The Everglades National Park
FIU IDH 4007

Writing About Dirt

Brenda Adrianzen
IDH 4007
Spring Semester 2005

   The Everglades is dirty. I definitely did not expect to find a place littered with everything from beer bottles to discarded pieces of clothing. I shouldn't have been surprised by what I found, though. Everywhere around us there is an array of old, forgotten articles that have been left on the street. These, I think, serve as constant reminders of our lives. They are our mark on the world.

   Libraries, museums, buildings, homes, personal articles, all these are our marks on the world. I think litter can also be a mark. It's how we stake out our areas. Our homes are filled with trash. Businesses are filled with it too. The dark corners and park benches of our world are also occasionally bombarded by leftovers.

   All this is really sad. Just the other day, I was leaving home and heading for FIU when the person in the car in front of me decided to toss his empty Wendy's cup out of the window and onto the street below. I got mad. I was tempted to get out of my car and yell at him, or at least pick up the cup. Soon enough, though, the light turned green and I just went my way. I kept thinking about the cup now marking the intersection between NW 47th Ave. and NW 7th St., but decided there was nothing to do about it.

   Then, later that day, our Feature Writing professor told us to write a story about a social issue that concerned us. He went around the room asking everyone what they would write about. Most of my classmates spoke about the excessive violence on TV, women's issues, and even the war in Iraq. I thought about the cup. I was the only one who mentioned the environment, pollution, or conservation. My professor listened to my ideas, then looked at me and asked, "Is this really the issue that concerns you the most?"

   I have to admit, I was a little shocked and hurt at his question. Did he think I just spat out the first thing that popped into my head without thinking it through? Did he think that I am an odd or insensitive person because I happen to be more concerned about the state of our world than the state of our fellow human beings? Does he not understand that pollution affects everyone? Or that it is perhaps the greatest cause of all because without this nice planet of ours none of the other so-called great social issues will matter? I defended my answer; he went on with class.

   A few days later I ran into a friend at the library. We began discussing class. She asked me if I was still planning on doing my story on the environment. "That sounds kind of boring," she said. I suppose she had a point. A story about the inanimate environment can be a lot duller than her idea of doing a story about people suffering from clinical depression. I'm still thinking of a way to make the story more real. I'm trying to figure out a way to make the environment have a voice and a face and a personality so that readers can identify with it. It isn't going too well. All these factors: a cup on the road, hundreds of beer bottles along the road, my professor's and friend's disbelief in my most important cause, have been weighing on my mind. I find it hard to believe that people are really that callous when it comes to protecting the one thing they can't live without. Maybe they don't realize that regardless of how much money they have or how great their life is going, if the world suddenly becomes a toxic wasteland none of that will matter. Or maybe they don't want to think about such possibilities.

   So, I sit here at my computer thinking what I can do to better the situation. Will writing a really great, not-so-boring article for the dreaded Feature Writing class really make such a difference? Maybe, but first I have to think of a really great idea and combine that with really great research, interviews and words to make it work. If I am able to do that, I wonder how my classmates will react when I read my story out loud in front of class. What will their comments be? Will they comment on the context as well as the style and execution of the story?

   All this remains to be seen. My main concern is just writing the freaking story. I am sad to say that despite the fact that I've been taking this Everglades class and that I've been concerned about pollution and the environment for as long as I can remember, I'm finding it increasingly difficult to think of a way to write a story that won't be dreadfully general or painfully boring. I thought I had an idea. Unfortunately, I overanalyzed it and it disappeared, literally. For some reason I can't even begin to fathom what that idea was. Time is now running out. I need to get this done by Tuesday afternoon.

   I want people to realize that the garbage they leave lying around is a testament to the sometimes dubious priorities in our lives. I want them to open their eyes and see that our garbage can easily become our legacy. I'm not talking about power plants or pollution caused by cars. What I'm talking about is much simpler: littering, wasting water and power. I think we should first concentrate on ridding ourselves of bad habits such as these before we can fully conquer the war against pollution and concentrate on bigger issues.

   Now, if only I could write an article about that and not make it be a bunch of facts and statistics. I'll keep thinking of a way to make these issues, which don't seem to weigh too heavily on some people's heads, pop out and demand attention. Hopefully, I'll get this done before my class, otherwise I hate to think what will happen if my professor calls on me and I have no story to share with the rest of the class.

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