PNW Problems

compost-lol

When my kids were younger and we were living under the sunny skies of Scottsdale, AZ, I would tease them about the difference between real problems and “Scottsdale” problems. For example, a desperate cry from a naked boy awaiting a soak in our jacuzzi tub that sounded like this: “MOM, HELP! WE ARE OUT OF LAVENDER BATH SALTS,” was clearly relegated to the “Scottsdale problem” list. A tearful lament that  a sibling wouldn’t share any of his gluten free banana pecan scone, was also quickly shifted into the “Scottsdale” category. My favorite was the “There is nothing to eat. Someone finished my salmon skin sushi roll!”

I tried to kindly explain that these minor inconveniences were not really problems for most people in the world. Real problems had to do with homelessness, poverty, world hunger and the deteriorating ozone layer which is leading the planet towards its fiery destruction.

Now we live in Seattle and I have finally realized that each and every geographic region has it’s own set of hideous problems facing todays children and young adults. No, it is not the epidemic of youth suicides, the plethora of school shooting massacres, or even the long term harmfulness of rampant opioid addiction. I have found the PNW problem that is ruining our children, destroying their sense of self and contributing to the powerlessness and depression overwhelming young people today. Composting.

We dutifully have separate garbage cans for garbage, recyclables and compost. My children are avid supporters of composting and have also insisted that there are undercover refuse police who go through our garbage cans in search of an errant unwashed yogurt container or a bags of pungent pet poop, (which surprisingly is not compostable). While I have researched extensively regarding the hefty fines imposed by these “refuse regulators,” I have found inconclusive and confusing reports of fines ranging from public shaming to $1 per oversight.

Since the thought of actively allowing food scraps to accumulate on my counter or under my sink was more than a little unsettling to this city girl, I embarked on a research project to find the most convenient, sanitary and bug-free method of composting I could find. I settled on a YukChuk under the sink and a small (dishwasher safe) mini bin for the freezer. I got compostable bags and explained the system to my kids.

The key to successful composting is simple. EMPTY THE BINS OFTEN. I’d love to say this lesson wasn’t extremely disgusting, stench-filled and painful to learn, but that would be untrue. Once we got the proper system set up and running, I found myself being the sole compost remover of the clan. This bothered me quite a bit.

“Take out the compost,” I urged multiple times a day. Sometimes I would even remove the bags and set them outside the back door for easier disposal. But my children merely saw that as a stumbling obstacle and stepped over the bags in order to avoid touching their disgusting contents of gross, moldy, food remains.

One night I emptied the compost trash and as an experiment decided not to fill the bins with the compostable green bags beside them. The next morning I awoke to find the unbagged bins filled with food waste. I snapped. “That is it,” I announced to myself since I’m obviously the only one who pays any attention to me. Then I washed out the bins, dried them and hid them deep in the garage.

My younger son was dismayed about this. But I calmly explained that I was not willing to be the sole composter in the family and had unilaterally decided to revoke all internal composting privileges. He took that in and then acknowledged that he understood and believed I had made a sensible choice.

But when my 17 year old son discovered the missing bins, the fireworks began. “How can you do something like this to me?” He raved. “You are literally ruining my life!” “How can you be this cruel and unfeeling? I’m literally horrified.” (Literally seems to be the word of the week in my house).

While I totally acknowledge that feelings are real and emotions are nothing to laugh at, this reaction struck me as a bit over the top. “Are you serious?” I asked. “You’re melting down over compost?”

He left in a huff.

When he returned from school, he was still ruminating on my sick, twisted effort to destroy the planet. “Look mom, this is extremely important to me,” he stated with clear, calm coherence. “I’d like to make you an offer.”

Since I am unable walk away from this type of intriguing proposition, I say, “I’m listening.”

“I will pay you for the privilege of indoor composting,” He reasons.

“Hmmm,” I say with an open, inviting lilt. “How much?”

