the smell of my desperation has become a stench

Featured community question with accompanying supermodel

Today’s featured question from the community comes from user Josie Maran, former Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, I am not even joking (you can see for yourself, and then I am going to sit back and watch a flood of teenage boys sign up for the dooce® community):

This isn’t necessarily a direct answer to this question, but something happened earlier this week that sort of coincides with it if I wedge it in there, sit on top of it, and staple the box shut.

One of Katey’s responsibilities as our assistant is to manage all the recycling that goes on in this house, and let me tell you, it is a total recycling party up in here. We’ve got cardboard boxes, plastic containers, and scraps of paper climbing the walls like kudzu, and that there was a shout out to my Southern contingent. KUD. ZU. I remember the first time I referenced kudzu in front of Jon, and he was all, you are totally making that up. And I was all, no, for real. It will eat you up:

(photo credit to The Science House)

The problem is that there isn’t really a recycling program for glass other than these huge dumptsers up the road that say “BROWN GLASS ONLY” or “GREEN GLASS GOES HERE” and I guess they are routinely emptied by the Glass People. Or maybe by magic. I don’t know. I have no idea where that glass goes or who picks it up, but it happens. And that last sentence pretty much looks like my explanation to Leta when she asked how Santa was going to get through the grates we had installed on the top of the chimney to keep out the raccoons. MAGIC! Or maybe he’ll use a screwdriver. His elves have tons of those lying around.

Tangent: Leta and I were at the mall on Sunday and passed this really sad and depressing corner where Santa was sitting, just waiting for the kids to show up, the photographer perched awkwardly on a chair next to him. Except, there were no kids to be found. No line. Nothing. I found myself avoiding eye contact with him to spare him the shame, because it was just so pathetic and I was afraid he’d be able to tell that I was thinking, dude, you’re like a New Kid on the Block who tried to strike out on his own and no one showed up to the CD release party at WalMart.

(frowny face)

(okay, full disclosure: I saw New Kids on the Block in Jackson, Mississippi in 1990. They were HAW-SOME. I had naughty, repent-worthy thoughts about Jordan Knight, baby, I believe in you.)

Instantly Leta seized my leg and tried to climb up my body. Under no circumstances was she going to go near that man, and I kept going, Leta! It’s Santa Claus! And she kept shaking her head, no, no, no, and when I asked why she said, “I think the letter I wrote him will get the job done.”

Seriously, why has no one pitched the show where you stick a dozen neurotic five-year-olds into a room, feed them raw sugar and energy drinks, and arm each one with a sharp fork. I would pay good money to see that half hour.


In order to recycle glass here you have to get into your car and burn precious fossil fuel while driving to the dumpster. The irony here is not lost on me, but we go through so much glass that it’s worth that little bit of carbon dioxide. We’ve got beer bottles and pickle jars and pasta jars, and let’s be honest, maybe a bottle of liquor or ten. What can I say. Marlo likes her martinis dirty.

So we collect all the glass in a plastic bin, and when it gets full one of us, usually Katey, will drive it up to the dumpster. And this last time there was so much glass that it was almost overflowing, and she’s trying not to drop any of it because, you know, GLASS. And as she tosses a couple of bottles into the green dumpster some woman pulls up behind her, jumps out of her car and starts yelling at her THAT SHE’S DOING IT WRONG. And holy crap, I thought that only happened on the Internet!

So Katey is all, what? And the woman is going on and on about how she just saw Katey throw a brown glass into the green glass dumpster, doesn’t she know? THE FATE OF THE EARTH DEPENDS ON THAT COLOR CODE. And Katey goes, no, pretty sure that was a dark green bottle, and the woman will have none of it. So Katey finally goes, FIRST OF ALL, I’M RECYCLING. And as Katey is telling me this story she and I simultaneously yell out, SECOND OF ALL, THERE IS NO SECOND OF ALL. I’M RECYCLING.

Seriously, someone getting all up in someone else’s business because they aren’t recycling the right way. IN REAL LIFE. It wasn’t even an anonymous comment! It’s like, I’m sorry, but the phenomenally generous check you just wrote to our children’s foundation is nice, but your penmanship really sucks. You’re going to have to write us another one, you turd.

  • Corey

    2009/12/17 at 8:07 am

    Did Katey ask the woman if she might like to jump in the bin to check?! I would love to see that!

  • melizerd

    2009/12/17 at 8:09 am

    LOL I have to say I can see Katey opening one of those glass bottles of WHOOP ASS on her.

