Two hundred and sixteen

Vegan.  What am I getting myself into?  I keep thinking about all the things I have to give up.  No turkey and gravy for Thanksgiving.  No leather belts or wool socks (how will I make it through the nights with my constant cold feet?).  No cheese or ice cream.  No bacon and eggs.  No butter.  Sigh. Everyone thinks I’m crazy to do this (most months people think I’m crazy though, so I’m starting to get used to it).  I love all kinds of food.  I love medium rare prime rib as much as I love a great vegetable curry.  Does being vegan mean I have to miss out on all those flavours and textures?  What will I eat when I go out to a restaurant?  Will I get annoyed with looking at every label for ingredients or asking at a restaurant if there is any dairy, eggs or meat in something?  Will I be hungry all the time?  What exactly can I eat?

For those who don’t know, vegan (pronounced VEE-gun) is: “someone who, for various reasons, chooses to avoid using or consuming animal products. While vegetarians choose not to use flesh foods, vegans also avoid dairy and eggs, as well as fur, leather, wool, down, and cosmetics or chemical products tested on animals.  Veganism, the natural extension of vegetarianism, is an integral component of a cruelty-free lifestyle. Living vegan provides numerous benefits to animals’ lives, to the environment, and to our own health–through a healthy diet and lifestyle.” (from the Vegan Action website vegan.org)

For the next month I will be living this lifestyle and diet.  I’l be writing about both my journey and larger topics about vegan living including shopping, cooking, vegan dumpster diving (called freeganism), eating out, clothing, celebrity vegans, animal cruelty, environmental concerns, raw veganism, and health benefits.

Hopefully by the end of the month I’ll be thinking less about all the things I had to give up and instead all the benefits of it.  Or else I’ll be drooling for that medium rare prime rib!

Note: I’ve already cheated twice, by accident, and it’s only been a day and a half!  I had honey in my coffee, which is generally thought of as non-vegan (although there’s some debate) and I wore socks that had wool in them without even thinking about it.  I really have to pay attention to what I’m consuming and wearing.

Two hundred and fifteen

I made it through First Kiss Interviews month!

This month has been as much about my journey across part of Canada and the people I met, as it has been about the first kiss stories.  I am still in awe of how beautiful this country is and what a wide range of people live here.  I thank everyone who shared their story with me and took time to talk to a crazy writer from Toronto.

Recap of the month

I have been told amazing first kisses that have led to marriages, very first kisses in the playground or the field, spin the bottle, playing doctor, and disgusting first kisses.  There were first kisses with friends ‘practicing’ for the real thing, two sides of the same story, my mom’s first kiss (I can’t tell you which story it is because she made me use code names), kiss with a married man, first kisses that changed people’s lives and ones that they would rather forget.  One first kiss even caused a supernatural occurrence. I love all the stories, but here are a few of my favourites (I obviously like the romantic or funny ones):

What did I learn?

You might not think it if you met me, but I can be really shy and introverted at times.  It’s really hard for me to approach people I don’t know and ask them for something – even if it is just a story.  I don’t think I realized how personal asking someone about their first kiss can be until I started trying to ask strangers about that intimate moment in their lives.  I had to practice a way to approach the question without sounding creepy or too invasive.  Generally, though, people were so kind to share with me and actually seemed happy to reminisce about the past, even when it was a bad first kiss.

As the month went on, I almost became more interested in how the people reacted to the question of what was their first kiss, than the actual story.  I loved what a strong emotion it brought out in so many people – especially older women.  I realized a few days in that I would have a better chance getting a good story from people who I was already having a conversation and had a rapport with. So I ended up having some really great conversations with people I will probably never see again in my life.  I need to do more of that.

A few other things I learned… Women tended to remember more than men did.  Most people didn’t think their story was very interesting.  About half were bad first kisses – some even made the person swear off kissing for awhile.  Women made the first move in just over a quarter of the stories.  Most people remember the full name of their first kiss.

Where do I go from here with First Kiss Interviews?

It would be interesting to have a separate project devoted entirely to first kiss stories, perhaps where people can submit and vote on their favourites.  I don’t have the time to work on that now, so maybe one day I will, or maybe someone else will run with this idea and make it grow.

What I got out of this was how wonderful it was to talk to people from all walks of life.  I will make an effort to connect more with strangers and stop hiding in my private bubble.  Taking the time to have a small conversation with a random person can brighten your day.

Today I start a month of being vegan.  I never realized how many things have animal products in them.  This is going to be hard!