“I’ll give you a dollar,” he proffers.

I laugh heartily and recommend he come back when he has a serious offer to submit.

“Okay,” he acknowledges. “I’ll give you five.”

I walk away with an expression of disappointment at this lame attempt to negotiate a settlement.

“Ten?” he suggests.

Still I say nothing.

“Okay, I’ll give you twenty bucks for the tiny little freezer bin,” he pleads.

Since I could actually use the extra twenty, I offer my hand and we shake in agreement. “But,” I add, “Failure to empty the freezer bin will result in permanent loss of internal composting privileges.”

He nods in resigned assent.

“And,” I insist, “This twenty is non-refundable.”

It’s been several months since the compost accord, and I’m pleased to report that the Gettleman household is actively composting, recycling and garbaging according to all State and local government regulations and statutes of political correctness.

 

You’re every bit as old as you feel!

Jack Johnson at Cricket Pavilion last week

You know those moments when you’re suddenly, and painfully, aware of how old you are? Well, they’re coming more frequently these days and let me say, they suck! My most recent realization came Sunday night at the Jack Johnson concert at Cricket Pavilion. I know, it’s just asking for embarrassment to go to a rock concert as a middle aged mother of two. But we really like Jack Johnson. So we forged ahead, certain that there would be a healthy representation of baby boomers and gen-xers mixed into the youthful audience melange.

We’ve actually gone to several concerts this year. We saw Big Bad Voodoo Daddy in Prescott this winter. It was part of their Arts Center season and we were by far the youngest in the audience. Then we went to Vegas to see Garth Brooks. Yes, I admit it. I LOVE HIM! But there too, there was a plentiful number of, shall we say, mature audience members.

Last night I felt like that old brown banana in the fruit bowl, you know the one nobody will eat because it’s too mushy. It just sits there forever, until you bring home a new bunch of hard green ones from the store and finally decide to toss it or use it as compost.

It started when we got there a bit before 7. Well, that’s what time our tickets said the concert began. Can you say “out of touch?” We actually told our sitter that we’d be home around 10 thinking three hours was more than enough time for a thorough sampling of Jack’s greatest hits. We were a bit surprised by the plethora of empty seats surrounding us. Finally, after 2 hours of warm up bands, we remembered that stars like Jack Johnson don’t open their own shows. The wise youngsters in the house arrived a few moments before 9:30 when Jack finally stepped onto the stage. We seriously contemplated going home before he even began. Life is definitely more limiting when you wake up between 4 and 5 a.m. every morning.

We were happy we stayed. The concert was amazing. We even spotted a few families with young kids in the pit. That helped soften the sight of thousands of college coeds spreading out in all directions. And I guess we should be happy that not a single one asked us to buy them an adult libation, an act I remember performing on several occasions when I was a mere underage student looking for an alcohol buzz.

But my question is this: why does life have to stop when you hit middle age? Why weren’t there more people in our age bracket at this concert? His music is mostly mellow, has a great message, is beautifully arranged and artistically impressive. Why don’t middle aged people go to concerts? They’re fun. You get to dance and sing and let go for a few hours. That’s got to be healthy. I feel like we all run around tied up in knots, worrying about our work, our kids, our finances. It gets old, and so do we. We need to have more fun.

That’s it. I’m starting a red hat club for middle agers. Only we’re gonna wear togas, one of our generation’s most identifiable party icons, as an homage to John Belushi and “Animal House.” We will stop feeling out of place at nightclubs, poetry slams and concert venues. We will eat at “beautiful people” restaurants, and buy our way into VIP back rooms at all of the hottest clubs in town. We will play frisbee on the beach, drink more than we ought to, and gulp down a few Red Bulls to get through the work days after our wild and exotic nights of debauchery. We will make-out in public, show our bellies, pierce our noses. Middle agers of America, join with me in taking back fun. After all, we invented it in the first place, didn’t we?