meeting. I realized I am no better than any other Facebook user, capable of being consumed by feelings of envy and inadequacy.

A pathetic group selfie (us-ie?) of us at The Lego Movie.

A pathetic group selfie (us-ie?) of us at The Lego Movie.

I did not post that blurry mess to social media, didn’t feel it adequately competed with all of the beach/skiing/Italian spa/parasailing/rock-climbing on Mars photos. Sigh. (I am completely aware of the whiny nature of my seriously first-world problems. I am a brat. That fact just makes it all worse. More sighing.)

8. When given the chance, my boys rose to the occasion and to my expectations, whether it was helping injured grandpa walk his dog this week, managing on their own so long, or doing extra chores to help me out instead of getting to do extra adventures or fun treats. Our kids are often capable of so much more than we ask of them, and they are proud to do it.

9. This too shall pass, for everything there is a season, kids are resilient, and honestly I can’t remember ONE single spring break from my elementary or middle school years. My mom was GREAT, and I’m sure we did all kinds of super fun spring break things.  Wait, had spring break even been invented then? Anyhow, maybe in the scheme of things it won’t really matter…..

Maybe everything IS awesome….

Also, I’m pretty sure that song was composed by the folks who compose Vacation Bible School theme music. Anyone agree?

 

 

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Truck Meat Revisited: Am I Too Trusting?

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Have you ever bought truck meat? How about had your dent undented by a parking lot dude? Have you ever been accused of being too trusting, or are you the kind of person who frisks your own family when they come to the dinner table?

I admit it, I may be too trusting. (Note: I first wrote about this on Facebook 4 years ago, but something happened yesterday that made me realize I’m still trying to figure it out. Plus, it’s just fun to say truck meat. Go ahead, it’s fun, say it. Truck meat. Ha!)

While treating a fellow Stand Up for Mental Health comedian to lunch yesterday for sharing her morning with my co-author and I for our upcoming book, I was hollered at in the restaurant parking lot. “Did I hit someone? Did I park stupid? Do I know that guy?” Questions ran through my head (not that I have a habit of hitting people. Parking stupidly, eh, maybe) as a friendly gentleman in a pickup truck waved me over.

“I am sorry to yell at you like that,” he said, “but I couldn’t help notice you have some damage to your bumper, and I have a machine that will pop that right out, I can come to you, maybe I could jump out and take a look and do a free estimate for you right now?”

Here’s the thing. I’m pretty sure my husband, a handsome but introverted and danger/inconvenience/getting-ripped-off-averse guy, would have already said “no thanks, not interested….” and walked away at this point.

Which is WHY, dear readers, I haven’t told him about it yet, because I want your feedback first! So stick with me, and tell me what you’d do, ok? Help a blogger out?

I, being me, said sure, he could give me an estimate if he wanted to come find me in the restaurant, because I didn’t want to make my lunch partner wait. AND HE DID. About 5 minutes later he walked right into Shari’s – Denney’s of the Pacific Northwest – and came over to give me his estimate. $160 to pop out the big ol’dent in the front corner of my front bumper, which would allow him to reattach it to the surrounding bumper-adjacent parts. He gave me a note (OK, I had to give him a piece of paper and a pen to write the note) with his name and number and the estimate and said to give him a call.

OK, that’s not exactly how it happened. He actually said he could go get the machine RIGHT THEN and have my bumper fixed by the time I was done with my tasty BLT, and I wouldn’t have to pay unless I was satisfied.  When I played the “oh, I’d definitely need to talk that over with the husband first”, THEN he said I could call him, and if I said nice things to my friends he’d even touch up the other paint-scratched areas for free. (There may be a few, I don’t think that’s relevant here. Though I do think it makes me extra pious and noble to not care that my Honda Odyssey is showing signs of its journey with me…..)

And you know what? That’s the world I wish I lived in.

I wish I lived in a world where I could say “Sure, that would be great! Please do go fetch your undenting machine, I’ll see you in the parking lot after my lunch!” without knowing that grumpy untrusting folk like my handsome husband would metaphorically strangle me for doing such a crazy thing. Grumpy McGrumpypants. Why can’t I give this earnest man a chance to fix my bumper?

