A University Press magazine
No Meat, No Problem Page 8 Inside: People, Vienna, Ranching and more
Â© University Press 2017
UNIVERSITY PRESS D ECEMBER 2017 E DITION
PEOPLE - PAGE 4
VEG OUT - PAGE 8
Caitlin McAlister STAFF
VIENNA - PAGE 10
Noah Dawlearn Olivia Malick
Hannah LeTulle Karisa Norfleet
REBUILD - PAGE 12
Morgan Collier Ashley Kluge
Victoria Seeton Cormac Kelly
MEAT & EAT - PAGE 15
BUSINESS MANAGER Taylor Phillips ADVERTISING
Jason Tran & Gabbie Smith STUDENT PUBLICATION ADVISORS Andy Coughlan
Stephan Malick Member of the Texas Intercollegiate Press Association
LIFE - PAGE 18
Nurse with a Twist Shannon Pinkney
During the summer before her sophomore year, Shannon Pinkney took care of her mother who was battling Multiple Sclerosis. Shannon says that everything around her felt dull and colorless, so she gave painting a try and loved it. “My style of painting is all over the place,” the Sweeny sophomore says. “I just like using as many colors as I can per piece.” Shannon started drawing her senior year in high school. “I just wanted to see if I had the skills,” she says. The nursing major usually draws women, and says that, at first, she did not realize that she was subconsciously drawing herself with different hairstyles.
Story and photo by Keiosha Addison
Shannon said she is not great at shading and details, but it is a hobby, a stress reliever and a form of expression. She also loves painting on inanimate objects, her favorite being random rocks. While she keeps the majority of pieces around her dorm, Shannon has found a market for her work and is available for custom pieces. “My mother expected me to use every gift God had given me to better myself and the world around me, and when she passed, I understood that I was wise enough and good enough,” she says. “My art is just starting — the best has yet to come.”
Drone’s Eye Views
Christopher Shoff is a fan of J.R.R. Tolkein’s “Lord of The Rings” trilogy. To be fair, to say he is simply a fan is like saying bacon is just meat. The sophomore theatre major says that he and his brother, Michael, bonded over their love of Middle Earth. “(We) would always watch the movies throughout our childhood,” Christopher says. “It was just a fascination with us, and we would watch them over and over again.” The Beaumont native says “The Two Towers,” the second of the trilogy, is his favorite. “It has all the interesting points,” he says. “They have Gandalf coming back, and the battle of Helm’s Deep is awesome.” The brother’s love of the stories led them to collect memorabilia. “We know all the lines and all the characters, so we wanted some of their stuff,” Christopher says. The pair started building their collection in 2014 and now have six swords, one helmet, the ring, a staff, and a map of Middle Earth between them. “Orcrist was my first sword, but my favorite is probably Glamdring — it was Gandalf’s sword,” Christopher says. “I think I’ll always just keep adding to the collection as time goes on. I’ll just look for things that are interesting, like more swords, more props and more costume pieces.” So, if Sauron makes his return, we’ll know who to turn to for help.
Story and photo by Victoria Seeton
Johnny Weakley’s photography has a bird’s eye view. The art education major’s interest started seven years ago. “I just picked up a camera one day and just started playing around with it,” he says. “I guess, it’s kind of in my blood. (My grandfather) just always had a camera in his hand.” Recently, Johnny has combined his passion for photos with his other hobby — flying drones. He has been taking aerial shots of buildings and football fields. “You can see things from up there that you can’t see on the ground,” he says. The Buna native owns three drones, which can reach heights of 1,500 feet before losing connection, although, legally, drones are limited to 400 feet. “I’m not going to tell you how high I’ve been,” Johnny says, with a wry smile. Johnny says his most memorable experience was his visit to New York. “It was pretty cool and scary,” he says. “I flew it in Brooklyn, and there’s just so much radio frequency up there, it interferes with the drone. It was like it’s just going to fall out of the sky and I was going to go to jail in New York or something.” Johnny shows his photos on his website, johnnyweakley.wixsite.com/photography, and has also had an exhibition called “Abandonment Issues,” in Galveston. “I don’t have abandonment issues — all the buildings I was going to were abandoned,” he says. Johnny plans to become a teacher and continue his photography. Clearly, the sky’s the limit.
