The Great Bacon Incident: Why I Will Never Eat Meat Again

So this year it’ll have been nine years since I last ate meat voluntarily. Vegetarianism is way more common these days, but nonetheless when I meet people I am still often asked the question when and why did I decide to become a vegetarian. This is where it gets awkward– explaining to people the real reason why I stopped eating meat. Sometimes I say “for health reason” or “the texture” but statements like that are simply a cover-up. For one thing it’s hard for me to tell the real story because it most often comes up when people are eating (that’s usually when they notice I’m a vegetarian). But sometimes people get just a little too pushy, and I have to tell them the truth. I’ll tell you now, and this way you’ll never have to ask again, and likely you’ll never forget.

Well, we already know that I hate fish– so giving that up was no problem. I’d always disliked eating things like shrimp or clams anyway because clams are creepy and with shrimp I’d always imagine that I was eating a colony– a whole little family of shrimp wiped out in one breaded and fried bite. Eventually though, this feeling started to affect me while eating meat too. I saw an episode of The Simpsons that had a particularly poignant effect on me– a little lamb told Lisa that she was “tearing him apart.” That little lamb became a frequent meal-time visitor.

But really, it was the stomach problems that got me. It seemed like every other week I was getting food poisoning from eating meat. My whole family would have the same dinner or my brothers and I would eat the same gas-station hot dogs, and somehow only I’d end up sick. Then one day I was out shopping with my mom. Of course, being the rotund child that I was, I was not going to leave the mall with out a slice of pizza. So there it was, glistening with grease under the golden light of the heat lamp at Sbarro’s. I bought a slice of that pizza and I gobbled it up.

But several hours later, something was wrong. Very wrong.

My stomach was gurgling. I felt naucious. I’d never experienced any feeling like it before. At that time, I hadn’t even heard of food poisoning before. I’d heard of a guy named Montezuma, but he lived in Mexico, far away from me. Then it happened. Just as I thought I was about to vomit everything up, I shit my pants. Right there in the living room, curled up in fetal position on the floor far from any bathroom, I shit myself. I was alone, but it was a shame like no other. I just sat there for a moment, waiting, praying for Jesus Christ to come out of the dark and shoot me execution style, because no one should have to go on after an experience like this. But I did. I was sick for two more days, but eventually life returned to normal, and until now, no one knew about the incident except for my mom and myself.

But that wasn’t when I stopped eating meat. Just a foreshadowing. The day I stopped eating meat was several years later. I believe it was a Tuesday…

You see, every morning my lovely grandmother would prepare my brother, Randall, breakfast. I usually skipped breakfast or ate something light like cereal, but Randall enjoyed the full course ensemble when it came to breakfast foods– eggs, bacon, toast, juice. Let me just say, my grandmother was not known for her cooking skills. She was generous with her knowledge of cooking– after all, she once taught a cooking class over at the Braille Institute– but she was in no way a good cook. Her signature meal was an egg covered in thick white paste served on a piece of toast– which she called “creamed eggs and biscuits.” So on this particular morning my grandmother was making bacon as usual, only something was off. The bacon itself was off. The kitchen was rancid with the stench of this expired bacon frying on high heat. The windows were closed and the smoke was thick. I looked around at my family sitting calmly in wait for their helpings. What was wrong with these people? Didn’t they realize that we needed to evacuate? I was suffocating.

I had no choice but to leave them behind. I ran. I ran out of the kitchen and into the laundry room. I stood there for a moment and then I vomited. I, a person who never vomited (only occasionaly shit my pants) did so for three minutes straight while my mother stood at the door of the laundry room in disbelief. I will still not go into any more detail, but it was bad. Like “Linda Blair ain’t got shit on me” bad. Luckily, I got to stay home from school that day, but after that I was scarred for life. I’d had it with shame-causing meat and literally could not bring myself to eat it again. I’d been lucky these two times– these events happened in the privacy of my own home, but I was not going spoil my odds.

