Going Vegetarian (Don’t Tell the Carnivores)

Two weeks ago, after watching the movie Okja, I finally decided to call it quits on the meats. I’d already been going in that direction for a while for health and other reasons, but that film pushed me over the edge. If you are thinking that you need a change, watch the movie. No more encouragement is needed.

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Here’s my plan:

  1. Don’t tell the kids and see how long it will take them to realize we haven’t had meat.
  2. Use variety.
  3. Be cheap about it.
  4. Write about it here and share the recipes that work.

Week 1 Recipes:

  1. DAY 1: Enchilada Stuffed Grilled Mushrooms found here. These were fantastic, but I used smaller mushrooms (being cheap), so I had to compromise quickly to feed my hungry teenagers. Luckily, I had a can of refried beans and had recently wanted Mexican pizza (like Taco Bell’s). So, I slapped some beans on some tortillas, layered them with cheese and jalapenos and the leftovers from the mushrooms. THEY WERE A HIT. *The kids didn’t notice the lack of meat.
  2. DAY 2: Zucchini Lasagna (my own recipe). This is one that I’ve been making for a while, but I usually add sausage and pepperonis. I made it the same just without the meat: my favorite Italian marinara, vegetables, and cheese with sliced green zucchini taking the place of noodles. It’s actually better because it only takes about 30 minutes in the oven if you saute the veggies first.
  3. DAY 3: Curry Cabbage & Cauliflower Stir Fry found here. Of course, I had to omit the coconut oil because my wife is allergic. However, everyone loved it, and the kids still hadn’t realized no meat was involved.
  4. DAY 4: Cheated. Went out. Long day. Still no meat though.
  5. DAY 5: Mushroom Stroganoff found here.

Weekend: No kids, so no cooking!!!

Long story short: I’m loving the vegetarian life because it offers variety, it’s actually less expensive, and I’VE LOST 4 POUNDS!!!!pexels-photo-533360.jpeg

 

Publishing Bullshit

Julie Still-Rolin (2)

This self-publishing journey has been quite a challenge, but it’s a good challenge. I feel myself growing by just doing it. It is crazy to me how often we keep ourselves from doing things just because we don’t know how or we feel we don’t have some authority. I am so glad that I’m overcoming this. What is that study that says you have to practice something for 10,000 hours before being able to do it well? If that’s the case with self-publishing, I’m two books in and have only been practicing for about 1/10 of that number.

 

Here are some things I’ve learned:

  1. Patience is a virtue. I am not a patient person, so this one is difficult. However, it is interesting when my personality is altered by a process. When I sit down to write, I have my stories in my brain, and I just expect them to flow perfectly and quickly onto the document. Then, I don’t want to have to edit them. And, I do not want to have to go through the grueling process of creating a cover page and marketing plan, etc. These things all take time, and if you rush through them, you will regret it.
  2. Self-publishing is hard. I have read many tips and tricks online, and they all say that you should hire an editor and a cover designer. I am too stubborn for this at this point because I feel confident in my ability to do these things and save money. We’ll see how this works out. On my first book, I had to republish three times because of mistakes. However, that book was an experiment. I wrote it in two weeks and had it published within the same two weeks. I don’t feel like it counts as much.
  3. Do what works for you. This is kind of an extension of number 2, but I have learned that I cannot do what others do. I have to find my own way and s
  4. tick with it. This is the cool thing about self-publishing: you have the freedom to do that, and your success or failure depends on you. My motto for this is, if it doesn’t work, find another way. It’s that simple. I have to follow my own style; otherwise I’d just pay someone to do it for me.

Overall, self-publishing is a journey. I do not expect overnight success. I do not really even care much about that part. What I do care about is that I am finally publishing my work. I’m finally getting my stories out there into the world. If no one wants them, fine. If just one person reads my stuff and enjoys it, I will be ecstatic.

Pain

Although my new book is fiction, it is rooted in my experience. As I write about the mother and her hatred for her daughter that stems from her hatred of homosexuals, I can’t help but wonder what happened to the pictures that my mother had of me. I wonder if she burned them.  I wonder if she threw them away. I wonder if when she takes out her photo albums to look back at times past, if there are empty spaces where I once was, or has she filled them with someone who took my place? I wonder if she left them there and pretends that I died on the day that she walked away from me. I wonder if she wonders the same thing.

