Tuesday, April 20, 2010


If jellyfish sounds like it might be some kind of an ethnic or racial slur, it's not one. Or not one I've ever heard of. But it is about a kind of discomfort--the discomfort of litter (and the diversity). 
     What some of you might not know is that I have a tradition of picking up litter while I walk around the town where I live. I've been doing this for years, and in many ways, it's endlessly fascinating. The detritus varies by season (candy wrappers around Halloween; firecrackers around July 4th; and so on). The experiences are always new (an encounter with a squirrel recently, as we both went for a plastic bottle; finding a large ring of keys in the snow and figuring out what to do with them; finding a full, frozen can of beer and trying to decide how to dispose of that). Other dilemmas surround whether I pick things up when other people are around (that is, whether I want to be caught in the act), how far out of my way I'll go to pick something up and where I'll discard it if I'm not carrying a trash bag that day. 
     A couple new observations have come to me lately. First, that probably 98% of the litter relates to things humans put in their mouths--cigarettes, drinks of all kinds, snacks of all kinds, fast food of all kinds, gum--or to be more precise, the packaging related to these mouth-filling things. A huge category of items I find are made of plastic or cellophane, and lying there on the ground, they remind me of jellyfish, or what I remember of jellyfish from the days when my family used to go to Miami Beach and walk along the shore. The discarded items I find have that same collapsed, discarded, transparent, and slightly shiny look that jellyfish do.
So, lately I've engaged in the fantasy that I live on some kind of inland sea bed. Yes, true. I have been thinking about that. Notice the oceanic life as you go on your way.


Etta Worthington said...

To continue the metaphor, is there danger of getting stung by these "jellyfish" that you see? Should you wear gloves?

Jim Poznak said...

For more about Susan's litter pick-ups, read 'Dearest Tabitha', published online in Lost Magazine.

Susan Messer said...

thanks for mentioning that--one of my favorite finds. Here's a link to the piece: http://www.lostmag.com/issue28/tabitha.php

Anonymous said...

Beware of the Blob!!


Susan Messer said...

I'll certainly do my best. Thanks for the warning.