On Being A "Freak"

Posted February 5, 2009 @ 1:29am | by S. Cutshall

This is going to be a work in progress.  Two days ago I had a lot of ideas, many of which have gone away.  This blog thing is tougher than I thought.  I think I'll give control back to Scott sooner rather than later.

Family Stone.  This is a movie that we like a lot.  There is a scene where they discuss flying your freak flag versus trying so hard to be what you think people want you to be, or better yet, who you think you should be instead of who you truly are.  I like it because it makes me think of our evolution as a family.  Also, our evolution as people.

Scott was meant to hold a banner, not just a flag.  Or maybe a flag the size of the one they hung off the building in Manhattan overlooking the WTC site right after the buildings came down.  That is about the right size for him. 

He was one of those who couldn't wait to leave his small town and go to 'The Big City'.

 Now of course this was sparked from his drive to play music.  Of course, not just any music, but no...Jazz.  Wait, not just Jazz, Improvisational or Free Jazz.  Definitely one of the less popular genres.  Even paying gigs end up costing you money if it's your gig.  You share whatever the money is, unless you are bringing in someone you feel is higher up the food chain than you are, or someone who had to travel further than everyone else.  These people get a bigger chunk.  As the initial chunk is so small, the rest comes out of your pocket so as to not be insulting to your fellow musicians.  Did I mention that there is very little audience except maybe students who were sent to watch, other Avant Garde Jazz musicians themselves, or the occasional small group of Japanese tourists (for some reason, the Japanese, at least those visiting NYC, are insanely crazy about New York avant garde jazz)?

So, he plays freakish music and, on top of that, he's overweight.  Thus he learned to fly his flag even higher.  Unless you can be funny and opinionated, outgoing, or otherwise remarkable, you can't make people forget that you are fat. 

Then there is me...I spent the first 32 years of my life fitting in.  I followed every rule that either made sense or made life easier and I just sailed along.  Nothing remarkable, everything smooth.

Then I met Scott.  I'm not sure if it's the old "opposites attract" thing or if I was just repressing my freakishness.  In any case, here I am leading a pretty unconventional life.  Certainly it's more exciting, but also harder in so many ways.

Just one small piece of it is our food.

This is so difficult to maintain sometimes.  Not for the reasons you would think.

We really and truly don't miss the old foods.  We talk often about the way we used to eat.  It's become a game.  Sometimes we'll just talk about a specific restaurant we used to frequent and try to remember our favorite dishes and some of the other stuff we used to get there.  Sometimes we'll try to recap a typical day for us and marvel over the kinds of things we ate, and of course, the quantity.  Some days we ride our bikes through a drive-thru joking about what we are going to eat, each trying to outdo the other.  Chloe usually wins.

Eating at home is easy.  We talk about what we feel like having next until we come to a consensus, then we shop and put the resident chef to work.  Scott makes enough for at least 4 or 5 meals and we pop it in the fridge.  Each night at dinner I prepare the salads and heat up whatever pasta is current on our menu.  Chloe eats hers while we all hang out and talk or sometimes watch something we all like on TV.  By the way, just to put this out there...did you know that "How It's Made" On Demand is sponsored by VIAGRA?  Who in the hell decided that this was an appropriate ad for this series?  I know that program appeals to all ages, but really,  it's definitely commentated in an educational manner.

Anyway, after Chloe is finished, off she goes to get ready for bed where she gets to read and Scott and I sit down with a glass or two of wine and our dinner and a movie.

Breakfast and lunch is just as organized.  Same palette of things every day.  Same routine.  We play around with the soup changing up the flavors and additions and Chloe's menu varies between cereal, oatmeal, breakfast fruit tortillas, and her favorite:  Bagels toasted with olive oil, garlic, basil, and salt and pepper.  Lunch is a beer and a wrap.  The ingredients inside the wrap always include hummus but the rest changes depending on what the Chef has roasted or made.

Okay, so we have this part down.  No sweat.  The problem comes when we step outside.  We have to come prepared.  If there will be a snack, then the snack has to be brought along.  Scott always has a banana and ideally, so do I.  We won't talk about my occasional reality.  I don't think I want to share all of my weaknesses so quickly.  Suffice it to say, Chloe and I have rarely met a sweet that didn't fit our criteria for "Healthy".  Other snack possibilities are nuts, seeds and berries.  Berries are good but don't always travel very well and are outrageously expensive most times.  Nuts and seeds are amazingly unsatisfying unless you eat a boatload- a very buoyant boat that would be, what with all of the oils contained in the nuts.  This isn't bad for a daytrip or family ride.  It's second nature, like a water bottle.

This all gets harder when you start talking about overnight, or say, a trip across the country.  Now we're getting somewhere.  It took days of review and refinement just to come up with a menu plan and shopping list for each of our big moves.  We needed to decide how many pounds of hummus and pasta; how many croutons, how much salad dressing, etc.  Next we needed a plausible time line for preparation and food storage capabilities.  Lucky for us most hotels have microwaves these days, if not in each room, at least in the office. 

On the road, food was a major commitment.  It was amazing when we realized how much easier it would have been had we been able to slip through any of the drive-thru's along the way.  Good coffee was a bear to find, but you could get McDonalds or TacoBell anywhere.  If we were really in the middle of nothing and nowhere, all the gas stations and truckstops served some pretty great smelling wings, fried chicken and french fries.  They always looked and smelled fresh.  The turnover must have been pretty regular as we were the only ones not buying them.  One place even had something we called catfish kabobs- they were huge hunks of breaded catfish on sticks.

We held out, stopped at the cleanest rest stops we could find; opened the truck and prepared hummus wraps in the cold.  Hummus wraps made ahead of time aren't very tasty believe me, so we made them fresh each time.

Every night we dragged the cat, the litter box, the gerbils, the food and condiments and utensil bags (including the salad spinner), the cooler and whatever toiletries and clothes we needed, into our hotel room.  Half the time these were on the second or third floors with no elevator of course.
Then it all needed to be prepared.  You try making a salad in a motel room without letting anything touch anything that doesn't belong to you.  It's challenging.  I mean, I'm a great believer in the magic of the immune system, but in a motel room?  Come on, I've seen those expose's too.

Anyway, you get the idea.  The whole thing was an incredible pain in the ass and we looked like The Beverly Hillbillies.  Believe me, those hummus wrap stops got odd stares in all those red states that we traveled through.  We saw one other couple along the way who stopped and prepared sandwiches for themselves at a rest stop in Montana.  We gave each other huge smiles in a kind of "It's Us against Them" way.   It all gave us tremendous respect for our moms from trips long ago when we were children.  And, depending on our level of exhaustion, it made us  really pissed at all of the people we saw popping into the fast food chains or having big cheesy pizzas delivered.

We don't eat out.  Part of this is knowing what's in the food.  We know what it is when we put it there.  Also, part of it is cost prohibitive.  Price a few prepared vegan dishes in the market.  Whew!
A big part, of course, is the unknown.  What if we take away our routine?  Will that switch flip again?  Will something trigger a lack of commitment?  Will something magically transport us back to the land of fat and will all of our healthy habits slide through our fingers? Will the temptation of ease and convenience finally be enough of a pull to take us to the other side that is in our face 24/7?  Back to the mainstream?  Where is the line that protects us from everything that is waiting to deconstruct us-to suck us back into The American Way?

For us, for now anyway, this is the way it is.  No exceptions, no conventional input, freakishness only...

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