inspiration for creative women

Michelle Hosogi: Reading David Sedaris On a Saturday (Essays)

1. I have decided I don’t like vegans. Sure, I want to like them but after careful consideration, I don’t. I read Jonathan Safran Foer’s first two novels and fell in love with his voice. I like him as an author but reading his third book was a mistake. It’s about how messed up the American system of meat production and consumption is. I’ve never entertained the ‘I’m a vegetarian this month’ phase that entices many privileged teenage youths these days, but I like Foer’s voice so much that his words changed the way I eat meat. I will eat meat, but I limit myself to one animal type a day. So if I eat bacon for breakfast, I cannot eat a hamburger for lunch. I compare myself to a primitive hunter and so I am allotted to mentally kill one animal per day. It’d be silly to think I could kill two. I have, in my mind, personally slaughtered one animal and so it would be wasteful to murder another, all in one day. Foer didn’t make me a vegetarian, but his book did make me change the way I think about consuming meat and I don’t think I can forgive him for that. Veganism is very first-world, in my opinion. Vegans worry about where (or who) their next meal is coming from whereas a lot of people in the world worry if there is going to be a next meal. This is something that tends to elude someone who indulges in veganism.

2. One time I was in Paris, walking home from dinner or something and I turned the corner and walked into a full-blown carnival, like a fucking Fellini film.

3. Are there butterflies in Italy? The word for butterfly in Spanish is ‘Mariposa’ and it is ‘Papillon’ in French. The English somehow mustered up the word ‘butter-fly’ which makes me wonder why all these words are so different from one another. They all mean the same thing – to describe this disgusting little insect whose colorful, iridescent wings are the only trait differentiating its body from that of a moth’s, which we as a collective society have deemed gross. If all of these languages derived from Latin, and Latin was spoken in Ancient Rome, then did anyone in Italy ever see a real butterfly?

4. I often think about my future child. I will name it ‘Halen’ whether it be male or female. This is because: 

  1. I really like that band.
  2. . The combination of that name and my last name sounds fantastic even though this is irrelevant because I am not progressive so my child will bear its father’s last name.
  3. It actually means some cool verb in German.

I ponder my future expressive reactions to when my child tells me he or she is gay. I wonder whether I will be unconditionally supportive and wrap my child in a bear hug and say ‘I love you no matter what’ and we can both marvel at my willingness to accept my child as its own entity and not as simply an extension of myself, or if my eyes will droop with sadness as I subconsciously frown and warn him or her of the troubling times ahead in the troubling world, recounting the rise of AIDS and legality issues regarding marriage – neither of which I was around for – wondering if my frown is seen as concern and disappointment of the environment and not my child. I wonder whether I will give it the fat gene. I wonder how much preschool tuition is going to cost because I often look into the current tuitions of my previous academic institutions and shit my pants so I can’t imagine the inflation rates of preschools by the time I have children of my own. God knows if you don’t send your kid to the right preschool they’ll never catch up. I wonder whether my shoe size will go up after I’m pregnant and if so, what will I do with all my shoes? I wonder if I will even go in that direction or perhaps look into adoption. Actually wait, I’ll foster a kid and then adopt it because that way you get to choose your kid and there’s no room for disappointment. That’s how it happened with my cat. I sat in a room with a bunch of kittens, bonded with my cat, took my cat home in a ratty blue blanket, and the love was forever. That’s the way it works with foster kids too, right? It is imperative that my child is funny. I swear I’m going to have a child with no sense of humor as a form of punishment from a previous life – or like, earlier in this life, whatever. I can’t raise it in New York City because that is inevitably setting it up for a life where no other city will ever appease or implore its mind and I want traveling to initiate shock value for my kid. God forbid we go to Disneyland and my child scoffs at Magic fucking Kingdom. I can’t raise it in Los Angeles because I don’t want a nine year-old with a perpetual tan and a cocaine problem. I can’t raise it in Washington D.C. because I will make it learn at least five languages to keep it in competition with its presumed friends from families spanning all around the globe and I don’t speak five languages so I will always be paranoid the kid will talk about me behind my back to its friends from countries I couldn’t place on a map if I had a gun to my head. I wonder how many nannies I will employ, not in total, but at any given moment. I wonder if I will teach my child how to make a Manhattan before I teach it fractions. It never hurts to be the guy at the party mixing perfect-tasting drinks for everybody but it does hurt to be the guy at the party being pelted with red solo cups for reciting its times tables to no one in particular. I wonder about this a lot and often, but also understand how fruitless it is because I can’t conceive of a future where I have a child. So, I will adopt another cat and name it Halen.