Story and photo by Karisa Norfleet
Love of the Ring
War and Peace LaTroy Gable
For LaTroy Gable, a dog is more than just something one takes for a walk or tosses a bone occasionally — his dog, War, is literally man’s best friend. The Great Dane, a Service Canine, assists LaTroy at school and at the Dallas native’s kennels. “War keeps the other dogs from chewing on things and using the restroom in the house, and from leaving the yard,” he says. “War is a role model.” War is an emotional support dog, too. After the death of LaTroy’s grandmother, War became a support as the biology and dance dual major dealt with the stress of running a kennel, being a full-time student and grieving the death of his only family. “I picked War from a litter of puppies nine months ago,” LaTroy says. “I trained him to help with the dogs and to support me emotionally. War knows the days in which he can be a little more interactive with others, and when he has to be specifically focused on me, by the color of vest he wears each day.” The pair are inseparable. “Because of War, I have improved tremendously in my thoughts and emotions,” he says. “War will be a friend for a long time in my life.”
Story and photo by Shane Proctor
Coin Smasher Kevin McGee
Most college students save their pocket change in a mason jar or small piggy bank to save up for something special, but for MBA student Kevin McGee, pocket change is a treasure meant to be pressed with designs. The Orange resident says the obsession with smashed pennies started when he was seven years old. “I was in San Antonio and I saw all these machines everywhere on vacation, like at the Alamo and those kind of places,” he says. “I had to have them, so I kept asking my dad for change, and I’d get upset when he wouldn’t let me get all of the ones in each machine.” With a collection of exactly 2,100 uniquely-smashed coins, comprising 2027 pennies, 52 quarters, seven dimes, five euros, six metals and three nickels, held together in 82 penny books from 23 states and six foreign countries, and with each coin costing 51 cents to $1.01, according to the machine, Kevin estimates he has spent more than $1,500 on his collection — but he won’t stop there. “The most I’ve gotten was from Orlando, Florida in the summer of 2010,” he says. “I got about half from Walt Disney World and half from Universal Studios and walked away with around 475 smashed coins all together from that trip.”
Story and photo by Morgan Collier
Night Hooper Abigail Gleason
Story and photo by Ashley Kluge
Wearing clothes as colorful as her personality, Abigail Gleason spins, the bright hoops circling around her. The Beaumont native is a night hooper, and can regularly be found twirling her illuminated hoops around town. “Hula hooping seemed like a fun, upbeat way to get some exercise,” she says. “I picked up a cheap one from Academy a few years ago to start out, and was eventually gifted an L.E.D. version. I have three L.E.D. hoops now.” Hooping reflects her personality — the biology major is always bright and brings joy to all who meet her. The biology major relates her love for science to hula-hooping. “It comes down to a combination of several forces at work; when a person inside of the hoop moves their body to propel the hoop around them, they are exerting an upward force” she says. Abigail also applies her hula hooping techniques to tasks of everyday life. “Juggling hula-hoops helps me juggle things in everyday life, such as being able to multitask, staying balanced and performing well under pressure” she says. Whether it is spinning her hoops or examining the natural world on the spinning ball we all inhabit, Abigail says it is all some form of jumping through hoops.
To meat… or not to meat?
What animal products actually do to your body I stopped eating animal products. Hi, my name is Shelby and I have been sober from meat, dairy and eggs for seven weeks now. As a vegan I have noticed significant changes in my energy levels. I don’t take naps anymore, like I would every afternoon prior. I wake up earlier without feeling tired. After a meal, I feel full, but I don’t feel sluggish. I lost eight pounds in two weeks without even trying to do so, and I look and feel more healthy that I ever did when eating animal products. I began this endeavor after my interest was sparked by a Netflix documentary. A few months ago, I watched a film called “What the Health.” The documentary is infused with scare tactics to catch its audiences’ attention, with all the disturbing horrors that come with eating meat and dairy. When I initially watched it, I found the scare tactics to be convincing, but since watching the film, I have wrestled with the curiosity over whether the information the film offered was accurate and, if exaggerated, to what extent it was accurate in
the first place. The film promotes the idea of a low-fat vegan diet. There are disturbing agricultural scenes, a focus on overweight individuals, and even a scene where cigarettes are compared to animal products, put on a plate and presented to young children. The music and setting of each scene cohesively accompanies the topic of discussion, and assertive diction is used as a persuasive tool. Kip Anderson, a self-proclaimed “recovering hypochondriac,” is the main character of the film. He calls the American Diabetes Association and the American Cancer Society and asks if meat causes these diseases. Of course, he gets no response. I asked a few friends if they had ever watched the film, or if they had heard about the claims that the film made. Most of their immediate reactions were