Sometimes I regret not having had the chance to have a “last meal” or sorts. The final meat item I ate was they day before– some dry popcorn chicken from my school’s snackbar. At the same time, I don’t miss meat at all. One day I would probably like to try a lobster, with garlic and butter while shouting something like “Bib me up Scotty!” But that’ll probably be sometime when I’m old. And really, my being a vegetarian has been a good thing. I haven’t had food poisoning, I’m no longer the rotund child that I was, and reducing my carbon footprint is a plus.

So now you know. Don’t ask me again. Don’t tell me to just have a little bit, or that I’m being difficult, unless you are fully prepared to deal with the consequences. It’s not like smoking marijuana; it’s not going to be more fun because it’s with you.

I am a vegetarian and I’m proud. Now, let’s never mention this again.

Catch up time w/ Grimes

It’s been a long but interesting week. Earlier this morning I noticed that the tips of my hair are starting to turn blonde, which they haven’t done since I was a child. Hurrah for having a job where I stand outside a lot. I’m actually happy to see these little bits of sun-blonde return as they are kind of sexy. In addition to getting to be outside, I’m also enjoying how interactive my job is. On Thursday I was working in Culver City. I got a bunch of hugs from strangers and a bag of vegan chocolate chip cookies from this hari-krishna looking guy who thanked me for my work helping to protect the environment. I did get into one very heated conversation though, with a cynical man who claimed that the world is already completely doomed. He basically described the future to me as being some sort of zombie apocalypse wherein whoever has the most guns and water wins. I had to admit that his argument had merits, so we ended our conversation with an amicable handshake. Only, when he went to shake my hand he had trouble finding it and explained to me that he was largely blind. It took me about five minutes before I thought “wait, did this guy just say that he has 12 guns?” to which my brain then responded  with an I Love Lucy style “eeewhhhh.”

Somehow I don't think this is what he meant by The Apocalypse, but I can dream right?

Friday was an even more amusing time because I was out in West Hollywood. I got asked out on a total of 5 dates and was pretty much distracted the whole day by the flood of attractive people walking by me. My favorite, err most memorable three suitors included a handsome but greasy looking business man, a gangster wannabe, and a homeless man with no teeth. I only wish I had the confidence of these men when it came to asking out strangers that I’m potentially interested in. Right now I’m not particularly trying to date, but I am hereby giving myself this challenge: when I do decide to date, I am going to ask out three guys who at first glance I might feel are “out of my league” and see how it goes. I never really think about it like this, but dating, just like anything else, really is a numbers game at least when it comes to gathering the initial pool of contestants. Anyways, we’ll save this little idea for another time to come. Less flattering experiences on Friday included a gang of Italian men who decided to post up at my spot for five minutes shouting “Bella! Bella!” obnoxiously, and a man asking me several times if I was a “real woman” or “mostly a real woman.” Uh, how do you want me to answer this sir… and should I be offended??

Driving out to Malibu for work, beautiful rainclouds overhead.

On another note, I went to Amoeba recently and picked up a CD they were playing– “Visions” by Grimes. So far I’ve only listened to the CD once or twice in my car but I’m digging these chill sounds. I usually hate this sort of floaty music where I can’t understand the lyrics, but I find that Grimes’ version of ethereal has got an aggressive punch to it– and it works. Also this album has been great for reducing my L.A. road rage. Listening to The Prodigy’s “Smack My Bitch Up” three times in a row while stuck on the 405 probably isn’t doing great things to my blood pressure. Good thing I now have an Rx for Grimes.

And in travel news, I recently received my passport in the mail. Other than the horrendous photo that will now be mine for the next ten years, I’m thrilled! Now if I meet a gorgeous, rich businessman who wants to fly me out Tokyo for the weekend I can actually go. Seriously, I was SO bummed the last three times this happened and I had to say no… Also, I plan on applying for my Australia visa tomorrow and possibly, if I’m ambitious, I’ll buy a plane ticket in the next few weeks. Right now I’ve just got to gather enough ambition to go make myself a cup of coffee. Nyx has doggie school in about an hour. We didn’t do our homework, woops. Wish us luck.