  • spokeit

    2009/12/17 at 8:19 am

    It makes me happy that you still recycle glass. In our town they took away the glass bin because it was costing the city too much money to maintain. Forget the millions global warming is costing!

  • renataface

    2009/12/17 at 8:21 am

    Well, here in Ontario, all you have to do is put all your recyclable items into a blue bin, and set it outside your house on Tuesday morning, and BAM! It’s gone! Magic!

    Actually, guys wearing coveralls and driving a big truck take it away.

  • CynthiaO

    2009/12/17 at 8:22 am

    In Nova Scotia, where my family lives, you can recycle EVERYTHING from your own home and it gets picked up every 2 weeks, along with the garbage. You only have to sort into two groups: one bag for paper stuff and one bag for everything else – plastics, cans, bottles, etc etc. So, while I have always sort of considered this as a bit of a pain in my ass because the garbage collectors are like crazed Nazi’s now if you accidentally put something recyclable out in the garbage (and our garbage bags are clear by law so they can see what you chuck out), at least I can just throw it all in together and someone else takes care of it for me!

  • knighton

    2009/12/17 at 8:23 am

    OMG! Same thing happened to me, only it was the cardboard. Apparently I hadn’t folded and mutilated into an appropriate size or something ridiculous like that.

    Some people!

  • littlewords

    2009/12/17 at 8:23 am

    I’ve experienced many instances of IMPROPER RECYCLING here in good old uptight Seattle, until they decided we could just everything in together just to get it done!

  • Alexandra

    2009/12/17 at 8:25 am

    I haven’t lived at home for almost ten years. My dad STILL, to this day, collects all his pop bottles and cans and stows them in massive leaf/lawn bags and then as soon as I come to visit, casually, as if out of the corner of his mouth, says “Oh, by the way, when you’re out if you could happen to drop those cans off at the supermarket.”

    So my family does a lot of recycling, so long as I’m in town.

    (They really do it all year round, I think my dad just likes to get my goat and sees it as a source of public shaming, carrying around those sticky ridiculous bags).

  • jlaur

    2009/12/17 at 8:30 am

    Recycling is ALWAYS commendable but doing it correctly makes a huge difference in the energy required to process the materials and whether they can then be effectively reused. If they can’t, then it’s really not recycling. Even peeling labels off of glass or cans or rinsing things well before recycling saves a LOT more effort/energy/cost etc than just tossing the whole thing in (I admit I don’t always do this). I have no clue if mixing glass has a similar result because we don’t separate glass here… but broken glass can’t be sorted and usually also won’t be recycled. We definitely get points for trying, but… if you do it incorrectly enough, you are unfortunately negating the positive effects. Your stuff will just take a longer, more costly trip to the dump.

  • William

    2009/12/17 at 8:31 am

    If one has a pile of, say Sports Illustrated Swimsuit magazines, and one refuses to take them to the recycling center, is that person NOT enviromentally friendly?

  • lesileinwv

    2009/12/17 at 12:21 pm

    I live in WV, if you want to recycle more than newspapers, you have to take it to one of two centers within a 60 mile radius.

    We may be a little behind here.

    As for Jordan Knight, oh my goodness gracious. I loved him…when I saw them in concert (1990/1991?) I swore for days he was looking right at me.

  • akhowell

    2009/12/17 at 8:41 am

    Here in Boise they give us a huge bin with an attached lid for all recycling. Everything goes in it, you put it on the curb every other week, and they sort everything for you. Makes it very easy.

  • yay4tay

    2009/12/17 at 8:42 am

    Oh, poor lonely santa 🙁 you guys should’ve gone to see him. You could’ve sat on his lap if Leta wouldn’t have.

    Then again, I’m sure he’s getting paid by the hour, and is probably grateful not to have screaming, runny-nosed kids on his lap for a few minutes.

  • EL

    2009/12/17 at 8:43 am

    I gotta say, we Phoenicians have it easy: everything recyclable goes in a big blue bin that gets picked up curbside once a week. Of course, they specifically prohibit dirty diapers, but that’s probably reasonable.

  • sheameister

    2009/12/17 at 8:45 am

    Kudzu inhabits my nightmares. In NC, it was everywhere… constantly threatening to swallow me whole. I get serious heebie jeebies just thinking about it. Thanks a lot 😉

    Have you seen the websites that sell KUDZU JELLY!?!?! I kid you not. Jelly. Take a moment to ponder that, will you?

