Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Why I Became Vegan.

I've never written much about being vegan, even though I keep a vegan food blog there is nary a mention of the whys and hows of my "extreme" lifestyle. So, if you're interested even a little bit, here it goes:

I was at dinner with my dear friend Jen about a year and a half ago and she was telling me about some of the books she'd been reading and how they'd affected her eating habits and more importantly her reality. She no longer saw meat and dairy in the same way, the veil had been lifted for her.

I'd stopped eating red meat more than a decade previous, but (in the interest of full disclosure here), I'd actually had a few steaks that year because when I'd been in Paris it seemed the thing to do and I did it...and I won't lie, it was pretty tasty. So then a meatball here, a few ribs there, and I was surprising myself by my new intake of animal flesh. (For the record, I was very vegetarian when I lived in New York and Brooklyn, only occasionally indulging in sushi when the mood struck).

Jen gave me a few books that night, and when I went home I opened Peter Singer's The Ethics of What We Eat. I read the entire book in the following week. I cried a lot, and ingested even more. I was outraged and so, so angry. How did all of these things happen to millions of animals each year and yet the general public was virtually unaware. Or rather, unwilling to be aware.

I started researching, I bought more books, I read a lot and watched a little (I could hardly stomach but a couple of PETA videos). I stopped eating animal flesh immediately. I mentally punished myself for the mistakes I’d made in the previous year (taking many steps backwards instead of forward by that occasional steak indulgence). I actually felt moved enough by what I’d read to go vegan. I realized even reverting back to my vegetarianism wasn’t enough.

By the end of November I was intaking my last vestiges of my non-vegan life. Funny enough, cream in my coffee was my biggest concern. I hated the way soy milk or nut milk or even flavored soy creamer tasted. I was so used to the way standard dairy flavored my coffee. But I stuck with it and finally stopped using cream and started using Silk. And then, if I remember correctly, I actually had mozzarella cheese on a pizza as the very last serving of dairy. That was right around Thanksgiving last year.

So I took the plunge. I did nutritional research, and I got educated enough to feel comfortable with living a vegan life. And it wasn’t long before I started to reap the benefits of cutting out animal products.

I think the most important thing about it, for me, and what I’d like to communicate is how amazing I feel on the inside. Yes, I am healthier than I have ever been in my entire life (have the full blown blood work up to prove it). But what I’m talking about is how special it feels to know that you are part of an elite, evolved group of people that do not put their habitual nature and their taste buds above compassion and doing what is so clearly the right thing.

Now, I realize I ate a standard diet for 29 years, many of them were years in which I was making the choice to do so. I can feel bad about that all I want, but mostly I feel good about leaving it behind. And I try to remember that when I’m getting angry at the people around me as they hit the drive through for lunch or grill up burgers for dinner. Occasionally I lose the fight and lose my cool. But more and more these days I am working toward a even keeled delivery of information if I know the person is open to hearing it.

And, if you’ve read this far, I am only asking one thing of you as a person who is in my life and how hopefully cares about me. Do your research. Understand what you are eating. Make conscious choices. Ignorant bliss is just plain ignorant. So here are some links, maybe you’ll read an article. Or, if you’re daring you’ll go over to PETA and watch a video. But at the very least think, think about where your lunch came from. Contemplate the suffering the was caused so you could bake a meatloaf for dinner. Ask yourself why you’re scared to know more than you do right now about why chicken is so damn cheap in the face of rising grocery costs.

If you have a minute read about…
factory farmed animals,

lab animals,

animals used for entertainment,

dogs and other animals forced to fight,

puppy mills,

homeless companion animals,

fish, and

animals used for fur

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

All in a day's work.

First a note about my photos...I got some albums posted on my website thanks to google. Go here,, and click on the "smile" link to see them if you'd like. I'll add more soon.

Second, I've been volunteering each Wednesday in my mom's first grade classroom. To say it's been an experience is an understatement. I've liked it so much that I now wonder what would have become of me if I'd had the experience 10 years ago. Alas, I have to assume this is my ideal path as it's the one I've walked down, so perhaps I'm only supposed to understand now that teaching was truly always in my blood.

Anywho, the kids are hilarious as 6 and 7-year-olds can sometimes be. They are good group, my mom would agree, and some of them really like having me there. I took their first day photos and tomorrow I'm taking some action shots. You can see their funny faces in the Mom's Class album on my photo page mentioned above. Devin-Michael and Semaj are my favorites right now. Devin wears a harness on the bus and Semaj is about the size of a 4-year-old. Apparently I have a thing for the special cases.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Alright, alright, new site.