I Smell Like a Dude

I’ve got short hair, I wear a lot of flannel, and I wear men’s cologne. By all means, I must be a man.

Seriously though, throughout my whole life I’ve always done things “wrong.” I’ve always been just a bit too masculine.

Once, when I was young, my father yelled at me for trying to dribble a basketball in and out of my legs. He told me that basketball was for boys, and that I should go stand on the side and root for my brothers– “like a cheerleader.” My dad has rarely discouraged me from doing anything, especially on the basis of gender, but this time was different and memorable. I was so hurt by his anger and confused at what I had done wrong. I didn’t want to cheer; I wanted to play ball like my brothers.

Now I realize that my Dad had probably yelled at me because I was wearing a dress and no underwear– not a suitable outfit for the types of mad b-ball skillz I was showing off that day. Oddly, that obvious bit of logical sense didn’t occur to me then at age 6. Instead I thought that my Dad had been embarrassed because I had tried to do what they boys were doing. Maybe I’ve subconsciously been rebelling against those gender stereotypes ever since…

But seriously, half of this gender stuff just makes no sense to me. I mean, most guys expect a lady’s legs to be smooth, right? So let’s do some math:

Having female genetalia = feminine = soft, gentle, cuddly, etc.

So if that’s the case, then why should I have to shave my legs with some shitty, ineffective 2-blade lady bic? Hell no, give me that Gillette Fusion Pro-Glide. 4 blades baby. I want those hairs to scream when they see me coming, which is NOT going to happen as long as I’m wielding some friendly looking pink piece of lady crap.

But my problems go beyond shower time. See, in general I’ve found that I really prefer men’s or unisex colognes. They tend to be much crisper, muskier, and as a migraine-sufferer I am thankful for anything that’s not too potently floral. So today I went to Sephora today to try on scents. After smelling around for a bit and resisting the urge to gag at most of the female scents, I decide that I’m really into Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue pour homme. I go ahead and ask the saleswoman for a sample (which I always do before I commit, just to make sure it’s not going to wear off differently or give me a headache). I was already standing in the men’s fragrance section, clear across the room from the women’s, yet the sales associate helping me seemed subtly convinced that I was confused.

“So you would like Dolce & Gabbana… for men?” Uh huh. “Ok so I will get you a sample of Light Blue… for men…” Yes, thanks. Her comments go on like this for a moment longer until I say “Yes, I like the men’s, I find it smells better with my chemistry.” After that she let it go but I could still see that she was dying to suggest that I try out the pour femme.

It’s actually quite funny to see how bothered some people get when you step out of the binary gender system. It’s as if you’re coming after their own gender identity. Unfortunately, I’ve found in my dating life that having masculine associated qualities often translates to being emasculating.

I was at a bar last year on my birthday and beat a bunch of dudes in foosball. One of them went to buy me a shot, and hoped he could rack up some dude points by showing off his knowledge of scotch. Well, scotch and whiskey are my favorite types of liquor so I was really interested in what he was saying. I got really into the conversation and told him about the rare Balvenie I’d had the other night, and also that if you roll a drop of scotch between your palms, you can sometimes catch the scent of the barrel it was aged in.

Really that was the extent of my knowledge, but he looked at me like I had just sprouted a penis and publicly wacked him in the face with it.

I should have offered him some Dr. Pepper Ten.

Unfortunately, this wonderfully marketed drink hadn’t come out yet, and “Yeah, that was really emasculating” is what he said to me. Then he whipped out his daddy’s credit card and bought me the most expensive glass of scotch that this bar offered, and literally admitted to me that the only way he was going to feel better was if he spent a lot of money on me.

In my opinion that was actually more embarassing but he was getting me drunk so I didn’t ask questions or make fun of him out loud like I was doing in my head.