  • The Prima Momma

    2009/12/17 at 8:45 am

    When I lived on a farm, we used to have to take all of our garbage and recycling to a dump. The dump site was watched over by a crazy lady that would yell at you if you were tossing anything she felt was still usable.

    Many a day she would CLIMB INTO the giant dump bin and drag out treasures. Then she would line them up by the entrance like an Isle Of Lost Garbage Christmas special.

    90% of it was broken baby gear.

    So SHE was doing her part to reduce, reuse and recycle! I shudder to think of all the red neck farm babies that were injured from being left unattended in the broken baby gear daddy picked up FOR FREE! At the dump!!

  • adrienne jackson

    2009/12/17 at 8:49 am

    in our small town, middle of nowhere, saskatchewan, canada, we have no curb side …. and the drop off town bins only take certain things, and then the place where you can get $ for your bottles only takes certain things. so in order to recycle your cardboard boxes and wine bottles, you need some serious organization at your own home, and you gotta be willing to do multiple drop offs. we even built a little recycling shed. it’s a hassle, but it gets done.

  • The Prima Momma

    2009/12/17 at 8:50 am

    Is kudzu related to the infamous Elephant Ear plant that I grew up with in Utah? That stuff will take over ANYTHING.

  • jeannefay

    2009/12/17 at 8:58 am

    I referred to our Virginia creeper as kudzu for several years before my husband discovered there really was such a thing. Honestly, if I’m going to make something up it’ll be better than that.

  • Jillybeans

    2009/12/17 at 8:59 am

    not knowing anything about Kudzu, I logically Wikipedia’d it… did you know:

    “The Harvard Medical School is studying kudzu as a possible way to treat alcoholic cravings, by turning an extracted compound from the herb into a medical drug.[7] The mechanism for this is not yet established, but it may have to do with both alcohol metabolism and the reward circuits in the brain.”

  • little_dynamite

    2009/12/17 at 9:05 am

    i had to drive my recycling to the waste management/recycling center when i lived in my old apartment complex. once, i had a man stop me and lecture me for not turning my car off for the thirty seconds it took to dump my cardboard into the dumpster and i just looked at him like, seriously dude? i wanted to yell, “HEY…I’M RECYCLING HERE!”

  • Mo

    2009/12/17 at 9:07 am

    You got the RIGHT STUFF, bAbY! I love the way you TURN me ON!

    (sorry. I got hung up on the NKOTB reference.)

    My dad used to throw away the recyclables when my mom wasn’t looking on purpose. He still thinks it is a conspiracy to keep liberals ignorant while feeling effective. So now we recycle behind HIS back. HA!

  • momof8

    2009/12/17 at 9:07 am

    Come to Minnesota! We have curbside recycling. We are provided with bins on wheels and we can throw plastic, paper, cardboard and glass all in the same bin! THEN you can pick your own hauler, so one of the 3 recycling trucks that come through your neighborhood can pick up your recycling! Yes, irony is everywhere.

  • Mo

    2009/12/17 at 9:08 am

    (Hangin’ TOUGH! Hangin TOUGH!)

  • sarahdoow

    2009/12/17 at 9:10 am

    I love the “Tangent” announcement. It makes me want to get a little hand-held sign to hold up whenever I feel the need to go off on a tangent … which is quite regularly.

  • SOLO dot MOM

    2009/12/17 at 9:20 am

    I’m with comment number 1… I would love to see that. The nerve… I mean really!

  • Peanut Peddler

    2009/12/17 at 9:29 am

    The woman was probably Swiss. Anybody who has had to recycle in Switzerland knows what I’m talking about.

  • portlandrose

    2009/12/17 at 9:44 am

    My in-laws live in Idaho, not too far from you actually in Utah (more mormons per capita in Idaho!) They don’t recycle anything. Not. One. Thing.

    The reason is not that they are hateful, earth destroying people (well…) but that my MIL claims that the hassle associated with it is just too much to handle.

    While I have made my thoughts clear and explained how I used to drive my recylcing once a week yada yada yada, I do believe that if you don’t make it easy, people won’t do it.

    Good for you, er, good for Katey and you for paying her to do it!!