I got an email from Aunt Susan the other day that said, "Where is your blog?" To which I thought, "Hmmmm, where is my blog?" Turns out when I changed hosts that my blog did not migrate in the way I thought it would. To boot, many of the images I had stored in my blog over the last 18 months or so are gone (Well not completely, but from my blog, which makes reading old posts less exciting). In any matter, this has given me opportunity to give my website a facelift (check out and shortly there will be many new photos available there (where I know they won't disappear).

In any matter, as with many things (and in the wise words of Ms. Joni Mitchell), you don't know what got 'till it's gone. So, I'm going to try and post in my blog more regularly. That is, unless we are flung into a full-on economic depression and I am standing in line waiting for bread rations. In which case - I'll see you there and I'll just tell you about my life in person.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Powerful Stuff.

My women's studies list serv sent this out, it's very powerful. I was super-pleased to see the charity link after the video played is to my absolute favorite charitable organization, Global Giving. They've organized the projects that empower girls in poverty under a new movement called "The Girl Effect". Watch the video and then visit this link: Girl Effect

Monday, August 4, 2008

Around the House.

While a good lot of the people in my life have seen my new place, plenty have not. These are by no means a perfect replacement for an in-person tour (so stop on by and please bring wine), but they might give you a little insight into my little place...(click the images to make 'em bigger)...

(top l to r: lulu lounging, dining room pendant, hanging succulent; bottom l to r: porch lantern, vintage dishes, siam noodle cart turned liquor stand)

(top to bottom: jewlery box, herb garden, reading corner, cactus, bathroom decor)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Another year older.

Well, it's done, I'm out of my 20s. I thought I would handle it gracefully and then as it approached I thought I would die from fear of being older than 29. And now it's done and it was totally fine and really fun. Amber came to town, got to see my new place and celebrate with me. It was a great weekend that reminded me of how great my life is and how amazing my friends are.

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More Birthday pics!

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And more pics!

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And, yep...a few more...

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yep, yep...last ones.

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Monday, June 9, 2008

On the brink.

I will be 30 in less than a month. For the umpteenth time I find my life in transition. I am getting ready to move, I am getting ready to start some graduate program or another. I am on the way to places, but feel nowhere just yet. I never thought an age would bother me, did not imagine I was the type. And yet, there are milestones that make you take stock and I am rapidly approaching a big one. So how do you weigh the life in your years and decide if the years in your life have been good ones?

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Send money and moral support.

I'm moving, and isn't it about time?! I have been thinking for a few months I would wait until my friends Chris and Janet vacated their place (a great old cottage on Round Lake), but their move to Miami is up in the air and just a plausability at best. So when I saw a listing for an entire private property with a garage apartment on the back of the lot just one block from my mother I had to check it out. Turns out it is perfect for me. I move July 1. I will happily accept cash gifts and well wishes at any time!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

I Used to be Someone Else Entirely.

I’ve been researching nutrition schools in the past week. Most programs will require me to have or earn, as the case is, a B.S. degree. This would make my course of study some 4 plus years. Not that this is scaring me off entirely, but it’s certainly making the idea less attractive. I have found shorter programs, one wonderful one in particular (that’s in New York City, of course) that might satisfy my needs. The problem is, I’m not really sure if this is what I truly want to do, or if I feel disheartened by the unfoldings at USF and am looking to force myself down a new path (instead of finding it naturally). I suppose regardless, it is still amusing that I (of all people) am considering nutrition school. I remember the Super Size McDonald’s value meal girl that I used to be and I laugh. Well and I cry a little. I think of all the wasted years when I ate poison and sat on the couch while the world moved around me. I am glad I know better now, some people never figure it out. Our ability to shift and change and adapt is simply amazing to me.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The End of the Beginning.

School is over for the semester. I got an A in my class. We had a party Monday night at my professor's house to celebrate her final graduate class (she is retiring and stepping down as director of the department). I cried and asked her to have dinner with me, and she was happy to accept. It's nice to have a mentor, even if she won't be wandering the halls of the department anymore.

There's a lot up in the air at USF with budget cuts and graduate student funding loss and potential department dissolution. I am not sure what will happen, or if I will even return to school in the fall. But it's been a great ride, and it's changed me in the most positive and wonderful ways. I see now that we can be reborn as often as we want to be. We just have to do the work to grow up all over again and again.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Tooting my own horn.

