Let’s talk for real for just a sec. Like most of you out there, I didn’t grow up on a vegan diet. In fact, I’m pretty sure my mother is still confused about what tofu really is. So when I became ‘hella-woke’ and started to make more ethical food choices, I’m sorry to admit, there were a lot of meat and poultry products that I really missed.
Fortunately, I started to venture out and discovered that Vegas has so much to offer the common vegetarian or vegan. I decided to share some of my favorite veggie eateries for those of us Las Vegans that are just starting out in the veg-game. All of the places I’ve listed below are great in their own way, but the common thread between them is that they don’t sacrifice great flavor in order to be vegan.
When I first decided to start eating more ethically, VegeNation was the first place, other than my own house, that I ate at. Located in the heart of old Vegas on Carson Ave, you couldn’t ask for a better spot to grab some great vegan foods. If you’re ever in the neighborhood during breakfast hours, be sure to try one of their tofu scramble bowls. They’re Lit!
Violett’s Vegan Organic Cafe And Juice Bar
Before you were vegan or vegetarian did you enjoy a BLT every once in a while? Or a soul-warming bowl of chili? I know I did. Cut to Violett’s Vegan Cafe. Along with a great selection of freshly blended juices, this cafe also makes some of the best cafe classics, vegan style. Located off West Desert Inn Road, some great vegan food is just a hop onto the DI away!
VegeWay appeals to my very lazy, sloth-like temperament. Anytime I can get a vegan meal without having to get out of my car, I’m Down! Their burgers are comparable to that of IN-N-OUT, and their zucchini fries are bangin’! Do yourself a flavor and get to a VegeWay drive-thru ASAP! They currently have two locations. One on South Jones Blvd and another on North Durango Drive.
Panchos Vegan Tacos
The one thing that I missed more than anything when I stopped eating red meat was tacos, carne asada, el pastor, etc. . . So I thank the powers that be, Panchos brought all those and so much more back into my life, and my stomach. If you’re looking for great Mexican food period, vegan or otherwise, I highly recommend you head over to South Pecos Road and see what they got going on at Panchos Vegan Tacos.
Recently I posted a vlog where I briefly mentioned how happy I was that my office was finally coming together. Flying high off the newly purchased coffee table to accompany my small loveseat, I could only imagine the fanciful notions I’d conjure while lounging on it. I had a new organizer and notebook to schedule out my blog posts and write ideas down in. A new set of fresh ballpoint pens sat inside the decorative pen holder, that was also new.
All the things that I felt I needed to write were finally in place, except for the small sheepskin rug that was on back order. . . Bummer.
The Driving Force
It would seem that on the surface, I was ready. Surely, armed with my new pens and coffee table, I’d be inspired to write the most captivating blog posts of my freelance career. Hell, I might even finish my novel this year. With the muse of my perfectly-cute blue loveseat I was unstoppable, right?
Wrong. As I glance up at my most recent purchase, a bookshelf from Target that’s lately held more used coffee mugs than actual books, I am brazenly reminded that no amount of cute office supplies will ever encourage great writing or ideas.
The year has merely just begun and I’ve spent more money on my office supplies than I’ve made off of my blog. Big Mistake!
Making Up For Lost Blogs
So here I sit, actually writing the first blog of the year. It’s only taken three weeks and about $600, but I’m finally doing it! Let this be a lesson to the children; if you can’t come up with a good idea with a composition notebook from the dollar store, you probably won’t be able to in a designer folio.
Mistakes Were Made
In the last couple of weeks, while I should have been writing, I’ve done some pretty extensive research on how to run a high performing blog. I started out by giving my website a mini makeover. I love the new clean look it has. It just seems more accessible than before.
I also took notice of what my favorite websites had writing blogs had to offer. What exactly hooked me to come back in the first place? What was the root of their fan base?
Because We Love A List
Here is a list I’ve compiled during my last few weeks of procrastination of websites that have given me some real insight into the blogging world.
Recently, my boyfriend and I took a small trip to San Diego for my birthday. We had a great time at the zoo, and an even better time at the bar. . . Duh. On our way back to Vegas we decided to bypass the crazy stand-still traffic of the I-15 and go on a little adventure. We took the scenic route through the Mojave desert. Just before we entered the Joshua Tree National Park, we came across this guy! We quickly decided to pull over for a photo opt. As we got closer to the lion dude, we realized we had found our very first Geocache! It was such an amazing experience reading all the previous travelers notes of well-wishes and mirrored excitement from finding this not-so-little-gem in the desert.
