Friday, June 1, 2007

Walking is Still Honest

This is a song about the loss of innocence.
- Wolfmother, "Vagabonds"

Two musical references before I've even started the post proper, I must be on a roll today. I went to bed hungry last night, which seemed notable because I can imagine a lot of people end up doing that every night in this country. Specifically, I went to bed hungry and with the feeling of acid reflux creeping up my throat, which if you haven't been fortunate enough to feel that, imagine being strangled from the inside by a midget whose hands are made of carbolic acid. It's fun.

This morning was one of the most stressful meal preparations of my entire life. As I started to prepare my crockpot roast, I realized that if I managed to screw this up, I'd be out of three meals. I'd called my father last night and gotten his recipe for the roast I grew up eating, and was shocked at how stupidly easy it was to make: chop up onions, carrots and potatoes, place in crockpot with beef, cook on low all day long. Online recipes suggested browning the meat beforehand or adding almost ridiculously specific amounts of spices, water, etc. I chose to do it my father's way, and when I left my house this morning, I had to trust that everything would turn out all right.

I imagine that those who are dependent on foodstamps spend a lot of time doing exactly that: trusting that everything will turn out all right.

Walking to work was as much an experience as I expected it would be. The last time I walked that far to specifically get somewhere (as opposed to walking for exercise) was the last time I visited Malden, Massachusetts, and before that it was when I was fifteen years old and walking everywhere. I'll say this: pedestrians freak the motorists of my city right the hell out. They see someone walking along the side of the road (which in my city involves walking in grass, as sidewalks appear to be some sort of myth, perpetuated by dwellers of larger and more congested cities) and they've got no idea what to do. Am I a hitchhiker, come from some arcane and pagan area of Europe? Am I, perhaps, homeless? Almost every car that encountered me today gave me a berth usually reserved for nuclear weapons. (Those that dared venture closer, of course, threatened my very life and limb.)

My sandwiches for lunch were palatable but otherwise forgettable, most likely setting the tone for the month. I was hungry upon reaching work, having only had toast for breakfast (my own fault, as I have the ingredients for home fries available to me), but I rationed my lunch throughout the day, waiting a few hours to eat the first sandwich, then another few hours for the second.

Was I hungry throughout the day? Yes. Was that my biggest problem, health-wise? Not in the slightest. Like fifty-four percent of adult Americans, I'm addicted to caffeine. By three in the afternoon, I was suffering the symptoms of caffeine withdrawal: a pounding headache, irritability, and nausea. Getting some coffee is going to be high on the list of priorities, whether it's my usual nice stuff or Folgers. (Either that, or I am going to be miserable for the next week to two weeks.)

So that's the portrait of me at work today: miserable, nauseous, headache-y, and worrying that when I got home, my roast was going to be some ruinous mess of au jus and soggy vegetables. Well, once I got home, I found that my worries were for nothing - my house was resplendent with the fragrance of onions and beef. Every bite was succulent, the potatoes being especially filling. A nice end to a worry-and-cheap-food-filled day...

and I only have to do it for twenty-nine more days. Roughly twenty-five million Americans do it every day, forever.


Peggy said...

Good luck, Nick. I admire your commitment.

Anonymous said...

Good luck man! I'll definitely be keeping track of you this month :)

-Sam (plucky)