You spend enough time – an hour or more – staring at a single plane of your existence; in a room, for example, among people and tables, where the line of sight extends from the tables, to the eyes of others, to the feet to navigate the floor. You sort of forget consciousness of other focus, and then you walk outside into the night and look up, and are suddenly reminded that your plane is merely the start of the sky, and there are skyrises towering over you and, in that instant, there’s this sensation, suddenly, like a wash, of not only looking up at them but doing so from the ground, laying down, your back flat against the pavement in the warm, thick air.
And that air. You sort of forgot all about that, too.
You wait months in climates such as this to have another shot at air such as this, tonight. Endure an eon of endless winter and maybe die a little in certain ways and you think you might be becoming a different person altogether, it’s been so long since you who you are in the sun.
But then Chicago gives you this and you can forgive it almost all transgressions.
I forgive its suburban qualities – forgive it for things being so far apart and so spread out. (If Detroit is a bull, then Chicago is a dairy cow – bovine, but compliant; meaty, but simple sweet.) And I forgive it the cold; forgive it its long stretch of ceaseless winter.
I can eat the air; it can eat me. It’s slicing down my sternum and filleting me and I’m a willing participant in the act.
I’m not the fine-dining sort. “Marathon meals” thoroughly bore me, and I like my sentiments to be said in sensible words. For me, eating is like most necessities, and I like it without theatrics and display; simple, consistent. That’s not to say I’m not willing to branch out – I’m not a picky eater and on premise of taste alone, I’ll try most anything once. But when it comes time for a regular meal, I want to get over with it, get satiated, and move on. These people who spend hours agonizing over meal preparation – the recipe look-up, the chopping and pre-heating and blanching and table-setting and whatever else – and I see this and I wonder: what is going on here?
There are at least two types of people who say they “love to cook:” first, those who actually love to eat, and cook primarily as a means to do so. Second, though, are those that are instead cooking to compensate. Those who do not actually even eat the food.
There are people out there who say they “love to cook” but actually seem to hate to eat. They regard the food – the fruits of their own labors – with anxiety and unease; a pleasure best not enjoyed. eat next to nothing, approach the food strained and anxious.
Food is not for them but for others to consume. They see a shared meal not as a coming-together – something meant to be mutually enjoyed – or even about the actual consumption of the food, but rather the offering of it (and themselves) to others – the coercion of close crowds – in hopes of earning something in return. For them, meals are not moments shared equally with those at the table, but rather transactions made between those who cook and those who consume – an exchange of labor for approval or adoration. Food, for this person, is more currency than communal.
It’s these same people who openly admit – as though it’s normal – that they’ll forgo simple pleasures like eating if they feel insecure or unworthy of the “indulgence;” if, for example (and mostly commonly), they feel “too fat.”
And so, for those who notice, when these sort of people boast that they “love to cook,” the disconnect often seems at best a floundering insecurity, at worst an insurmountable lie.
The exception to this, of course, is a child. A child requires this one-way, constructed care-taking. A child’s rearing requires a relationship unlike the mutually-beneficial and balanced connections of the adult world, and here alone I will – readily, even aggressively – extend this sensibility when the time comes. And this divergence from one’s self is the reason childcare is a deliberate choice – something to be postponed until it can be pursued wholeheartedly; something to be done with care. And this being, of course, the reason I’d rather not view my partner – or friends or family – as pseudo-children, at whom to direct one-way, selfless, motherly care.
They eat dogs in many countries.
Two days ago, I watched a video of a Vietnamese man butchering a dog, watched as he told the camera, as was transcribed to subtitles, that it’s “exactly the same as selling beef.” Many Americans know this and are appalled at the concept that there are cultures in other places who eat what we instead see as our pets.
He’s right, of course.
Essayist Charles D’Ambrosio writes about a trip to the Olympic Peninsula and the Makah Reservation, a quest to take a bite of whale that becomes a meditation on the clash between animal activists and Native Americans. He writes:
“The intestine affairs of the Makah don’t really interest me, although I’m certain there are factions, pro and con and even indifferent, but probably what’s not needed now is a lot of high-minded refereeing from the outside. They have a treaty, and really the hunting of this whale is about our honor.”
Plus, it’s easier – and more fair – for me to judge my own culture over another’s.
Because I guess I’d rather just be consistent.
The irony is that I sort of skipped an adolescence – was beyond high school, working and preparing for a future, even while I was in it. I gave no consideration whatsoever to the likes of Holden Caulfield and instead read Rand; found condolence in what she offered me in Francon and, moreover, Roark.
But because part of me skipped adolescence, part of me is also still there, still rebelling and refusing to play the game either way.
The pieces I read connect, text through text. Sometimes it is literal – an actual, written reference to the one before, italics and all, as Value Proposition Design referenced Blue Ocean Strategy and almost every book these days, it seems, references Woolf. But other times they are tethered through ideas or thoughts; suggestions, assertions. And by reading, you build a storyboard that becomes a dialogue of your own path, even as you create it.