Monthly Archives: January 2012

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Crazy week.

The week started with 2 young men getting shot in their car and later crashed into a tree and both died.

Then it was a surreal and joyful encounter with Grimace and HamBurglar.

Baker’s block.

Writer’s block.

Eating a whole pound of Baklava.

And today I just found out I’ve been singing along to Selena Gomez.

Sad.

And now Joe is starting to play his accordion.

Shit. Time to dance to polka music.

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Today I am going to the dentist. I hate this. I brush my teeth daily and Joe is a seasonal brusher but each time we go to the dentist he gets away with just a cleaning and I have to make an appointment for root canal. Ugh! Nervous.

Pizza Night!

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It was pizza night a few days ago.

I was feeling a little lazy and didn’t feel like washing too many dishes and chopping vegetables. So I opted to work on an easy pizza dough. All it needs is flour, oil, yeast, milk and sugar. Mix, knead and rest. Too easy.

We split the dough into two. I made a pan pizza and Joe made a cal-zone with the same dough.

Sometimes it is just nice to enjoy something easy and greasy.

Alive to dead in 10 minutes

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So we killed a chicken today.

A brown hen to be exact.

We were on one of our many mindless drives around Chicago. We were driving along Western after our oil change.It was a rather gloomy and grey type of day. Suddenly Joe spotted a dilapidated yellow sign, “Chicago Live Poultry: Zabihalal in 10 minutes.” We have driven down this road a hundred times before and I have seen the sign countless times. The store never called at me. It had grills on the outside. The kind that reminds me of a liquor store in a bad neighbourhood. It was a fairly shabby looking store front. It did not look too promising. I assumed it was one of the many Halal meat markets in the Devon area and never thought much of it.

Joe being the way he is, merrily exclaimed, “Let’s go there!”

And at that moment, it clicked. “Live Poultry” and “10 minutes”.

We were going to watch our chicken die today and eat it that very same evening. I cringed a little.

So we turned around and parked. I was a little nervous and excited.

As we got closer, i saw the image of three little cute bunnies on the store front. Great! They kill rabbits too.

We stepped in and we were greeted by the gut wrenching stench of what I believe was death and chickens.

A row of empty refrigerators lined the entry way. An interesting mix of customers of Asian and African descent were standing in line.

I held my breath and zipped up my coat all the way to the top of my double chin. It almost felt like i wanted to retract my neck and head into the  safety of my green coat. I then slowly and softly told Joe, “Maybe we should skip it. You sure you want to get a chicken from here?” Of course he said yes. There was no turning back. I peeked further into the back of the store. I see cages, upon cages of chicken in the back room.  I felt my heart palpitate. All I could think was, you poor little babies.

The “butcher-“slaughterer”-greeter-cashier-store owner” said hello and called to us at the back of the line asking, ” What can i get you my friend?”

“One hen,” said Joe casually. It was almost like he did this all the time. Why did he not get a white chicken? Why a hen? in my mind it  became a little more personal. Why does a female have to die? Why would you want to eat the mother of little chicks, whose purpose in life was to lays eggs and rear her little babies? Then i realised i was getting a little too emotional and stupid and i fast-fowarded that thought and focused on which poor little chicken will be the next victim.

Soon after placing our order, a mexican male emerged from the kill room. He walked towards the back room where the innocent chickens were just minding their own business. I extended my neck a little. I saw him walk out of the room with a little brown hen. Its feet hanging in the air. I did not hear much noise, nor did i see its wings flapping frantically. I only caught a glimpse of the poor little chicken. Maybe it was better that way.

Western is a very busy road for most parts of the day. It was noisy. But I strained my ears to just perhaps catch the sound of that little brown hen just one last time. Moments later i heard a little cackle from the slaughter room. And that little hen was dead.

We were the last in line and by that time we were the only ones left in the store. Joe mentioned to the multi-tasking store owner that I was afraid. With a sweet smile often seen on Somali faces, he said, ” Ladies come hear afraid all the time. But after having fresh chicken, the ladies keep coming back for more and even go to the back room to pick their chickens.” Erm, okay.Thanks for sharing?  He then told Joe and I to go check out the chicken in the back. I was TERRIFIED! Joe was absolutely delighted by the invite. His eyes twinkled with child like excitement and glee.

As we got closer. The stench grew stronger. Live chickens don’t smell very good in confined spaces. I wanted to gag and my eyes started to water. Prior to getting to the back room, we had to pass the murder room and a row of grey funnels neatly line the wall above the trough. Freshly splattered blood painted the wall of the stainless steel room. I had to walk away quickly. The smell was overwhelming. And the chicken blood artwork will forever stain my mind.

Shortly after our little tour, our chicken was almost ready. “Do you want the head and feet?”the mexican said.

Seeing the horror in my eyes, the multi tasking merchant answered that question for me and said, “No head. No feet.”

We paid and said our thank you. He told us to come again. I walked away feeling a little proud to have survived the ordeal but a little sad that i killed a chicken today.

This is not the first time i have been in the same premise as a live animal that i will devour later in the day. Growing up a Muslim, it was pretty common practice for our parents to take us to the mosque on Hari Raya Haji to watch the sacrificial slaughtering of a lamb or sheep. I always looked away at the very moment they commit the deed. As a kid i was not as  flabbergasted at the thought of killing an animal for food. It was pretty straight forward and rational almost. We need to eat, hence an animal needs to die.