But let’s get real for a second. This gender stuff drives me crazy and it really is quite fucked up. For one thing, why on earth does having a penis equate with one’s affinity for the color blue? Why is female genitalia an indicator that I probably like to bake? Obviously the answer lies in socialization, but that is where the problems actually worsen. Not only is genitalia NOT a scientific indication for most personal preferences or personality traits, but the idea that it is is also flawed because there are enough people in this world who don’t even fit into those categorizations of sex either. What about those who are intersex? Our need to fit people into gender categorizations is why newborn hermaphroditic babies end up with some of their genetalia cut off before they are even old enough to give permission– losing all sensitivity forever. It is why some of these people grow up feeling that a part of them is missing, or that they have the wrong parts: because their parents were in a rush to make them a normal boy OR girl…

All I’m saying is, some of dis shit be cray and we should probably give it a second thought. I’m not saying we get rid of genders, I’m just suggesting we not be so rigid with it. I mean, right now I smell like a man. I smell like a man but I smell damn good. Every day I get up and I put whorey amounts of makeup on my face and then I spray myself so I smell like a man. Why fix what isn’t broken?

The Perks of Having a Dog: Pt. 3

Playful doggie kisses are wonderful for diminishing the effects of a waring day.

Did I mention the weather?

Today was fucking hot. As I writer, I should probably put that more eloquently like

               Today the air was passionately ablaze. The young, dark haired woman had to restrain herself with all her might, lest she look into the sun directly, challenging it for its dubious rays. These rays, usually soothing and warm upon her skin, now collected on the pavement and returned to her in a waft of unforgiving heat, as if to say: You will not survive here.

I could say that, but really:

               today was fucking hot.

This probably contributed to the overall weirdness of the day. An older man who resembled Santa Clause appeared to be very interested in what I was saying but was really just waiting for his moment to creepily ask me out on a date. “Why don’t we discuss this more over some hot cocoa?” The man was seriously working the Kris Kringle thing for all that it was worth. Still, he probably would have been better off trying to tempt me with a smoothie or some iced coffee; even Brad Pitt wouldn’t have been able to sell me on cocoa if he tried. As I said, it was fucking hot.

One cool thing that did come up today, though, was the question of: If you had a time machine, what moment and place would you travel back to? I used to have to think on this question for a long time to feel solid with my decision, but today I knew two answers right away. What would your answer be? Think about it and I’ll tell you mine tomorrow when I can really give my explanations some justice. I’ve got to be honest though, after a long day at work I’m really read to start drinking. There’s a tall glass of ice water waiting for me in the kitchen, and I’m about to be all over it.

Lab Art Saturday

White dudes with afros, chics with no hair, live tattooing and art, oh my!

That was just a bit of what was going on at Lab Art Gallery on La Brea this past Saturday when I stopped by for a brief gander.

There were a lot of cool pieces in the gallery featuring everything from spray-paint on canvas to mixed media. Pop cultural icons were featured frequently on a number of the pieces, and I found [randomly] that renditions of Jack Nicholson seemed to be eyeing me from just about every wall. What struck me most about the event though was not necessarily the art, but the people. I’ve been living in or near L.A. for the entire 22 years of my existence and I can honestly say that I’ve never been to anything “so L.A.” in my life. From the live painting to the bearded dudes who outnumbered non-bearded dudes 3 to 1, this scene felt a lot like what you’d see in movies. I guess that’s part of what felt so strange about it for me: it almost seemed as if the people weren’t real, as if they were cast to appear if only for a moment before taking off to smoke another cigarette.

I was admiring the live tattooer’s work, but when he stood up he brushed through me like I was Casper, leaving me with the urge to yell out a sarcastic “Sorry, bro!” The screen-printing guy was a sweetheart but didn’t know much about the image that he was printing onto his shirts, other than it “looked cool.” I overheard people admiring particular pieces around the room, a common repetative critique being “Wow, that’s so Warhol.”

