But why? How is the invisible sun (reference to the song by The Police) causing this movement across the country, affecting us normal people who don’t wear hemp underwear or throw red paint on people who wear fur coats?
“Netflix documentaries” would be my personal number one answer; though several of them are available for free on YouTube, as well: Forks Over Knives, Hungry For Change, Vegucated, The Beautiful Truth, Dying To Have Known, Supersize Me, and Food, Inc.
These days, mainstream society is able to be educated, at their own will during their own free time, and learn that despite what we are taught our whole lives about nutrition, the human body does not require the meat, milk, or dairy products of another animal and species in order to be healthy; as long as there is regular access to what I have named “the Big 6” (vegetables, fruits, grains, beans, nuts, and seeds).
Especially this past decade, I’ve witnessed big companies capitalize on “the hope” of a cure for cancer, by spreading/selling awareness to consumers; while their products often contain carcinogens- which are actually known to cause cancer. (As explained in the Netflix documentary, Pink Ribbons, Inc.)
As these “Netflix documentaries” teach, elaborate studies like The China Study show that people who completely, or nearly completely, eliminate animal products from their bodies dramatically (!) reduce the chances of getting cancer and diseases.
It’s like this: When you stop eating animal products, you “turn off” the cancer cells in your body. But eating animal products empowers the cancer cells.
But it’s not just about avoiding cancer and disease. After all, any heckler in the crowd can just say, “Who cares? You know you’re just going to die anyway, right?”
True, but I am a guy who had extreme psoriasis for a decade… and constant sinus pressure and sinus infections for over two decades… and was very allergic to cats… and then saw all those problems go away after becoming a vegan.
Now that I’ve explained my personal motivation for becoming a vegan, I want to explain what didn’t entice me to become a vegan, in the second half of my letter.
You are a boy… and you definitely act like it. You make it so obvious that little boys are wired much differently than little girls.
It’s a rare sight to find you without some kind of overly masculine (and therefore predictably goofy) Hot Wheels car clenched tightly in your hand, whether it’s on the car ride to day care, watching Hard Hat Harry on Netflix at the house, or even navigating your way around any given playground.
At no point do you ever need me to tell you what little boys should like. You are currently obsessed with monster trucks, but it’s not something I prompted.
You just saw a toy monster truck one day and asked me, “I can like that? I take it home?”
The answer was obviously yes. Now you have like 7 of them.
One of your daily routines on the way to school now is to go through the colors of the rainbow in reference to monster trucks and/or Jeep Wranglers:
“I have a blue monster truck? I can drive it?”
I will reply, “Jack has a blue monster truck… He drives it!”
Next you’ll say the truck (or Jeep) is black, orange, purple, or even pink. Twice now you asked for a “dinosaur Jeep.” I’m still trying to figure that one out…
I contrast this against what I see the girls your age doing at daycare. They are always tending to either the baby dolls or the pretend kitchen and food; meanwhile the boys are wandering around, looking for trouble… I mean adventure.
It’s not that I have to stereotype little boys versus little girls. That’s just naturally how it ends up.
Even if you want to drive a pink monster truck or Jeep, the fact is still that you want to drive a monster truck or Jeep.
It would be different if you were fantasizing about a VW Bug, Mini Cooper, Mazda Miata, Dodge Neon, or a Toyota Rav 4.
I say you just can’t hide your masculinity, even behind the color pink.
Earlier last week I heard Jaci Valasquez say on her morning radio show on The Fish that what she wished for most on Mother’s Day was to take it easy while she and her husband watched their kids play.
I figured that sounded like a pretty good idea. So sure enough, I made sure we had the laziest Mother’s Day ever at our house.
There’s something anyway about waking up wearing a Smurfs t-shirt that says “Spaced Out” on it that leads to not taking to a shower, which somehow leads to us not leaving for church on time.
We were so slothful we not only were too late for the 9:30 and 11:00 services, but we barely made it on time for the 11:11 service.
It’s evidently designed for anyone who is just late enough that they need to watch the 11:00 service on an 11 minute delay on a giant movie screen in the big slacker room down the hall while coffee is being served.
That would be us: the slackers.
Not normally, though. Usually we’re okay to confirm to the strict and necessary weekend schedule it takes to socialize, buy groceries and run errands, go to church, and still clean the house, all with a toddler in tow, while living in a big enough town like Nashville.
But not this Mother’s Day. We chose to be as deliberately unmotivated as we could: Starbucks Frappucinos for brunch (where we pushed Jack around in one of their R2D2-looking kid stroller seats) and then had leftover pasta back at the house for a 3:00 lunch.
Jack took a 2 hour grace nap which led to us catching up on some Netlix. (We’re too cheap to ever pay for cable or satellite.)
“Hey, they have the show I Shouldn’t Be Alive now on the instant streaming…”.
Forty-three minutes later:
“That episode reminded me a lot of Lost. Umm… you want to watch Lost now?”
It was pushing Jack’s dinner time and we still had the house to clean.
In the likeness of one of those fast-forward montages in an Eighties sitcom where the characters clean up the mess real quick thanks to speed-dubbing, while zany music plays, Jill managed to get our place feng shui enough to feel comfortable while I entertained/annoyed Jack. (Pictured right.)
I took all the pillows from our couch and made a giant mountain that kept enclosing Jack as soon as he climbed to the top of it. Next I let him continually walk across our unnecessarily long couch until he got beyond giddy and delirious.
Then he discovered some forgotten (and dreadfully stale) fruit snacks in a travel-size container in the closet. I liked them better than he did.
At some point, Jack and I gave Jill her Mother’s Day care package which consisted of a card from Jack, a box of black licorice that were shaped like little hearts, and a gift certificate for a pedicure.