  • JannyLynn410

    2009/12/17 at 9:45 am

    When my sister lived in Virginia she used to recycle all the time. She’d take the time and sort everything and set it out nicely on the sidewalk for them to take away. Then one day she actually watched them… they grabbed her recycle bin, dumped it in her garbage can, then grabbed her garbage can and dumped it in the truck. She refused to sort after that…

  • Jla0979

    2009/12/17 at 9:46 am

    I don’t get that. I don’t get why the people who design the recycling programs are all “Yeah, we are going to save the earth, but make it AS COMPLICATED AS HUMANELY POSSIBLE” This goes here, that goes there, this gets picked up, that gets dropped off, but only if you separate correctly and blah blah blah.

  • sunshinecupcakes

    2009/12/17 at 9:54 am

    Dude, why is recycling so hard for you in Utah? In Arizona, we’re overrun by derelicts – yet, we toss any and all recyclables together in one bin and VOILA some nice man comes and takes it away each week.

    Seems like the wholesome Utahns would have this going smoother than we SouthaThaBorderns!

  • Greta Koenigin

    2009/12/17 at 10:18 am

    Reminds me of when I let my kid eat a cracker off the ground. A lady said, “She’s eating a cracker off the ground.” I said, without irony since I didn’t sense any, “I know. It’s hers.” The lady huffed and puffed and rolled her eyes at me. She looked past the fact that my kids were bathed, okay dressed and not screaming in her ear. She had to get me on the dirty cracker, as if the 10-second rule hadn’t been invented yet. Issues like the environment, child-rearing, and war WERE invented so that we can yell at people we don’t know. If the world ran smoothly, our self-righteousness would be so bored.

  • Utahcouple

    2009/12/17 at 10:25 am

    I can’t believe that we (Salt Lake City) do not have a curb-side glass recycling program yet. My partner and I take turns driving up to the zoo to drop off glass, and it is a pain in the ass.

    Also, what are we suppose to do with the blue bottles? Thanks for sharing Heather!

  • Allie

    2009/12/17 at 10:27 am

    You know how when you learn a word you swear you’ve never heard before and then all of the sudden that word pops up constantly in your life and you wonder if you’ve just been tuning it out all of these years because you didn’t know what it meant?

    I’ve now seen three kudzu references this week. And those are the first three kudzu references of my whole life. Weird.

  • the former Dr. Tongue

    2009/12/17 at 10:37 am

    A) I’m amazed that it took 12 commenters to mention Josie. And that it was a female commenting.

    B) Is there a way for a supermodel wearing skimpy dance outfits to suck? That’s like sucking at recycling. Or at posing in a bikini on a beach. Hello! Supermodel scantily-clad.

    C) Katey should’ve smashed the end off a brown bottle and brandished it at her before tossing it in the green bin.

    D) SLC needs curbside pickup. Here in Calgary, we also have the ‘throw it all in one blue bin out front and the city picks it up and sorts it’ recycling plan.

  • Kim

    2009/12/17 at 10:37 am

    As someone else from Toronto pointed out, we get our recycling picked up by the city. And often, street people go through bins (especially the large ones outside apartment buildings) to collect bottles for deposit money, which further reduces what is picked up. I do agree that more cities should be making it easier for people to recycle – having to drive it somewhere makes no sense.

  • abwhittle

    2009/12/17 at 10:42 am

    I just currently moved to a small town in GA and they REQUIRE that you recycle. You get a green can and a blue can and if you don’t put out the blue recycling can or don’t put anything in it they won’t pick up your trash. There is not sorting involved and a list of what can be put in it is listed on the top. Pretty cool idea if you ask me.

  • raddit

    2009/12/17 at 10:42 am

    Hell yeah to the kudzu from Georgia. That stuff is crazy. I grew up in small-town Alabama and it is EVERYWHERE. Is it only in the South that it will eat your trailer when you’re not looking? 🙂

  • Mialulu

    2009/12/17 at 10:42 am

    I love the “recycled” car in the photo. Too bad they could not fit that in the recylce bin.

    When I lived in Maui, people would leave their car on the side of the road exactly where it had broken down. It sits there leaking all its fluids out into the enviroment, while growing beautiful tropical plants and flowers all over and inside of the car as if it is some sort of peice of art… CRAZY. So Sad.

  • annmelissa

    2009/12/17 at 10:52 am

    Are you sure you don’t live in Berkeley, CA? I’m a devout recycler, but I have more than once been told I’m doing it wrong by a grumpy hippie. 🙂 Not to be totally lame, and sound like my grandmother, but THIS IS WHAT’S WRONG WITH PEOPLE TODAY — ok, just environmentalists — that they need to feel holier than thou and that you’re not doing ENOUGH to help the environment, instead of encouraging good efforts. ‘Cause, you know, if you can’t recycle correctly, just don’t recycle at all. 🙂 Heh.