In general, these attitudes reminded me so much of what I love and simultaneously hate about street art in itself. “Street art” can be playful, it can be ironic, it can be subtle or aggressively upfront. Some street art can be incredibly intelligent. It can take on a new or different meaning depending on where it is placed. Carboard shoes thrown over a wire can mean something vastly different depending upon if that wire is located on a street in South Central or in front of a mansion in Beverly Hills.

Yet that is simultaneously what drives me crazy about street art: that so many of its spectators refuse to admit that a lot of it is just bullshit; luck of the draw dependent on the viewers’ gullibility. If the same image is created with spray-paint instead of chalk pastel, we call it street art. If the same words are “tagged” instead of written, for some reason we are more quick to accept it as valid social criticism. Street art is a style, granted, but should we really keep calling it street art if it’s never been on the street? Ins’t that an inherent part of why street art has any meaning– less because of the technical ability involved but instead because of the risk taken to create it?

In thinking about this I recall my experience of watching Banksy’s film Exit Through the Giftshop. Part of the reason I enjoyed the film is because I’m convinced it was all a hoax. In the film, street-art newcomer “Mr. Brainwash” is hugely successful despite the fact that he clearly has no idea what he is doing.  His art is copy-cat like and mass produced– the exact opposite of what the core values of street art dictate his work should be. Even worse is how easily so-called fans of street art literally buy into Mr. Brainwash’s persona by spending thousands of dollars at his show. Instead of holding him accountable for his obvious rehashing of other people’s work, they attribute this as being part of his genius.

This to me is why the whole film is a joke, a ruse being played on the population by Banksy and friends asking us “What is art and how can we use it?”

So while I may sound like I’m hating on the Lab Art gallery, don’t get me wrong. I had a fabulous time. The hosts were kind and there was a lot to appreciate. I have my reasons for liking the art to an extent, but nonetheless I can’t help but wonder what makes other people love street art so much– and so suddenly. What makes someone willing to pay several hundred dollars for a collection of used up spray cans that have motivational words painted onto them in simple acrylic paint? Maybe I’ll understand more one day when I actually have that several hundred dollars to spare. Or maybe I’ll be the artist myself. I once sold a bag of my trash to someone for 75 cents. Maybe this is just an extension of the same thing.

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Awesomeness, meet shit.

Well this weekend has quite honestly been a cacophony of awesomeness and shit.

Shit

I’ve been suffering from a cold for several days. My hair has melded itself into a giant mess as it always seems to do when I am ill. I am considering taking myself to the level fourteen of Universal City Plaza where the SyFy offices are located and pitching “GIANT COMB VS. GIANT HAIRBALL” to them live. My illness has also been exacerbated by the fact that I had a huge falling out with someone important in my life. Let’s just say that there has been a lot of Alanis Morisette going on around here. And if you don’t get it, well, you oughta know.

Awesomeness

The pain from the massive Trader Joe’s pizza I made has been successful in numbing me somewhat emotionally. I did  250cc’s of ice cream on top of that just in case. Also, in genuinely awesome news, I am now employed. I’ve made the decision to keep my employer on the DL for now, but let’s just say I now work for “Mother Nature’s Street Gang” as one of my coworkers put it. I’ve never been so happy to go to work. That’s right, I said it: HAPPY to go to work. Additionally I’ve got a few other ventures that I’m working on. I’m continuously flabbergasted each time I get an emails from people who actually want me for my skills. Things are going to take a bit of time but I definitely see Australia and/or New York in my future, and giiiirl my crystal ball don’t lie.

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The Perks of Having a Dog: Pt 2

Today Nyxie ate all of the Cesar Millan books that we’ve rented from the library. I guess now we know what she thinks of his methods. “Cesar Millan’s books are very tasty and fun to rip up.” I don’t know, maybe this is her dog way of sticking it to The Man. Why didn’t I have this dog when I actually HAD homework?



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…It’s what today?