I long to move forward and forget this pain, but it won’t go away. So, I write it. I write it in hopes of offering solidarity to someone who may suffer as well. I write it in hopes of saving someone from hurting their own child out of ignorance. Someone may respond to this and say, “Your mother loves you,” or something with the good intentions of comforting me. I don’t need comfort. I write to get it out, not for sympathy. Besides, I know a mother’s love. And, no fear of eternal flames could keep me from giving it. I would walk through those flames for my children no matter who they loved or what they did. They are and always will be mine.

Unsung Hero

This weekend I was awoken by the dreadful sound of a cellphone ringing at 3:30 in the morning. You know those calls…they’re never good. My heart stopped as I jumped out of bed to retrieve it. It was my stepson calling my wife. First of all, our story is complicated, as many people know. We joke about it because of the stereotypical nature of us being from the South–implicit jokes about inbreeding and such nonsense. But, the truth is that we are just two souls linked together in unusual circumstances. We are a blended family. My stepson is also my wife’s stepson, but she raised him like her real son. So, he has basically become our son. At first, he was reluctant to cross over into my dark side of culture. I was an alien with my record player blaring anything from Louis Armstrong to David Bowie and my sauteed vegetables and my refusal to fry anything. It took us both a while to adjust to each other, but now he is family. So, when he called to say he’d been in a wreck, I too jumped up, dressed, and tried to suppress my fear.

I was scared not only for his safety, but my wife’s as well. I know how deeply she cares for him. She never actually birthed any children, but she’s mothered two and is now mothering my two as well. She tells me all the time that she doesn’t have the mother thing, but she just doesn’t realize that she does. Perhaps she has the mother thing more than most birth mothers. She shows it in her unwavering commitment to her children. As much as she wants to be free from the worries, responsibilities, and headaches that come along with mothering, she can’t. The mother thing inside her won’t allow it. She loves her son as if he was her own. She pushed him through high school even though it killed her to fight with him. She just wanted what was best for his future. She bought him a truck even though she was struggling financially at the time. She wanted to teach him responsibility and pride of ownership. She is plain out rude to the girls that he brings home who don’t deserve him. She just wants to make sure he finds a good relationship. She forced him to become responsible and get his own place. She just wanted him to be independent for when she can no longer help him. I’ve watched them fight, and at times that I would have given up, I’ve watched her persevere out of love. Now, I think he is finally seeing what she has done.

When we got to him, it was a relief to see that he was okay. He would be in pain, but he would recover. His truck, not so much, but material things can be replaced. We took him home, and she was the one who helped him when he felt that he could not take the pain. She was the one who insisted he go to the hospital. It wasn’t convenient. It would have been easier to let someone else take him, but she wouldn’t have let that happen.

People like to share their opinions on lesbians having kids. They like to say that kids need a traditional family. They say that kids need a mother and a father. I’ve seen those traditional families. Sometimes they are fantastic. Sometimes, however, they are not so great. I’ve seen the mothers who become addicted to pills because their husbands are abusive. Neither of those parents are good for the kids. I’ve seen the fathers who work 40 hours a week and then complain that they are too tired to spend time with their kids. I’ve seen the mothers who do the same.

People also like to say that kids raised in a homosexual household will end up becoming homosexuals. Homosexuality is biological. Scientists and researchers have proven this time and time again. No one can make anyone gay. Our sons are great examples of this. Both of them like women. And, they have an advantage by being raised by two women: they will know how to treat women.

My wife is an unsung hero to the children that she did not birth. She is the one who makes sure they are taken care of. She is the one who will be there when others walk away. She is the one who will fight for them. She is the one who will sing happy birthday with her guitar even though she can’t play or carry a tune. She is the one who will push them to be better students and parents and lovers and friends and people. And, because they know this, she is the one they will call when they need someone.

No More Bullshit?

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I’ve finally decided to jump in to my dream of writing and stick with it. I’ve always had a writing project in the works, but I’ve never felt so passionate about it as I do this new one. So, I’m going to share some of it with my audience in hopes of finding encouragement to keep up the momentum. I’m 20,000 words in, so I feel pretty confident about it. If you have any opinions, please share.

I’m still playing around with a title, but I like No More Bullshit: Life Lessons because it encompasses the premise of the book, which is ultimately about the changes I’ve made in my life after becoming more enlightened. The book also contains my real voice, which is a potty mouth accompanying my Southern accent and intellectualism. I want people to be aware that this is supposed to be a humorous look at the experiences that prompted me to change. It is not faith-based although I do incorporate some spirituality that has helped me, so I do not want the wrong audience to pick up the book and be offended.

So, if you have any feedback, I’d really appreciate it. Feel free to comment.