For us, it was a very lazy Sunday and what I have written is all I remember of it. But I already know Jill will look back on it as a good Mother’s Day; one worth repeating.
The moral of this story is to be lazy and then good things will happen.
Something I had always been acutely aware of is that when two people have a baby, there’s a good solid 6 weeks that go by where you stop seeing them in public. But shortly after that, the couple begins to dare to make random public appearances. Like last week, we attempted to take Jack with us to buy groceries. Really, there’s no need for me to paint the details of that story; if you can imagine it, that’s what happened. Therefore, today I went alone to buy groceries. It took just as long being that I’m a guy and we, the male species, don’t have instincts to tell us things like where to find vanilla extract or even at our own house where the cutting boards go in the kitchen.
But with me still not having a job yet and with the cold winter weather, the three of us have spent a lot of time indoors. Now I know what it’s like to be a 29 year-old retired millionaire who gets to stay at home all day in his pajamas and eat cereal for lunch. Minus the million dollars and plus the need to actually make a living. So after a month of constantly looking online for jobs and applying, and taking care of Jack, and watching random documentaries instantly on Netflix through the Wii, we decided we were brave enough to take Jack to church for the first time; out of the womb.
Of course, despite giving ourselves plenty of time to get there early, Jack decided he wanted one last snack of milk right as we were heading out the door. Then we had to change his diaper. So we arrived 10 minutes late and the only place left to sit was up in the balcony. This turned out to be a pretty good location though; since we were right next to the door for the moment he would inevitably start crying. He lasted 35 minutes before we had to dart for the door with him. We were impressed.
There is only one person who directly assured me back before we knew the gender of our baby that he would be a boy. That was Tommy Huong, a Vietnamese co-worker who had already predicted the gender and birthday of another coworker (he has evidently memorized the 12 year patterns of the Chinese calendar). So last Friday (the day after the due date) when someone at work suggested we all do a “baby pool” to predict when Baby Jack would actually be born, a better idea instantly surfaced:Go ask Tommy!
I ventured over to his desk and as he turned around it was as if he already knew why I was there, being that he was too far away to have heard the recent conversation. “When was the due date?” he asked me. “Yesterday,” I answered. Tommy turned to his calendar and without any hesitation, placed his finger on Tuesday, November 16th. “Tuesday, he will be born Tuesday.”
So we enjoyed the weekend. Then I worked a full day on Monday. That night around 8:45, my wife said I should finish the last two episodes of Dexter on the disc from Netflix so we could mail it off the next day- and so I have could time to watch my new favorite show before our schedules became forever changed. I watched my two 50 minute episodes of Dexter, walked to the bedroom in perfect time to hear my wife proclaim, “I think I’m in labor.” And she was.
From 10:30 Monday night until 5:11 Tuesday morning, she labored at the house. Then we drove in the rain to the hospital; a 40 minute ride. After laboring for 12 hours without any pain medications, she then pushed for four more additional hours while not furthering past the 8 centimeters mark (and 100% effaced). By that point, it became clear that after making it that far, she no longer had the strength to push without some outside help. So my wife chose to get an epidural. Because ultimately, we wanted to do everything we could do to avoid major surgery.
But even after several hours of the epidural, it took everything she had to push our baby out. In fact, if it weren’t also for the diligence and determination of the midwives to honor our request of avoiding a C-section, cutting the baby out of my wife’s stomach would have been the only option. But the midwives tried every trick in the book, and finally, it worked. In the end, Baby Jack turned out to be one big Bambino. The first words my wife said when she saw him coming out was, “You’re a big baby! How did you fit inside of me?!”
I realize that the expected Hallmark way to portray the first time I held Jack is to say that I cried, as the emotions surrounding the miracle of life flushed through me. But for the fact all my emotions were exhausted from helping my wife suffer through over 22 hours of labor, here’s what I thought instead: “You’re darker than us! If anyone should be Mario, it’s you!”
I’ll explain. A few months ago I told the story of how the name my parents gave me while my mom was still pregnant with me was Mario. My mom is half Italian and half Mexican, and therefore, dark skinned. The name Mario would not only have represented my dark skin, but also cover both my Italian and Mexican heritage. But as soon as I was born, my pasty skin and seemingly American features brought cause for a name change. Therefore, a few hours after I was born, I was named Nicholas- a less ethnic name that still points to some kind of a foreign background.
So 29 years later as I held my own son for the first time, I had the opposite reaction from the one my mom had when I was born. Because as of now, Baby Jack doesn’t necessarily especially look like my wife or me, but instead what I would imagine Super Mario would have looked like when he was first born. One of Jack’s noticeable features his full head of black hair. I think he has “Gerber baby” lips. And as I have already studied his profile multiple times, it’s safe to say he has an Italian nose- which I am so proud of!
My parents holding their first grandchild for the first time.
Right before we were released from the hospital, Jack was circumcised. I felt really bad for him, yet at the same time realized that I don’t remember my own circumcision. It’s still sad to think about him having to go through that though. He’s holding up just fine and so is his mommy, despite a drawn out entrance into this world. God has answered all of our prayers for his and my wife’s safety and health; we are so grateful for that. The pediatrician at the hospital told us that she checked him from head to toe and couldn’t find anything that needing fixing or reason for caution or concern.
Jack is a cool baby, if I do say so myself. He’s pretty low maintenance- he just wants to be held all the time. But I’m guessing we won’t have trouble working that out. Thanks for following dad from dad one, so far. If life is a sitcom, this is the season finale. The new season premieres next week where I am promising an interesting new plot twist…