I got my official GRE scores in the mail yesterday (which included my not-yet-revealed analytical writing scores). The writing score was the only thing I didn't know, so as I tore into the envelope I thought about all I'd read...the writing pieces are scored by three official readers (mostly college professors) and graded by the half point between 0 and 6. You are given the mean score of the three scores and it is rounded to the nearest .5 point. The average writing score for the GRE population is 4.1. Anything above a 5 is hard to get. I got a 5.5. I was astounded and delighted. The official ETS testing site (people that administer the test) says:

Score Levels 6 and 5.5
Sustains insightful, in-depth analysis of complex ideas; develops and supports main points with logically compelling reasons and/or highly persuasive examples; is well focused and well organized; skillfully uses sentence variety and precise vocabulary to convey meaning effectively; demonstrates superior facility with sentence structure and language usage but may have minor errors that do not interfere with meaning.

As I said to my mother after I gleefully revealed my score to her last night, "if I'd known I could do this well on the GRE I would have gone to Grad school for something really hard years ago." Ha.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Vegan Vacationing

I got back from a fun-filled weekend in New Orleans late last night. While we were there for the star-studded 10th Anniversary performance of the Vagina Monologues at the SuperDome, it also happened to be the pretty famous French Quarter Jazz Festival.

Driving into New Orleans past neighborhoods abandoned and still in utter disrepair from Katrina is heart wrenching. Pulling into the French Quarter and see bustling streets and open businesses is heart warming. I hadn't been to New Orleans in ten years and I feared the damage from Katrina would act as a dark cloud over the trip, though quite the contrary it made me appreciate the resiliency of such an amazing city and the warrior-spirit of its people.

I got to eat west African food, go on a Haunted History tour, trek from one end of New Orleans to the other and back again, walk along the Mississippi, tour a historic above-ground cemetary, listen to some amazing activists talk about the work they do interntionally to help women who are victims of violence, see an awe-inspiring cast perform an incredibly moving version of the Vagina Monologues, and take some great pictures along the way.

I left New Orleans thinking, "I could live here." The city was as vibrant and inspiring as I found it all those years ago. That does not overshadow the many devastating and real problems going on right outside of the tiny area where the tourists flock. Problems that inspire me to do continue down the path I'm on, to help women and promote human rights. Perhaps one day I'll even do it in New Orleans.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Grrr! The GRE.

So, I took the dang test yesterday after 48-hours of straight studying. It went like this:

Metal detector, pat down, put your things in a locker, swear yourself in, sign in blood, show two photo IDs (most of that is true) and then get led into a dismall little room and into your very own cube.

Present your perspective on an issue - 45 minutes of timed writing.
Discuss the presented argument (how reasonable and sound it is) - 45 minutes of timed writing.
Qualitative exam - 30 questions in 45 minutes
Verbal exam - 30 questions in 30 minutes
Random section (can be anything, may or may NOT be experimental and ungraded - you don't know so you have to treat it as real) - Qualitative (OF COURSE!) 30 more math questions.

Both times I did not finish all 30 qualitative questions in time. The first time it happened I started to freak out. Second time, I was so over it.

At the end of this three hour plus journey the computer says, "Would you like to see your scores?" Which actually means, "Would you like to report these scores to the schools you are applying to?" Which actually means, this is going on your PERMANENT RECORD.

So...drum roll...I got a 1280 (perfect split, 640 on each). I am rounding up to a 1300 to sound really smart:) I am very pleased. Prior to 2001 those scores would have gotten me into Mensa. Now they just get me into grad school, and that is just fine with me!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Sentimental Heart

I sit for the GRE in about 36 hours. Terrible. My shoulders are locked up six inches above where they normally sit. I ran a 5K this afternoon just to avoid algebraic equations. Yay for the run, boo for the quadratic equation. I'll never need to find inverse angles in an isosoles triangle EVER AGAIN (shit, I can't even spell isosoles!) I took a "real" practice test given by the people who actually administer the GRE this afternoon. I scored higher on the math section. I think in all my worrying about equations and statistics I let my vocabulary completely fade into oblivion. Terrible.

It'll be over soon. Until then I am eating my perfected vegan chocolate chip cookies with wreckless abandon (I did do all that running after all) and listening to Zooey Deschanel's new album, which soothes my aching heart. I am pretty sure my four-months vegan anniversary came and went. I'm pretty proud of myself.