Said husband would point to my history, I’m guessing. For instance, I wrote a personal check a couple of years ago to a rough-looking young woman with a really good spiel at my door. She was selling magazines and kids books, and she said she was a teen runaway hooked up with a charitable organization helping her learn skills to stay off the streets. My husband, quite sure the depths of the identity theft would become clear right before the home burglaries and murders began, was somewhat annoyed. We were both relieved when we actually got the books and the magazines.

And you can imagine his resigned bemusement when I bought truck meat. Yup. Meat off a truck. Meat off a truck from a guy who “happened” to be going on vacation that day who needed to unload it instead of taking it back to the “office.” I thought at the time I was pretty clever, even going so far as to whip out local store ads and make him prove that his prices were comparable. In the end, I bought truck meat. A lot of it. For a lot of money.

Not long after, while frying up some truck meat, I had to admit to myself I’d been taken. The hamburgers were just not great. The steaks were fine, and the chicken merely average. Don’t even ask about the seafood, I’m not sure we were ever brave enough to eat it. (I TOLD YOU, it was a LOT of truck meat.) Sweet husband asked for months afterward, as a matter of course when he saw me cooking, “Is that truck meat?” And now, in this public forum, I admit it to my dear husband. I got taken. The truck meat was fine, but I shouldn’t have done it.

It didn’t help that I once neglected and burned some truck meat because I left the kitchen to show a sweet-faced landscaper seeking work a stump in our yard that needed removed so he could do an estimate. But…..

I like working with the little guy, supporting the underdog, keeping it local. How do I do it without being a trusting idiot? Or should I worry so much about it?

How else to be a part of a community without allowing yourself to occasionally be vulnerable to your fellow man?

Or is that just a glorified excuse for truck meat and parking lot undenters?

What do you think? Have you ever used a parking lot undenter dude? What would you do?

I Wonder What Molybdenum Tastes Like?

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Salt is weird.

Really, have you thought about it? I mean, it’s a mineral we grind up and put on our food. We don’t grind up other rocks to put on our food.

Don’t get me wrong, I love me some salt. Without salt, many foods are pointless: popcorn, hash-browns (this evening’s muse), french fries, eggs. No salt, no point.

But what inspired early man – or let’s face it, woman, since she was likely responsible for the culinary innovations of the time like cooking with fire, not eating potatoes raw, and always garnishing your kill with a sprig of mint – what inspired her to grind up salt crystals and shake them on dinner?

Did Early Chef go around licking other rocks and grinding them up to try and enhance the flavor profiles of mammoth, sabre tooth tiger, or (in the case of our cannibalistic ancestors) Earl, her annoying neighbor? (Earl had it coming, always playing his rock music so loud in the cave next door. ‘Course, rocks were the only available instrument at the time…..Get it? Rock music???? I’m sorry, I’ll stop.)

So, I’m wondering, what does molybdenum taste like?

Molybdenum - pretty, but does it taste good? photo by  Alchemist-hp

Molybdenum – pretty, but does it taste good?
photo by Alchemist-hp

I think this area of science may be ripe for development. For instance, according to the US Geologic Survey, “The versatility of molybdenum in enhancing a variety of alloy properties has ensured it a significant role in contemporary industrial technology, which increasingly requires materials that are serviceable under high stress, expanded temperature ranges, and highly corrosive environments.”

See? Boring, and not a word about molybdenum’s potential ability to improve hash-browns. Or mushrooms! Now THAT would be a significant role! A rock that could make fungus not taste like dirt would be worth a lot of money! Wikipedia makes clear, however, that molybdenum has the sixth-highest melting point of any mineral, so its nacho-topping utility is probably limited at best.

Actually, the magical oracle which is Wikipedia can’t even seem to agree how many minerals there ARE (at least after an exhaustive 3.25 minutes of searching), and seems conflicted as to whether it is molybdenum or molybdenite. With such uncertainty existing in the field, I think there is clearly work to do.

