Dear Mr. Robinson,

I would like to thank you for visiting my third-grade class eleven years ago. I'm not sure you remember me- I was the one picking my nose. It was simply a delight to have the opportunity to take a break from our stressful lives in order to be educated on exactly all of the possibilities my garbage had. And what possibilities there were!

I've met a lot of recycling advocates over the years, but none have left an impression like you did. I realize that it has, indeed, been more than a decade, and I'm not entirely sure that you remember exactly what you taught us (the excessive amount of marijuana you undoubtedly consume may have had that effect). Just in case, here's a reminder.

You strolled confidently into the room as my teacher stepped warily aside.

"Hey, kids!" you said, not quite using your inside voice.

A smattering of returned, nervous greetings drifted from the crowd of third-graders. I picked my nose.

"Ooooh, I know you can do better than that," you chortled. Such cheery condescension you exhibited.

"Hi," the children returned, with a little more gusto. I picked my nose with a little more gusto.

"My name is Mr. Robinson, And I am here to talk to you about garbage." You crinkled your nose adorably to accompany this exposition. Little did you know that the aroma that entered the room with you had already revealed the theme of your lecture. "What are you supposed to do with garbage?"

"Throw it away," I answered. I was a marvelous multi-tasker.

That was the springboard your truly inspirational lecture needed. First you listed the things people throw away lots of. When one curious boy inquired what a used condom was, you shirked the question like a pro. You then discussed perhaps the coolest thing you could possibly do with garbage: build robots.

The moment that I looked at your sample robot was the moment that my life changed. Never before had I realized just how much like a robot's head a paint can looked. My eyes were opened to the similarities between a milk carton and a robot's torso. I was truly inspired. You filled your entire allotted 45 minutes with garbage robot possibilities, and that's when I knew that there was absolutely no more useful or renewable purpose that garbage could serve than to construct inanimate robots.

Eleven years later I can be found in an apartment positively chock-full of trash-bots, as I so affectionately refer to them now. They populate the top of my fridge, the top of my bookshelves, underneath my bed, they lie in heaps in my living room, and run amuck in generally every square inch of liveable space my modest apartment offers.

I look around the place frequently and swell with pride. As I wade through the loosely-assembled trash-bots, trying to accomplish the simple tasks of the day-to-day, I remind myself that there is positively no more sustainable way to live. My parents call me a hoarder. I call them murderers of Mother Earth. I scoff at their complaints of "no space," at their concerns over the "smell," at their tearfully emotional appeals that my life of recycling is "destructive and unsanitary."

Unfortunately, Mr. Robinson, I feel myself beginning to have doubts.

At night, whilst I lay in bed, I feel their cold bottle-cap eyes studying me from the dresser. The eyes of the ones crammed into bed with me dig into my arm. I have creeping suspicions that the swelling I feel may not be from pride, but from a fledgling infection. A thought occurs to me: I don't love these robots like I used to.

Why? It could be for several reasons. Maybe I'm less interested in robots now than I was when I was eight. Maybe it's a flare-up of that pesky human instinct to separate ourselves from our own waste. You tell me. You're the expert, not me.

I don't want to kill Mother Earth. My parents say I don't have to; that there are other ways to recycle. That metals and plastics can be melted down and made into new things by other people so that we don't have to pile it up in our house. But it all feels like a trap to me.

I tell them calmly and reasonably that you never mentioned anything about that. I remind them that you are clearly the expert on such matters, being permitted to lecture to third-graders on the subject and all.

At this, Mom teared up hopelessly. Dad's temple began to throb in that way it does when I bring you up in conversation. I picked my nose nervously. He suggested, in so many words, that I attempt to contact you in order to obtain your "liberal psychobabble" opinion on the matter.

So please, Mr. Robinson, tell me now if I have the wrong idea. My artistic outlet has become my physical imprisonment. And whatever this "liberal psychobabble" business may be (I was never good with SAT words), I urge you to apply it as much as possible to your response. My Dad seems to believe that therein lies the solution.

Faithfully building, Steven Michelson