  • Alina

    2009/12/17 at 11:13 am

    Yes recycling is important, and yes it saves some stuff from making it to the landfill, but the truth is that consumer recycling is a tiny drop in a gigantic bucket. The problem isn’t at the end, it’s at the beginning.

    Manufacturing companies waste more than you or I would ever even dream of owning, much less throwing away or trying to recycle. I recycle, because I don’t want what I consume to be around for hundreds of years, but I also try very hard to buy less. Less furniture, less appliances, less packaging, less clothing, just less.

    I highly recommend watching The Story of Stuff. ( In fact, I think everyone should watch it. It’s an easy-to-understand explanation of why a linear system like the materials economy isn’t sustainable in a closed system like earth, and we’re basically fucking ourselves with our own consumerist society.

    Wow. I sound like a nutjob. I swear I’m not a nutjob. 🙂

  • MommaPug

    2009/12/17 at 11:13 am

    You are the third person in as many days that I have discovered attended that New Kinds on the Block concert. Its like a badge of honor that binds us together.

  • Amelia_Bedelia

    2009/12/17 at 11:19 am

    That photo totally reminds of a time in high school when my best friend informed me that her family “found” a car in their yard the previous night. Not Kudzu, but blackberry bushes, in the Pacific Northwest. I later married her brother, and every summer we hack back the bushes to find treasures.
    That kinda sounds dirty.
    Except the treasures I’m talking about are boat carcasses, can after bottle after can of used oil that his dad uses to start garbage fires because he is protesting (for 20 years) that the city won’t drive down his firetrap of a driveway to pick up the garbage, decomposing paint, and other environmentally horrible things. It is dirty in a totally different sense, and I cringe every time we go there. I’m sorry to say, but all the environmentally responsible things I and about 25 other people do are totally offset by my father-in-law.

  • tracy

    2009/12/17 at 11:21 am

    we have to take all of our recycling to the recycling center, and they will actually FORBID you to recycle if they catch you repeatedly putting #2 pastic in the #1 plastic bin, or if you’re a total rebel, and you put corregated cardboard in the mixed paper section. I am so not joking, they will straight up take away your right to recycle. Kuh-Razy!

  • Jacquie

    2009/12/17 at 11:30 am

    I can not handle the sad santas. My kids are similarly horrified at the notion of taking one for the team and just going in there to say hi, so I overcompensate by waving like a loon and blowing kisses to santa, and just MAYBE I sometimes pop my head in to the little igloo tent thing to tell him thanks for all the hard work that he does to make the world a merrier place, and that he should not worry because I am CERTAIN that my kids fully intend to start behaving in plenty of time to earn lots of shiny electronics beneath the tree, but if they don’t he should definitely send coal.

  • lindsay masten

    2009/12/17 at 11:38 am

    In regards to the “Santa Incident,” I point you to

    Not my site, or anything, but alternating creep and hilarity.

  • Wtfatherhood

    2009/12/17 at 12:05 pm

    Damn hippies. Wouldn’t recycling get interesting if the amount of cans and bottles recycled tied into a rewards system, noticeably toward things like public urination? Every 144 cans is one free pass for watering the alleyway trash.

  • jenstate

    2009/12/17 at 12:13 pm

    If the cost of recyclables drops too much, the recycling companies just throw it in the garbage – my husband works in the industry. He says, since you are separating it, it probably is being recycled, but it depends on who is picking up the material. Cans and paper nearly always get recycled, I think glass depends on what it’s worth. And the lady yelling about it should get a life.

  • jon

    2009/12/17 at 12:27 pm

    We do have curbside recycling in Salt Lake City, just not for glass.

  • doobrah

    2009/12/17 at 12:32 pm

    In my backwards Southern town, they just institued a $3/month “fee” (read tax) to supply us with BIG Blue Bins to recycle. I am single. My neighbors and married and have multiple kids. I recycle. They can’t be bothered. The more garbage that goes to the dump, the more the town pays in tipping fees, and the dump runs out of room faster.

    So why doesn’t the town tax the people who DON’T recycle and give rebates to those of us who do? Because the best way to institute a behavior change is to hit people in the wallet.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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