One of the agents I was talking to about my book proposal for “Carcass: On the Afterlives of Animal Bodies” was asking me if I had a more personal take, rather than “here’s what happens to dead animals.”
How does my personal journey work into it? It’s a science book… I really couldn’t think of anything, until later when I’m a bit boozed up and going on about my Tragic Backstory (ok it’s not that serious, let’s call it…Things That Informed my Behavior and Personality.)
When I was younger I believed in sort of a narrow definition of success, as was generally defined by my family and school: get good grades, go to good college, get good job. There’s sort of a uniform, linear path that we all follow and some get higher on the ladder than others. If I do well at these pre-specified things, I’ll get accolades and attention and happiness. Beyond that, only very lucky people can have very good lives, and I’m not lucky.
This turned out to be pretty wrong.
I joined track and field and I LOVED it. And I was very good at it. I set the all-time school record for the 100M hurdles. Track was very important to the formation of my beliefs and values, which is weird because it’s just running in circles.
Here’s where it went wrong (or…right?): my parents absolutely hated track. I started coming home with a medal or four every weekend or so, and they wanted me to quit. They successfully sabotaged two invitationals and called the school to make them pull me out (now they say they were just faking the phone call, and they didn’t pull out their star hurdler/jumper, so IDK.)
I thought “How come I’m not getting appreciated for doing something objectively well?”
I started finding more bones of other animals. Sometimes a little fleshy. I learned more online about cleaning. Posted about them here. I processed a few fresh carcasses.
Of course my parents thought it was gross and weird and wanted me to stop. I can’t blame them, being disturbed by dead animals is a very culturally normal opinion. And you know, if I had been in a different timeline, I might have said “you’re right, this is objectively gross and weird, and because I respect your opinion, I will stop.”
But that’s not how it went. I just said “Oh, please, you hate everything I do. Regardless of how normal it is.”
They could have stopped me, but they wasted their judgement on something completely innocuous, and it’s worthless now. I only got more invested in dead animals as the years passed.
The lovely thing is, and I can’t speak for anyone else, but I really don’t have social trouble because of my interest in dead animals. It’s only been good for my career, it brought me this blog, it got me 171,000 followers on TikTok, I write about bones professionally a lot, and I’ll probably write a book about it soon. People I meet are generally either fascinated or they just go “oh that’s not for me.” I’ve been told one(1) time “oh this will eliminate you from large portions of the dating pool” but I literally have no interest in dating someone who is gonna be that put off by a weirdo. I’m a weirdo at heart even without the bones. I’m so happy that I don’t have to fake normalness, and everyone I care about, and most of the people who follow me online, are either neutral or they love it.
I do want to express my gratitude to everyone who has either supported me, said anything nice, bought bone merch, or followed. And I also want to thank the people who do hate dead animals, understand that their personal ick factors don’t dictate morality, and proceed block or scroll on by.