something along the lines of, “You’re watching a vegan propaganda film and taking to heart the facts given without further research?” My response was no. First and foremost, that is an explicit assumption, and second, the reason I was even asking around was to get a broader perspective. To be fair, the film is full of false claims, such as that within minutes of eating dead meat, bacteria toxins are released in the body, causing a burst of inflammation and stiffening or paralyzing the arteries, or that the leading source of sodium cholesterol in the diet is chicken. However, there are statements based on fact, such as meat’s causation of heart dis-
Story package by Shelby Strickland
December 2017 ease, that have influenced me to change my diet. Yes, “What the Health” relies heavily on fear to provoke its audience, and some of their evidence is exaggerated, but there is factual evidence for health benefits to those who do not eat meat. I come from a family that hunts, fishes and grills. We have, thus far, been meat-eaters. And I love the taste of meat — or loved. My favorite food used to be an eight ounce, rare ribeye. Unfortunately for my taste buds, I will never be able to put my fork to a steak again. What’s worse, it’s not steak or animal meat in and of itself that is inherently bad for you. It is what is in that meat that can cause detrimental damage to a person’s body. Meat is highly acidic and acidic foods lead to an internal environment where free radicals, which cause cancer and diseases, have the opportunity to thrive and grow. Sugar, aspartame, dairy products, alcohol and nearly all processed foods are acidic. Although meat is not the only acidic food, it does have the most acidity. Not only is meat acidic, it causes inflammation within an hour of intake (not, as stated in the film, within minutes). According to a story written by Michael Greger, a physician and New York Times bestselling author, “The rise of inflammation after a meal of meat, dairy and eggs starts within just an hour of ingestion, but our gut flora aren’t in our small intestine — rather, 20 feet farther down in our large intestine. “It can take food hours to get down there,” he states. “So, what’s going on? If the bacterial endotoxins were not coming from our gut, maybe they were coming from the food. “For the first time ever, 27 common foodstuffs were tested and they found endotoxin equivalents in foods such as pork, poultry, dairy and egg products, as well as certain fermented foods.” Greger states that saturated fat has other deleterious effects, such as increasing the risk of heart disease and shortening the lives of breast cancer survivors. It also has adverse effects on the kidneys as well as the blood vessels. In addition, eating meat makes it harder to maintain a healthy body weight. When I say healthy body weight, I am not encouraging the riddance of meat just to be skinny. But health wise, meat-eaters are three times more likely to be obese than vegetarians. Vegetarian diets are associated with faster metabolic rates — not because vegetarians are eating less or lack the nutritional value they need to maintain health, but because they are substituting the heaviness of meat with lighter sources of protein.
See MEAT page 21
Music History VIENNA OFFERS OPPORTUNITY TO ExPERIENCE RICH LIVING HISTORY
Story package by Caitlin McAlister
magine walking down winding streets overlooked by historic buildings, feeling as though you had stepped back in time — at least until a car goes by and reminds you that you are still in the modern world. That’s how it feels to walk through the city of Vienna. In the summer of 2015, I was presented with an amazing opportunity that helped change the course of my academic career — I went on a music history study abroad in Vienna, Austria, through the University of
Southern Mississippi. When people think of great places to travel in Europe, they think of the obvious destinations — Paris, London, etc. While these are undoubtedly wonderful locations, Vienna ranks just as highly. It is a city that oozes history and culture, especially with regard to music. If you ever find yourself in Vienna, there are several destinations in the city that are worth checking out. There is the Vienna State Opera, which puts on performances almost every night during the summer sea-
son — that’s as many as 70 different operas and ballets in a given year. The architecture of the building is gorgeously ornate, with grand staircases and a massive chandelier in the concert hall — vestiges of the fact that the opera house was originally built in 1869, when Austria was still an empire ruled by the Habsburg family. In fact, the Stehplatz, or standing room, is located directly beneath the old imperial box where the royal family used to sit. One can also witness one of the more interesting tra-
December 2017 ditions associated with concerts in Vienna — saving one’s place with a scarf. The Stehplatz, in Viennese music venues, often features railings to lean on, and people will tie their scarves to these railings to save their spot should they have to leave at any point during the performance or intermission. It is an unspoken courtesy that the Viennese extend to each other — don’t take a place that’s been reserved with a scarf. Standing room tickets for the opera can be purchased for only five euros, with actual seats being more expensive. However, if you don’t mind the background noise of traffic, the opera also has an outdoor seating area where people can watch the opera for free, featuring benches and a large screen on which performances are played live. During the summer, the sun does not set in Austria until almost ten o’clock at night, meaning that those watching operas outside will witness “the blue hour” — the period around dusk where the light of the setting sun reflects off of the old buildings in the first district of Vienna with a beautiful, deep blue color. The outdoor seating area is located next to the street called Opern Ring, part of the larger Ringstrasse, or Ring Street, that surrounds the first district of Vienna, the oldest part of the city. The Ringstrasse marks the former path of the city’s defensive walls, which were in place to protect Vienna from invasion from the late Middle Ages until the 19th century, when they were torn down on the orders of Emperor Franz Joseph after it was determined that they were no longer militarily necessary. The street, now commonly known as just “the Ring,” was built in the walls’ place. Another beautiful piece of architecture is Schönbrunn Palace, which has its own stop on the U-Bahn, or metro system. Built in 1699 by the Habsburg monarchy as their version of Versailles, the palace is
