I was desperate to get this one over with. The past two weekends I had out of town guests staying with me and we ate and drank everything in sight. After a planned sushi dinner for my friends birthday, there were no food commitments on the horizon. Also, it was the perfect time to detox myself from those two weeks. And thus, my week of veganism began.
Going in to this I had two concerns. First, I was worried that I would fail this. I love pizza, Qdoba Chicken Queso burritos, and sushi. Sure, there are vegan pizza and sushi options, but how would they stack up next to my beloved Pepperoni slices from Pizza Days? Second, I was worried I would turn into a massive douche. When someone says they’re vegan, people have questions. Luckily, the majority of my friends knew that I was embarking on this great food feat and, even if they didn’t understand it, they were supportive. Friends offered up recipes and worked eating meals out into my dietary needs. Servers were also more than happy to answer any questions that I had about how their food was prepared. Given all the dietary restrictions, fears about gluten consumption, and allergies, servers are more knowledgeable than ever about what goes into their food. I’ll be honest, when I was waitressing in Texas years ago, I didn’t have a clue as to what was in most of that stuff because these concerns and restrictions weren’t as prevalent as they are now.
The first day I woke up said “Crap, I’m vegan today,” and went to work where I consumed my regular Special K Vanilla Almond with Almond Milk. Aside from the honey, it was vegan. And honey is a hot topic of debate among vegans (I assume) because bees make honey by working hard, but what are their work conditions like? Some aren’t so great. (I laughed too, but this is serious). After speaking to a vegan friend of mine, he wasn’t concerned, so I decided it wasn’t a big deal.
The first temptation were the cupcakes that someone left in the break room. The second temptation was the entirely gelatin based candy in the break room. At this moment I had a huge realization: I wasn’t allowed to eat these things. Looking at it from a diet perspective is far different. There is that mindset of “I’m going to the gym later so I can eat this cupcake” and then there is “I am not eating anything with dairy and I can not eat this based on principle.” Weirdly enough, it’s much easier to approach veganism from that mindset.
This theory was proven further during my trip to the grocery store that night. I had picked out some recipes on pinterest (my lover) and went shopping specifically for those items that I needed and some Tofutti Cuties to replace my Skinny Cow ice cream cups. When I made eyes at the French Onion dip I had made eyes with several times over the last few months, I wasn’t tempted to purchase it because I couldn’t. “Sorry, baby” I whispered as I brushed it’s cheek. “I’m vegan right now.”
My first mild panic was when I couldn’t find tofu in my local grocery store. I had to ask five different employees where it was. “I don’t know where the tofu is. I’ve never really gone looking for it.” Fair enough. My second and third panics were when I hadn’t prepared my lunch for the day and went looking for options. As awesome as the Boston area is with vegan options, there really aren’t lunch time vegan options. My other local grocery store had one easily preparable at work item: Spring Rolls. They were the size of my pinky, but shockingly delicious.
I worked my nighttime job three nights last week and settled on Life Alive‘s The Adventurer (no cheese) as my dinner. Tons of veggies, quinoa, tofu, and sesame oil. Absolutely delicious.
The second time they drew a shockingly accurate portrait of me on my take out container. Sweat and all.
Some other meals of note…
Vegan Pizza at Peace O’ Pie
BBQ something or other on the left and Artichoke Pesto something or other on the right. DELICIOUS.
A classic go to meal of mine before this challenge:
Gardein Mandarin Orange Crispy Chik’n and aspargus
Spring Rolls w/Broccoli Slaw, Edamame, Gardein Seven Grain Crispy Tenders, and Peanut Sauce
Given the time constraints and my work schedule, I didn’t get to work my way through all the recipes I had intended. If you’re interested in vegan recipes, please check out My Vegan Week board over on pinterest.
I’ve needed an excuse to get more creative in the kitchen. I was terrified to use those rice wraps for the spring rolls, but you put them in warm water for a few seconds and then twist them around it’s contents. It’s also like $1.99 for package of them. There is an idea floating around that it is far more expensive to have a vegetarian or vegan diet. While fresh produce is ideal, frozen works just fine. Canned veggies have far too much sodium. Plus, I find with frozen veggies, I always have vegetables available and easy to prepare. Plus, a bag of frozen vegetable medley would be great if I wanted to recreate The Adventurer at home.
