In the suburb of Toronto where we live they’ve implemented a new recycling initiative which I’ve dubbed Project Stinky. Everyone received a green bin and we’ve been instructed to load it up with our moldy compost each week — from eggshells and stale bread to raw chicken and wads of paper towel. Everything compostable is greenbinnable, and us residents are just being asked to do our part to keep planet Earth, quote unquote, truckin’.
In the beginning I had no real problem with Project Stinky. It was a stinky project, sure, but really a small price to pay for diverting a pail full of garbage from the dump each week. If somebody was willing to drive around town and pick up our compost then hey, who are we to stop them? We even used those biodegradable green bags too, until the city left us stickers telling us that those really didn’t degrade into bio very quickly so we should just dump our compost in the bin au naturel. We said sure, kept doing what we were doing, and in general felt a bit better about ourselves for doing our part.
Then the maggots came.
I guess the blazing heat of the past few weeks did a number on the pile of rotten food sitting in the green bin outside. That explains why a few weeks ago I opened the lid of the bin to awaken a wall full of white, squirmy maggots that were wriggling up the side and all over the lid of the green bin. Stunned, I took a step back, let out a high-pitched scream, and ran away. Then I jumped in my car and drove straight to work, hoping it was all a dream.
When I got there I told my coworker Laurie about my harrowing experience. “Oh, yeah, that happens,” she said nonchalently, not even looking away from her computer screen, clacking away on emails. “We call it the Maggot Wagon at our house. But don’t worry! They’ll just fly away eventually.”
There was a pause as I thought about that for a minute. First I was like “Say what, girlfriend?”, but then I did a bit of research and found out that Laurie’s right. I guess I was just the last to learn about this whole metamorphosis thing. Maggots are just baby flies – cute little larval worms looking to grow some wings and fly around until they fall in love and make some more baby maggots with one of their own. It’s kind of cute, really. Caterpillars are in the same boat. After wiggling around on tree trunks and nibbling on leaves for a while, they finally clue in and grow wings, turning themselves into beautiful butterflies, haphazardly flying off into the setting sun.
Frankly, I imagine growing wings is a pretty tough task. You might have to spin yourself a cocoon or hide in a tree knot or something, you know, just for a bit of privacy. Hey, if you’re about to metamorphasize you need your space, I get that. And then of course there’s probably a lot of gritting your teeth, squeezing your muscles really tight, and screaming ‘Nnnnn! NNNNNNNN!’ a lot. Plus, you’re on your own. No one’s around to cheer you on. You just push and push and push and push until you finally give birth… to yourself.
Most people have probably thought about flying once or twice. I know I have. It’s gotta rank up there with being invisible and seeing through clothes on the Things I Want To Be Able To Do list. For that reason, I say the idea of wriggly little insects squeezing out a pair of wings and then just flying away is completely admirable. It’s simply honorable. It’s downright respectable. And we all know it’s just totally
They show up in the dark.
And when you look up in the dark you see their twinkling beauty, burning yesterday, light years away. Stars remind us how small we are, how far we’ve come, how fast we’re flying, and how we’re never all done. Atoms inside us were in outer space one day … and all of our atoms will fly again that same way.
Millions of suns, flickering in silence, shimmering, sparkling, twinkling,
Stiff creases, unhemmed pants, and itchy tags can’t dent your mood.
Now it’s time to change real fast, clear the kitchen runway, and strut your stuff in a private fashion show for your friends, and family.
when you said “oh did it fart or diarrhea?”
We’re all just twisted messes.
Sure, you might look fine in your pleated pants and your frilly dresses, but beneath all that we’re just twisted messes. Brown slippery organs, brittle bones, and bubbling blood cramp every tight little space in your body’s homeplace, fool.
Sometimes you can’t help feel stuffed.
Yes, sometimes you can’t help notice how cramped, full, and heavy you feel — after a long night at the bar or a couple Big Mac meals. When you’re carrying a big load and dragging that heavy sack I’m saying nothing feels as good as getting home… and getting unpacked.
Yes, that feeling in your stomach after a really big dump feels like you’re suddenly reborn into a new, improved version of yourself. Your stomach muscles twist “thank you” waves, your brain floats sky high, and theme song trumpet-blasts in your head as you wash your hands, smile in the mirror, and return to the dinner table with a big smile pasted on your face. ’s
Fresh cut grass smells like twilight in the countryside, a football game about to start at the park, or a sunny Saturday morning in the suburbs. So whether you’re driving down a dusty farm road while the sun sets, stretching before the whistle blows, or putting your lawnmower back in the shed after criss-crossing your lot, well … just stop for a second, flare your nostrils real big, tip your head back real far, and take a big whiff, baby.
Because oh yeah.
We’re all bad at names but some faces just stick in our brains.
That’s when you stop chewing your gum, stop talking to your friends, and stop sending blood to non-vital organs. That’s when all the tiny men in your head wake up, put on their boots, and fire pole down to your brain’s dusty archives. Suddenly they’re fishing through files, scanning databases, and booting up old hard drives to comb every nook and neuron you’ve got for trace clue of who you’re looking at.
Photos flash of high school dances, first jobs, and college parties. You try putting facial hair on them in your head. You think about old friend’s girlfriends, people who owe you money, and friend’s friends or cousin’s cousins who you might have met just once.
Maybe you don’t recognize them for a while simply because they’re out of context. Yes, it’s your old grade school teacher squeezing melons at the grocery store, your barber in a jumpsuit jogging in the park, or the secretary from your old job sweating buckets on the treadmill.
Sometimes it seems like they’re looking at you the exact same way too. You sort of wonder if their little brain men are combing through databases or you wonder if they recognize you but just aren’t saying anything.
Yes, you wonder and you wonder, you think and you think, you stare and you stare, until!
And that’s a beautiful moment of sweet relief. Little brain men cheer, smoke comes out your ears, and a slow and satisfied smile curls onto your face as you finally place the mystery person.
Then maybe you say hi or something.