Posts Tagged ‘ Italian ’

I Survived A Year Of Being A Vegan, Part 2

Saturday, March 8th, 2014

3 years, 3 months.

Continued from Part 1

Dear Jack,

A few weeks ago, I pitched an idea to an infographics company about creating an infographic regarding the the rise of veganism; specifically explaining how Netflix documentaries have contributed to this movement in America.

My goal was to have something to back up this letter, in advance, for my one year vegan anniversary; which is obviously today. To my surprise, they actually used my idea!

Even better, before I could even type this letter, I found that this “Rise Of Veganism” infograph that I pitched and contributed to, was already showing up on my Facebook feed from other people.

I take that as a major compliment that I could be involved in creating something that people are sharing right now on Facebook and Twitter.

(Good word gets around, before I can even get the chance to spread it myself, in this case.)

So I finally took a minute to actually check out the findings of this infographic.

Son, it turns out, I’m one in a million after all… literally.

There are now about one million vegans in America, or 2.5% of the population. This infographic shows that only 21% of us vegans are male, only 11% of us follow a major religion, only 33% are not political, and only 10% of us are raising our children to be vegan.

Those findings tell me that I’m the minority among the minority: Of that 2.5% of American vegans, I am a non-political, religious male parent who is raising his son as a vegan… or at least mostly vegan.

Clearly, I do not fit the stereotype. I realize now, that makes my veganism stand out even more in the crowd. Oh well, I’ve been living outside the box my whole life; I’m used to it.

Like I’ve been saying this whole time, I have no desire to convert anyone else; nor did anyone pressure me into it a year ago.

Yet, the conversions are still happening. That’s obvious, considering that the number of vegans in America has more than doubled in the past 3 years. There’s something that’s contagious about the “vegan gospel” and, for lack of a better phrase, the alternative lifestyle that accompanies it.

It has nothing to do with social pressure. In fact, it’s the opposite of social pressure. In my opinion, being a vegan is one of the most outright rebellious things a person can do in our society.

Especially if you’re a guy, who is supposed to like meat and potatoes. (Or specifically in my case, as a Southerner, of Italian and Mexican heritage… then it would be fried chicken, pepperoni, and queso.)

Your daddy is a non-politcal, religious vegan. Yep, that’s me all right, the perfect rebel.




Note: This is an opinion piece of the author and does not reflect Parents magazine or the medical establishment.



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“Your Son Looks Just Like Your Wife!” Said No One Ever

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

19 months.

Earlier this week I published a similarly named article about how my son looks nothing like me. And people agreed; as I have gathered from the comments.

There were some people who saw me in the shape of my son’s eyes, forehead, and potentially his nose.

Even though I felt the article was a stand-alone work, I now see the need for the sequel. Time to compare my son to his Mommy, this time around.

When people try to figure out who Jack looks like more, they by default choose my wife. I want to dissect that.

Granted, no one has ever said, “Your son looks just like your wife!”

At best, they say, “Your son sort of looks like your wife… a little bit.”

The fact that our biological son doesn’t really resemble either of us makes me think of the classic sitcom, Full House.

Sure, it was great. But it always bothered me that DJ, Stephanie, and Michelle shouldn’t have looked the way they did.

Danny Tanner was played by Jewish actor Bob Saget. And his unseen wife and the mother of his kids was a Greek-American; her extremely dark-featured brother Jesse Katsopolis made that evident.

Well, the Tanner kids sure came out vanilla.

And then to make matters worse, when Uncle Jesse and Aunt Becky had twin boys, Nicky and Alex, they were even more fair-complected and blonder than the Tanner girls.

The casting always bothered me on Full House because the kids didn’t look like they should have come from those parents.

But boy, am I one to talk.

If my wife and I were cast as parents in an 80′s sitcom, our son Jack wouldn’t be cast as our son. Unless the casting director was the same as the one for Full House.

So go ahead, help me see how Jack looks like my wife Jill.

I would have said they have similar eyes, but that was one of the few ways he resembles me, according to some.

Maybe their noses… from the front?

I agree that he will have my Italian nose when it’s all said and done.

(Though my wife is just as Italian as I am.)

When Jack was an infant, I said he reminded me of Jill’s dad, who passed away a few months after Jill and I got married 4 years ago.

Looking back through pictures from the weekend of our wedding, I found this picture of him. I still believe Jack resembles her dad; who was pretty much half-Norwegian and half-Irish.