We must determine if any minerals taste like salted dark chocolate or a really good margarita.

Science, people. It’s important.

Want to Read a Great Book?

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I’ve got a great book recommendation for you – it’s full of drama, inspiring characters who triumph over difficult odds, and it’s funny, too! I really think you’ll like it.

Only one problem……we haven’t written it quite yet!

(I’m not one to excel at getting to the point (cue husband laughing hysterically), but I’m making an exception. Here it is: Please support our Kickstarter project to write an awesome book, and then SHARE the project with your friends, contacts, Facebook lists, Twitter followers, and that weird guy who stares at you at the grocery store. Give him something else to think about. Ok, back to the long-form version of the post….)

That’s right, I’m writing a book! My co-author, Dave Mowry, and I are writing “No, Really, We Want You to Laugh”, a book about stand-up comedy and mental health.  Who woulda thought, right? I certainly never thought I would be either a) a stand-up comic; b) a passionate advocate for changing how we talk about and perceive mental illness; or c) running a Kickstarter campaign to fund a book about it!

But I’ve spent the last five years walking alongside my amazing young nieces as they have worked to rebuild their mental health after a rough childhood (GIANT UNDERSTATEMENT), and about 18 months ago I got recruited into an amazing program called Stand Up for Mental Health. Since then I’ve been performing stand-up comedy as a family member of people living with mental illness. I’ve also helped to facilitate more classes, and helped some AMAZING people take their tough experiences with mental illness and turn it into powerful, funny comedy. We’ve seen real transformation in people’s lives as a consequence, including our own lives.

One of those comics, Dave Mowry, thought what we were experiencing was important enough to share in a book, and I’m honored he ask me to co-author with him. We want the book to professionally edited, designed and prepared for publication, because we want our message of hope to reach a LOT of people.

See, here’s my co-author Dave and I:

Click now to check it out! http://kck.st/19NJpAB

Click now to check out the book project!
http://kck.st/19NJpAB

The Kickstarter campaign will help us make that happen, and we need YOUR support to do it! We’re about a third of the way there already!

Who ought to jump on board this project?

– anyone who is living with mental illness or knows someone who is

– anyone who wants to combat the stigma and discrimination of mental illness

– anyone who enjoys comedy and wants to see it from a different angle

– anyone. Just anyone. OK, that might be a bit broad, but I REALLY believe that this book is going to be a great read, and will be very encouraging to a lot of people.

If the highlighted links weren’t enough, here’s another version. Click HERE: http://kck.st/19NJpAB

You can help us out for as little as $10, which gets you a copy of the ebook! We made up all kinds of free perks, including hard copies of the book, front-row seats at our Launch Party (whoEVER thought I’d have a launch party????), or even a private comedy show for your business, your friends, or total strangers you want to treat.

So, whattya say? Come on, jump on board, it’s going to be FUN!!!!!

(And to those who have already supported us, THANK YOU! Wow, really thank you. Now go share it with your friends and family! 🙂 )

My Guardian Angel Is An Octopus

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My Guardian Angel Is An Octopus

I don’t know if I’m actually supposed to HAVE a guardian angel, not sure where the Protestant theology is on that.* Theological questions aside, if I did have a guardian angel, it would have to be an octopus, no question. The poor thing would NEED eight arms just to keep up with me.

In the last 15 months, I’ve given myself permanent nerve damage in my hand; blistered and scarred my leg with boiling water; and nearly blinded myself with yard implements. Honestly, I have no self-harm urges, I’m just equal parts clumsy and impatient – a dangerous combination. My parents always tried to get me to think before I act, but that didn’t take. I am usually too passionate, impulsive and overenthusiastic to do any such sensible thing.

To ensure that some public good comes from my private idiocy, I share with you these stories and the accompanying life lessons, in case a) you need a chuckle, or b) you have a five-year-old in need of basic safety skills. So here we go:

The Avocado Stabbing:

Just finished filing the nail on my middle finger AGAIN. So annoying. See, I frequently have to file the middle fingernail on my left hand because that finger is largely numb, devoid of any feeling except a constant tingle akin to your foot being deeply asleep. The numbness must make me use it less, because that nail just grows really quickly. (GOOD LORD, IS SHE REALLY WRITING A POST ABOUT HER COMPARATIVE FINGERNAIL GROWTH RATES?)

