Thursday, January 12, 2012

Day 32: Behind a Killing Woman is Her Family


Jeannette Brown reads my blog. I find this fact exciting. Jeannette is both friend and classmate. We both attend the University of New Orleans’ low resident writing program and spent the summer together in Scotland. I’m an admirer of Jeannette’s work, and consequently flattered that she shows an interest in my adventure. She sent a private email to me a couple of days ago, and I thought it best to address her question on the blog. Perhaps others have similar questions. With her permission, I’ve cut and pasted her email below:

Hi, Christine,

I'm really enjoying your missives. You are doing a great job.

I do have one question, if it's not too personal. Whenever someone makes a huge change in their diet/cooking/drinking/whatever, it affects the family. Sometimes the mother/cook inflicts the change on her family, sometimes she cooks two menus for the same meal. How is this affecting your sons? Do they support your efforts? Do they eat at McDonald's? Am I right that you have three at home? Are you currently single? If not, what does your husband think about this change?

I'm asking because I think family support is the key to success in changing one's lifestyle (and I do hate that word so, maybe "habits"). Support it or get out of the way.

Good luck!


Great questions, Jeannette. Now, first the logistics… I have 5 boys, three biological and two stepsons. I even have a daughter-in-law and two grandbabies. Three boys are grown and out of the house, leaving Garret (18) and Jaden (15) remaining. I’m married to Jim, so he makes the third boy at home that I feed. And then there is Jasper, my ever-loving black lab.
My own kids are foodies. They’ll try anything, especially if it came from the sea. Jim is far more conservative. He grew up in rural Ohio on beans, ham, and cornbread. When we first met, he ate no fish or shellfish, no spinach, kale, artichokes, asparagus, and the list goes on. Jim seemed to dislike all of my family’s favorites. His sons were worse. Basically, food came frozen in a disc or shaped like a hot pocket. My husband’s eating habits have evolved, but I don’t think I’ll live to see him eat an oyster or enjoy the crispy tentacles of calamari. He eats most veggies now, and added shrimp, crab and halibut to his diet.
Here is a sad truth: I’m known to fall for ridiculous fad diets. And I don’t fall in small ways. I harbor an all-or-nothing personality, and that means my family is subjected in small and sometimes large ways by my erratic eating cycles. They’ve learned to roll with it, scrounging the cabinets when I prepare something truly bizarre or unappetizing. I purchase most of the groceries that stock pantry, fridge, and freezer, and I cook most of our meals. I usually offer two options: take-it or leave-it. Sometimes I do prepare two meals in one evening, or modify my version of the meal. This is especially true when it comes to salt and salt-laden seasonings. Salt is the enemy of the Meniere’s disease suffer. A day of nitrates and high-sodium foods can spur a vertigo attack that wipes me out for a week.
My sons roll their eyes at each new health craze I swear will heal migraine headaches, cure the vertigo, or take off pounds and free me from a life of fat. But I can’t stick to a fad much longer than a week. The kids bide time, trusting in the knowledge history provides.
Garret advises, in somewhat of a nasty tone, that I ought to get off the sofa and exercise. He’s 18, tall, smart, and handsome, swims competitively during the winter and plays lacrosse in the spring. He’s a rare breed of nerd-jock, and there isn’t anything about health, fitness and nutrition that he does not know. You can ask him. It’s damn annoying, and he gets all surly about it.
Garret was recruited into my killing spree because of his abilities to drive, dig, carry heavy objects, and keep me company. He doesn’t love it, but he doesn’t have a stinking choice. I supply the credit card for his gas purchases, sports fees, date nights, text books, class fees, and incidentals. Jim pays his car insurance. Cooperate or suffer the mommy-wrath. That’s how we roll around here. Is it fair? Maybe, or maybe not, but the kid is learning service-before-self, and other life-enhancing skills.
If Jaden has negative opinions about lifestyle and diet changes, he doesn’t express them much. Jaden loves all food and lives to eat. He did inform me last week that he is tired eating soup. As long as there are several varieties of cold cereal, milk, fresh eggs, and cheese, Jade seems content. He doesn’t drive yet, doesn’t lift heavy objects, can’t out dig me, and isn’t much for holding up his end of a conversation. Consequently, he hasn’t been forced into my killing spree. Recently, he asked to join me squid jigging and hopes to go tomorrow night. He also wants to learn to fish and volunteered to accompany me on mushroom hunts. He loves the forest and the beach, so perhaps it’s time to rope him in too.
Jim typically steers clear of my bright ideas. Perhaps I’ve had too many in our 12 years of marriage. He has compared me to I love Lucy, and quotes Ricky Ricardo when I have some explaining to do. But he loves eating wild game, and like me, he’s not getting thinner or healthier in his current lifestyle. I think health and sustainable eating adds to his motivation for showing support with this project. The joke around Christmas was that he finally bought that big diamond I’d been pining for. And he did, but the diamond in question was a Diamond brand compound bow.
After Jim and I each retired from the military, we struggled to find common ground. It’s not unusual for military couples to separate after such a life-changing event as retirement. Being married felt easier when one of us shipped out for a short tour every few months or so. Absence made the heart grow fonder, or at least gave this girl a break once and a while. Hunting gives us something to talk about, and finding food has become a shared goal. We’ve enjoyed target practicing with the bow, and he came out to the beach to dig clams with me a couple of times, even though he won’t eat them. He also reads my blog, daily. We still hovering independently over computers and watch too much television, but things are changing. Perhaps this killing spree will cultivate a little love-rekindled story too, I can only hope.

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