So help me sort this out.

Does Jack look somewhat like his Mommy? And do you see the resemblance I see between my wife’s dad and Jack?

Oh, and I’ve been told several times that my wife and I could pass for brother and sister.

Even if we look alike, our son doesn’t.


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My 15 Month-Old Son’s 30 Year-Old Yellow Blazer

Sunday, March 4th, 2012

15 months.

Get used to seeing my son Jack in this suave, retro blazer, paired with a pumpkin-accented plaid shirt because as his dad, I’m going to get as many miles out of this outfit as I can while it still fits him.

This weekend we decided to dress him in my old jacket and shirt from when I was literally his age.

From a walk in the park to lunch at Kalamata’s Greek restaurant to a quick visit to the pet store, Jack was rockin’ the jazzy new-wave wardrobe.

Like most parents of toddlers, I am not willing to spend much money on clothes that my kid will grow out of in a few months from now.

But being that Jack’s jacket and shirt were free, because they were a gift for me three decades ago, he gets to be a baby fashion model for the time being.

In the Spring of 1981, right before I was born, my Italian great-aunt Margaret Metallo in Kenosha, Wisconsin sent my mom a yellow blazer with a “matching” shirt from Sears as a gift for her soon-to-be born bambino, Mario Eugene Shell.

Yeah, uh… that’s me. However, after I was born, my parents recognized that despite my mother being half Italian and half Mexican, I looked  ”too white” to have such an ethnic name as Mario.

So nearly 2 hours after I was born, my parents officially gave me my name: Nicholas Shane Shell.

By the time I reached adulthood, my features got darker and I finally looked more like a Mario. Though honestly, I probably look more Jewish than anything.

And now I’ve got a son who’s even whiter than I ever was: Yellow hair to match the jacket and marble blue eyes to compliment it. Honestly, Jack pulls off the yellow blazer better than I ever could.

I think it’s safe to say that jacket came before it’s time: Ultimately, it would be another 30 years for the perfect little bambino to come along to legitimately model it for the world.

You’re welcome, Sears.


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Finding My Son Up in the Family Tree

Friday, August 5th, 2011

Eight months.

Coincidentally while here  in Sacramento, which is known as “The City of Trees,” I have been doing a little bit of “family tree climbing.”  We are staying at my mother-in-law’s house along with a couple more of my wife’s siblings and their families.  Many of the walls are as thoroughly decorated with family pictures as John Mayer’s arms are consumed with tattoos.

I have been closely inspecting these retro pictures for signs of my son’s looks.  The only time I really see myself in him is sometimes when he cries and laughs.  So knowing that it was my wife’s genes he mainly inherited, I decided to find out exactly where his features came from. 

This first picture features my mother-in-law’s grandparents, as well as, her father who is featured far right.  His name was Waldo Tocchini- I definitely see some “Jackness” in his nose and the shape of his head.  I often think of Jack as a 1940′s wrestler.  Seeing Jack’s great-grandfather as a five year-old boy in 1920 only solidifies that old-timey wrestler idea in my head.

I have written before about how Jack reminds me of my wife’s dad- as an adult.  Here is a picture of him when he was a little boy.  We shall see if this is a hint of what Jack will look like.  Also, check out the picture in the far left botom- that’s my mother-in-law as a baby; her nose and mouth look a whole lot like Jack’s!

Here is a more recent picture of one of my wife’s nephew.  For a nanosecond, I had to ask myself if I had somehow teleported into the future and was looking at  a picture of Jack.  Several of the family members have also noted the resemblence between Jack and this first cousin of his.

This is my favorite picture in the house- it’s my wife’s family portrait from 1983.  She’s the two year-old sitting there in her mom’s lap.  This is just simply classicly awesome.

Then I look right next that photograph and see my own family’s portrait from St. Patrick’s Day.  Though my wife and son are related by blood to the Italian-French-Croatian-Norwegian people in all these pictures, I have been grafted into the vine, adding my Italian-Mexican-Scottish-German genes into this new branch of the tree.

So what if my son ends up never really looking much like me.  Chances are, his first child will be a splitting image of me.  Because that’s evidently how things work in this family tree of ours.  I say that, but the truth is, our next kid will probably look the opposite of Jack; like me.

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John Lennon’s Song, “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)”

Friday, July 22nd, 2011

Eight months.

It’s one of the most masculine yet sensitive songs I can think of.

