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Saturday, September 24, 2011

Being a Crunchy Weirdo....


I don't know how it began.   The start of 'weirdness', I mean.

The honeymoon baby of very young parents who listened to.. the Beatles, Janis Joplin, Black Sabbath, Queen... the list goes on.  I wonder... did that have an influence on me as a small child?  Who knows.  My folks may have loved cool music, but they were not hippie or "crunchy".  Yes, I did wear cloth diapers, but that was all they had then. LOL  That was the extent of "crunchiness" in our house.  

Like most moms, my mom bought us raisins as a nutritious snack.  But when we went to the store, I begged for dried figs.  No one I knew ate them.  My mom always said, "Ewww!  How can you EAT those?"  But I loved them!   I don't know how I even knew they existed.  I can only assume that I saw them one day and thought they sounded good.  NO ONE ate dried figs.  So when mom bought them for me, I didn't have to share them with a blessed soul. 

When I was very little, someone bought me a bead kit for a gift.  I started stringing beads.  I vividly remember sitting in the middle of my bedroom floor, marveling over the pink and purple hues of the plastic beads.  I loved making bead necklaces.. and I never outgrew it.  To this day, I can tell you where all the bead stores are.  I can easily spend a small fortune on beads, and not think twice about it.

We moved to a rural area when I was 12.  I soon discovered the joys of picking wild blackberries, and the fun of 'helping' my mother make homemade blackberry jam.  I felt like Laura Ingalls.   I wove strips I had pulled from palmettos, and was forever on the lookout for the 'perfect' walking stick.  I picked up thousands of pinecones (literally) for Daddy to burn, and I loved the bonfires we would have.  Momma and Daddy had a big garden.  I would sneak out and pick tomatoes, and eat them, unwashed, and still warm from the sun. A hint for any other garden munchers: Fresh picked green beans are delicious too.  The smallest ones are the most tender.  :) 

In my early teens, I discovered sunflower seeds.  I drove my mom 'nuts', (she says), with the shells. (my eldest now drives ME nuts with the shells!)   I would walk around with a cheek full of them.  Loved the darn things.   I still love them, but now prefer pumpkin seeds.  I don't know if it was the salt, the crunchy seed inside, the oral fixation of constantly putting something in my mouth, or all three.  But it started a lifetime love of seeds. 

Around that same time (about age 15) I was riding my friends horses.  I didn't have a horse of my own, but I made it my business to befriend every girl in the area who owned a horse.   Most days found me either on horseback or on foot, exploring the woods, paths, and wading McGirts Creek (which is part of Camp Milton from the War of Yankee Aggression... aka, the Civil War), near our house.  Shoes was a hindrance.. better was wading down that ice cold creek, digging our toes into the sand and finding clams.  We fished for brim, and picked and chewed wild onions and mint we found growing.  Looking back, I wonder about some of the odd pieces of rusted metal we sometimes found..  from the old war camp perhaps?  Or possibly from McGirts old mill that used to be there along side that very creek a looong time ago?  After all, the McGirts family was the first family in that area.. back in the 1700's!  *insert history nerd*  But I digress...

As I became an adult, I learned from others about other things I'd never heard of before.  I had a friend who believed in crystals.  I listened politely, but as a born & raised Southern Baptist, I couldn't understand why she'd not be more impressed with the One who had made those crystals instead!  But I also learned about other things.. such as how some people used and hurt the weakest.. animals. (I think this was my first steps to becoming Pro-Life.)  The things I learned came into my kitchen... I learned to make and eat cous cous, and with that came the joys of tofu crumbles in my spaghetti sauce.  This wasn't high school, and I was free to explore, and learn, and not worry about what others thought.  As I did when I was a teenager, I read all I could.  But my genre had seriously changed.

In high school I read for escapism.  In books I explored other lives, other lands, and even other worlds.  But now I was in 'this' world, and learning different ideas.  I felt like my eyes were opening.  I didn't have a car, so I rode the bus.  There was a used bookstore near one of the bus stops I sometimes used, and I started collecting and trading books.  It was the late 80's, and Earth bags had just came out, and though most people didn't use them, (and generally snickered at those who did), I purchased two, and I carried them everywhere.  As a bus rider, they were sturdy enough to hold whatever I carried, even groceries.  Unlike the 'green bags' that are popular now, these were heavy duty, and completely washable.  Matter of fact, I still have them and use them to this day.  (I have probably 30 of them now, though!)

