Monday, November 30, 2009

Free associations on being a freak

You have a freak flag, you just don’t fly it.  The Family Stone

What is a freak afterall?  I've certainly got quirks of personality that are embarrassing to discuss and are even frightening to me at times.  But I think these quirks endear me to those who love me and are at the very least accommodated if not downright celebrated and without judgement I might add.  It's all what makes Julie Julie or Mommy Mommy.  I love my family for that.

I couldn't sleep last night.  I surfed the net.  Lady Gaga, the zeitgeist's reigning freak, was a guest last week on Ellen Degeneres' show.  She explained her outrageous wardrobe and theatrical shows are a nod to her past of feeling like a freak in high school and to, paraphrasing her words, “create a space to celebrate and be free and hang out, one freak to another, so kids don’t feel alone.”  Right on, Lady Gaga.  Thanks for that and create some space for me still.

I’ve had a severe case of fear of flying that debuted at about the time I was feeling the least bit of control over my own motherhood.   It preceded 9/11 by several years and terrorism has never been my issue-that’s just so tres 2001.  The fear escalated and finally crescendoed at 34,000 feet in 2000 with me bursting into tears of frustration that all the people getting up to use the airplane lavatories "are making the airplane tippy!"  Um. Hi, my name is Cuckoo.   I had come to the razor’s edge between reality and cr-aaaa-zy.  It seemed at that moment I was destined for the white jacket with the special buckles or traveling only where an RV could take me a la John Madden.  The freak part of my fear was and always has been the absolute megalomanic certainty that it’s only ever my plane that's gonna crash.  I love airports and picking people up and the whole scene at the end of Love Actually makes me hopeful and tearful and I do really love travel.  It’s only that my presence puts planes in danger......"Okaaaaaaaaay...." (finger twirling at temple)

I started taking medication in 2001 and it helped a lot but what helped even more was adding a Bloody Mary during flight.  Six one dollar bills carefully tucked into my pocket before take off to expedite said drink reaching my hand.  Nutritious and with the right amount of je ne sais quoi.  I certainly would never recommend this strategy for less robust women than myself (that being all of young Hollywood and everyone in the music and modeling industries and most of my skinny friends) as it does render even a substantial girl like myself a little loopy.  I can see how a person could become argumentative or uncooperative with some tight-assed flight attendant’s tedious requests to stop dancing in the aisle of the airplane or refrain from resting one's head in the lap of the person seated beside you or even to stop rummaging through the beverage cart for more vodka.

However, the last few flights I seem to be strangely losing interest in being freaky about flying and almost as gradually as I fell into it.  This holiday weekend, I flew to New Orleans for Thanksgiving without drugs or vodka. Clear-headed and able to operate heavy machinery upon arrival to my destination—hey, the evolution of me continues!  While my fear of flying is perhaps not completely gone, I don't see a miraculous resurrection in its future.  It's just grown boring to be afraid.  My freak flag stays at half staff.

Maybe it's because over the years I’ve accumulated a lot of bizarre strategies and rituals to help me fly and maybe they are finally working.   I'm still a freak, just an unmedicated one.

Some things will always be as they are.  I'll always carry my bottle of mother's little helper.  I’ll likely still never sleep during a flight.  And I'll always need to keep watch out the window during turbulence for as my own freak-of-a-mother points out, by keeping a careful watch we keep the plane aloft with our eyes.  And sure, I will continue to survey each of my plane’s passenger demographic during boarding for signs of doom vs. salvation. When I flew with a plane full of oncologists and cancer researchers on their way to a huge convention in New Orleans, I was sure that karma would not allow that plane to crash…. the same goes for a plane full of infants for lo, they may grow up to become cancer researchers or oncologists.  Bring on all the crying babies…as many as will fit.  They can sit in my row.


  1. Thank you for staying awake and thereby keeping our plane aloft. Among other things, your efforts allow me to sleep for most of the flight, while keeping my conscience clear. But do feel free to wake me whenever your vigil grows too lonely (or if you really need to chat).

  2. "as my own freak-of-a-mother points out"

    Love it. War and Peace of the 21st century can be found somewhere in that phrase. Ask any of our children. :)

    I think we're extra freaky when our kids are really young & vulnerable. As of 9/11, mine was 8 months old. But once they've survived countless virii, Kindergarten, our driving, rejection by various friends, their fathers' cooking, AND multiple long-distance trips (plane or car, off-setting risks) -- eh. They'll be fine. Pass me a Bloody Mary.

  3. I need to be more "they'll be fine" than I am. I have no evidence they won't be, but I cannot allow myself to drop the mantle because if they aren't, it will be because I wasn't vigilant.
    More than a Bloody, I think I need a therapist. :)