I probably ask myself this question every day, and miraculously, every day I come up with a new reason for my continuous stall. I tell myself things like, “You have a stupid job that you need in order to survive.” That becomes the excuse usually when I’m at the stupid job. Once I get home from work, “You just did a full eight hours of work, you’ve been up since 5:30 am and you have to start making dinner soon, so you should definitely take a 20-minute cat-nap instead of actually working towards your life goals for an hour or so.”
The excuses and procrastination continues into my days off, “You’ve had a long grueling week at work, all I want to do is enjoy my family and relax a bit before I have to go back to that soul draining place.”
It just seems to go on and on until I’m so fed up with myself, that I actually write something. Often I’ve thought, “Maybe this is just my process.” I want you to know that this is not any kind of process. . . Well, maybe the process of someone who takes their entire life to write their first book, lies to themselves all the time and then comes to the realization that once they die it won’t be the book that gets published, but their personal diary has potential.
I understand that not holding yourself accountable is not a ‘process.’ Making excuses until you feel so bad about yourself is only harmful to your piece of mind. I know great art and literature has come out of the direst situations, pain, and anguish. But I doubt the greatest writers of our time became successful by hating themselves.
I’m by no means a successful writer, but I do know a few successful people, and they didn’t build their businesses from the ground up and achieve their dreams by continuously beating themselves.
Those people all held themselves accountable for creating their own opportunities. One of the biggest misconceptions I had once I started freelance writing was believing that someone out there was going to give me my big break. That someone had to notice me and completely understand my voice, and what I had to say. I just had to find that right person who would give me my opportunity.
Since then I have talked to and lived with, many a freelancer that have all proven that way of thinking wrong. These people have taught me an invaluable lesson; You don’t wait for an opportunity to knock on your door. You create your own destiny and you own opportunity.
Have there been people who were plucked out of obscurity? Yes. Is that a common occurrence? No. So you’re going to have to work towards your own dreams because everyone else is busy trying to get their own shit together to bother with you right now.
In my whole life, I don’t think I have ever reached a goal that I’ve set for myself. It’s very discouraging to come to this realization of ones’ self, and you would think that most people would take this new-found information about themselves and try to overcome it. Unfortunately, I’m not one of those people. All this realization has done is heap on another load of self-doubt and an overwhelming sense of, well, being overwhelmed. I think the sense of feeling overwhelmed when I take on new tasks is the root of my not being able to finish what I’ve started.
As I look around my office now, I realize even the most menial projects I’ve either struggled to get through or have just given up on all together. My closet is like a holding cell of arts and crafts, stranded, but not forgotten. There is a large box filled with toilet paper rolls that I planned on turning into paper flower wall decorations that I saw on Pinterest once. The project will probably never even get the chance to be a “Pinterest Fail” because; it most likely will never be finished. Collecting the rolls was the easiest part, which is still an ongoing thing in my bathroom and in my boyfriends’ office bathroom as well.
When we first moved into our new home I hid about thirty empty toilet paper rolls under the sink cabinet in his bathroom, figuring he’d probably never look under there. It took a few weeks, but eventually, he found them. I think he’s pretty convinced that my DIY wall decoration is never going to happen because I’ve just taken to toilet paper roll hoarding so seamlessly. Who needs a cost effective art instillation when you can just have step 1 shoved into every available space of your home?
I don’t draw the line at paper rolls, though; there are dozens of hook rugs, half knitted scarves, and unfinished stories lying around as well. The unfinished writing thing hurts a lot. I just wish there was some sort of pill I could take, or maybe a tea; they’re doing some pretty crazy shit with tea these days that would help me get my crap together!
Last year, my grandfather was diagnosed with lung cancer. He had been sent to the dermatologist to have a suspect mole checked out, and like we all thought, it was cancerous. During the removal of the mole that was located on his upper chest, they also removed three lymph nodes. Apparently, they all had cancer in them. I say this with a skeptic tone because, before all of this diagnosis of cancer, my grandfather was the strongest man I knew.
A little backstory on my grandfathers’ toughness and Bad-Ass-erie; my grandpa was shot in the back when he was in his twenties, and the bullet is still there. The Docs, at the time, thought they would be doing more damage taking out the bullet, so they just left it there. At the age of 70, he hopped on his motorcycle and traveled clear across the country. When he arrived in North Dakota, he started to feel strange. He went to the ER there, where they told his that he was suffering from bleeding ulcers. The doctors there pleaded with him to stay at the hospital, but there’s really no telling my grandpa what to do once he’s set his mind on something. Against the hospitals’ orders, he discharged himself and road all the way back to Vegas on his bike.