When you are walking, you see so much more on foot as you do zipping by in a car.  And it's true... you literally miss stopping to smell flowers.  On my walks I discovered a health food store nearby, as well as a organic produce store.  I walked, shopped, and read.   I wondered about things, such as the 'why' of vegetarianism, and about animals, and of all kinds of things I had never thought of before.   When I pictured Jesus in my mind, I saw Him holding a lamb.  Not eating a lamb chop.  That was the beginning of my realization that God's world was precious, and that we should be good stewards of what He has blessed us with.  I decided I was not helping the world the way I was, and so for the next five years I was an ovo lacto vegetarian.  Which means that I consumed dairy and eggs, but not meat.  Also, I quickly learned to keep things to myself.  I was already getting weird looks... and I didn't want to make it any worse.  Some considered these changes a 'phase'.  I didn't.  I still don't to this day.  Some things were part of a learning curve.  Some were things that became part of me, and kept for life.

Near my job, I found an independently owned and operated record store.  Weekly I scoured store, striking up a mild friendship with the owner, and looking for old vinyl albums I enjoyed, even though they were no longer popular.  I LOVED music, (still do!), and I was the proud owner of an old turn table record player and a "boom box".  I bought records, tapes, and  a few dibs and dabs when I had a few bucks.

 I walked down a block to the thrift store for a battered women and children's shelter.  And there, I found a gold mine.  I adored this thrift store, and soon I was a regular shopper.  Even if all I spent was a quarter, I was there every week, looking at the new items that had come in, and picking up little things here and there.  I loved it.  That thrift store is unfortunately no longer there, but all these years later I am still an avid thrift store junkie. 

Time was funny then, between high school, and then just eight years later when I gave birth to my first child.  In that eight years a lot of people moved in and out of my life.  Some were friends, some co-workers, some boyfriends, some were nice... some were just looking to use someone like me.  I was a vegetarian for five of those eight years. In that eight years I was married and divorced, I worked different jobs.. mostly at answering services.  I learned, I laughed, and I loved.  I grew.  I started listening to more "earthy" type music.  I smoked grass.  I made love bead necklaces and listened to my old vinyl records... and I even played Dungeons and Dragons for about six months once.  I danced, drank, and star gazed.   

And, I converted to Roman Catholic.

In all craziness, I guess God can find us anywhere.  He found me... lonely, listening to "Paul Simon in Central Park" on cable.... with my windows open because I couldn't afford to run the window unit ac, and eating beans and brown rice.

On my great voyage to weirdness, God loved me, and drew me to Him anyway.  God loves weirdos too.  :)

Now, years past.  Remarried to a good man and two children later... my grass smoking days behind me...  and no, I'm not a vegetarian any more.  I *could* be, and might *would* be if left to my own devices.   So when did I start eating meat again?  Ha! ..when I first became pregnant.  :)    Being a veggie, honestly, I could and would do it again.  Not for the 'sake' of doing it, but because it's something that I think is 'true'.  That makes a difference, even in a small way.  Cooking for our meat-loving family, of course, there's no way.  I do love to eat meat.. and I do still try to make a difference, in my own small way.  I am the recycling Nazi!  And I still use my green bags for everything.  Still trying to be organic...  small things.  Here and there.  No one can do Every Thing.  But, we can ALL do something.. no matter how small.. and it honestly does make a difference.  This is NOT being a lefty liberal.  This is about being a good steward of what God has blessed us with.  Isn't it our job to love?  

So, do 'I' think I'm weird?  Nah.  I mean, what's the definition of weird?  Who's the judge of who's weird and who is not?  

I still am an animal lover... but now that I'm older I realize the sacredness of ALL life, making me Very Pro-Life...  Very Catholic and old fashioned in many ways... God and family being most important to me... and yes I still love tie dye and my beads and I still absent-mindedly braid my hair when I'm bored.  I still star gaze, and think, dream, and pray....  But you know...  we can't all be the same.  We all have our own ways of being unique and different.  I guess for me... the biggest difference now, besides being a lot older (and supposedly wiser), and no more grass smoking, (haha) is that now, with my daughters, I am in good company... my girls!! They are not like me, or each other, but together... we share a lot.  And for this, I am very grateful, and blessed.  +

3 comments:

  1. Great post, Susan! I love reading about you and what makes you tick! I sure wish we lived closer and could see each other more! I think the world of you!

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  2. Aww thank you Miss Nancy!! Honey I feel exactly the same way about you!! :) ((((hugs))))

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  3. Susan, what a wonderful post! Such a lot I am finding out about you, and enjoying!

    Finally I have found another person who eats couscous. Most people say, "Wha's that?" And do you eat polenta? I bet you do.

    We were vegetarians in our younger days too. Gave it up when we realised we were part of the vegetarian trendies rather than eating that way because of true convictions.

    Funny how God leads us from weirdness to a new form of weirdness, for what could be more 'weird' than being an orthodox Catholic? Wouldn't be anyone else, though!

    Thank you for sharing. God bless!

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