One of my hopes as a dad blogger is that parents will be able to identify with what is going through my head when they read my Dadabase posts; to make readers say, “That’s exactly how I feel! It’s like you’re reading my mind!”  I am a guy who loves to inspire others as much as I love to be inspired; I am always ready for that next awesome quote or motivational true story.

As a guy who loves music (I own over 700 CD’s,) I am regularly a-ha’d (to be made to say “a-ha!”) by song lyrics.  In fact, I think songwriting is one of the most vulnerable forms of communication and/or art that exists.  I can easily write a new 400+ word entry for the Dadabase every day and never feel as exposed as I would compared to if I was writing and performing a song instead.

It was the 1995 movie Mr. Holland’s Opus that truly first exposed me to John Lennon.  At the end of the movie, Mr. Holland (played by Richard Dreyfus) sings and signs the song “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)” by John Lennon.  I am not the kind of guy that will cry when I see a sad movie.  But… I will confidently admit to letting my eyes get a little bit watery when I see something truly moving- like the last five minutes of the final episode of Lost or the ending of half of the Rocky movies or heck… even Marley and Me.

Needless to say, since the first time I saw it, that scene in Mr. Holland’s Opus has always found a way to connect to the “truly moved” part of my brain.  It’s not just the imperfectness and realness of how Richard Dreyfus sings the song but also because the genius of the way John Lennon’s lyrics are so cleverly played out as a disconnected father reaches out to his son.

And I know that the word “genius” is thrown around pretty loosely in the entertainment world, especially when it comes to legendary Italian-American movie directors like Quentin Tarantino, Francis Ford Coppola, and Martin Scorcese whose films are known for being “groundbreaking” as well as extremely violent.  But sometimes, an artist actually is genius, despite the cliché factor of the word.  And since John Lennon pulled it off perfectly in “Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” I feel compelled to expose the magic behind his wonderful creation.

As a father, John Lennon touched on several major elements of the father-son connection in the 114 words of the song. The first verse addresses his fatherly role of protector:

“Close your eyes,
Have no fear,
The monsters gone,
He’s on the run and your daddy’s here.”

I think there’s something immeasurably powerful in the phrase, “your daddy’s here.”  Because no matter what our own relationship with our father was like growing up, every kid wants to know the presence of a positive, protective father.  “Daddy” does have the power to scare the monster away.

Next, John Lennon touched on the importance of encouragement:

“Before you go to sleep,
Say a little prayer,
Everyday in every way,
It’s getting better and better.”

This verse is a reminder for me to pray for my son when I am inclined to worry for him instead.  Additionally, John Lennon paints a positive future for his son as he focuses on things getting better as they move forward, not dwelling on past mistakes and decisions.

My favorite part of the song is the bridge, which paints not only the masculine element of adventure but also the excitement of the father looking forward to his son growing up and becoming a man with him:

“Out on the ocean sailing away,
I can hardly wait,
To see you to come of age,
But I guess we’ll both,
Just have to be patient,
Yes it’s a long way to go,
But in the meantime.”

The lyrics of the song come to a close with the final chorus refrain of “beautiful, beautiful, beautiful… beautiful boy.”  And then finally John Lennon calls his son by name: “Darling Sean.”  I think for the past several decades, the idea of a father kissing his son on the cheek or forehead or calling his son “beautiful” has become pretty foreign.  In fact, those outward expressions of a father’s love do indeed make me think of old Italian culture I’ve seen in movies throughout my life.  Blame it on the ¼ Italian blood running through my veins, but I admire those ideas enough to want to replicate them in my relationship with my own son.

The last verse contains one of John Lennon’s most famous quotes:

Before you cross the street,
Take my hand,
“Life is what happens to you,
While your busy making other plans.”

I of all people know what’s like to carefully plan every year of my life, only to see a completely different reality come to fruition.  (Are you like so tempted right now to copy and paste “Life is what happens to you while your busy making other plans” as your Facebook status update and/or Twitter?)

“Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy),” which was released as a single on November 17, 1980, just a few weeks before John Lennon was killed and a few months before I was born, obviously speaks to me as a father.  Looking back on past Dadabase entries, I have specifically written about the same exact aspects of the father-son relationship as John Lennon wrote about in the song:

Strength, guidance, courage, adventure, direction, and the appreciation of beauty.

The song’s subtle magic exists in these properties of manhood that we men already identify with, even if we don’t realize it. And that’s why it’s dang near impossible for a father not to relate to and love this song.

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