My Strange Addiction and Other Confessions

I had to quit. It was beginning to take over my life.

The signs were there, long ago: that sense of urgency, and the hoarding of one last hit to tide me over until the next day when I could rush out to buy more. I’d been stock-piling extras, to a greater extent, just in case the need ever arose, and to always have some on hand. I’d take them with me on long car rides. I’d hide a few inside a Ziploc baggie in my purse for those moments when I’d have to wait longer than expected while picking the kids up from school.

People were beginning to notice, and comment. My husband had an inkling. My kids were well aware! But, what no one knew was that I’d been waking up in the wee hours and the first thing that entered my mind was no longer the pungent aroma of my morning coffee (my other addiction) but the sweet, delicious crunch of the orange baby.

What’s in a name? Street drugs always have a nickname, or a moniker less damaging than the real deal: sugar, peanuts, ecstasy, smack, China girl, pink robots,….

So I, slowly, over the course of many years and four craving-inducing pregnancies, had become addicted to the orange baby: the baby carrot, that is! Those glorious, pre-packaged, peeled, cut and washed; crispy, healthy, treats that you people so carelessly take for granted. Just writing about it makes me anxious to partake. Like smokers always say, I’m hanging for one now.

But with that addiction comes a harsh reality: a Donald Trump tan.

You see? It was never an issue before Trump came into power. It wasn’t my reality until The New Yorker (among other notable journals and newspapers) started publishing comics, and memes, and photo-shopped, re-touched photos of the Trump in his shiny, orange skin. And it certainly didn’t affect me until I saw a head shot of myself looking exactly like I was picked fresh from a Florida grove; quite sure that if someone scratched the surface of my dimpled skin I’d smell like citrus (which really wouldn’t be a bad thing, would it?).

This was the pivotal moment when I knew. Like, I just knew. I had to give it up or forever fear resemblance (whether personally or politically) to the most-hated man on the planet.

My daughter, the budding artist, said I needed to find something on the opposite side of the colour wheel to replace my orange hue. “Try celery,” she said, “or blueberries and cucumbers.”

My son, the film student, said ” Use make-up. Lots of it!” One of my other sons, the rugby player, said, ” Take up a new sport or hobby.” My husband, the doctor, said, “No one’s ever died from hyper beta-carotenosis.”

But lucky for me my lifelong best friend is an addictions counselor, and her imagined- and real- voice speaks to me even when we live too many kilometres apart: What coping methods have worked for you in the past? How can you replace the need for carrots with an action to better your health (or in this case, appearance)? Who can you turn to for support when the burning desire strikes?

Cold turkey!

There would be no other way to rid my body of the jaundice I’d acquired over the years.

There would be no other way for me to stop obsessing over my hidden, albeit ‘healthy’, addiction.

It’s been seven days now. I’m still running on a day-by-day, sometimes even hourly, basis. My addiction is real, and perhaps lifelong. I could start a club, if there were any others like me out there…Orange Babies Anonymous.

So how do I do it, you ask? How do I manage in this ‘half-your-plate, hyper-conscious, vegetable-driven’ society that pushes good food choices on us every single time we enter a grocery store? How do I ignore the racks upon stacks of bagged and ready-to-eat veggies that lure us in from first swoosh of the front door?

Chocolate.

My life is in perfect balance as long as I have chocolate.

 

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The Compass Rose

I love small towns.

I love knowing that each and every street is paved in criss-crossed paths and intertwined connections, more in the metaphorical sense than the literal. I love that people from small towns actually know their neighbours’ names, remember the day the stop lights were put in, and can rhyme off quick, detailed explanations- without even looking- when leaning into the passenger-side window to give directions to passers-by who just-so-happen to have taken the scenic route: ‘pass the house with the blue painted porch, hang a right at the one with white aluminum siding, the green shutters not the black ones, then go straight until you get to the brown brick…’ 

So it should never have been a surprise that I would meet someone, one of those artistic, worldly, ample-minded souls with whom you become instantly besotted, and find out that this huge person comes from a town so small you can see the whole of it in the span of one vista from any direction on the compass rose. Like, I mean small enough that you can stand atop the North Street hill looking down towards ‘town’, where your mind sub-consciously registers a pharmacy, a bank, a gas station, a pub, two coffee shops, the hardware, and the one grocery store that sells food but dishes gossip out for free, and let your eyes scan the horizon all the way to the end: to the end of town; to that place right there where population ends and everywhere else begins.

Three thousand souls. Do they even make towns that small anymore?

But she’s so smart, so chic, so limitless…how could she be from such a miniature place? My cynical urban self thinks.

But that’s just it, isn’t it? When you come from a small town your mind has two choices: it either languishes or broadens. If you’re one of the lucky ones whose thoughts instinctually reach beyond the last fence post, jump over the train tracks, and run down the dusty side roads, you’re blessed with the fortune of traveling much further intellectually and creatively than those limited by any physical or mental borders.

What else is there to do, when growing up in said Tiny Township, but cultivate a ripe imagination? When you’re hemmed in by nothing more than farmers growing crops of the corn variety, it’s only expected that your inner harvest would become the product of your own creativity.

 

“Reason clears and plants the wilderness of the imagination to harvest the wheat of art.”  

-Austin O’Malley

 

And that’s how she is, I reflect, as my tarnished urban armour is peeled away and set aside. This huge person from such a small town is like a prairie flower transplanted to the rooftop gardens of my mind, and left to blossom into wild roses that grow in all directions, as far as my eye can see.

 

“The compass rose is nothing but a star with an infinite number of rays pointing in all directions. It is the one true and perfect symbol of the universe. And it is the one most accurate symbol of you. Spread your arms in an embrace, throw your head back, and prepare to receive and send coordinates of being. For, at last you know—you are the navigator, the captain, and the ship.”

-Vera Nazarian

 

I love small towns and the big people that live in them.

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