Two hundred and fourteen

Today’s post is a little different – a reoccurring character in the blog has given me a video of his first kiss story, as opposed to me writing it.  The famous Eco-comedian (who I met during date month, accompanied me for my two lunches in Yorkville – one as a ‘hussy’ and one as a ‘bum’, and has become a good friend of mine) tells the story of his first kiss and why he’s never really gotten over it.  It’s a one-take video, so he does go on a bit of a tangent at times (sorry Josh), but the raw emotion of what it feels like to never get over your first love is there.  Josh shares a lot of his life online through video and photography (his You Tube page is here if you’re interested) and is currently running for Green Party MPP in Eglinton-Lawrence (his Facebook page here).  Thanks Josh for really opening up and sharing this part of your life, even though I know it was hard for you.

The Eco-comedian/Josh’s first kiss – a tragic story of love and loss

Two hundred and thirteen

I’m back in the swing of things.  I forgot how comfortable my bed is and how much I love my apartment.  I ran into an old university friend yesterday that reminded me how many people there are in Toronto I care about.  I guess this city isn’t so bad.  Although I still wish it had mountains surrounding it!

On to the topic of the month – as promised, a double bill of first kiss stories from my two amazing university friends:

Angie

“The best story about a first kiss that comes to mind is my funniest.  I’d been on numerous dates with this guy and he hadn’t kissed me.  I was getting really frustrated.  I’m not the type of girl to make the first move.  We had just seen a movie at the Scotiabank Theatre and we were standing at King and John or somewhere around there.  It was cold out and snowy – in the winter sometime.  I was so aggravated he didn’t make a move, so I just put my face up really close to his and kissed him.  He looked a little shocked.  I thought ‘great, done, out of the way, that’s the way it’s done!’  It was more a kiss out of aggravation than romance.”

Siobhan

“My first ‘first kiss’?  It’s a little kid one.  I was 9 and he was 10.  We were in the school yard.  Myself and my best friend from grade three were ‘dating’ these two boys who were in grade four.  We decided we would both kiss them at the same time.  It was behind the portable so the teachers couldn’t catch us. We counted down, then gave them the tiniest little peck on the lips that didn’t really count.  They ran off cheering. We ‘dated’ for three weeks.

I’m still friends with both of the guys.  Funnily enough, later on I ended up kissing the other guy.  My original kiss still introduces me as ‘This is Siobhan – she was my first kiss’.”

Two hundred and twelve

I’m waiting to hear back from the second part of my double bill, so it will have to wait another day.  Today’s story comes from my friend Jenn.  When I first talked about writing first kiss stories Jenn sent me the most adorable video of two little kids having their first kiss.  She was also excited to share her first kiss story.  I will let her words and the video speak for themselves:

 

Jenn’s childhood friend’s “kissing medicine”

“When I was a kid I grew up with a boy named Ryan.  My mom was best friends with a guy she went to high school with and when he got married, she became best friends with his wife.  They had a kid…that would be Ryan.  He was 2 years younger than me and I met him the second day of his life and we were pretty inseparable after that.  We hung out, played normal kid games, watched Howard the Duck for hours on end and were the best of friends.  The “When Harry met Sally moment” came pretty early for us (if you don’t know what I am talking about, it is the debate as to whether men and women can actually be friends).  I was 8 and he was 6 and he wanted to play “doctor”.  I had no idea what that meant.  What that meant to Ryan was that I would pretend I was asleep from a spell from an evil wizard and he would be the doctor who would wake me up with his “kissing medicine”.  At first he would kiss my hand and I would wake up all sleepy and then thank him for saving me.  We would giggle and run around the room (even then we knew we were probably doing something we shouldn’t).  One day, I had just been poisoned with the sleeping potion from the evil wizard (a role Ryan decided he also wanted to play.  We would fill a cup up with Tang and pretend it was a potion), and I shut my eyes and waited for the kiss on my hand but he planted one right on my lips.  At the time I wiped it off and ran around the room coughing and screaming and laughing.  Now I look back on it as one of my favourite memories with Ryan.  I have now known him for 26 years and we still hang out, play games, watch Howard the Duck, and talk about his “kissing medicine”.

*When I called Ryan and asked him if I could share this moment he stated that he was not my first kiss.  I had a moment on the playground in elementary school where two boys who I was in class with, Marc Upton and Andrew King, tapped me on the shoulder at the same time and when I turned around they both kissed me on the cheek.  I insist that this happened AFTER Ryan and I kissed.  He insists before.”