All posts tagged: Plastic

The Day I Decided to Clean Up My Hometown

I live in Des Moines, Iowa. Once known mostly as a “fly-over” state, we are now a fast growing city whose inhabitants strut around with intense pride for their thriving cultural accoutrements and affluent economy. Des Moines is often described as mid-sized, safe, clean and accessible — a place where you can make an impact, see the ripple effect and still leave your front door unlocked in the event a friend wants to deliver a homemade pie. But this spring as the snow melted, I started to see that my prideful perception of my perfect little town wasn’t quite accurate: The “clean” landscape I frequently boasted about now appeared trashy and unkempt. And I was embarrassed. En route to a favorite brewery one day, I happened to glance out the window, acutely tuned in to the surroundings. One side of the road was a big lot filled with semi truck trailers. The other side was lined with trees and brush — and should have been the side of the street that harkened to nature and …

I Let My Student Talk Me Into Botox

Dr. M wasn’t my doctor; he was my student. Normally at 10 a.m. on a Monday morning, we were in his office having English class. But today, I was lying on the big black chair in his clinic, trying to keep calm as he prepped a needle. Dr. M was Turkey’s most prolific Botox practitioner. He had a certificate above his desk from the Botox suppliers recognizing the record number of vials he’d administered, mostly to Turkish TV stars and society women. He appeared regularly on the Turkish equivalent of Oprah, the host of which he had filled with youth-enhancing chemicals. As an English teacher, I taught a lot of rich Turkish people and their children, but Dr. M was my first near-celebrity. Located in the fanciest part of Istanbul, Nişantaşı (the Turkish Beverly Hills), the Director (who I also taught) would sometimes introduce me to perfectly made-up, glossy-looking actresses or TV personalities. I never had any idea who they were because I’m British, but I still felt underdressed and out-of-place in their world in …

The Tyranny and Terror of Proper Recyling

I live in fear throughout the year. I live in fear of trash. And trash receptacles. The refuse chute. Trash cans. Garbage bags. Those misleadingly cheery green and blue plastic bins with imprinted arrows, infinitely chasing each other in a relationship that will never be consummated, forever and ever and ever. This phobia began when recycling laws went into effect in our hometown. My mother took the rules very seriously. We’d hear her asides about the trash habits of our neighbors, who, without a care in the world, would cavalierly fling empty pizza boxes into the bins marked “Glass Only.” There were only a half-dozen bins marked “Paper Only” waiting to accept their refuse, but no, these thoughtless yuppies tossed their artisan Otto’s Pizza boxes into the bins reserved for glass. Every evening, for as long as I could remember, newspapers, plastic, boxes, cardboard and metal bric-a-brac were separated and dutifully carried to the green square cans labeled “Paper,” “Metal” or “Plastic” on the curb, first by my Father, and then, later, by us kids. …

To My Lopsided Nose Job

“The Jones Nose.” That’s a thing we talk about — and not fondly. Meaty and bulbous, it’s the nose a child makes from a big ol’ pyramid of Play-Doh to stick on a sphere that acts as head — both geometric items approximately the same size. It’s a Shel Silverstonian creation. It’s not the kind of nose that outsiders look at and think, “Jesus, that’s big,” though. I’m no Cyrano. It’s an unassuming big nose, one that blends in fairly well when plopped in the middle of a rather large face and head. But — and I say all this in all honesty and not with self-loathing or an overly critical eye — the thing is big. If there were some kind of ratio formula that declared the ideal acreage your nose should occupy on your noggin, something like the Vitruvian Man, but for women and faces, I could prove to you without prejudice that my schnoz is oversized. So when I got to the point that I had enough money to do somewhat-frivolous things, …

Margit’s Note: The Girl in the Plastic Bubble

We Gen-Xers have lived a life full of plastic: Our shag rugs strewn with high-arch-footed dolls, Legos, bubble wrap, Tupperware containers, six-pack rings, vinyl records, cassette tapes…you name it. “There’s a great future in plastics. Think about it. Will you think about it?” says Mr. McGuire to Benjamin in The Graduate, a movie that debuted the year many of us were just babes, 1967. And then a few years later in 1970, after the first Earth Day and the backlash due to rising energy costs, we met the movement to make things green again. Consumer recycling took hold in our lifetimes — which is kind of weird to think about. (Although, who knew, Plato first discussed the idea in 400 B.C. “Socrates, dude, these bronze spikes would be super cute as a necklace.”) For as long as we can remember, we’ve been battling a tug of war between man-made and earth friendly options.  Paper or plastic?  This nose or that one? Fake or authentic? Here’s a little irony for you: “Plastic” means “capable of being …