All day, the house has smelled like chicken. There’s a pot of skin and bones bubbling on the stove. My roommate put it on late last night and has been tending it since then. The water’s yellow. The bones have gone from gray to deep brown. Heat sucked out the marrow. At 2pm, I poured a glass of fizzy water and even that tasted like chicken. Potent, ‘fowl’ stuff.
I was re-reading a Murakami novel – ‘After Dark.’ It takes place between midnight and 6am in Tokyo. I took the book to the porch where the sky had gone gray but couldn’t find it’s tear ducts to rain. I sipped my chicken-flavored seltzer and read for three hours. The wind came and went. Some birds made a nest above me, in that spot where the third floor lips over ours. Kids were running around but I didn’t look for them. Four white guys played basketball across the creek and had a portable speaker blasting Drake.
Now it’s dinnertime and I’m finding it hard to have an appetite. It feels like I’ve been licking chicken skin since morning. I remember what it was like to eat meat. Bone-in, such a puzzle: you study a dead animal’s geography, engineer it to simpler shapes with your fingers and teeth. Just bones, you toss them, or at least I would, but sometimes we’re not satisfied. Sometimes you have to squeeze the bird of it’s blood and juices, milk it like a California almond, and drink that too. Is that better? Less wasteful? Absolutely. Snip the chicken like a magazine clipping, removing it completely from the green earth.
At 7pm, it still hasn’t rained. No use waiting, so I guess I’ll get on with my day.
Currently Reading: Kitchen Confidential, Anthony Bourdain
Coffee: Cafe Pajaro Extra Dark, Trader Joe’s Brand
I didn’t take a shower until 4:00pm but when I did I lay down and let the water tell me about its day.
I didn’t work today; the banks are closed; it’s Columbus Day. A perfect celebration for modern America: wealthy white man who gets lost, screws up, loses half his fortune then makes it back on the backs of brown-skinned bystanders. Reminds me of a certain president.
But personally, it was a good day. I slept well. I dreamt of reconciliation; dreams are as close as you get sometimes. I spent the morning working on projects, the afternoon drinking ice water and submitting short fiction. For dinner, I went with a roommate to Remedy Diner in Raleigh. They serve the Impossible Burger, she wanted me to try it on account of my meatless-ness. I tried it. It was good. Had the tang like something had died for me, but nothing did, nothing with a head full of thoughts anyway, and so it was guiltless. Outside, NC State students paraded to this or that bar like they’d never know another summer.
Currently Reading: Autumn, Ali Smith; Cherry, Nico Walker
A few Japanese 7-yr-olds told me you only put soy sauce on rice when you’re trying to get the dogs to eat it. I liked that: maybe I’m a dog.
Since I stopped eating animals I’ve wondered more about being ‘human.’ Unlike the wealthy white kids who wear Salvation Army and dumpster dive because they know they’ll never depend on anything, I see the difference between us and animals clearly. We’ve got a spark, they’ve got something simpler. No wildcat would choose not to eat me. The beautiful, structured violence of a predator.
The voice is exhausting. I think maybe that’s being human: a constant, boring fatigue. Not the tired you get swinging muscles, but the exhaustion of constant thought. We buy our free choice by chaining our mind up to moral dilemma. Humanity is dull like paint drying. Stick with it, though, and you build the best blue house.
Coffee: Organic Honduran, Trader Joe’s brand; I did the unthinkable: I watered it down. Less scoops in the grinder. I felt like a monster. The taste was better – this blend gets sour when you make it strong – but I’ve walked all day hungover by the betrayal.
Two weeks meatless and I feel good about it. I couldn’t reckon taking more conscious life. On a friend’s suggestion, I stir-fried jackfruit in barbecue sauce. It was good. It tasted like bamboo. I was happy with the meal.
Currently Reading: Americanah, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
The March 2018 drawing winner is up! Find it under Writing Samples, or here: Cows, or Thriving Defiantly. The winner is a big fan of bovines and requested a poem about them. Read and enjoy!
Speaking of cows, I’ve been trying to go vegetarian. It’s been a long process and I’m not very good at it. Just last week I sat down at a Chinese restaurant on my lunch break and the owner pointed out a menu of lunch specials, all of them including meat. She was brisk and acclimated to the South despite a Chinese accent that gave away her heritage. Her name was Theresa and she said “You can add a ‘Mother’ to that.” I felt obliged to eat the chicken.
So much culture happens around slicing up little sweet animals into faceless chunks. I grew up in a State that loves it’s barbecue and connected with strangers over the poor-kept secrete that Eastern Carolina has the best. All the while pigs screamed as I bit them and I never had to see the blood.
I think that’s what bothers me: if you brought me a cow on a leash tomorrow I’d be more liable to pet it than slit its throat. How can I justify eating the damn things if I can’t kill them?
Currently Reading: The Pardoner’s Tale, by John Wain