The Chatelaine's Garbage

Because I am my poetics, I'm going to track my daily garbage. It might also help me dump less on others. Also, in the words of William Rathje, founder of the University of Arizona's Garbage Project, *REFUSE REFLECTS TRUTH*. Garbage sorting reveals that "what we do and what we say we do are two different things."

Saturday, March 24, 2007

RECYCLED INTO A NEW BOOK!

The garbage lists from this blog-project have been recycled into a section of my new book:

SILENCES: The Autobiography of Loss

You may find it interesting to see how these trash lists have been recontextualized! If interested, you can order the book HERE.

Thanks for your interest and support!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Jan. 25, 2006

This post ends this project as today is the last time that I will monitor my daily garbage list. With this post, I’ve garnered enough for use in my book project, CONTEXT: A POET’S MEMOIR. Await More Information on this project here!

I’ll be using this blog’s trash lists for helping address the notion of a fluctuating “auto” in “autobiography.” I hope you Peeps have been amused by some of these lists—actually, they’ve sort of been boring, to me, but the repetition of them offers a pleasingly trance-inducing quality when I reread them. Anyway: the last day—

TRASH:
an oak leaf that skittered through an open door

edges to 2 slices of bread

Q-tip

2 registered mail receipts

day-old cat food

kitty shit & piss clumps

peel-off backings to 2 book mailers

2 EQUAL paper packets

coffee grounds for 2 cups

1 piece of scrap paper

3 pieces of small scrap papers

2 plastig bags that held RICH Fran chocolate-covered cookies

2 paper napkins

1 piece of junk mail

stray grass from kitties' wheat grass plant

cardboard & plastic containers to Marie Callender's Herb Roasted Chicken (the hubby once did a food tasting of frozen dinners and Marie Callender's is the best)

chicken bones

plastic & paper packaging to Benadryl pills

dog's rubber baseball toy shredded by Achilles' beeeeeg teeeeeth!


SAVED FOR RE-USE:
1 large envelope

1 piece of scrap paper


RE-USED:
2 pieces of scrap paper for cover memos

2 plastic grocery bags


RECYCLED:
7 cans of dog food

2 diet coke cans

emptied bottle of 2001 Kistler Durrell Vineyard chardonnay

emptied Pellegrino bottle

In Style*

O(prah) Magazine*

Martha Stewart's Living*


(*picked up as freebies from local library)


NOTES:
It seems fitting to end this project with an excerpt from a book I finished reading today, TRAVELS WITH LIZABETH: Three Years on the Road and on the Streets by Lars Eighner (Fawcett Columbine, New York, 1993), an account of homelessness and travel with a pet dog. A fascinating chapter has to do with “Dumpster Diving,” or delving into dumpsters for food, clothes and whatever else a “diver” might salvage. It’s how Eighner helped support himself while he was homeless. Here’s an excerpt:

“The area I frequent is inhabited by many affluent college students. I am not here by chance; the Dumpsters in this area are very rich. Students throw out many good things, including food. In particular they tend to throw everything out when they move at the end of a semester, before and after breaks, and around midterm, when many of them despair of college. So I find it advantageous to keep an eye on the academic calendar.”

But in reviewing the past 34 days of my garbage lists, I realize how little I trash that would be useful to someone else. In part, this reflects my writing life and how, specifically, I work at home. Prior to being a writer, I was a banker. Ten years later, as a writer, I have yet to finish giving away the silk blouses, wool outfits, shoes, bags and so on that I accumulated as a worker who commuted to an office, engaged in public meetings and underwent other activities that forced me to care about my appearance (as a writer working at home, I live mostly in jeans and t-shirts). These often-expensive items from my finance career days are now “trash” to me and I haven’t managed to get rid of all of them yet despite at least ten trips to the Salvation Army or its equivalents. I probably have decades-old make-up and pantyhose still in my drawers. Based on Eighner’s dumpster experience, others aren’t as frugal as I am or have had the time to go through their closets to more effectively dispose of items no longer of use.

*****

Also intriguing is Eighner’s description of how he began diving into dumpsters, and his conclusion with which I also conclude this project:

“I learned to scavenge gradually, on my own....I have learned that there is a predictable series of stages a person goes through in learning to scavenge.