Anyhoo, it all started back in May of last year. I was preparing nachos, one of my family’s favorite meals. Well, one of my favorite meals, and thus one we enjoy regularly. No plate of nachos is complete without guacamole, which I was just beginning to make. I cut the avocado in half, and then went to remove the avocado pit the same way I always have, since my teen years in Alaska when an avocado was a truly foreign and glamorously ethnic vegetable. Raise the blade up and vigorously drive it down into the avocado pit, tip down.

Here, I’ll give you a visual on my technique:

How NOT to Pit an Avocado

Apparently, that’s NOT how you are supposed to do it. As you might predict – not that I did – the blade bounced off the slimy pit and went through the avocado into the palm of my hand. After a trip to the nurse’s house down the street, the urgent care clinic and then the ER, I was left with two pretty stitches and a small scar that neatly bisects one of my lifelines. Probably changed the whole course of my life right there. (Except that I’m pretty sure the theology on lifelines is even weaker than guardian angels….)

I was also left with what appears to be permanent numbness along the entire pinky side of my middle finger. I know, you wouldn’t think that the pinky side of your left middle finger would be important for a right-handed person.  However, I’ve found that it makes flossing shockingly difficult, and I also use that finger to operate my car’s turn blinker.

I’m just waiting for the day I have to explain my sub-par blinker-operating handicap to a police officer.

The lesson: Apparently, THIS is how you are supposed to pit an avocado. You’re welcome.

The Scalding 

This is not a funny story, unfortunately, and I apologize for that. The least I could do while hurting myself is be funny, cause if we can’t laugh at it later what really is the point? But I was just carrying some potatoes over to drain in the sink a few months ago when I sloshed the boiling water on my leg.

It WOULD have been funny if we’d had guests, as I easily set a world record for quickly stripping off a wet pair of jeans in the middle of the kitchen. As it is, I now have a 8-inch long area of permanently discolored skin on my thigh. The good news is I no longer feel guilty about not training for the Mrs. Middle Aged America Bikini Pageant. For when I’m actually middle-aged, you know, in the FUTURE. Cause that was TOTALLY gonna happen. Meh, that was probably the lifeline I cut anyways.

The lesson: This is pretty clear, actually. NEVER let me carry boiling water anywhere around you or your loved ones.

The Yard Tool Near-Blinding 

You should know right off that my ophthalmologist says my retina looks great. Firmly attached. I didn’t feel like I could write this post until I knew for sure whether I had ACTUALLY nearly blinded myself being stupid, or fallen blessedly short of that undesirable milestone.  I mean, if I wrote a lighthearted post about my tendencies to hurt myself and then went blind shortly thereafter, that would have been poorly thought-out blog planning on my part for sure. Awkward…..

Especially if the blindness made it difficult to update the post and ask for your prayers and explain that I would have to learn all new technologies for the blind before I could keep blogging.

This time, I was just laying innocently on my hammock, enjoying the summer breeze, minding my own business. But there was a REALLY annoying branch in the maple above my head, and it was completely ruining my view. It was all twisted up against the trunk under another branch, very aesthetically displeasing, and it was just. Ugly. Clearly that could not go on.

So I grab these AWESOME pruners I got from my dad and a stepladder. Cause, you know, I’m 4’11” and nearly all pruning requires a height assist of some nature. Heck, I practically need a stepladder to weed. Anyhow, to get close enough to deal with the offending branch I had to get directly under it, and stand on the top step with the pruners held directly over my head. I’m sorry if you can already see where this is going, but as I mentioned before, I’m kinda impatient.

I didn’t think to ask my 6’1″ husband to come clip the offending branch until AFTER the pruners slipped off the branch and descended (HANDLE DOWN, THANK THE GOOD LORD WHO IS FAR MORE GRACIOUS THAN I DESERVE) into my right eye.

