A few days ago, I watched what was intended to be an uplifting video of hospital workers, all wearing pink gloves, dancing with glee. As I watched I bitterly asked, “What are they celebrating?” Earlier the same morning I learned a special friend is now in the end stages of battling breast cancer. I felt no joy in her cancer story, just a stark disconnect between the dancing hospital staff aiming to raise a chunk of change for research and care and her predicament. I watched the glove groove disheartened, angry and hurt that such a wonderful woman could be taken by a disease — while those people danced in hopes for a cure that could not help her.
Perhaps the breast cancer public face we have painted is a too happy mask. We know that false face so well. We think of cancer and see a pink cover of walkers, racers, ribbons — a fluffy feminine shell of the heroic and tearful quest for survival. Below though, under that facade of success, there is still suffering, loss and death — the naked, ugly scars of breast cancer.
Watching the pink clad hands swaying, flicking and swinging in a breast cancer jamboree, I felt like a grim wedding guest considering the impending divorce of the bride and groom. As I viewed the video of the hospital staff cavorting, I questioned how many of them knew the face of breast cancer struggle and loss. Did the surgical staff, dressed with masks and eye shields know what it was like to loose a breast, or a life? Were any dancers survivors? Which revelers were they? I searched the faces to pick them out.
Was she dancing because she lived, like me? Was he joyous even though he lost his mother, sister or friend, or did those folks excuse themselves when asked to help with the video saying, “No, I can’t dance.”?
Now, a few days later, while I am still hurt, I understand why they were dancing. They were celebrating hope, an irresistible reason to dance, but a tragedy when it has faded.
If I had a clue it would be so hard to shed 10 pounds of plastic, I wouldn’t have resolved to do it. Now, after 10-plus months, a 10 pound reduction seems unreasonable and unattainable. I have not done the math, but I don’t think I can make it, unless I move to a deserted island. Even then, recollecting the gyre, the reason I vowed to do this thing, tons of plastic might wash ashore.
Today, I only left my house to run and to check the mail, yet bits of plastic came to me like metal flakes to a magnet. I swear I attract it.
Returning from my run, I saw each house on my street had a paper flung onto the drive. “Oh boy, a crossword!” When did they quit using rubber bands for news papers and stuff them in plastic bags? I loomed over mine for a moment and considered leaving the paper and the bag in the driveway. It would not go away, all my neighbors got a paper too, so they had no reason to take it off my hands. I took it inside to read cranky letters to the editor and look for the crossword puzzle. I pulled the bag off, tied it in a French knot and put it with the dwindling stash of plastic bags in my cupboard. I’ll reuse it for something.
Mid morning the doorbell rang. I froze at my desk, breathless for a moment, then slunk to carefully peer around the corner, knowing there might be an annoying solicitor peeking back at me through the door’s side window, or I would hear a delivery truck roll away. It was the later. I took in a breath, opened the door and picked up a FedEx envelope left on my doorstep. It had a plastic sleeve to hold an absent airbill, the barcoded shipping label was glued to the front. Even though it was clearly addressed to Ed, I couldn’t resist opening it. He’s been in Ohio and my snooping would save him time and bother when he gets home. (I’m such a thoughtful wife.) I opened it, therefore I take full ownership even though only half of the contents were actually for me. Inside were uniform insignia tapes packed in enough plastic to construct a raincoat. Sixteen baggies to hold sixteen small embroidered pieces of cloth tape. Really, I kid you not, each insignia in an individual zipbag! I can’t imagine any second use for the bags which have quarter inch holes drilled at the top for hanging on a display rack, so anything small enough to fit, seeds for instance, will fall out of the hole. I could mail the empties back to the uniform distribution center, or better yet the manufacturer, but chances are they would open my envelope, wonder why some nut mailed them trash and toss them anyway. Oh well.
Mid afternoon I brought in the mail. The November issue of Sailing Magazine came in a plastic bag so the holiday catalog of sailing jewelry could get into my hot little hands. I leaf through it year after year wondering who could possibly afford, and want, a sterling silver monkey’s fist bottle stopper, or an 18 karat gold, open barrel, turnbuckle hinged bracelet. I suppose some yacht owner with a huge wallet and a little tiny brain will be ordering a trinket for Lovie. I myself own six open barrel turnbuckles, none of them for show. Mine are on my boat, made of stainless steel and hold up the mast. I could barely afford them. After marveling at the photos of gleaming excess, I tossed the catalog into the recycle bin and the plastic bag into the trash.
Then I attended to our mundane mail; a credit card application — which we still get, probably because we forgo the turnbuckle bracelets — it came complete with a thin plastic replica of a credit card; and a Travelers Insurance letter with a plastic “priority quote card” glued to it. Both cards embossed with my name went into the trash — identifying me for a millennium as the culprit who threw them away. Damn.
For the month of October. I will estimate an avoidance of 14 ounces of plastic “stuff.”