Living in the United States for the last 5 years has made me a little disconnected from the whole cycle of where our food comes from. All i ever see are uniformed pieces of beef or chicken, neatly packaged in that same yellow styrofoam container and wrapped in the same heavy duty cling wrap. I see packs of breasts, thighs and wings. Boneless? Skinless? Take your pick. I see the butcher behind the counter. But i never see him butchering.

As traumatic as it was to have a warm carcass handed to me in a  black plastic bag, the experience was meaningful. I felt a little enlightened. It made me appreciate my food a little more. I gained a little respect for chickens and the sacrifice they make so that we can eat. I appreciate the multi tasking entrepeneur and his comrade for slaughtering with care.

Thank you.

Dinner is ready. Time to eat.

 



Losing my toes to the cold, wintry dark night.

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It feels good to have my toes. At least I think they still work. They are not black and blue. At least not yet. Just a reddish purple. There is still sensation, so I think I am good.

What the hell!

So I got stuck in Seattle for two nights. Was not anticipating that. Damn freezing rain! Icicles were hanging down the wings of the planes. We were not going anywhere fast. So whatever.

I finally got home today. Despite several cancellations out of O’hare due to the snow, my flight was close to on-time. It was quite shocking.

I was hoping to get re-assigned when I got in but unfortunately that did not happen.

Snow  boots! I had forgotten to bring them. Ok I am lying. I was too lazy to lug them with me on my trip despite having room in my bag. What a moron! Yes that is me.

My bus was suppose to get in at 9:00pm. I was early.  9:00pm came and went. I was getting worried. What if they had cut their service due to the snow? So I called the bus information number and the lady said it is running late but she had no idea when it will get there.  It was 9:30. I figured I might as well wait till the 9:40 bus and pray that it comes.

It was cold. My worn-out plastic shoes and hosiery were not keeping my feet warm enough. So I decided to emulate Michael Jackson and don white socks with my black flats.

9:40! Thank you, God. I see the bus turning round the corner. Thank you for the heads up on eliminating the 9:00pm bus. Whatever! I was just elated to know that my over an hour wait had paid off. The bus came and I was in the relative comfort of a borderline warm bus. Gratitude was all I felt. I said hello and smiled. The driver ignored me as he focused on his iPhone. That’s fine. I am just happy he is here.

The ride home was relatively uneventful. Except for the bitch sitting in front of me. Look at me I’ve got straight long hair extensions. I am hot. Let me swish my hair around. Look at me. It is amazing how the flat iron and 3 hours sitting in a salon can do to my ugly face. I now look hot from the back. BITCH!

Anyway, as I was saying, it went by pretty swiftly considering the road conditions. 45 minutes later I was at my stop.

I had my fingers crossed. If the side walks were not shovelled, I would take a cab to my apartment. I can spend $6. I remember saying to myself, “It didn’t feel too cold. Seems tolerable.” It was nice to see the guys out shovelling the snow. One side of the street was all done. I can do this. 1st block. 2nd block. Shit. The snow is slushy. My feet were getting wet. That’s alright. Home is not too far away. I can make it. 3rd block. What the hell? This section here is not shovelled. That’s alright I can handle this. It continue to persevere and prod in. By the 4th block I began to feel numbness in my little right toe. This is not good. I stopped for a minute. I took off my shoes and my socks were soaked. Bad!

I tried to warm them up with my hands and bend my feet and wiggle my toes just to help with circulation. I took a few more steps. It was uncomfortable. It felt like I was only walking with 4 toes on my right foot.

I panicked. No cabs in sight. Police cars kept making their rounds. I tried to call a cab. Operator said that they did not have any cabs available. What the ……

Suddenly, I had an Out of the Wild flashback. Out of the Wild is a show about urbanites being thrown into the wilderness. The season Joe and I watched was when they were in Alaska. Awesome show. So I thought to myself, “What would they do? Take off those damn socks!” And I did. “Suck it up and walk on the road,” I told myself.   It was late enough, that there weren’t that many cars. At least it was easier to pull my suitcase  and tote on the road then it was to drag it through the snow on the side walk.

Die from getting hit by an oncoming car or lose a toe? I had to decide and I chose to risk it and keep my toe.

The last time I ate was breakfast at Embassy Suites. I felt no hunger today which was unusual for a glutton like myself.

I can feel my wet stockings.

The alley way or continue to plough through the snow on the side walks where there is the safety of street lamps? I cast aside my fears of alley rats and gang way muggings and moved as  quickly as I could through the alley. It was a huge relief to see the door to my building.

Went through the first set of doors. Dropped my suitcase and tote. Removed my wet and cold shoes and I ran up to my apartment. Dropped my pants and stockings. My feet they were itching and burning. I had to scratch it. I take that back. I had to claw it. I turned on the hot water and soaked my feet for a few minutes. My toes are alive! 10 toes. Thank you.

If I hadn’t removed my wet socks. I know I would have been in a lot of pain.

24 degrees Fahrenheit = -4 degrees Celsius = Brrrrrrrr! = Almost 2 hours in bad shoes = Possibly missing toes.

It feels good to be home with all my toes.

Lesson learnt. Always bring snow boots on all my winter trips. Try not to be so lazy next time.

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Sometimes I wonder why I give up the easy good life to lead the hard complicated life?

The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.