24. Meal Prep / by Allie Farris

Preparations abound. Large clear tubs fill our otherwise smallish apartment, gobbling up various winter coats, Halloween costumes, and a 10-gallon cowboy hat. I’m still on my exercise hiatus, but will be swapping that out soon for an all-out assault on my languishing triceps. A change is gonna come.


I’m getting excited now. The initial shock of everything has eased into a calm transition as I’ve adjusted to the new pace. It took a frantic burst of paddling, but I think I’ve now caught up with the current. 


Things seem to be changing in other areas as well: my tunings are steady, but I’m by no means overbooked. I no longer have a nightly gig. And now, after six months of consistently teaching piano lessons, it looks like three of my six piano students may be calling in quits. I’d be concerned if I wasn’t so convinced I was making this happen; I must be putting out the vibe of a bird about to flit away (That being said, I need to pay the rent on this nest before I build another). All this means just one thing though: it’s time to get organized.


When I was still touring, but nearing the end of the 3-4 year lifestyle, I was living alone in a small duplex on the west side of town. It was in an area called the nations, now a bustling, gentrified suburb. At the time, my spot was rough around the edges: my backyard bordered the rock quarry, and weekly, sometimes daily detonations shook the walls and rattled the ceiling fans inside the house. I couldn’t walk too far in my neighborhood, for fear of being followed by someone sketchy. Lastly, there was a meth lab (one that I knew of; there could’ve been more) on my street that got raided around the time I moved in. But I could afford the rent! And it was my own place, my own furniture, my own everything.


I had no idea how I would pay for the place at first; I was just so desperate to have it. Too many years of living nose to nose with people maddeningly different from me had left me pickled with bitterness towards roommate life. I was on tour about half the time, living between my one-bedroom duplex and someone’s couch; if I got lucky, a cheap hotel room was included in my guarantee. After three years of playing house concerts and songwriting festivals, I had graduated to level a that, with extremely careful planning and with the keen-eyed booking agent I had in Denis, I could make my bottom line every month. After my first year in the duplex, my property owners offered me an upgrade to the apartment as an incentive to stay put. With the money they offered, I asked for the one thing I wanted but hadn’t yet sprung for: an herb garden. They accepted, and slashed a cool $100 off the next month’s rent to pay for it. On the following Easter weekend, I spent most of my days tilling up the thick roots of the weeds bordering my foundation, moving used leftover bricks from my backyard to the front plot to create a border, and planted five large saplings I bought from Home Depot: rosemary, thyme, basil, parsley, and mint.


For the remaining year of my time spent in the nations, before I moved out and into an apartment with C, I spent my days in Nashville sitting inside at the piano writing music, eating herb garden salads or a square out of my weekly casserole, and drinking a glass out of a bottle of wine (my once-a-month splurge) or a finger’s worth of whatever bourbon I had been gifted at a show. It was a very simple life. Not eating much but also not exercising at all, I coasted through my 24th year without gaining a pound. Until I met C while simultaneously turning 25, suddenly eating everything I ever wanted; I then gained 30 pounds in four months. Yowza. The process of that weight loss is another story entirely. 


Here I now find myself, at 27, and I’m in pretty good shape and eating whatever strikes my fancy. My rent has been paid for, and my side of the bills has dealt with food and any other miscellaneous fun stuff we’d want to do (movies, bowling, etc.). C thought that this arrangement would be fair because he could really care less what we eat or if we ever go out at all. It’s been a comfortable arrangement; but now, with C gone, I’ll have everything on my plate.


This brings me to my current strategy: meal planning. If I want to buff up, eat well, and still have enough money for sleeping under the same expensive roof here in Nashville, I’ll need to buy in bulk. I’ve reached into my overstuffed drawer of Blue Apron recipes I’ve saved over the course of the past year, and have catalogued them in a binder in ascending order of calories per serving. With all three meals for the day balanced and within the caloric bounds I set, I can buy in bulk and make each recipe for a fraction of the cost. If only I’d known about this three years ago, I would’ve had a much more exciting diet. This will also transfer over to when I do eventually spend most of my time in Lausanne, where restaurants are scarce and extremely pricey. I’ll go to the Farmer’s market on Sundays and Wednesdays in the town square, saying “Bonjour” to all the sellers lined up, like Belle at the beginning of Beaty and the Beast. When I told C my daydream of all this, in his typical French fashion, he rolled his eyes. There was still a reluctant smirk there, however; if it makes me happy, he wants me to be Belle. Lord knows my grumpy (but secretly lovable and kind) European fiancée has no problem being the Beast.