Meeting my mentors

October, my favorite month of the year, decided to wrap itself up with the prettiest of all possible bows: meeting my vegan-cooking icon and long-time role model. Somehow it worked out that over the course of her visit, we also had dinner at Chngwa, ambled around Gallery, and shared lunch today at s Vegan place.

Were this high school, Id be the melting equivalent of a bespectacled, braces-suffering, Lord-of-the-Rings-lovin, library-dwellin, Magic the Gathering-playin dweeb who just got asked to go for (vegan)milkshakes with the captain of the track team. And, at least at the signing, I totally felt like that. It was kind of how I felt when I met her steeling myself as I parked, curling my toes as I walked through the door, biting my lip as I asked a friend and finally, trying not to tremble too much as I spoke. (And then we ended up hanging out a lot too maybe Im not as awful as I think?) This is what you people do to me!

Twas a blur, really.

And why not? How does one not feel a little crazy sitting across from the person who taught you, through her books, to roast vegetables? To make scones? To marinate tofu? To press tofu? To make cookies? Pad thai? Hummus? and not feel a little anxious? How is it possible to play it cool when youre sharing Chinese food family-style with someone whose recipes and anecdotes youve memorized (from reading them so often); whose books youve given as gifts; whose name is mentioned so frequently on your little nobody blog than its giant in the tag cloud? (Look to the right. >) At the risk of sounding maudlin, Isa is all of these things and so many more how could I contain my little bursting-with-joy heart?

Answer: I couldnt! I didnt! I unabashedly still dont! (Okay, maybe a little abashedly Im still working on that little low-self-esteem thing.)

I brought a tart, made with Taza chocolate.

Though I run a little meal delivery now and have a decent blog following, Im still that same geeky girl who adores her teachers. I fiercely look up to anyone who gives of herself through a blog, books, video tutorials, long phone calls, or else for the sake of others. I cant think of anyone who has done this for veganism more than her. From providing the best forum for recipe-swappers, cookbook-reviewers, and vegan gossip; to coining the term baketivism and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for good causes; to yes, teaching us all how to make a decent scone: can you even imagine where wed be without her?

So yeah. I trembled a bit, smiled wonkily, and tried not to float away on a little cloud. I soothed myself with the acknowledgment that were all in this together. As I said to a friend recently: we exist to inspire one another. Standing around in a tight little circle mean-mugging the shiny smiley people might feel superior for a minute, but it doesnt make our shared world any better and it sure as fuck doesnt save any animals. Reality is relational: none of us can do anything without the generous and undeserved help of others. Acting like youve somehow managed to do without just makes you look like an ass.

Being with her, like hanging with my friend this summer, steeled my resolve towards sharing what I know and opening myself to others even when its inconvenient. It reminds me that a big heart enables extraordinary things, and that at the end of the day, Ill always prefer to share my straw with an activist. So press on, friends! Goofy, giddy, giving big hugs and big ups, palm against palm today, tomorrow, always.