“At first the new scavenger is filled with disgust and self-loathing. He is ashamed of being seen and may lurk around, trying to duck behind things, or he may try to dive at night. (In fact most people instinctively look away from a scavenger. By skulking around, the novice calls attention to himself and arouses suspicion. Diving at night is ineffective and needlessly messy.)

“Every grain of rice seems to be a maggot. Everything seems to stink. He can wipe the egg yolk off the found can, but he cannot erase from his mind the stigma of eating garbage.

“That stage passes with experience. The scavenger finds a pair of running shoes that fit and look and smell brand-new. He finds a pocket calculator in perfect working order. He finds pristine ice cream, still frozen, more than he can eat or keep. He begins to understand. People throw away perfectly good stuff, a lot of perfectly good stuff.

“At this stage, Dumpster shyness begins to dissipate. The diver, after all, has the last laugh. He is finding all manner of good things that are his for the asking. Those who disparage his profession are the fools, not he.

“He may begin to hang on to some perfectly good things for which he has neither a use nor a market. Then he begins to take note of the things that are not perfectly good but are nearly so. He mates a Walkman with broken earphones and one that is missing a battery cover. He picks up things that he can repair.

“At this stage he may become lost and never recover. Dumpsters are full of things of some potential value to someone and also of things that never have much intrinsic value but are interesting. All the dumpster divers I have known come to the point of trying to acquire everything they touch. Why not take it, they reason, since it is all free? This is, of course, hopeless. Most divers come to realize that they must restrict themselves to items of relatively immediate utility.

“...Anyway, I find my desire to grab for the gaudy bauble has been largely sated. I think this is an attitude I share with the very wealthy—we both know there is plenty more where what we have came from. Between us are the rat-race millions who nightly scavenge the cable channels looking for they know not what.

“I am sorry for them.”

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Jan. 24, 2006

TRASH:
fallen poinsettia leaf

pistils from 4 cherry lilies

emptied plastic bag container to Mariani dried Philippine mangos

fragments of silver wrapping paper

paper & foil wrapping to Cadbury fruit and raisin chocolate bar

coffee grounds for 1 cup

3 EQUAL packets

Q-tip

4 paper towels to clean-up Gabriela’s wee-wee accident

kitty piss & shit clumps

1 piece of scrap paper

2 pieces of small scrap papers

2 broken eggshells

plastic wrap from loaf of bread

plastic wrap to tray of dog food

plastic cover to dog’s knuckle bone

2 paper napkins

dog fur

meat pieces from dog’s knuckle bone

2 pieces of junk mail

1 pen

plastic spoon

saran wrap that covered country pate

plastic bag and wrapping to roast beef slice

sliced-off edge to book mailer

tape fragments

peel-off backing to book mailer


SAVED FOR RE-USE:
book mailer


RE-USED:
bubblewrap, 1 box, Styrofoam pellets and wrapping paper for sending books

