Changes / Feeling Real

First off: a change of plans. I’m officially approved for accelerated graduation, so I’ll be done after seven semesters. But, I’v known since I applied that I may hav to re-evaluate which semester I’m taking off, since there’s one particular class (Ethnography of Communication) that counts for both anthro and linguistics, and I need to take that to finish out both of those fields of study. My advisor is the one teaching this class, and she told me she’d let me know as soon as the anthro department had decided which semester to offer Ethnography of Communication. Turns out, it’s spring 2011, which means that insted of graduating next December as I’d planned, I’m graduating in May with everyone else, and taking a leave of absence for fall 2010. That’s when I’ll be doing my traveling. This actually werks out better for me in a few ways: One, the JET program’s application is due in December sometime, but they’ll want to contact me all between when I turn it in and when I actually leave for Japan (assuming I get in). So, I’ll be a lot more available in college than I would while traveling all about the tropics at places with sparse postal service and little cell reception and rare internet. Also, I’ll hav another chance to take Japanese 102. I took 101 last semester, but this semester, no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t fit 102 in, even tho I was just trying to audit it—it conflicted with too many different classes that I needed too much. So this way I’ll be able to learn some more Japanese before setting off for Japan itself. Meanwhile, though, for this semester I’m going to be going to Japanese Table (日本語ランチテーブル), which is a thing where, on Tuesdays, Japanese students and professors get together at lunch and speak Japanese. That’ll keep me from getting too rusty—and, bonus, the Japanese department pays for it, so I get to keep a lunch credit, which I can use to get an OutTake (bag lunch) and supplement my dinner. This college positively akes to give you free food. There’s no reason to spend lots of money on food here if you can get off the meal plans. I myte start going to Spanish Table too.

Next up is something that I’v wanted to do for a long time, and I’v finally done it. The story is adapted from my journal from a cupple days ago. If you don’t think about meat much, it myte seem a bit graphic, but it’s nothing more than any meat-eater should hav to be able to think about without getting squeamish. Dan & Tracy, I believe you can handle it too. I’ve changed the names for anonymity (and I figured I myte as well change them to something more interesting than “John” or “Larry”.)

(Background: Erasmus, a guy I know, has been trying for the last week or so to catch rabbits for food. He’s into older-time subsistence practices like I am, but he’s done more with actually putting things into practice. I told him to let me know if he ever caut one.)

It turns out catching rabbits is a real, possible thing that peeple can in fact do. One of the traps Erasmus set caut one today, and he called me via Zoltan’s phone. He asked that I bring his BB gun from his house. So I drove it up to the north edge of campus. He showed me where he’d put the unsprung trap, and then we wauked to the one with the rabbit: behynd the bleachers at a snow-covered field. As he had forewarned me, the rabbit had bluddied itself up a little trying to get out of the trap. But, it was still alive and kicking. We agreed that a deadfall would hav been much more humane than these live traps, but they wer the only ones Erasmus had. We considered where to kill it and figured behynd the announcement stand would be the most inconspicuous place. He took the trap there and pointed the BB gun at the confounded rabbit’s hed. “I’m sorry, rabbit,” he said. “Thank you for giving your body to me.” And he shot it cleanly. It was tenacious, so he had to shoot it again, but it soon stopped—kicked its legs a few last times and went still. “I think that’s it,” he said. It was a tense moment. Then we put it in plastic bags.

We had a heck of a time figuring out where to clean the cage without getting questioned, but we found a shower. (He pointed out that in some places, what we wer pretending to be doing—showering together, altho we didn’t really try to make it look like that—would be way more unacceptable than what we wer actually doing. For example, in Mississippi.)

We set the traps again, in a new place (the place he’d shown me erlier, we decided, was too public), and then we took the rabbit back to his house. It was dinnertime and everyone (seven peeple) was there, and reactions ranged from Amelie’s delyte that Erasmus had finally caut a rabbit to Rosamaria’s horror and not wanting to think about it. Everyone was pritty unanimous that we shouldn’t clean the rabbit in the bathroom upstairs. So we took it—and the computer that we wer using to watch YouTube rabbit-skinning how-tos—into the basement. By now Nikolai was with us too, one of Erasmus’s frends. We got a bucket and figured out how to get the meat out of this compact, furry package.

Erasmus took the first step, with Nikolai acting as meathook, and cut off the hed, which involved lots of twisting. “This is vaguely grotesque,” he said. Before we could get the skin off, we had to take off the feet, which involved more twisting. I took off one of the forepaws. It felt really strange for a moment to be turning a joint so forcefully the wrong way—it was against all my previous experience of good things to do with limbs—but this was a new thing entirely, and I got the paw off. They’re so tiny, the forepaws! I never realized that.

We took turns peeling off the skin section by section, and finally we got it all off. Nikolai had to leave before we wer quite done skinning it, so it was just Erasmus and me from there. I acted as meathook while Erasmus carefully cut open the abdominal cavity and pulled out the innards. Another thing I didn’t know is that they’re so organized—they all come out at once, without taking any meat with them (well, some of them are meat themselves, but you know what I mean). And we wer left with the carcass, empty of everything but meat and bones now. It’s the first time I’v ever seen an animal go from living thing to meat, and now I know what it looks like—where everything is, how you take apart something whose goal is not to be taken apart, how it becomes something you can use, something you can eat. Thank you, rabbit.

