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Home Again, Home Again

November 19, 2009

So, as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’m leaving tonight to head to my home of Shreveport, Louisiana.  We’ll be driving down to DC tonight, meeting up with some friends from grad school (yay!!!), and then flying out of DC early tomorrow morning for Louisiana.

I’m a little nervous about this trip for a few reasons.  I’m running my first half-marathon the Saturday after we get there, so I’m already starting to feel the butterflies about that.  I definitely feel like I ran enough in my training, and I’ve run the half-marathon distance a few times, just to be sure that I can do it, but still– come race day, you just never know!  I’ve really enjoyed training for this race, and it has definitely given me something to focus on, which is good, because otherwise I’d spend my time thinking, “Oh my God.  We just moved to Altoona, Pennsylvania.  Oh my God.  We just moved to Altoona, Pennsylvania.” 

Still, I’ll be glad to have the race over and done with.  There’s just something different about running when you know you’re aiming for a specific final goal.  In some ways, it made it more fun for me.  I’m pretty competitive, so it really pushed me to compete (with myself!).  Plus, it definitely made me much less prone to blow of my run, however bad the weather was or however tired I was feeling.  It’s also made me feel stronger.  I’ve always been a runner/jogger (both my parents were/are big joggers), but I never went further than 3 or 4 miles, with walking breaks in between.  The fact that I can now run 13 miles straight feels like a pretty good accomplishment.

That being said, there’s more pressure when you’re running for a race!  I hate the feeling of worry/guilt I get now when I have to skip out on a run.  I know that missing one run won’t ruin my training schedule, but it definitely makes me nervous.  I’ll be glad to get back to running just for the fun of it, without a race looming in the distance.

SO, I’m nervous about that.  I’m also, obviously, going home for the first time as a vegetarian.  As I’ve said in my about post, in the past few years, I’ve really cut most of the meat from my diet without really even trying, but when I’ve gone home in the past, all (meatless) best have been off.  As you might suspect, the South is perhaps not the most vegetarian-friendly region of the country :-) We LOVE our meat!  And Louisiana might just reign supreme in terms of meat-lovers.  After all, the state’s official nickname is Sportsman’s Paradise.  People in Louisiana love to hunt, and they love to eat what they hunt.  Both my uncle and my father are avid duck hunters, and our family meals inevitably center around meat– duck, goose, sausage, cornish game hens, ham…get the picture?

One of my favorite meals when I go home is my mother’s homemade gumbo.  It. Is.  The. Best.  The deep, roux-thickened stock…the plump, slick okra…and of course, big chunks of fresh duck meat, spicy sausage, and local gulf shrimp rising to the top.  The whole thing is served over white rice with a big chunk of french bread.  Just thinking about it gets my mouth watering. 

I feel like there aren’t many meals that I’ll miss as a vegetarian, but gumbo is definitely one of them.  So much about good food goes beyond just the ingredients– it’s about the history behind the meal.  To me, gumbo means home.  I’ll be genuinely sad to be giving up this meal, because I feel like I’ll be giving up a small piece of my Louisiana heritage and culture. 

When I announced that I would be going vegetarian, one of my friends noted, “That’s a bold move, right before Thanksgiving!”  She’s right, of course!  Pre-vegetarian, I might not have eaten much red meat, but turkey?  Turkey, I ate!  Turkey, I loved! 

I definitely thought about holding off on the vegetarian thing until after the holidays.  After all, going vegetarian has “New Year’s Resolution” written all over it.  But the more I thought about it, the more I just wanted to jump right in.  There’s always going to be a reason to wait, a reason to hold out for a few more weeks, or another month.  Plus, I like the challenge that this presents to me.  I figure, if I can make it through the next month and a half without eating meat, the rest of the year will be (vegetarian) gravy! 

I’ll be posting from home, letting you know how things go.  My sister and her husband are having us over for dinner on Sunday, and she told me last night that they’re making spinach and tofu enchiladas!  My family has always been supportive of me, however strange or impractical my choices might seem to be (you want to get a Master’s degree in Poetry?  Sure, that sounds like a great idea!  Very practical!).  Still, I know that this next week will not be without its challenges. 

Wish me luck!

PS– All you veteran vegetarians out there– how do you deal with holidays?  Do you find your family is supportive, or have you had “awkward” vegetarian moments at family gatherings?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Emily permalink
    November 19, 2009 1:39 pm

    My family was merciless on the holidays when I was a veggie, but eventually they lightened up. (My sister tried to shove some ham down my throat– no, really.) I made sure to eat something of everything that wasn’t meat, and that seemed to distract them. And don’t beat yourself up if you slip up — accidentally or on purpose — and have some gumbo. It’s a process. (And your Mom’s gumbo sounds sinfully good.)

  2. Anna permalink
    November 19, 2009 2:24 pm

    Emily, I didn’t know that you were a vegetarian at one point! Was this in college? (I don’t see how anyone could have survived that Ireland trip without eating meat!! :-) )

  3. Emily permalink
    November 19, 2009 2:48 pm

    Yeah, that was when I broke it. I was a vegetarian from my senior year of high school until the day we left for Ireland. I still don’t eat red meat, but Jon’s persuaded me to be carnivorous.

  4. November 20, 2009 2:55 am

    Good luck at your first half! I can understand your jitters! But, you have run the distance and you are ready! Just get out there and enjoy it!

    It took my family awhile to get used to me being a vegetarian, but they were cool about having side dishes for me. Now that I am vegan, it’s harder. My in-laws don’t understand what it means (my family’s cool with it). So we are hosting both holidays (vegan!) this year!

    Let us know how it goes this weekend! I bet it will go well, especially since you had cut back on meat before.

  5. Anna permalink
    November 20, 2009 3:52 am

    Thanks Kim! I think (I hope) I will enjoy it! My family has been pretty understanding so far…of course, it’s only been three days, haha!

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