Chirp Chirp vs Instagram: Trash Art delights and Brings Awareness and Does Real Work
January 16, 2020
This is Chirp Chirp, the second piece in my trash art series. Honestly, the first few times I posted about Chirp Chirp – I was joking. I had been mistakenly kicked off Instagram and the virtual world of looking at other people’s trash hauls was gone. Through Instagram I was able to jet all over the world and see interesting trash finds from Germany to South America and especially my young friend from Nepal who is almost on his 100th bag. But without Instagram, I began doing more Trash Art and actually my writing became more productive. Instagram is fun but I only ever get a trickle of traffic from Instagram, less than the traffic directed by my comments on Retireby40 which is an early retirement blog. I just read Joe’s blog because I like it and I post sometimes. One Facebook commenter on a environmental group I joined really summed it up, Instagram can be an echoing chamber. You feel like you are influencing people more than you are, because you are preaching to the choir.
But I was reinstated onto Instagram and my Instagram litter-picker, beach clean up, and low-waster friends missed me. They noted by absense. I have almost 250 followers now, but my goals have changed. I just want to keep the number I have and truly just see their trash. That is it. I don’t want Instagram to distract me from the real work of saving the ocean from plastic pollution.
The whole Instagram episode gave birth to Chirp Chirp. I have laughed a lot during Chirp Chirp’s creation, and she is still not done. Initially I thought Chirp Chirp was a lost piece, not as harmonious as the Whale in Blue. But as I have added pieces to her, and she has gained more interesting white feathery pieces – she is coming together. And she has been worth it, because she has given myself and my family joy. I usually sit at the kitchen island, hot-glue-gunning white pieces of ocean plastic while chatting with the children or my parents-in-laws. I sometimes ask their opinion where a piece should go. The piece of Trash Art I thought I was doing for myself has truly grown her own wings. I have brought her out including to work for fun and this is the reaction she has received.
My Male Siblings (Including Brother-in-Law): Initially, I texted her pictures to my siblings in this prolonged text exchange about where we were going to have dinner last weekend. My brother-in-law was flying in for a quick work meeting, and we were meeting for a big family dinner. My older brother wanted to eat Korean BBQ but staying true to this committment to the earth, I tried to steer us away from a beef-filled gluttony fest. The thought of the land, water and carbon required to make beef – sometimes makes me ill. We ended up at a Hibachi restaurant where the Vegan burger (that did not come with anything else) was $20. So I had Salmon. But in our family text conversation leading to that dinner I had sent my siblings a picture of Chirp Chirp. I am the sibling that randomly adds non-sequitors. My brothers made fun of Chirp Chirp mercilessly.
That night after dinner (which was lovely), I wrote a half-in-just half-serious blog post that I decided to delete. But this is my response, “If you are one of my male siblings reading it, please know that I still love you. But when you ridiculed Chirp Chirp in our text exchange and you made fun of her at the fancy dinner at the Hibachi restaurant – when I was trying to order a Vegan dinner – know that you hurt my heart. I smiled and I laughed too. But I was sad. I was sad for our earth, and sad that you do not see the coming climate crisis. I tried to listen to you as you told me your stories of travels and adventures, but for some reason my 120 bags of ocean bound plastic pollution collected does not count.” Obviously I was joking, but half serious. But the important part is that Chirp Chirp in her jarring appearance prompted a response, a reaction. Chirp Chirp brought some awareness.
My Patient L.M.: My patient LM is well known to me, which I always write in my notes about her. Not sure why, or if anyone reads those clinic notes. Her mother gave me persmission to allude to her but obviously no details. She is a sick girl that has had cardiac surgeries and on asthma medications and is in and out of our clinic. She was in several times and met Chirp Chirp twice. The last time, she had Chirp Chirp next to her on her exam table – and I could see her touching each distinctive piece and playing with her. I have offered her other toys in my clinic, and she has never really taken to any of them like Chirp Chirp. She was so inquisitive. The last appointment with me, her father brought her in and he told her, “Be careful. Don’t break Chirp Chirp.” I looked up at him (he is tall) and said with a smile, “Don’t worry. I’ll just glue her back together.”
My Patient J: My patient J is also about 3-4 years of age. Their family has been in a lot as well due to little sister’s illness. I truly care about this set of young parents, as they are trying to figure out life and family with two kids. Life is harder now for young families. I am guilty of paying more attention to the parents than the children during our visit. And J has been mad at both me and his parents. It’s very typical toddler behavior when a younger infant gets sick. Anyway, he has been angry at me and now he directs his anger toward Chirp Chirp. “I hate Chirp Chirp!” He yelled last time. “Chirp Chirp is ugly!” It was good for him to get it out. I told his parents the last visit, that after the infant gets better – I will work on repairing my relationship with him. I advised them also to spend more time with him. If he ever tells me he likes Chirp Chirp, I will know that we are good.
11-Year-Old PE: I saw a patient also that day, who I have known for years. I was running a bit late. Bringing Chirp Chirp around slowed me down just a few minutes. His parents were a bit taken aback by Chirp Chirp, but my patient kept on looking at her while I held her in my hand. “Is that a Bley Bley?” “Are those Nerf Gun Bullets?” Yes, it’s amazing what I find right before it’s going to enter into the ocean.
I had many other interesting reactions to Chirp Chirp. One little girl who belongs to another doctor, really smiled and laughed when Chirp Chirp walked in with me. She knew right away. She declared. “It’s a dragon. I’m an artists too!” Then she proceeded to tell me all about her art and what she is working on. She was very articulate for her age. And I truly listened to her and asked her advice about how I could further work on Chirp Chirp. And below is Julie Age 9’s drawing of Chirp Chirp. I had to run out to deal with another urgent matter, and she drew Chirp Chirp in my absence. Chirp Chirp has since procreated as you can see.
Mr. Plastic Picker: And lastly Mr. Plastic Picker. My partner on this journey. Mr. Plastic Picker likes My Whale in Blue. The Whale in Blue has been an easy piece since the start. It looks like a Whale. Chirp Chirp has morphed and is part bird, part dinosaur, part dragon, part machine (at least this is what the children in the clinic have said). But Mr. Plastic Picker has been worried about me at some points during Chirp Chirp’s creation. “I’m not sure if you are sane or having some kind of psychotic break,” he mentioned to me a week ago. I have never had any mental health concerns other than my tension headaches. I reponsed to him in all seriousness. “It’s kind of scary because the world is insane for polluting with so much plastic and Chirp Chirp and I are the only ones who see what is happening.” His reply was, “You may be right.” Overall Mr. Plastic Picker likes Chirp Chirp, but when I hot-glue-gunned the yellow plastic shovel to his back, my high-IQ high-SAT high-MCAT high-FICO score husband became irritated. “Why did you do that?!!!” I looked at him in all seriousness and just laughed, “Are you seriously getting upset about my Trash Art?” I now love that yellow shovel part of Chirp Chirp even more.
Chirp Chirp is Trash Art that brings out real emotion, delights and angers and challenges. Chirp Chirp brings awareness and is doing real work in fighting ocean plastic pollution.