The man is obviously certifiably insane, which was ever-so crystal clear, the time he went into cardiac arrest while in a movie theater while watching Expendables 2. He waited until the movie was over, and then calmly went out into the lobby and called an ambulance for himself. When we asked him why he didn’t go to the hospital sooner, he just replied with, “I wanted to see the rest of the movie I paid for.”
There are a lot of other things that prove my grandpa’s toughness . . . Or stubbornness. Unfortunately, I’m not at liberty to recount like 80% of them thanks to the witness protection program . . . kidding, maybe.
My point is the man that I’ve known my whole life has never let life or his ailments get him down. The only thing that has knocked him the fuck out is stupid fucking chemo therapy. My grandfather is 72 now and in the past few months that he’s been on chemo have been a disaster. It seems like when he had no idea that he had cancer, he was fine. Since he’s been on the chemo, his health has seriously declined. He’s depressed because he can’t go anywhere, or do anything without shaking like a leaf. And then when he brings this up to the Docs, they just refer him to a neurologist.
Nothing makes sense anymore. I feel like this whole “Cancer” thing is just something that was made up by the medical industry to suck more money out of our pockets while systematically fixing our over populated planet at the same time. I know I’m going off the rales with this conspiracy theory, but I can’t help it. I’m angry.
I’m angry that, once a month, my grandfather has to go somewhere and have poison injected into his body to kill off a disease of abnormal cell growth. Maybe all these people with “Abnormal Cells” are actually X-Men or something. And all we’re doing by killing it off is denying ourselves a world with actual superheroes!
On a more serious note, this has been very upsetting to my family, as I’m sure it has been to countless other families. It really sucks to sit with your loved one and feel like there’s nothing you can do to stop their pain. I hate it.
Let me begin with an honest statement; I hate my job. I’ve hated it for about five years now. I don’t think I could possibly pinpoint a definitive reason for my hatred because there are so many reasons why I absolutely despise the place. However, I can list the reasons why. The number one being that my job has robbed me and my family of having any normal holiday celebrations for the last ten years.
I work at a pretty well know restaurant that thrives during the holidays, more specifically Thanksgiving. Every Thanksgiving since I’ve turned eighteen has been a nightmare because of my employment. We sell pastries and whole turkey dinners that can accommodate families of up to eight people. Granted, a lot of restaurants and grocery stores have since jumped on the one-stop-holiday dinner-shopping, but the company that I work for started it all and has made a nationally known name for themselves in the process.
When I first started working there as a cashier I had just started my first year of college. I figured I could work my way to serving if I wanted and it’d be easy money while I worked on my Bachelor’s in English. I started out part-time during the last week of October. Little did I know, I was being groomed to take on their busiest time of the year.
When they first told me I’d be working on Thanksgiving Day, I was a little heartbroken. At the time, my grandmother had recently passed away and Thanksgiving and Christmas were always like her Super bowl. For weeks she would plan out her cooking schedule, buy her Christmas cards early, figure out what amazing gift she would get my grandpa for his one and only Hanukah present. My grandmother made magic happen every year. She epitomized the iconic matriarch in every way. She made sure every year that all five of her granddaughters had new Christmas dresses to take the yearly holiday photo. When people were losing their minds on Black Friday in the stores, my grandma was setting up her Christmas tree so that the gifts she had bought in August had somewhere to go for a few weeks. She was amazing, and 2008 would be the first holidays without her.
The more I thought about it, the more okay I was with not being at my grandparents’ house for Thanksgiving. At the time the pain of her not being around was very fresh and I really don’t think I could’ve bared being in a house that was filled to the brim with every special memory of my childhood. Mostly because every special memory I had was connected to her in some way.
In the end, I decided not to quit and stayed on through Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure the only two things that got me through that first Thanksgiving was the fact that my best friend was working right alongside me and that I still had Christmas Day to look forward to.
It’s funny to think back on that first year. The way I think about any holiday now is such a polar opposite to how I thought about them then. Back then it was all about being around my family and not caring about what hardships tomorrow might bring. I was “Living in The Moment,” as the kids strive to do these days. Now, the day after Thanksgiving all I can think about is next Thanksgiving. How to do things more efficiently, what am I buying for my boyfriend for Christmas, what’s the most expensive expression of my love that will make up for him sitting at home alone on a treasured holiday?