"What can you do with a sentimental heart?" - zooey deschanel, "Sentimental Heart"

Friday, March 21, 2008

Guts and Brains

Thanks to some ironic (or perhaps telling) timing, my greatest intellectual achievements are occurring in tandem with my greatest physical ones. And this forces to me really think about what I’d rather be valued for: my brains or my gut (or lack thereof)? It seems an easy answer, but when you’re getting attention for your physical merits (that you’ve worked very hard to achieve) for the first time in your life, it’s really intoxicating. Having people tell me how great I look and how cool it is that I work so hard (most folks know that I spin, and I run, and I have a personal trainer – and if you don’t know that, now you do) is really amazing and never ceases to feel good (though I am often embarrassed by the “how much weight have you lost” question). My dear cousin even said I should be in People Magazine the other day, which really got me thinking about how far I’ve come. And even though the feminist in me knows that my brain and my heart are what really counts, I’d be lying if I said a smaller waistline wasn’t pretty great as well.

I hope in time I can reconcile the two new versions of myself – the inside and the outside – and figure how to live what seems (on some days) a completely new life. And what I do know is, it’s a better life, a healthier one. For my brain and my body, and I guess that’s what counts.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Healing Yourself.

School is amazing. Every Monday at 9pm when class is over and we still all sit around for a while longer and talk and then some of us stand around outside and talk some more and then sadly part ways to drive home, I feel so invigorated. Sharing my thoughts and my time and listening to all of these amazing like-minded women is really like nothing I have ever experienced. I’m in awe of how safe we all feel to share personal stories that relate to our women’s health readings and to bare our souls to virtual strangers each week. We grow closer as the weeks pass, of course, but still our unadulterated divulging delights me each week.

I told myself when I started grad school that I had to be alright with it going nowhere (meaning, I might get a Master’s degree and never use it). And I know for sure now that it would be perfectly fine if I never went further in my studies, and never used my degree professionally. Though I think I will do both, I would be just as happy for just having had this experience. There is a lot to be said for personal enrichment.

In other news, I’m on my third week of working with a personal trainer. I now go to the gym almost every day of the week. For a girl who used to hate the thought of belonging to a gym…well, I’ve come a long way. Laurie has even agreed to let me run with her. I’ve been practicing on the treadmill, but I am sure I’ll still slow her down. Hopefully my company will make up for it

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Last night I (finally!) had my second meeting of class. The second week was cancelled because we were to go see Maya Angelou speak on campus (didn't go - long story), and the third week was Martin Luther King Jr. Day. So, last night we all finally gathered to talk about our readings on sexism and racism. The class basically went like this: someone started talking and then no one in the room ever shut up. It was this incredibly classy elbow-throwing conversation in which 15 incredibly different people (who have intelligence and open-mindedness in common) all tried to weigh in on subjects from acculturation’s affect on healthcare access to the cultural construction of gender. My head was spinning on the drive home. I had to stay up half the night reading one of the YA novels Aunt Jane gave me for Christmas so I could stop thinking about how white, sheltered, and privileged I am.

Next week we talk about global health and economics.

Tonight I am going to see Eric Hutchinson open for One Republic (I'm into both) at the State Theatre. I love seeing bands in small venues, even though I'm getting a bit too old to rock it until very late on a weeknight. Ha.

Right now I'm cleaning up my office so I can meet Max Mayfield in a minute.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Let the games begin...

Sping semester got underway this week. I had my first real graduate course (well in Women's Studies that is), on Monday night. The course is called Women's Health and Politics. The reading level is really intense (I went through all the assigned readings for this week to get a rough page count for myself...and I'm guessing the page count is between 500 and 600 hundred). Mind you, this volume of reading is out of a medical journals and dense text books. None of it is an easy read. But, alas, the subject matter is all very interesting to me and though not half way through yet, I have faith that I will finish it all by Monday night.

My first class went something like this: in a small room in the basement (yes basement!) of the Faculty Office Building on the USF Tampa campus, 16 women of varying backgrounds gathered and waited quietly for Dr. Myerson (the Director of the Women's Studies Graduate Program at USF). She came in at 6 on the dot, all smiles, with hugs for her returning students, and arms full of healthy/yummy snacks to share with everyone. She explained that she always brings food to her graduate students for she is the only one being paid to sit there and that she always starts her classes off with a 5 minute meditation to help us clear our minds and join together in the room. She dimmed the lights and led us in breathing exercises and said some nice things about washing the day away and making our minds clear. And damn if I wasn't genuinely more relaxed when she was done!

We passed the hummus and carrots and fig newtons and terra chips and talked for two hours about what a "woman" is. She felt it would give us the framework for a course in women's health.