envelope

book mailer

scrap paper to make 2 mailing labels


RECYCLED:
7 cans of dog food

1 diet coke can

cardboard tray that held canned dog food

calendar

Monday, January 23, 2006

Jan. 23, 2006

TRASH:
cork/foil to 2001 Kistler Durrell Vineyard chardonnay

pistils from 4 cherry lilies

7 asparagus stalks

tiramisu plastic container

day-old cat food

coffee grounds for 1 cup

1 EQUAL packet

Q-tip

emptied Benadryl box

Benadryl plastic & papcker packaging

2 plastic baggies

left-over pita chips

1 piece of scrap paper

left-over dog kibble

2 pieces of junk mail

1 small scrap of paper

4 used envelopes

Pepcid box

Pepcid plastic/paper packaging

Saran wrap that held carrot cake

Styrofoam tray & plastic packaging to ground meat

dog fur lovingly brushed offa dawgs

kitty shit & piss clumps


SAVED FOR RE-USE:
1 piece of scrap paper

large envelope

book mailer


RE-USED:
Nothing


RECYCLED:
5 cans of dog food

2 diet coke cans

cardboard container that held diet coke

cardboard book mailer

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Jan. 22, 2006

TRASH
2 menus from Tomasso's

green foil & red ribbon packaging to chocolate X-mas tree ornament

plastic top to newly-opened Rigaud candle

dryer lint

edges to 2 slices of bread

coffee grounds for 1 cup

1 EQUAL packet

kitty shit & piss clumps

day-old cat food

2 grocery receipts

waxed paper croissant wrapper

waxed paper and saran wrapping to slice of country pate

pistils to 4 cherry lilies

4 paper napkins

tissue wrapping paper

emptied container of Tropicana orange juice

1 scrap paper

2 small pieces of scrap paper

2 peel-off backings to book mailers

plastic wrapping to EFA-Z Plus fatty acid & zinc supplement for dogs

emptied paper towel cardboard tube

left-over dog kibble & wet food

fragments from used mailing labels

Q-tip


SAVED FOR RE-USE
1 piece of scrap paper

1 brown paper bag

2 plastic grocery shopping bags


RE-USED
1 twistie-tie

2 cardboard boxes, Styrofoam pellets and bubblewrap to mail books

scrap paper used for 2 mailing labels

1 shopping bag


RECYCLED:
emptied wine bottle (2002 Dutch Henry chardonnay)

emptied plastic container of -Z Plus fatty acid & zinc supplement for dogs

5 cans of dog food

NY Times

SF Chronicle

Sunset Magazine


2 diet coke cans

1 tuna can

glass container to expired Black Velvet Bougainvillea candle

2 plastic holders for 4-pack Snappled iced teas

2 emptied Calistoga water bottles


NOTES:
With the advent of the computer age, the writing life generates a lot of paper. I know of a literary agent who has stacks and stacks of rejected manuscripts in his apartment. He, as I do with the papers I use to draft my writings, re-uses the backs of manuscript pages. But it’s a losing game: there’s only so much scrap paper anyone can use. For the writer or anyone in the business of receiving submissions (which, per usual protocol, are rarely returned to writers), scrap paper grows like twisty-ties for everyone.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Jan. 21, 2006

TRASH:
art gallery postcard

cork & foil wrappings to 1995 Montiano, 1995 Rubino, 2002 Luce Abbey cabernet, 1993 Rick Forman cabernet

take-out coffee cup

2 EQUAL paper packets

1 wooden stirrers

2 plastic containers of Half-n-Half

2 used Saloncare muscle relaxants

2 paper napkins

1 sales tag to Foo Dog garden sculpture

paper bag that held 2 donuts

1 grocery receipt

1 plastic bag in Kellog’s All Bran

plastic wrapping to toilet paper rolls

cardboard tube from emptied toilet paper roll

plastic wrapping to a rib-eye sandwich

3 pieces of junk mail

tissue wrapping from 2 photo frames

pistils from 2 cherry lilies

a registered mail receipt

Q-tip

plastic cup that held mouthwash

kitty shit & piss clumps

day-old cat food

1 piece of scrap paper

fingernail clippings

1 peel-off sales sticker


SAVED FOR RE-USE:
1 plastic grocery shopping bag

1 twistie tie


RE-USED:
Nothing


RECYCLED:
emptied wine bottles (1995 Montiano, 1995 Rubino, 2002 Luce Abbey cabernet, 1993 Rick Forman cabernet)

5 cans of dog food

1 Arizona iced tea container

Kellog All Bran box

2 Shopwise magazine circulars

SF Chronicle

Friday, January 20, 2006

Jan. 20, 2006

TRASH:
plastic & cardboard packaging for 2 cat toys

museum postcard

magazine postcard

plastic envelope

2 movie stubs (“Shopgirl”)

cork & foil wrapping to 1989 Luciano Sandroni Cannubi Boschis

foil lining to cap to Aquari-yum bottle

2 EQUAL paper packets

coffee grounds for 2 cups of coffee

used Thermacare muscle relaxant

plastic strip to Salonpas muscle relaxants

18-egg cardboard container

2 eggshells

1 piece of scrap paper

2 ends to a loaf of bread

plastic bag that held loaf of bread

left-over dog kibble

dog fur (lovingly brushed off the dogs)

1 grocery receipt

1 football scratch game pad

a week's worth of kitty litter ridden with cat piss & shit


SAVED FOR RE-USE:
Nothing


RE-USED:
Nothing


RECYCLED:
emptied wine bottle (1989 Luciano Sandroni Cannubi Boschis)

9 cans of dog food

1 diet coke can

1 tuna can

1 soup can (Wolfgang Puck’s chicken with rice)

1 emptied Pellegrino bottle

1 emptied mayonnaise jar

2 boxes that held wine

emptied gallon container of Crystal Geyser spring water