For the first time in my life, I had actually forgotten that it was going to be Valentine’s Day. I can probably thank the fact that this is the first year in my life [that I can remember] where I have not been in school making Valentine’s Day cards to pass out in class, or attending the typical collegiate “F*** Love I Just Wanna Rage” type kegger. I was reminded though when I saw the incredibly long line outside of See’s Candy. Anything that thwarts my ability to obtain chocolate usually catches my attention. Anyways, I thought I’d post a few Valentine’s Day-related things that have already made me smile today.

1. Google’s Valentine’s Day homepage cartoon.

As most people know, Google likes to have fun with it’s homepage banner by switching it up according to holidays or notable events. These switch-ups can be hit or miss, but today’s is a huge hit. The Valentine’s themed animated short (co-animated by Michael Lipman) features a young boy trying desperately to get a young girl’s attention by bringing her endless gifts of the typical variety (chocolate, flowers, etc.). The girl, preoccupied by her jumprope, can’t be bothered by his romantic dallying until the boy comes up with a new idea: instead of trying to impress her with material items, he goes for common interest. He succeeds (:

Besides the splendidly heart-wrenching crooning of my favorite standards man, Tony Bennett, what I like most about this cartoon is the ending, where we are shown a montage of images featuring happy couples: a cat and a dog, a spaceman and an alien, etc. Amongst this bunch is an elderly interracial couple and two tuxedo clad men embracing. I love that the message is subtle and not overwhelming. The bottom line: All people deserve love! And like the many things that Google knows, Google knows this too.

2. Out Magazine’s LOVE issue with partners David Burkta and Neil Patrick Harris on the cover

Let me get this off my chest: I suffer from an acutely problematic syndrome known as NPH. Symptoms include mildly obsessive adoration, and attraction towards gay males. Severe symptoms include being one of the few people not alive for most of the 80’s whose still seen EVERY episode of Doogie Howser ever (despite the fact that that show is admittedly CRAZY BORING). But really, who doesn’t love Neil Patrick Harris. He sings, acts, dances, plays “straight” incredibly well, and was even once a board member of the Magic Castle in Los Angeles (Chris Angel, what you got?).

So of course I am icnredibly stoked to see that Neil and David are featured on the cover of Out Magazine for this V-Day, looking stunning in Calvin Klein no less.

 

And lastly, for those NOT celebrating Valentine’s Day I give you the final thing:

3. Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself”

As I was listening to 95.5 KLOS this afternoon, DJ Cynthia Fox made a cheesy remark telling all single people who may be taking themselves out to dinner alone “not to get fresh!” At first I thought this was really corny and kind of a jab, until she queed up Billy Idol’s “Dancing With Myself.” It took me a second, until I realized Cynthia I see what u did thur. In case you haven’t noticed, this song is about masturbation, people. Happy Singles Awareness Day.

See you next love day.

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I’m Afraid of Fish

I’m afraid of fish. I believe the clinical term is ichthyophobia. For the longest time fish have just given me the heebie-jeebies. Their scaley skin and bulging eyes are terrifying- the literal stuff of my nightmares. It’s not easy to explain to your new roommates why they may have heard you screaming in the night, that you woke up in a cold sweat because you were having the dream again. The dream where you are locked in a room with the most terrifying creature on this earth. That you’d rather it be anything else– a tiger, a bear– but no matter how much you yell, beg, and contest, no one is going to let you out of this room with this goldfish. Please…excuse me while I shudder.

My fear of fish is definitely linked to the fact that they are so easy to kill. When we were still in elementary school, my brothers would often come home with goldfish from school carnivals. There he was, this little guy in a plastic bag sitting on the counter– his whole life just about to begin. You’ve got his whole world in your hands, but somehow something always goes wrong:

-You never forget to feed him, but actually you feed him too much. And now those cute little fish flakes are like a bacon wrapped cheeseburger– the fishy equivalent of a heart-attack. And now he’s eaten his way out of this world and into the third circle of hell… and the poor little guy never even knew what was happening.

-Or everything with the feeding goes fine with the feeding, but there’s an outbreak of disease. It’s the year 1347 inside of the tank and Little Flipper is now deteriorating right in front of your eyes. He’s decaying alive, but it’s ok, you don’t have to worry about him dying a slow death because your other fish, The Terminator, has decided to eat him instead.