This event made me feel like a fully legitimate member of the food chain for the first time since I started thinking a little more in-depth about meat a while ago. Some vegetarians say they don’t eat meat because they can’t stand the idea of killing an animal; some meat-eaters eat meat but probably wouldn’t be able to actually kill an animal if someone asked them too, and myte insted become vegetarians. Now I know that I can stand to eat meat even with a very clear knowledge of where it comes from. It makes me feel a little more real, I suppose.

One last thing is that I got my first official eye exam today, since I hav to send in an optometrist-completed review of my syte to the BMV to renew my license by mail since I’ll be in Costa Rica on my birthday when it expires. I’ve known for a while that my far-off syte has been getting a little blurrier and that glasses myte be handy. That’s not something I’ m particularly happy about, but I can deal with it. I’m not going to be wearing them much, probably for driving and maybe classes, but I’ll hav them around. Once I actually get them I guess I’ll poste a picture. While I’m tauking about eyesyte, a few more thauts. I’m pritty shure that the reason I’m blurring out at far distances is that I’v been studying too much with my eyes focused up close on print for so many hours a day. Since I realized that, I’m trying to hold books a little farther away and keep the lytes up and not squint so much, but another thing I think about is that when I go outside it’s not only enjoyable but also an investment in my eye helth. And, there’s also this thing I’v red: http://ranprieur.com/me/eyes.html. It’s from a guy, Ran Prieur, whose blog I visit every once in awhile, read a bit of, and then usually forget about for a month or several. He’s somewhat primitivistic, in that he thinks our present society is fundamentally unsustainable. I’m not shure about all the particulars of his philosophy, since I don’t read his stuff all that often, but when I do read it, it’s usually pretty good. The thing I linked to is about recovering eyesyte. Basically, he argues that if your eyesyte is deteriorating it’s probably due to focusing on things up-close a lot more than humans used to do, and a way you can werk toward solving the problem is by looking off into the distance. Ordinarily I would be a bit more skeptical, because Ran Prieur has said he’s really interested in pseudoscience and likes it a lot, and I don’t take so charitable a view of it. But he got results, and it’s hard to argue with those. He stared out the window for three days on a long train trip, and says he took a whole diopter off of his prescription in each eye. I don’t remember what his further progress was like, and I’m not going to reread the piece ryte now because I need to get to the store for some ingredients to finish the chili I’m making, but it’s interesting. All ryte, bye!

File under: meat, plans, reformed spelling


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Anonymous

History

Sounds like a great rabbit adventure! (For you, not the rabbit.)

What is your change of plans going to do to your possible summer internship?

Reply Reply

Chuck

History

Internship is still a go. I actually applied to it a while ago and they told me it was too erly to apply. So it looks like I'm at least on top of the game. If anything, this'll help my internship credentials, because I can stay there way longer into the season than other applicants probably can.

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Anonymous

History

You are unknowingly picking up where your great grandparents left off. They hunted and ate rabbits and squirrels from the farm. I'll bet even Grandpa has had some experience cleaning dead animals. He'll tell you.

As for me, I remember my Dad, in a sudden inspiration for getting back to nature, bought a couple of live chickens, brought them home, and chopped their heads off in the back yard. I remember those chickens hopping around with no heads. And then it stunk in the house when they had to clean off the feathers. That was the ONLY time my Dad, who was completely city raised, tried to go back to nature. I'll never forget it. I don't think he ever did, either. Grandma

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Anonymous

History

By the way, in case you don't know yet, Dan and Tracy are expecting another baby on August 24. You will have another cousin to spoil! Grandma

Reply

Chuck

History

Really? Congrats, Dan & Tracy! Just can't get enuf of being pregnant, can you, Tracy? I'm looking forward to spoiling more!

And yeah, chickens are dirty, or at least so I'v heard. I'v also heard that, pound for pound, chicken is less nutritious than cockroach. I'm glad rabbit was my first experience with meat up-close and personal.

Incidentally, last nyte I went over to Erasmus's house and helped cook the rabbit. It was a big production, and a lot of other peeple wer making food too (borshch, cake, baguettes), and Erasmus was making some Rotkohl and Spätzle too, so it was a confusing dinner and it took a long time to make. But eventually it got done and everyone pritty much feasted. The way we did the rabbit was we wrapped the separate pieces in bacon, which Erasmus claims was to keep them from getting too dry since they hav virtually no fat. He red about it online somewhere. And then, since the rabbit was small, we supplemented it with lamchops. (Yeah, it was a heck of a production.) And then we broiled it on a grate suspended above some vegetables in water. It ended up delicious. Rabbit has a dark, wyld kynd of flavor. Erasmus says he's not shure he'll go to all the effort involved in rabbit again, but I know I'm going to sometime. Probably not while I'm on campus, but sometime, maybe on my semester off, depending where I am then. It'll be nice not to hav to try to make it stretch for nine peeple, which was the crowd we had there. And I'll probably try cooking it without the aid of bacon… maybe I'll figure out a way to rig up a spit to roast it over a fire. Or maybe I'll make Hasenpfeffer, since I like rabbit and I like pepper and I like the word "Hasenpfeffer". If I hav some time when I catch it, maybe I can even try tanning its hide.

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