5. It was called a Walkman, then a Discman, so where did ‘iPod’ come from? Shouldn’t it be pod-man or chip-man? And what happened to the Zune?

6. Did anyone else find that commercial of floating, decapitated babies’ heads in space to a Fleetwood Mac song for some car company deeply disturbing?

7. I  inadvertently gave myself a literary accent. I spent a summer studying abroad in Oxford, England when I was fifteen and began writing certain words the British way as a joke. For instance, I spelled words like ‘favourite’ and ‘colour’ and I wrote ‘mum’ in place of my mother’s contact information in my phone. It started as a joke and now my life is filled with autocorrect and typing and retyping the words ‘gray’ and ‘grey’ and it’s not funny anymore.

8. I once had to take a mandatory speech class and was forced to take part in a sick, sadistic ritual known as the icebreaker. I was given the assignment of bringing into the next class three personal objects to write a beginning stage speech. I couldn’t bring in my weekly-allotted handle of vodka, mini first-aid-kit comprised of pharmaceuticals and shrooms, or my coveted Alexander Wang gladiator heel boots. So I brought a wine glass, a black Bic lighter, and a paintbrush instead. In my speech, I offered that even though I’ve always been involved in artistic practices, attending art schools and all, and continuing to paint as a hobby between classes, I would never call myself an artist. I paint, but it’s not who I am or what defines me or gives me purpose and yeah, I’m not that into labels. I find calling oneself an artist to be trite and pompous. The speech went fine. I came out of there with a clean ass. As long as I don’t shit my pants after public speaking, I feel I’m A-OK. The next guy who takes to the podium was an Acting Major who Acted as though my speech had clearly advocated for baby penguin genocide. He gets up, does a twirl, claiming that the item he brought to class was his body because that is his vessel for acting, stares me dead in the eye, then points to me and singles me out in front of the whole class audaciously arguing that unlike me, he does call himself an artist, and smirks and spins for us again. My speech had been cuckolded and overturned and I basically became the equivalent of James Frey, the author of that memoir Oprah reprimanded on live television. It is one thing to be humiliated whilst publicly speaking but it is quite another to endure embarrassment as an audience member. Recently, I heard a vague rumor that he was in Chicago and got shot. So, you know, he got his.

9. Lots of people have irrational fears or at least serious disturbances that have led them to societal mocking. I, for one, have accumulated the fear of airplane toilets and leprechauns. I cannot help but rush out of the confined space of the airplane bathroom once I have flushed in fear that I, too, like my predisposed waste, will be sucked up into the atmosphere. I also cannot help but fear the products of the horror movie industry coupled with Irish folklore. I am very short in stature and as a result, am terrified of anything that is shorter than me and holds the ability to run faster than me. This can apply to most of the animals within the food chain but for some reason I am convinced that only leprechauns would engage in a track meet competition with me. I have vowed to never visit Ireland.