I left the room that night excited and elated and eager to get down to reading those 500 pages so I could participate in what is bound to be riveting discussion next week. I didn't even mind the 40 mile drive home...I had so much to think about, the time hardly mattered.

I'll be 30 in a matter of months. I think I found my place in the world not a moment too soon. Every woman in her own time I suppose:)

Stay tuned for school updates, GRE drama, and Presidential primary talk.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

2007: A year in review

A list!!!

2007: A Year in Review

1. What is one thing you did in 2007 that you'd never done before? Experienced veganism.

2. Did you keep your New Year's resolutions, and will you make more for next year? I didn’t make any, nor do I ever.

3. Did someone close to you give birth? Leslie Burket!

4. Did anyone close to you die? People close to my family yes – Uncle Dick and Jennifer Jones.

5. What countries did you visit? None! I think my international travels are an every-other-year thing…so I guess I better get planning this year.

6. What would you like to have in 2008 that you lacked in 2007? I think I want to get my own place. I love my mother, but I also love my privacy.

7. What days from 2007 will remain etched upon your memory, and why? The day my grandmother went into the hospital. My first day of school. My 29th birthday. The day Drew went into the hospital.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year? Going back to school. I am very proud of myself for finally doing something I’ve wanted to do for many years.

9. What was your biggest failure? I’ve done pretty alright this year. I’ve been good to my family and personally been moving in the right direction.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury? I almost cut my thumb off…still paying those bills, but nothing serious. It was just everyone around me who decided to almost die.

11. What was the best thing you bought? My health. It hasn’t been cheap, but worth it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration? My grandmother has been very strong and resilient this year!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled? I could start a list of strangers that could go on forever, starting with our President, but I’ll stick to people I know…and in that arena I can’t really think of anyone. Well actually I can, but I’m not into mudslinging in my journal.

14. Where did most of your money go? Paying off my debt…which it took me more than seven years to do…but it’s done. I do not have one credit card with one balance to my name. It’s an amazing accomplishment.

15. What did you get really, really excited about? Being debt free, and going back to school.

16. What song will always remind you of 2007? I love this question…but it’s so tough. Let’s see…oh gosh I know, Amos Lee’s “Supply and Demand”.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or hardened? Both, but happier if I had to choose.
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner! Thank goodness.
iii. richer or poorer? Better off financially for sure.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of? I always wished I’d traveled more and I also wished I’d communicated more in a couple of the relationships in my life. I can see now that I’ve gone too far down a dark road to turn around. And I think talking along the way could have fixed that.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of? Whine. I felt like my family was having a really bad year and I realize now I whined about that a lot. No one likes a whiner.

20. What was your favorite TV program? I didn’t really love anything that much this year.

23. What was the best book you read? Olivia…which was one of my text books for my class but also a very well written book about a very amazing women who’s led the most horrific life and managed to turn it around.

24. What was your greatest musical discovery? I think that would have to be the Everybodyfields.

25. What did you want and get? A return to school.

26. What did you want and not get? An apartment.

27. Favorite film of this year? I have seriously seen so few movies this year it’s pathetic…I can’t even think of one to jot down here.

28. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you? I turned 29 and I went out bar hopping downtown with friends and it was really surprisingly fun.

29. What kept you sane? My friends. I marvel constantly at the amazing relationships I have in my life. My friends and family are just amazing.

30. Who was the best new person you met? Easy – Dr. Marilyn Myerson…she is the director of the graduate program I am studying in and she is so completely amazing. She is everything I didn’t know I wanted to be in this life. I can’t wait to start taking her women’s health seminar next week. I’m so nervous!

2007: a recap

So I looked back in my old blog to see what I said around the New Year last year...and here is the entry I made right before we rang in '07:

2006 brought me...
A better sense of self.
A new career.
A new/old home.
A renewed relationship with my best friend.
A once-again-close relationship with my family (in that I get to see the more and enjoy them more again).
A belief that love often lives in the last place you look (perhaps the place you've just left).
The realization that truly nothing is better than laughing with your closest friends (even when they're far away).

What did 2006 bring you?

So here is the same thing for 2007. Oh what a difference a year can make...

2007 brought me:
Back to school...finally.
Much better health.
A love for spinning.
New friends.
Vegetarianism and the holier-than-thou attitude that goes with it:)
Lots of new books and new ideas.
A constantly-evolving version of myself.
Longer hair.

What has 2007 brought you?
Copyright 2009 eringee