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Hi, my name is Mike. I’m married to J and we have two girls: 10-year-old Chloe and 5-year-old Ainsley. We have a dog, Sammie; a female cat, Kitty; and a male poly-dactyl cat, Trouble. J works a traditional outside-the-home job and I’ve been working from home (no daycare, yeah!) for almost five years. We live in Edwardsville, IL, which is 15 miles from downtown St. Louis (go Cubs!).
Okay, the header text: A guide to life (if you’re a neurotic, liberal, health-obsessed, social-phobic vegan). What’s that all about? Let’s start at “vegan” and end on “A guide to life.”
Elsewhere I will eventually post something about WHY we’re into this lifestyle, but here’s a quick summary. I don’t eat meat, dairy, honey, or eggs and try to avoid all other animal products like leather, wool, silk, etc. The three main reasons (not in order of importance) are: 1) to reduce environmental destruction 2) it’s a healthier way to live and 3) to reduce animal suffering. I’ve been a vegetarian for about five years and a vegan for three. J has been an almost-vegetarian for five years (she ate fish) and a vegan for, I think, two years. Chloe has been a vegetarian on-and-off for four years. Ainsley would be a vegetarian weren’t for her insistence on eating “Club on flat bread” sandwiches at Subway.
For those in the know, social anxiety disorder will seriously f*!^ up your s*!t. Some people are scared of heights. I’m not. Some people are scared of spiders. I will lick a hairy (non-poisonous) spider if you ask me to. Some people are scared of the number 13. I love the number 13; I will write it on my face. I would trade all three of these phobias and twenty more for the one I have. I’m scared of other people, but in weird ways. I like going to movies by myself, even in a packed theater. I like riding my bike in heavy traffic. I like sitting by myself in libraries, bookstores, coffee shops, etc., but if you’re an acquaintance from my past, I’ll probably hide under a table to keep you from seeing me. If you’re a stranger and you strike up a conversation with me, I’m super pleasant and all smiley, but inside the anxiety is churning and soon I’ll be gone. I don’t like phones; I don’t call people just to chat–if at all. Before cell phones and caller-id, the sound of a ringing phone sent me into a panic. If you want to torture me, force me to go to a wedding, funeral, work picnic or family reunion.
You are what you eat. It’s a boring cliche, but it’s also true. That’s why I have almost eliminated junk food from my diet. I eat fruits, vegetables, legumes, whole grains, nuts and seeds. I say “almost” because I do struggle with impulse or emotional eating from time to time. I will have to delve deeper into this later. BV, or before vegan, I would regularly over-indulge on junk, so I credit that transition for lowering my cholesterol to around 150
I exercise 5 to 6 days a week. If you count bicycling as exercise (I think of it more as transportation), I get some exercise every day of the week. My routine usually involves jogging and weight lifting.
No comment, yet. For now an excerpt from a Dave Barry column: “Do we truly believe that ALL red-state residents are ignorant racist fascist knuckle-dragging NASCAR-obsessed cousin-marrying roadkill-eating tobacco-juice-dribbling gun-fondling religious fanatic rednecks; or that ALL blue-state residents are godless unpatriotic pierced-nose Volvo-driving France-loving left-wing communist latte-sucking tofu-chomping holistic-wacko neurotic vegan weenie perverts?”
From Wikipedia: “According to Dr. George Boeree, effects of neurosis can involve: anxiety, sadness or depression, anger, irritability, mental confusion, low sense of self-worth, etc., behavioral symptoms such as phobic avoidance, vigilance, impulsive and compulsive acts, lethargy, etc., cognitive problems such as unpleasant or disturbing thoughts, repetition of thoughts and obsession, habitual fantasizing, negativity and cynicism, etc. Interpersonally, neurosis involves dependency, aggressiveness, perfectionism, schizoid isolation, socio-culturally inappropriate behaviors, etc.”
Well, doesn’t this include every goddamn person on the planet?
A guide to life
I’m obviously being ironic here. I will try not to come across like my way of living is superior to yours. We need all kinds of people or this place would blow, right? I respect your right to eat whatever you want. I respect your right to drive a Hummer. I respect your right to shoot guns and to admire Sarah Palin.
Before my first post is, er, posted, in my mind, this blog will be concerned with finding the best way to life. Philosophers have been mulling this over for two thousand-some years. Again, I don’t think MY way is the BEST way or the way YOU should live. That’s for you to figure out. What I thought ten years ago, is nothing like what I think in now or what I will think in 2020. It’s all about growth. Learning leads to an expansion of how we see the world.
On one level this space is meant to keep me honest. I am living a life that many consider odd (one half of the title meaning). The more I learn about how the world and my body works, the more that has fallen away. The life I have crafted does not allow zoning out in front of a television. It doesn’t allow consumption of animal products. It keeps me out of an automobile and on a bicycle or bus. It keeps me consuming natural, whole foods (like a banana instead of banana bread, an apple instead of apple pie, or a smoothie instead of ice cream). It keeps me exercising, practicing yoga, meditating. It keeps me reading, learning, thinking, writing.
I guess it all means that I try to treat the earth, its inhabitants (human and otherwise) and myself with supreme respect. Is that really so odd? Like everyone else, I’m flawed (oh so flawed!), and I will be making fun of myself often.