Did I feel satisfied? Actually, yes. I felt clean and full. I found that I really didn’t really crave anything that I used to rely on. It really helped to change my perception about food. I’m also an iced coffee addict and I swapped out my usual caramel swirl iced coffee with cream/sugar for a blueberry iced coffee with a little sugar. I think I actually prefer it now.
It’ll be interesting to see just how long I can keep this up. So far it’s been a piece of cake – minus the eggs and milk.
A few days before this event took place, I sat across from my friend Vincent enjoying a fantastic sushi buffet. “I think I’ve realized that I don’t care if I am alone forever. It’s all I know,” I said.
He shook his head vehemently. “No. It’s actually something I’ve been thinking about lately. We need companionship. You need companionship.”
I didn’t need much time to craft my response. “I just want to eat sushi, watch wrestling, and knit with my cat forever.”
He shrugged. “Well, then maybe you will live alone forever.” We both laughed, but in a way I knew what Vincent was saying was true. And what I was saying is true, too. At this point in my life I am totally okay not dating.
I need to preface this entry by saying that I was doing speed dating for the wrong reasons. I did it because I wanted to do some thing different, hilarious, and totally out of my comfort zone. I was not doing this to find my soulmate.
“I think I am going to do a different character for each interview.”
“But what if one of them is a your soul mate?” We both laughed, but in a way I knew what Kamille was saying was true. And what I was saying is true, too. At this point in my life I feel like dating is just interviewing people.
My dating experience is limited. I went out on a date with a guy who wrote me an email saying “I just don’t think I can give you want you want.” My response was “Hey, Sorry to write back, but I am so thrilled that someone can tell me what it is that I want, because I wasn’t really sure myself. SPILL IT!” I dated a guy who told me he wanted to make plans through the now defunct AIM and made it a point to tell me, on every date, just how much he disliked Mick Foley because of his college roommate. I went out on a date with a guy who after we finished our beers and I said “What now?” he leaned in, said “this,” and followed it with a kiss. “So, ice cream?” I asked. It was all I could do to not vomit in my mouth. What I really wanted to say was “Get away from me. I have a scarf I need to finish and last nights Smackdown on my DVR.”
I knew I was going to be a tough sell and that was fine by me.
This list has been revamped quite a few times. Some of the easier or more boring things have been replaced by completely ridiculous things. When Speed Dating jumped up as a Living Social deal, Kamille and I took advantage of it. So, along with our friend Jess, we made our way to Om in Cambridge on a beautiful April evening. We’d received an email a few days before saying that it had been moved to Om from Petit Robert in Downtown Boston because there were so many people they needed a bigger space.
I thought of a few different ways I could present myself to my potential suitors. I could sit there and stare in silence; I could put a tape recorder on that table, say “go” and sit there with my arms folded; or I could put my arm on the table arm wrestling style and say “If you lose the first one, we will make it best out of three. I’m a good sport.” All endearing and very true to who I am.
Someone who is totally bad at this interacting thing.
Overall, it went well. And, strangely, a little fun. Of the nine guys that I spoke to, most were normal. Some were really totally weird. Here are a few of my favorite interactions for varios reasons:
“Is this your first time doing speed dating?”
“No, they told me that they needed more guys, so I’m here for free.”
“You’re an engineer? Awesome! What type of engineering?”
“I make organs.”
“How long have you been doing that for?”
“All my life.”
and my contribution?
“I did a year of community service in Texas.”
“Uhhh…not court mandated?”
I won’t even go in depth about the kid that said no one got him because he was “super nerdy” and then judged me when I mentioned that I like wrestling. For the record I mentioned wrestling one time and my cats giant penis zero times. In retrospect, I probably should’ve opened with the cat bit, it’s a great conversation starter. One of my friends has bedded many a women by telling my own life stories. Apparently, I’d kill with women.