open for public tours that are guided by an audio recording, which gives visitors information about the individual rooms on the tour and the members of the Habsburg family that occupied them. Among the rooms featured is the parlor where Mozart famously gave his first concert for Empress Maria Theresa when he was six years old, as well as the Emperor Franz Joseph’s office, Empress Sisi’s bedroom, and the ballroom where official court functions and other large events were held — all as close as possible to the condition they would have been during the Habsburg dynasty. The palace is surrounded by extensive, immaculate gardens that are open as a public park. The gardens feature several large fountains, as well as enormous numbers of roses and other flowers. One can spend all day just in the gardens without ever setting foot in the palace itself, and many people do. It is a little surreal seeing joggers running in much the same way they would in any public park in the United States, as though completely oblivious to the fact that they’re next to a historic palace. Another outdoor space where one can spend all day is the Zentralfriedhof, or Central Cemetery. Although the prospect of walking around for hours in a cemetery may seem depressing, the notable individuals who are buried there make it an important part of the city’s history. Among them are Franz Schubert, Johann Strauss II, Arnold Schönberg, Johannes Brahms, and Ludwig van Beethoven, whose prominent, obelisk-like headstone is famous in its own
See VIENNA page 20
St. Stephen’s Cathedral, far left, is the largest church in Vienna. The city takes great pride in its heritage as the “City of Music.” A statue of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and a ﬂower bed in the shape of a treble clef, adorn a public park.
FROM THE GROUND UP STUDENTS HELP REBUILD, RESTORE AFTER HARVEY
Lamar University students taking the Introduction to Construction Management course and other campus organizations partner with industry professionals and volunteers from Rotary Club of Beaumont and Rotary of Fort Worth to build a home and restore others affected by Hurricane Harvey, Nov. 17 and 18, on Galveston Street in Beaumont.
Photo package by Noah Dawlearn and Hannah LeTulle
YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT Story package by Cassandra Jenkins
Female rancher raises grass-fed beef for community
As college students we have all asked ourselves the exact same questions — “What are we meant to do with our lives? What do we want to do and who do we want to be?” Rachel Wilson knew exactly what she wanted to do with her life — she wanted to be a rancher and
change the way cattle is eaten and raised. Wilson, 29, has gone from growing organic vegetables in Italy to maintaining thousands of acres of land in her hometown of Beaumont. She has also founded her own business, “Wild Earth Texas,” where she sells 100
percent grass-fed cattle — all before the age of 30. “I went to Texas State University in San Marcos and majored in agricultural business and management, with minors in horticulture and anthropology,” she said. “From there I came home to find out what my family did. My family has been in ranching for a very long time. That wasn’t my direct path, but I kind of came out here asking the ever-pressing question, ‘What do I want to do with myself?’ and it just came to me, this is where I’m supposed to be.” Wilson, who was born and raised in the Golden Triangle, knew that Beaumont was the community she wanted to be a part of for the rest of her life, even after studying agricultural processes around the world. “A lot of things were happening in Beaumont, especially with Lamar coming up and the Farmers Market was just starting,” she said. “All of these things were helping to bring Beaumont forward, bring it up and uplift it. That’s the movement I wanted to be a part of.” After she graduated, Wilson traveled to experience living in different places while learning about different countries agricultural practices. “I did some agricultural studies in Italy for a
A new generation Rachel Wilson said there is always an undercurrent to being a female in a male dominant field, like ranching, but she doesn’t let that affect her work. “In the last few years it has really changed actively,” she said. “Some of the larger cattle operations and some of the larger land operations, all of the next generations are female and they are all around my age. The Clubbs, which have a very reputable cattle operation, a very large cattle operation in the area, the next gen-
eration is a female. Her name is Jay Storm. “Then the Whites Ranch down near High Island is one of the larger cattle operations in the area, the next generation is also a young female. So all of the major ranches will be going through a shift here in the next 20 years or so. “As long as you’re doing your job and doing it right, then you hold your own and you don’t let the feminine bias affect you. You do your thing and just go on with it.”