-Or, even worse, you come home one day and yell out “Mommy, mommy, they are playing freeze tag!” You are so proud of the little fishies for getting along so well, beaming at the fact that they were so intelligent as to organize their own game of fishy freeze tag. But something is amiss, evident by the stern frown on your mother’s face. No sweetie, they are not playing freeze tag…

Really, these were the first times where I was ever really able to conceptualize death, and probably the root reason for why I actually hate fish. But back then I wasn’t looking so deeply into my pyschosis, and in general I just resolved to stay away from fish when possible. There was one tough week when my roommate Chantelle, unaware of my phobia, agreed to pet-sit her friend’s beta. He sat menacingly on our kitchen counter, stirring nightmares in my mind for a full seven days. I felt like a prisoner in my own house, too embarrassed to admit that his proximity to the refrigerator was the reason why I was eating fewer meals. I was nothing but relieved when his visit was over,  but still I had this lingering feeling of fish problems. My Fish Sense if you will. I distinctly remember going to sleep that night, thinking to myself “It’s too cold tonight. It’s too cold for a fish.” I really had no idea what the hell I really meant by that, but the next morning I got on the phone and called my mother, who confirmed my eerie sensibility. Our beta Jon Krakauer had died… the only fish I ever really loved.

He was kind of a secret pet. I didn’t tell many about him, for worry that it would be too hard to explain how I, a fish hater, was myself a fish owner. You see, Jon had entered my life on a whim, back in high school during a month when my best friend and I decided that I was going to get rid of all of my fears: graveyards, heights, etc. The trip to the graveyard was no problem. My biggest worry was that I’d somehow let the car go rogue and roll over all the tombstones, earning myself an afterlifetime of curses and unforgettable in-this-life shame. Of course this didn’t happen because I made Alissa drive, and the worst that did happened was that I got yelled at for taking too many photos of Johnny Ramones’ tomb.

Then, the only real currently confrontable fear left in my life was my paralyzing disdain for aquarium life.

Alissa and I decided that it was best to go with an aggressive tactic, so after school one day, we went to the store and bought a little blue beauty who we named Jon Krakauer. The original intention was to keep Jon Krakauer over at Alissa’s house– a safe 15 mile distance from mine. Outside of the FNR (fish nightmare radius), and for the most part Jon was easy to take care of. A couple of fish flakes, some fresh water. Badda bing badda boom he’s lookin good, good to go. Aside from one incident where Jon flopped out onto the kitchen table during a particularly shoddy water-changing session, life was good.

Then one day I get a call from Alissa’s mom. Alissa was in Israel for an extended time and her mother was getting tired of having to change Jon’s water, and his tank was getting dirty and could I come pick him up? Wait… um, what? Of course I had to say yes since his vida was technically my responsibility. So here I am in the car with this fish buckled in next to me, driving him closer and closer into my FNR. I’m looking at him and feeling terrified and super awkward, like a divorce dad whose finally got his kids for the weekend but has just realized he’s made a terrible mistake because all he’s got at his home is scotch and peanut butter… But finally Jon and I make it home and as it turns out, he actually looks rather nice sitting atop the bookshelf in our kitchen. My mom, understanding the depth of my fear, agreed to take the brunt of the work. I really owe Jon’s particularly long life to her, since she cleaned his tank weekly– carefully balancing out the Ph levels in his water and adding fresh plants for him to swim in. I myself owe some of my life to Jon, since his living so long helped to pacify some of my fish fear. All in all, like his namesake, Jon Krakauer actually turned out to be quite a survivor, living out an above-average lifespan of 4 long years. He was given an honorable burial beneath an orange tree in our backyard.

Still, when I meet new roommates I am just upfront and I let them know that I am not particularly chummy with chum. If it’s got fins and lives in a tank I won’t like it and I’m not going to kid myself. I will be the first to admit: I’ve got serious fissues.

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