10. During some periods in my life, I like to read. Being a pretty all-or-nothing kind of person though, I don’t just read a little here and there, say, for an hour each night before tucking myself into bed. When I find myself enjoying a book, I read a lot. My attention span suddenly all comes into focus and I’ll finish books upon books until I’ve randomly decided I’m done with my phase. I’m a fast reader too, I’ve been told. I can recall many instances from my childhood where I was asked to repeat a previously-stated phrase only slower while reading out loud to the class. I’m an indignant dick though, and would repeat the phrase so freakishly slowly, as if my audience were comprised of disabled thinking children, that the teacher would sigh, roll his or her eyes, and then remember to never call on me again. To prepare for this habitual habit of mine, I buy books in bulk. Whenever I hear of a supposedly good book or author, I’ll write the name down and think to buy the literature later so that maybe one day it will be read. So one day, I start a reading streak and I am delighted because it is the first time in years – years after my college graduation – that I have decided to finish a book. I had honestly thought that unlike riding a bike, I had actually forgotten how to read in a certain kind of context. I thought Oh well, I guess there that goes, as if I had suddenly lost my ability to do the splits or sail my paper boat down a flooded street. In my future reading pile are a few David Sedaris books. I had heard of the guy but didn’t pay much attention to his works because I don’t have a lot of faith in other peoples’ critiques regarding films, books, television, or music. As I begin reading his stuff, I realize this guy’s the shit and is bumping himself up to the position of my favorite author. Right as I’m about to finish my third book of his, I frantically order the rest of his works off Amazon and relish the two-day shipping method. I’m not sure if I can pace myself, polishing off this third book while waiting for the rest of his books to arrive. How will I survive without a David Sedaris book in my hand? I can no longer picture a life without him. Well, the books did arrive and as I’m entering the second essay of my fifth book, a thought comes to my mind. David Sedaris informs the reader that he is in a long-lasting relationship with a guy named Hugh and writes of Hugh quite frequently in his stories, some of which completely surround this Hugh. As I had been speed-reading the past few days, trying to catch glimpses of Sedaris’ life, I found myself becoming fairly familiar with David and Hugh’s relationship, like a sort of neighbor or fairy godmother. I have always prided myself on my thoughts of homosexuality, beginning from a young age. Growing up in even the most politically-correct of cities, Seattle, children tend to be cruel and relentless in their teasing and would often cite homosexuality as a reason to be teased. I remember the other children cynically laughing and tormenting their peers based off of a perceived homosexual action or comment. And I remember, despite trying as hard as I could, that I could never understand what they were saying. I never understood what was wrong, humorous, or embarrassing about being gay. I would pride myself later on this sentiment, but as a child, it was slightly confusing and frustrating. I remember an acquaintance coming up to me on the playground and thrusting her hands around my torso, bursting into tears and explaining that others had called her gay for holding her female friends’ hands. It was at this moment I realized I am no good at consoling upset people – and also that I would never understand crying about spilt sexuality. My peers and I would grow up and it’s ridiculous that the kids who tormented others about being gay are now probably the people outside the organic grocery store advocating for gay rights, but that’s how adolescence goes. As I read David Sedaris’ work, I entertained the thought that that’s what made him so great – that he had been gay and forced to perceive the world in a unique manner different to that of everyone else’s whilst growing up. I thought of him and Nathan Lane and Elton John and wondered if being gay was actually a beneficial thing if you wanted to make a great difference in the world. Here were all these straight people going about their day-to-day business and not contributing anything of lasting significance – at least not to the entertainment business. As I entered the second essay of my fifth book, I realized that Hugh is gay. David Sedaris speaks of living in a house with Hugh and being chastised for dumbly grocery shopping by Hugh and even reminisces about Hugh’s childhood. Sedaris is obviously involved with Hugh on a deep and romantic level, even dedicating one of his works to Hugh. I felt as though I had attended dinner parties with Hugh and Sedaris in their light, airy Paris apartment. I never thought that if David Sedaris was gay, maybe his partner would be, too. That’s just how I tend to see the world. Some people say they don’t see black and white, well, I guess I don’t see gay. Someone has to jump up and down and flail their arms and proclaim him or herself a homosexual for me to see that he or she is, in fact, a homosexual. It was at this moment that I finally understood the importance of the annual gay pride parade.

11.They say that ancestors of the dinosaur are closer to the bird, as opposed to a reptile or amphibian. This is why cameras always focus in on birds or the likeness of birds at the closing of Jurassic Park films. So whenever I eat eggs, I imagine myself eating dinosaurs rather than helpless abortioned chickens. I chomp down on the food and consider myself mighty. Sometimes I think of sharing this enlightening and empowering discovery with others so that they too can feel strong at heart but then I think of what a vegan might say to me at a dinner party.


Written by Michelle Hosogi.