This past particular Thanksgiving my only thoughts on the holiday centered on how ridiculous it is that we celebrate the Trojan horse that we called Thanksgiving to trick Native Americans into trusting us. The dinner of peace was just a ploy to get the natives in our pocket, so we could then rape, murder, pillage and ultimately take their land for our own. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!
A particular incident that sticks out in my mind of that first year at the restaurant began at 7 am in the morning. When I first started working there, I had all morning shifts, which actually had its perks in a lot of ways, but at the time I couldn’t stand it. I’ve never been a morning person, so most days I worked you could find me falling asleep standing up while filling a whip cream bag. I longed to work the fun and hip night shift with my best friend and the servers that were actually my age. Instead, I was stuck with the seniors and above crew. Where all of the servers were older than my mother and had been serving there since the restaurant had opened in the early 90’s.
Don’t get me wrong, eventually, these women would become like my extended family, but when I first started, it was like entering a high school cafeteria every day. They made my life a living hell. They hated me because I was new and young. Word to the wise; The older servers hate new and young girls. Even though a “seasoned server” can run circles around any new hot young thing and they know it. They still find you threatening. Maybe it’s because they know the young bus boys will all be tripping over themselves to run their food and drinks, and clear their stations first. Meanwhile, the older ones can’t get the bussers to bring more napkins to their two tops, let alone run their food. Whatever the case may be, they very much disliked me at this time and it really came out on days like this.
I answered the phone at around 7:15 am. The man on the other side of the call asked if we had any fresh blueberry muffins. I was trained to tell all the customers that our muffins were made fresh every day, so, of course, that was my response. He was pleased and quickly made an order with me over the phone for eight of them. After I hung up the phone, I went to the showcase, packed the eight muffins, and set them aside with a ticket attached to the bag.
At about a quarter to nine, the man walked in, paid for his muffins, and went on his merry way. About fifteen minutes later I got an angry call from an older woman. She was screaming down the line so loud and shrill, I had to hold the receiver about a foot away from my ear. She was pissed! She had sent her husband into pick up eight blueberry muffins, and what he had brought home were, “Stale pieces of shit!”
I was so scared at this point. I was positive I was going to get fired. The woman asked to speak to my manager so I quickly apologized and transferred her call to the office. I sat staring at the little red light on the phone that indicated someone in the office was on that line. I knew that when that light went out, my manager would be coming up to get some kind of explanation as to why I was such a fucking idiot. I think when you know you’re about to get in trouble as a kid or an adult, the worst part is the couple of minutes of unknown fear. Your imagination takes over and suddenly you think it’s actually a possibility that not only will your boss fire you, they’ll go off the handle and hit you or something else completely heinous.
When my sweet, Asian Associate manager came up to the front of the house to speak with me, she didn’t really look angry. She didn’t look happy, but definitely not angry, and she didn’t say a word to me about the muffins. She acted as if everything was normal so I followed suit and kept my mouth shut. She briefly did something on one of the computers up front, and then, just before she headed back to the office, she turned to me and said, “When that man comes back in, hide and have someone come and get me.”
I was stunned. All I could muster was an up and down shake of the head and an, “Okay.” And just like that, she turned on her heal and flitted away to the back. I didn’t know what to think, but I wasn’t getting fired at that moment so I tried to continue with my side work and get on with my day. During the hour and a half it took for that man to come back, I must have looked out the window a thousand times. For the life of me, I couldn’t remember what he was wearing. Ironically, I remember his face to this day, but I have no idea what he was wearing. If only I could remember, I could be gone, hidden behind the pantry before he even hit the door.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t fast enough. I was in the middle of finishing up a transaction with a customer who had bought several pastries when he walked in. I was standing behind the counter and couldn’t run away and hide as I was trying to give this woman her change. I quickly handed her $3.75 back and tried to bolt, but he stopped me in my tracks with a slam of his stale muffins on the front counter.
“I CAN’T BELIEVE YOU SOLD ME THIS SHIT!”
I looked back at him, not knowing what to do. He was screaming obscenities at me at the top of his lungs. This went on for what seemed like literally forever. To the point where I didn’t even know what he was saying. All of my focus was on trying not to cry. My recollection of what exactly he said is very fuzzy. All I really have left of this memory is the moment he started to dig into his shopping bag. He opened the muffin box, plucked out a blueberry muffin, and threw it at my chest.
