Friday, May 15, 2009

Other People's Lives

Tiny little Dim Sum 1, my neighborhood muffin-child, was spotted with my dogs and me as we returned from a lengthy walk. His arm was in a blue cast and sling, and he wanted to pet Mustard, but as a car was about to mow both of them down, I declined. The alley next to our house has recently become a thoroughfare, largely due to construction on the road which the city PROMISED would end three weeks ago. They held a party and everything. The Hell? Also, I was concerned for little Dim Sum, and wondered what had happened. Surely not the Bouncy Castle that was installed in their lawn a few days before? It had looked so merry, and I heard screams of least I thought they were screams of joy...oh dear.

My last encounter was a little over a week ago, when Dim Sum 1 and 2 marched into my front yard, holding matching blue plastic buckets. They were hunting for flowers. Dim Sum 2 was younger, probably between 2 and 3, and ever so slightly more adorable than her brother, though it's all infinity divided by zero when calculating their cuteness. They are both entirely amazing.

I was on my hands and knees weeding my veggie garden, which was precisely the right height for conversing with muffins. Dim Sum 2 stuck an aging dandelion in my face and asked me what kind of flower it was.

"It's a dandelion." I stated, and she nodded, gravely, pulling it close to smell, and then promptly ran away.

...I want to eat her.


My Saudi Arabian roommate has a friend over, and they are yelling about something or other in Arabic. It's hard to tell if it's happy or angry.

I should be more specific - I currently have two Saudi Arabian roommates. One is nice, says hello, and asks me various odd questions of household basics, like 'how does one wash dishes?' and 'how do I cook a bagel?' Last night, I assisted him in making macaroni and cheese.

Neither have yet grasped the concept of opening and closing the bathroom door (close when inside, open when out), which has led to various awkwardness. I now always knock and loudly announce my entrance, which has still led to me walking in on a boy in a Onesie with a toothbrush in his mouth, smiling awkwardly. (The light was off, the door open two inches, the room entirely dark...Who brushes their teeth in the dark? Who wears a Onesie, for that matter?)

That would be my other Saudi Arabian roommate, who smiles creepily sometimes but never speaks, and walks around the house in long underwear (often an ill-fitting Onesie). I do not understand him, and he does not understand me. This makes it all the more eery that he is currently being so loud...who knew that he spoke, or emoted?

I want my own apartment.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

This Little Piggy

Once Upon a Time...

My grandfather owned a farm where he raised mostly potatoes, but also pigs, cows, and occasionally chickens and lambs.

I spent many a summer afternoon running around hay bails and hearing tales of neighborhood children being crushed by potato machinery. Salt of the earth, I was, and my grandmother picked rhubarb from her vegetable plot and fed it to my small, muffin-sized self. I believe my grandfather ate mustard on his cream of wheat, or something equally outlandish and rustic. They were good, wholesome times, in that Southern Ontarian farmhouse in the god-awful middle of nowhere.

My younger aunt grew up in that house, a decade before my childhood began.

To win her affection, my grandfather (her new stepfather) gave her a piglet to keep as a pet. The piglet was the runt of the litter, a tiny waif of a pig who would otherwise perish, and my aunt took him into her loving teenage arms. She adored her pet pig, who was intelligent and clean, just as pigs are rumored to be. My grandmother trained him to use a litter box. He was the perfect house pig.

But eventually, over time, all of that love and attention began to fatten up our tiny, piggy friend. Like a good little pig, he began to grow. One fine winter day, he could no longer fit in the house. He could no longer nuzzle my aunt to sleep at night with his adoring, piggy snout, for he did not fit in the bed. The family met to discuss what to do with their beloved porcine pet.

It was agreed, unanimously - the piggy had to go to market. All that love would result in especially succulent flesh. My aunt agreed to pocket the cash from the sale, to help her with her grief.

And that, boys and girls, is the story of how the Little Piggy became the Little Pork Chop, who lived happily ever after in our bellies.

The End

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Sowing the Seeds of Hypocrisy

I try, I really do, to live a Good Life.

I haven’t killed any babies or puppy dogs. I haven’t smote anyone, lately. I speak out against the various atrocities committed in the past, and I vow to do better in my own time. I try to lead an ethically sound life. But sometimes, it’s hard.

Take food, for example.

First, I lost meat, because I like happy, frolicking animals, and I like the Earth, and I don’t know if my life is worth much more than that of your average chicken. Then, I lost dairy (I still cheat if it’s delicious) - because milk doesn’t exist without veal, and scared little veal calves on atrophied legs being hauled out to auction make me cry myself to sleep. Then there was the loss of Nestle Products, which meant no Turtles, or Stoufer’s, or Haagen Daz (now doubly banned). Why did you have to kill all those African babies, Nestle? Your products were delicious. It’s all so unfair.

I eyed bananas suspiciously, waiting for them to declare themselves inedible, wanting to pretend that I didn’t already know about cash crops and gunned down plantation workers. I was losing weight, and bananas were affordable. I needed a better solution.

Thus, I began to grow a vegetable garden.

I cleared the earth myself, ripping back the grass, picking out the grubs, swearing vehemently at the dandelions and their insidious, spindly roots. I learned that vinegar will kill dandelion roots, but only if applied on a warm, dry day. I set traps for slugs, and going back to weed, found myself chanting: worms, you may live, slugs, you must die, and vegetation, you must grow in an orderly, single file of monoculture… Oh dear.

I seem to have become everything that I hate.

I kill the species that I do not like: grubs I throw out into the sunshine to shrivel, while slugs I lure to an early alcoholic grave. Encroaching vegetation must be stopped via mechanical or chemical means, and I rip out indigenous, symbiotic plant systems without a second thought. I inflict my will upon this patch of earth and call it my own and make it bend to my will.

Ladybugs may live. Aphids must die. Spinach may grow in neat rows, and will be killed if it deviates too far into my carrots. I am a cruel and heartless dictator, my colony an authoritarian state, my tiny garden plot a miniature of all the world being colonized and subjugated.

I am a monster. I am a tempestuous deity, killing things I don’t like, molding the Earth according to my wrathful whims. I stab at a dandelion root with a spade, whispering ‘die!’, feeling like I’m fighting a holy war. The dandelion clearly has Darwin on its side - it’s only fair that I have God on mine.

So I fight against the slugs with a rally cry lifted from the Old Testament. It’s genocide on a miniature scale, and because I have to eat, it seems to be the only solution.

My garden has turned me into everything I fear and despise; those vegetables had better be delicious.