month,” she said. “We actually got to go on a farm and look at the different ways they do agriculture from crop growing, but mostly from an animal husbandry side. It was neat to go see what other people were doing. “For about a year, I lived on different farms, but I didn’t really visit any other cattle operations. It was mostly about confirming the path that I wanted to continue. I stayed in Nashville for about three or four months. I stayed in Portland for a while. I was in Scotland. I was in Italy. I was all over, and at the end of my trip I came back and knew this was where I wanted to be, of all the places.” The old Carroll Ward ranch, just off of LaBelle Road, 30 minutes west of Beaumont, is where Wilson’s family have been farming for nearly 195 years. “Coming in and working with my dad and my family on the same land, it’s really special,” Wilson said. Originally, Wilson started farming organic vegetables for a couple of years before transitioning into the grass-fed beef market. “To get started for my grass-fed beef, it had a two-year lead time, so it’s a project that we started probably three years ago,” she said. “But then you have to wait two more years before you can start selling on
the market. “We’re a calf-cow operation, which means we just usually sell them at the point of weaning. We decided to hold some of them back and see what our beef tastes like. We were working on this genetic process, but we had no idea. So, we saved them out and processed our first steer, and we were like, ‘Wow, this is really good.’ We got really excited about it and then started tweaking this grass-fed program to get it exactly where we wanted it to be. I started selling it at the Farmers Market and restaurants, and now I have two freezer locations in town and do home delivery as well.” Wilson said the entire experience has been an incredible learning curve. “I had no idea, until I got into beef, because you always see the cuts at the grocery store — you start to scratch the surface, and it’s kind of like falling down a big rabbit hole,” she said. “From pasture management to genetics, to the weather and everything you’re doing, is affecting the quality and flavor of your beef. Once we realized that, it was about how we could tweak it, how can we work it. We’ve been working with our genetics now, and actually getting DNA testing on our bulls and
See WILSON page 17
Rachel Wilson goes about her daily routine on the ranch, collecting farm fresh eggs every morning. Wilson hopes to add pastured birds and eggs to her products list next year. Her herd of Hereford cattle, left, graze on her ranch.
from page 16
things like that to see our grass conversion and test for marbling capability. The whole science part of it is one end, and then the management of your pasture and improving our grasses and constantly working within our ecosystem is another part.” Wilson said she has been selling about half a steer a month, but hopes to be doing bulk orders by next year. “There’s always a vision,” she said. “You always have to have goals of where you want to be. The first thing to do is to smooth out production, to get the best product as consistently as we can. We’re very close to that. The next thing, we’re stretching out to doing pastured birds. We’ll be offering pastured chickens in the fall and maybe a branch of a different species. I know there is a lot of demand for other products, to diversify the line a bit, and then get into a grocery store. Right now, we are working on smaller distributions, but we’d really like to get out there more in our community. We want bigger volume, serve more to the community, and branch out through the Golden Triangle.” Wilson’s beef can be found at local restaurants and freezer locations in town. “You can go to Monica’s restaurant over there on Calder,” she said. “She sells it and we’re on the menu as a beef option. You can have it cooked there or there is also a freezer location inside. We also sell at the Gather Paleo-Café and Market in Port Neches. We have a freezer location there, too. Then we do free home delivery every Wednesday and we’re at the Farmers Market every Saturday.” Wilson said the concept has been really accepted by the local community. “Our beef has been accepted not just because it is grown locally, but because it is good,” she said. “It’s a representation. One thing we’ve learned is that every single thing plays into a factor of the taste. That’s a big difference between conventional beef and grass-fed beef. You’ve heard, ‘You are what you eat.’ Well, you taste like what you eat, too. That works out well for the mainstream cattle business because they can take 200 cows from all over the state, put them on the exact same regimented program and get a very similar product. “For us, our flavor is different because our grass changes from month to month. Every single steak you have has the potential to be different, or for more consistent product, you can say. ‘OK, the clovers are this way, they are going to be sweeter.’ “It’s going to be tasting different season to season. Every single month we learn what the grasses that month taste like. We supplement with some alfalfa that we bring in to try and sweeten it up to get some consistency across the board, but every single time it’s