So, after you forcefully engage with nine questionably suitable bachelors, you list your top five on the card. If they list you on theirs, you get an email in 24 hours with each others email address so that you can spend more than 6 minutes together. Neither Kamille, Jess, or I received an email stating that any of these dudes were interested. And you know what? That’s ok. I have a yoga mat bag to knit and Daniel Bryan is about to cut an awesome “YES! YES! YES!” promo on Monday Night Raw.
(Until I can figure out how to post the video on here, you can find the video over here)
I’m not entirely sure when it was that I first considered doing this. Maybe it was the combination of thinking I am pretty funny combined with the desire to overcome my horrific stage fright that pushed me towards it. What I do remember is sitting at the ImprovBoston bar with John and Tim talking about how we should all take Stand Up 101 together – just to see what would happen.
Luckily, we all honored our blood pact and signed up.
During the few weeks leading up to the start of the class we were all nervous and tried to put it out of our minds. None of us had tried our hand at stand up before. I thought about backing out many times with no regrets. I’m a very busy person as it as and giving up three hours during a Sunday afternoon seemed like a huge sacrifice at the time. And it was, but it was most definitely worth it.
On the way to the first class, I had a minor anxiety attack. Thankfully, this was the week our instructor, Dana Bein, did most of the talking about expectations and the comedy scene in Boston. He then had us do two writing exercises that I failed miserably at. Dana is a supportive teacher, so I didn’t feel like my “jokes” were being judged harshly and that the whole point of the exercise was to give you a jumping off point to start writing. Once I understood that concept, I was able to relax and enjoy the class.
The second week we also stood in front of our peers while they pointed out assumptions about us. This is everyones nightmare, but the worst thing said about me was that I look like I own a lot of teddy bears. If having a massive collection of Care Bear memorabilia from the 80’s is wrong, I don’t want to be right. (This is a true fact about me). This was a game I ruled at. I pointed out things like “You have someones name tattooed on you” and “You look like you recently lost a lot of weight.” I should work at a carnival. Hey, I call ‘em like I see ‘em, folks.
The rest of the classes were spent workshopping our material and formatting it to fit within the three minutes we would have to perform it at our grad show. There were some hilarious people in my class and it was really cool to be a part of the creative process along side them. Everyone worked so hard and there was a massive change in everyone’s sets from week to week as we became more comfortable as performers and writers.
My material had gone over pretty well in class. During the two weeks leading up to the performance, I only made some minor adjustments. Personally, I felt good about what I had written and thought it was original. I decided to focus my energy on memorization, delivery, and just becoming generally comfortable with talking about three embarrassing topics in my life in front of a room mostly full of strangers.
The day of the show I ran through my material all day long. In the bath, while running, while cooking, at the vet, drying my hair – EVERY POSSIBLE MOMENT was spent preparing. I was terrified to fail in front of my friends and co-workers. Even if I bombed, I would have to see all these people again. I couldn’t just fall of the grid. I am on the ImprovBoston grid. Big time.
For a little added insurance I wrote my set list on my hand (See below – no spoilers before the video!). I didn’t end up referring to it, but it was there if I needed it and that helped my brain relax a little.
I was slated to go on 3rd out of 20 and had the distinction of being the only vagina in our class (there were more that performed later from the level 201 class, but whatever, I’m special). The two gentlemen that went on before me did a tremendous job and made it so much easier for me to go up on stage AND KILL IT. Graduation show audiences are the best audiences that you will ever have. It’s a room full of people that know you’re new to this and want to see you be successful. They don’t want to heckle or boo or question your material. They want to be your cheerleader. And lucky for me, I had six cheerleaders in the audience that night – one of which was awesome enough to record my set on my phone for me.
Will I do it again? It was a fun experience, but I am not disciplined enough to write. Occasionally things happen in my life that I think are funny and then work on how I would convince other people that those things are funny. I mean, my cat’s penis enlargement, that pretty much speaks for itself. So, I guess anything is possible. Look for me to potentially grace the stage of some open mic nights in 2012.
Click here for more information on ImprovBoston’s Comedy School classes. (In addition to stand up comedy, there is also sketch and improvisation.
#14 Peform Stand Up – Completed on 12/18/11