Dramatic reenactment of my view right before the end of that handle landed on my eyeball.

Dramatic reenactment of my view right before the end of that handle landed on my eyeball.

The lesson: Don’t do anything like that. Ever. At all.

After a wee ladylike curse, I made sure there was no goo leaking from my eyeball, and then went in the house to make a couple of truly classic requests to my sweet husband. “Dave, DON’T YELL AT ME, but I need you to come trim a branch and then look at my eye because I may have just blinded myself. DON’T YELL AT ME.”

Two trips to the eye dr later, we were all fairly reassured my retina had not detached. My stupidity did, however, result in BIG floaters, a delightful new experience that left me swatting imaginary bugs for two weeks. (Seriously, I am SO glad I did not get stopped for a traffic violation this summer. “Well, officer, I missed the turn signal due to the numb pinky side of my middle left finger, and then I swerved because I was swatting a giant floating worm, except it was just a floater in my eye…..” No police officer should have to hear that.)

In addition, the blow to my eye caused some of the vitreous eye goo to detach from my retina. This vitreous goo detachment is apparently permanent, and was going to happen with age at some point, but it was definitely the last humbling straw in my run of hurting my own darned self.

I really should be forced to spend my days lying quietly on a soft pile of mattresses in a padded room.

The best I can do is recommend that if you see me near either blades of any kind or boiling water, RUN. Just run. And pray for me.

And call my husband.

*Of course, I couldn’t stand to leave it at that.  If you are a smidgen of the truly nerdy that I am, you can go here, or here, or here, for further thought.

Bonus science geekery: I am not great at including images in my blog yet, which explains all of the poorly lit photos, but while hopefully googling for an image of an octopus angel (Hey, it could happen!) I found this post about strange sea animals. FASCINATING.

A Word from Old Granny Crankypants

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As my sweet Southern friend Susan would say, Oh. My. Lanta. (Possible spelling-for-drama Oh. Mylanta. I grew up in Alaska, I’m wingin’ it.)

Seriously. It is not often (yet) that I feel myself tempted to say “Back in my day, things were different. You kids these days……”

But can we be real? (This here is already pretty real, seein’ as how I’m using  conjunctions to start sentences and such. My blog. My grammar.)

Before we get real, perhaps I should warn you. It’s hot here in the Northwest, and by hot I mean I’m feeling the need to fan myself on the front porch in front of an ice block, because we don’t have AC and it’s either the ice block and a fan or injure all of my peoples who seem to be picking their worst behaviors for display in these days of Unpleasant Hotness. Bad choices, people, they are making Bad Choices……

So I MIGHT be a little bit cranky. Maybe.

Back to the getting real. Cause kids these days (cue tremulous and crotchety old voice in your head now) are flat out spoiled. My eldest just told me I needed to buy the small people new fluoride rinse, to which I lovingly and patiently replied in my most nurturing voice, “Oh, precious,  no, there are three other bottles of three other flavors available to you under the sink.”

Oh, no. Apparently the pink one is the only “tolerable” flavor for their delicate little mouths. Seriously?? These kids need a dose of good ol’ Mr. Yuk Mouth! Remember him? Back from the day when our medicine all tasted BAD so we wouldn’t poison ourselves with it? Remember? Back when there weren’t eleventy-three flavor boosters available at the pharmacy, and a premium option to have it formulated as a icy slush??? (That could be a hallucination, I’m hot, but I swear it’s available.)

Here’s some old school terror for you, you grape/cherry/banana/magicberry-loving little ones……

yeah…..that’ll scare you into never wanting to go to the Dr. EVER. Or clean anything, EVER, cause of the scary Yuk Mouth.

Remember, back when the only oral health rinse we had was Listerine, (registered, trademarked, don’t-sue-me-its-a-lovely-product-though-I-do-prefer-Fresh-Mint) which came in only one flavor, and that proud flavor was “Light Brown Blister and Pain?”

Back in the day when toothbrushes came in either scratchy, poky or straw, and not in derivations of cartoon characters, scented handles and rotating/singing/timing/teaching you Ukrainian poetry?

