From the Blog

A Slow Moment In The Chaos

At the beginning of this week, I was running around Astoria like a nut, making the final push before we had movers come to take our worldly belongings back to Portland. It happens every time we move. Every damn time. I always think moving will not be such a big deal, it won’t be such a huge pain in the ass, it won’t be as hard as I remember it. Why do I think this? Because I’m a dummy. Because I have a selective memory. Because I’m a bubble headed chirpy optimist that ought to be slapped.

Still, our moves are probably not as epically horrendous as other people. And that’s what I keep telling myself every time we decided to go someplace new.

On Monday, my friend Kate arrived from Portland to help me with the Final Nuttiness. Here she is.

Kate helped us move last time. She is also a fierce warrior against aggressive seafood.

Dave was already back in Portland, working at his full time job, so I was thankful to have company as I ran my last errands and packed the final boxes.

One of my errands was to drop off some non-deposit glass bottles at the transfer station. For some reason, Astoria doesn’t have curbside glass recycling. We never understood why. But we had a whole utility room to let wine and beer bottles pile up, and that’s what we did. We let the wine and beer bottles pile up for months and months until it looked like we were either raging alcoholics, or we entertained Aerosmith at our home on the weekends.

We did finally bring the returnables back to the store, and we will start a college savings fund for our boys with the proceeds. But we still had a bunch of glass remaining. And it all sat while my life went on, and I did more important things than figure out where the transfer station was.

Of course, disposing of the glass became one of the errands in the Final Nuttiness, the day before the movers came, because I am so awesome at planning. Kate came along as I ran around town going to Goodwill, getting more boxes at Home Depot, and finally figuring out where the transfer station was. The glass bottles clinked together in the trunk of my car.

I got a little lost, of course. Because why would I look for actual directions, when I think I have a vague idea where the transfer station might be? For me, “vague idea” = “as good as Google Maps.” So I got a little lost, and I had to check Google Maps on a shred of reception in the back hills of Astoria. I turned around, following a Western Oregon Waste truck, and we caught a whiff of stinky garbage on the breeze.

Now. I grew up in a small town. And we regularly went to the town dump. There was no curbside recycling back then. There was barely recycling back then. It was just beginning. It was a new-fangled thing. And in our small town, they debated whether recycling was worth the hassle of separating out your glass and metal, rather than just throwing it away like real Americans. But our small town had a garbage crisis, as the dump was reaching capacity. So they sold bright orange stickers to slap on your garbage bags. The stickers were $1.00 each, and the trash truck wouldn’t pick up your bags unless you had a sticker on them. $1.00 in 1984 was like $34.00 now, right?

Anyway, we went to the dump when I was a kid. And I don’t think I’ve been back since. It’s funny that I would visit the Astoria transfer station, hear the seagulls, smell that sour garbage smell and think of my childhood.

We found where to go to drop off the bottles. It was a giant corral of broken glass that stank of stale beer and Aerosmith. The ground glittered with broken shards of glass. I had a box of wine bottles and glass jars. Kate hopped out of the car to get the box. Because when you are pregnant like I am, you shouldn’t lift heavy items. So you should make your 73 year old friend do it.

I looked at the pile of glass, sparkling like treasure in the sun. I hefted a wine bottle by the neck, feeling its weight in my hand.

I asked Kate, “Got some frustration you want to get out?”

She looked at me and exclaimed “Oh YES!”

I took a few steps back from the pile with the wine bottle in my hand. For a split second, I thought about the outcomes and consequences of what I was about to do. Perhaps the bottle would shatter so hard, it would ricochet glass back at me, perhaps going into my eye. I am an adult. I can afford to spend a half second contemplating unlikely physics before doing something stupid. But only a half second.

I didn’t wind up, and I didn’t conjure the face of my enemies as I tossed the bottle like a flabby girl. It sailed lightly through the air from my ineffectual throw. It shattered and tinkled into the pile of glass. It was somehow less satisfying than I wanted. There was no explosion of glass, no dangerous ricochet, no flesh wounds, no gnashing of teeth from my imagined enemies.

I realized, though, I don’t have a whole lot of frustrations I need to exorcise. I don’t really have a lot of repressed anger. I just have a lot of stuff to do. Maybe I could have thought about injustice in the world and thrown the bottle a little harder. But really, those types of things won’t get solved with a puff of shattered glass. I’d rather try to get something done, than get worked up.

Kate threw a bottle into the pile and we giggled what silly fun this was, in the stinky bowel of a small town dump. She took the box of remaining bottles and turned them out gently at the foot of the pile. We dusted off our hands and got back in the car.

We spent the rest of the day packing up my life so we could move onto the next place.



  1. Love this post. I cleaned out my basement last year and took 1000 lbs – yes, that’s right – of stuff to the dump. We had a great time throwing stuff into the dump from the back of the UHAUL and getting to break stuff. And yeah, as a Portlander, I also recycled all the metal, old paint and toxics, etc.

  2. Aunty Laurie says

    My, aren’t we getting (Calmly) Philosophical! Good for You!! Your going to be a GREAT MOM!! And your friend, Kate, I Really would love to meet her, she sounds, and LOOKS Awesome!

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