I remember that that was my breaking point. As I ran away, desperately trying to hold back tears, I saw the older server-women laughing hysterically at me as they rolled their silverware. Luckily, my manager was already on her way up, and when I realized that I made a B-line for the bathroom.
As I stood in the ladies room stall, sobbing and unenergetically wiping streusel off my chest I played the absurd moment of being assaulted with a muffin over and over in my mind. At the time I couldn’t comprehend how crazy and irrational food can make a person. To be completely honest, I still really don’t understand why people get so worked up about sustenance that we just end up shitting out after our bodies take what it needs to survive.
After I had calmed down a bit and had decided not to run out of the bathroom, out of the restaurant and into my car, never looking back, I left the Ladies and crept up to the front counter once I knew the muffin man was gone. My manager at the time was so sweet, even though I was a complete dumb-ass who had just cried at work. It wouldn’t be the first time, but it would be the last time anyone saw. . . Don’t hold me to that, it might be a lie. She told me that I had just done what they had taught me to do and that she had had problems with that particular customer before. I later learned that if the blueberry muffins weren’t personally handed to the “Muffin Man” straight out of the damn oven, in his wife’s eyes, they were old and stale and she almost always asked for a refund. I was the only lucky one to actually have any of the “stale” muffins thrown at them though.
It’s funny how something that I thought I would never live down makes me crack up now whenever I tell that story. Just the other night I was trying to tell my boyfriend about D-Day with the Muffin Man, and I could barely get the words out, I was laughing so hysterically. I don’t know if I can laugh at things like that now because of how ridiculous the situation was, or because since then I feel like I’ve had way worse customers.
The more I navigate my way through the Freelance Writing world, the more I become very aware of my own short comings. When I was just beginning my college career, I used to daydream about becoming the next best-selling Fantasy Author. I pictured myself creating such extremely thought out worlds that were rich with exposition, and would give my readers no choice but to be completely immersed in the fanciful lands that I concocted in my clever little mind.
For some asinine reason, I thought that going to college was what was going to make me the next great American novelist. Not only that, I also thought that it was going to indoctrinate amazing Fantasy plots into my writing process. Obviously, neither of these things has happened . . . Yet!
On the real though, I know now that I’m just too much of a realist to be able to stretch my mind around a fantasy land. Of course I’m still in absolute awe of people like Joe Rowling or George RR Martin. The worlds they have created are incomparable. This is probably why so many who try to emulate them always fall short.
I should preface this post with some humility. I have always been very petite in stature. I understand that this doesn’t make me special or anything, it just means I’ve had a pretty high metabolism. When I was a kid I ate like shit, and if I’m being completely honest, I probably continued to eat crappy fried and processed foods up until I was about twenty-three. No matter what I ate during that time though, I still maintained relatively the same weight.
Boy, do I miss those days. There’s not a day that goes by now that I don’t wish I could hop in a time machine, find my stupid skinny ass, and knock the fucking extra-large Wendy’s Chili out of my hand . . . No shade to Wendy’s, I still have dreams about eating quarts of that chili, it’s amazing.
It’s probably also a good idea to let anyone reading this know that, when I was in high school I was a pretty shy kid with crooked teeth that had zero confidence talking to any human that I didn’t know. I understood very clearly, that I was not the prettiest, I did not have big boobs to brag about, I didn’t have great hair, and I couldn’t play sports. But if you asked what I liked about myself physically, I would say that I liked how my body looked.
I look at my little sister, who’s a spitting image of what I used to look like, and I’m actually jealous that she just gets to eat whatever she wants and has an amazing body. My little sister is a dancer by-the-way, so her current body right now is in reality probably ten times more impressive than mine ever was. But still! I feel like I do a lot to achieve a healthy lifestyle. I go to yoga, I don’t eat red meat, I’ve replaced most of the delicious fried foods that I used to eat with kale and spinach, and I drink so much water every day that I have to pee literally every twenty minutes.
Meanwhile, my sister eats trash and doesn’t exercise and she looks like a hot little twig with bigger boobs than me! Figures, I would gain weight everywhere except my chest. Today, if I ate a salad right now, I would look like I was in my second trimester. It’s like all-of-a-sudden my body has separation anxiety with food. I wish I could go back to the days when I had a rockin’ bod . . . Now I’m left with a bod that’s had a rock thrown at it.