Seriously, go brush your teeth. Mamaw has to go out on the porch and fan herself.

The Big Question: Pizza Box Recycling

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Recycling guilt is an inevitable and serious psychosocial complex contracted when living in the Pacific Northwest, a condition which can cause crippling shame, paralyzing confusion and deep self-contempt.  Hello, my name is Tara, and I am a Habitual Recycler.

This condition causes behaviors that can be puzzling and laughable to those unfamiliar with its symptoms, those from say, oh, I don’t know, the South. I recently traveled to Nashville for a conference, and found myself anxiously carting around a water bottle, a soda bottle, another water bottle, all for lack of a reassuring blue recycle bin. Where could I put them? What was I supposed to do with them?

The head-spinning confusion was aggravated by my co-existing guilt for even drinking water from a plastic water bottle*, instead of a cool, BPA-free stainless steel one like all the cool hipsters do. But thankfully those symptoms subsided relatively quickly when I tasted the water in my hotel. Ewww.

Of course, in time you begin to master your symptoms, and you become an expert at recycling cereal boxes, yogurt cups, and the box your heartburn medication comes in. (Probably wouldn’t have heartburn if I wasn’t so angsty about recycling……) You accept the difficult fact that cardboard Popsicle boxes can’t be recycled (wet strength, Google it) and you even begin questioning produce purchases from Costco because of the EXCESSIVE packaging. (If you are from the South, or are my mother, you may be getting anxious and dizzy at this point. Take a deep breath, you’ll be fine.)

But certain struggles remain, and I am here to share my stories with you in the hopes you can avoid my mistakes.

First I must confess there is one battle I’ve yet to win since tasting the glory, the rapturous glory that is a Sonic Diet Coke with Diet Cherry. That huge styrofoam cup (of COURSE I have to get the huge size, silly question) haunts me, mocks my weakness, stabs me with visions of dying seals and weeping children and a not really Native American actor with a single tear running down his stoic cheek.

But the Diet Coke Diet Cherry calls to me, and at best I can only contemplate bringing in my own refillable cup and begging for mercy. That battle is still to be fought, that victory not yet mine to claim.

But can we talk about pizza boxes? I thought I had this one, confidently tossing my pizza boxes in the recycling bin outside, sure that I wasn’t REALLY supposed to just throw them away, send them to a landfill. (Cue crying babies, screams of horror.) But why was my local recycling company so intent on having me wreck the environment?

I mean, sure, don’t throw the box in there with the pizza still stuck to it, that’s gross. But if I carefully scrape off the cheese, shake out the crumbs, that’s enough, right? A responsible consumer such as myself can surely be entrusted to recycle a huge, wasteful pizza box, right? Those rules are for the unreformed, people who still buy cases of bottled water to drink from home, standing in the kitchen next to their fancy refrigerators with dispensers of chilled, filtered water. Not for me, not for a skilled recycler such as myself who actually cuts out the annoying little box tops for education before flattening my Cocoa Puff box, right?

Yet still it nagged at me, so in an effort to ease my angst I set out to conduct extensive research on the issue. Well, you know, I Googled it. Turns out, grease from the pizza box can really muck up the water-based process used to break down cardboard in the recycling process. Even the Farmer’s Almanac agrees that a cheese-free box can still ruin a whole giant batch of cardboard recycling if it is more than a little greasy or oily. Then you really ARE killing the environment and baby seals and what not.

Frequently quoted solutions emphasize that only the greasy parts are bad. So cutting them off, or even just ripping the lid away from the bottom, means you can recycle the clean part. Great, right? And if the box is too greasy, or you want to reuse before you recycle, this website has 5 fun ideas for boxes, including a cool table top easel for arty kids, a fort and a throne for a pizza king.

So rest easy, recyclers. Me, I’m going to go test out a pizza box S’mores oven.

photo from pizzadelivery.org

*Except in rare circumstances, drinking from a plastic water bottle in the U.S. is unnecessary and wasteful, especially when 1 in 6 of us on Earth have no access to clean drinking water. That should cause guilt! Want more info? Check out waterafrica.org.

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