1. I watched a chicken’s throat be cut for dinner. My friend did the deed. I almost asked to slice it myself, but the blood pooled so cruelly in the bowl below. The body tensed, twitched, and spasmed, and my stomach boiled with acid and that day’s lunch, so that I didn’t wish I had killed it anymore. We washed it twice, pulled out its nails and the stubborn ends of feathers; they held to its skin like blackheads. I gouged those pores clean. I carried the chicken to the fire and burned off its baby hairs. It looked now like real chicken, the kind you’d find under the cold lights of a grocery store. We opened it up, pulled out its innards: “These are its lungs,” I was told, “its intestines, its stomach, its heart.” Its insides, severed from their only home of meat and bones, sat in a plastic bowl. The lungs gazed up at me, and I felt myself breathing, felt the flapping of my pulse go thumpthumpthump. Does a heart still count as a heart if it no longer has a body to beat for?
  2. “You can take out its eye like this.” A spoon cupped the socket and out, whole and glassy, came the fish’s eye. Never had I ever known someone as wonderful as her. Taking out a fish’s eye! What about the world did she not know? The eye was soft in my mouth, tasted like ginger and scallions, not like fish at all. She opened her mouth, and she spit into her palm a milky-white cartilage shell. She smiled. “If you’re going to eat an animal, eat all of it.”
  3.  Follow the smell of fish. It’s strongest near the back of the store, clogs up your insides with the stench of decay. Near the jelly aisle it weakens; walk down that gem-colored lane parallel to the smell. Turn to the tea. The stench fades further next to these dented boxes of barley and green and everything in-between. Meet me next to the shelves of candy. Sugar-coated with the perfume of a thousand wrapped pieces of joy, the fishiness will be barely there, so close your eyes and use your nose to find me. When you think you cannot step any further, that is where I will be. I cannot choose between the lychee and green mango chews, but when you get to me, we will decide together. We will sit on the red curb outside, next to the concrete pool of koi. In this Texas parking lot, we will watch them swim, so far from home and so close to death. 
  4. Texas grocery stores are big. Massive, industrial things. Parking lots like Asphodel meadows. I am sitting in the minivan, waiting for my mother. The rows of cars extend endlessly, and their metal roofs shimmer fiercely in the noon sun. The air conditioner is sterile, cool. I breathe in deeply— maybe the air will untie the knot in my stomach. The knot always grows when she is gone. Opening my book of myths, I try to distract myself from the pain in my stomach that is but is not hunger. She has been gobbled up by the grocery store. She has been eaten by a minotaur. She has left me here in this minivan, floating alone in an asphalt sea. She opens the door. My insides loosen. “I hate going to new grocery stores. You waste so much time lost. Nothing is where you expect it to be.” 
  5. “He always keeps us waiting.” My mother says this meanly. I look to my sister, because that is what I always do when they are mean. She is staring at the fish tank, the species of the fish labeled in Chinese that we both can not read. My mother walks out of the door; I know because I hear her shoes slap the floor, and the door goes dingdingding as she leaves me.  The fish in the tank are fat and lazy. I say this to my sister. “They’re trapped,” she says, “How would you feel if you were that fish?” She points to one at the corner of the tank, its side pressed flush with the glass. I get up close to the tank, tap the glass beside the corner-fish. It just lays there. I tap it again, with my knuckles this time. It doesn’t react. I begin hammering the glass; I heave and slam my fists, but my sister pulls me away, her arms wrapped around my waist. “Don’t be angry,” she says. I wring myself from her, lay limp on the floor. To the chandelier, I mutter, “God, why didn’t you make me a fish?”
  6. The fries at this restaurant are always limp. Oily. Pathetic, even. I’ve driven eighteen minutes to sit here and eat terrible fries, and listen to these people make terrible conversation. I’m asking for one of the following: good food, or good conversation. But you put me here in America— in rich, white, suburban America, where the people are bland and the food even more so. You put me here in this diner, and I hate you for it.
  7.  We always crept out of church service before announcements ended. “Get ahead of the crowd,” my father said. We filed out with this projected above our heads: Help Us Go to China and Spread The Good Gospel. Buy Homemade Dumplings, Milk Tea, and Sticky Rice Next Sunday After English, Mandarin, and Cantonese Services. On the walk back to the minivan, if another person passed us, I always bowed my head in silence, pushed myself closer to my mother. When I was small enough to burrow my head into my mother’s hip, every person was a foreigner to me, unintelligible and fearsome. We pulled out of the parking lot, a lone ship hailing from a nation of four.
  8.  By 2100, most islands and coastal cities will be underwater. South Vietnam will disappear completely. Miami, Alexandria, Rio de Janeiro, Osaka, and Shanghai will face devastating flooding. But you can act. Take public transportation, shower for three minutes, go vegan. I shut my eyes. One piece of meat can’t change anything.
  9. I am hungry, but I can’t bring myself to eat. I’ve slaughtered (indirectly?) countless chickens, and it was (is?) just one. Would it be more wrong not to eat? Can I measure my goodness on a kitchen scale? God, Mom, could you please tell me? What is the difference between eating this animal and that animal, between me and this meat, between the chicken its soul and the body that spasmed an hour before. Between my mouth and my stomach and this porcelain bowl. I hunger to know. I hunger to not hunger any more.