Oberlin Blogs

grits, pansies, and the Great Pacific Garbage Patch

November 10, 2008

Nicolee Kuester ’10


It is Monday, which means I am on the upward curve of my weekly traumatic push to produce a substantial amount of quality writing before my Wednesday night Non-fiction workshop. This point of the week always finds me obsessed both with whatever topic I've chosen (this week it's a personal history of my relationship with sound and listening) as well as with anything and everything that can distract me from that topic and the inevitable difficulty of writing about it. So (in plain English) instead of writing about my early music education I am at my kitchen table examining my roommate's box of Quaker brand Instant Grits (Original Flavor).

Now, I know that this is my first entry, and while normally I will probably not subject you to detailed packaging descriptions, there are a few things about this box that just tickle me:

The back informs me that I can SATISFY MY WHOLE FAMILY WITH THESE DELICIOUS FLAVORS! There are -count 'em- EIGHT different varieties of instant grits marketed by the Quaker company:

Cheddar Cheese (this one's a shade of yellow that can't be natural)
Ham 'n Cheese (pinkish chunks in unnatural yellow)
Country Bacon (reddish chunks in off-white and not to be confused with:)
Red-Eye Gravy and Country Ham (what in the name of all holy things is "red-eye gravy"? Intended perhaps for long flights?)

and within the Cheese Lovers category there are:
American Cheese
Three Cheese

Below the pictures of these flavors' respective boxes is: "Quaker Instant Grits...always your family's favorite," and then next to that are more images of dubious-colored substances in bowls. Moving to the nutrition facts panel of the box, I discover that Quaker has SET THE STANDARD in Grits for over 100 YEARS and that Only Quaker Instant Grits can help my family continue the tradition with easy to prepare, smooth and creamy Grits. Wonderful. And what if I should have questions concerning my Grits? Well they've thought of that, too: I can call their toll-free comment line, 1-800-MY-GRITS. If I want to hablo español, I can llamo al 1-800-570-8719. But my favorite is the IT'S ONLY NATURAL! disclaimer on the top flap:

"Please note: Tiny dark specks, which are natural to corn, are occasionally found in this product. They are not harmful in any way, and will not affect the taste or texture of this product." Thank the sweet lord.


Alright, it is what day? November the 10th, my computer says. And what is the current temperature? weather.com tells me 34 degrees F. Thank you, Ohio. And is there sunlight in any sort of direct way? As they would say in similar climes, nyet. So I hope I am not alone in thinking it bizarre that there are still pansies, droves of them, bright yellow and optimistic as can be, in front of the King building. Even most of the trees have given up the ghost at this point. Okay, then. Rock on, pansies. Your lives are definitely not going to get easier from here.


I know, I know, when my roommate told me about this I thought she was messing with me, too, but this is a for real phenomenon whose existence is confirmed by Wikipedia.

Or maybe you'd already heard about the patch of garbage THE SIZE OF TEXAS dragged by currents to the middle of the Pacific ocean? Sometimes I'm a little slow on the world information uptake so this may not be news to you but good grief! TEXAS?! That is a lot of garbage. And of course no one will take responsibility for it because it's hanging out in the nowhere-middle of the Pacific, and even if someone did take responsibility, how do you go about relocating a Texas-sized spread of trash, especially one that's hundreds of miles away from anything? So weird and sad. Apparently the plastic is changing the water's chemical composition enough to drastically alter the ecosystem.

On that happy note, I'm off to opera orchestra rehearsal (Massenet's Cendrillon, if you're curious). Perhaps someday I will tell you of my abiding love for pit orchestras. And pits in general.

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