‘’There is a flavor difference. There is a heart difference. There is a locality.” — Rachel Wilson a learning process and we’re going to be learning for years to come.” Wilson said she practices what she preaches by living off the land as much as possible. “I fish and I hunt,” she said. “There is a lot of good foraging that you can do here. I practice herbalism off the land. I bake. I homestead. I try to live as much off the land as I can. That means raising my own food, even though it’s not for sale, and (living) the lifestyle I set out — not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.” Wilson said she has gotten great responses from her beef and encourages people to try it. “There’s a vibration to it,” she said. “There’s health benefits of eating grass-fed beef. Grass-fed meat is a leaner meat just by nature. It has a different type of fat
in it and it will have less fat on it than conventional beef. There are the health benefits of it, but then there is the flavor of it. And then beyond the flavor it is more complex. We have a dry-aged beef, it has a fuller and beefier flavor to it. It doesn’t have a milder veal taste to it, which comes from an older animal. On average, our animals are eight to nine months older than what you’ll find in H-E-B, so that gives it time to develop and be a real animal. “Then you have the heartstrings part of it. I know that I am supporting a local rancher. I know that I am eating food that came from 15 miles away. With that, you get a better nutrient density. You’re eating more locally. You’re eating what grows around you. It’s like how a tomato from your garden is going to taste better than one you get from the store. There is a flavor difference. There is a heart difference. There is a locality.” Rachel Wilson prides herself in being from Beaumont, selling healthier meat to her community and living life as she was intended to, on the ranch. To learn more about grass-fed beef and try it, visit Wild Earth Texas on Instagram and Facebook, stop by their booth at the local farmers market on College Street under the municipal pavilion, Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., or visit one of their local restaurants and freezer locations.
Rachel Wilson examines a freezer full of her grass-fed meat as she prepares to sell it in the upcoming week.
December 2017 Commentary by Olivia Malick
Life is hard… giving up is harder
Past experiences influence future decisions
When I was a junior in high school, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression. I wasn’t surprised — in fact, I was happy. A diagnosis meant treatment, something I desperately needed at that point in my life. When I started taking medication, I felt better and felt like I could conquer the world for the first time since I was 12 years old. Now, as a freshman in college, I know how to handle the ups and downs of my future, all because of my past. My childhood was seemingly idyllic. I grew up with two loving parents and a little brother in a small, but cozy home where we had space to run around and plenty of dogs to adore. Being a child, I was quite oblivious to everything going on around me, as most kids are. There was a point in time, however, that I started to notice my life changing. I was about eight years old when we moved to a new house in the same city. It was huge, had a swimming pool, and everyone in the neighborhood always came over for parties and such. But that dream didn’t last long. In 2008, when the housing market crashed, our house was foreclosed. I didn’t understand completely at the time, but I was sad. We ended up moving back into my childhood home (we had been renting it out). My dad had his car repossessed soon after that. It was the first time I remember seeing him cry. We are resilient, though, and we made it through. We reached a level of normalcy again, but not complacency. Middle school is a daunting time for most people. Social groups start changing, you start losing childhood friends — oh, and puberty happens, causing new anxieties. My friends started changing — they were changing the way they dressed and acted, and I thought that in order to remain being friends with them, I had to do the same. I started retreating from my family, to the point where my brother thought that there was something seriously wrong with me. Maybe there was. I had changed myself for people I considered my friends and, in the end, it wasn’t enough. They ignored me and I eventually faded out of the group all together. That was the first time I had to pick up the pieces of my life and build something new. I found new friends, including my
“As a kid, I thought everything was great. As an adolescent, I thought everything was terrible. Now, I realize life is somewhere in between.”” best friend to this day. I reverted back to my old personality and reclaimed the cheerful, talkative person my family knew me to be. Things were looking up. But while my school life was gaining stability, my home life started to fall apart. My parents divorced when I was in sixth grade. At the time, I thought it was the worst thing to ever happen to me. Of course, now, as an adult, I can see that it was for the best. After that, my mother became an inconsistent figure in my life. She drank too much and broke too many promises. At 13, I didn’t know how to feel. My friends always talked about how great their moms were and I couldn’t relate. I love my mom unconditionally, but everyone has boundaries. All of our fights and my resentment towards her built up in my chest and my mind, to the point where I seriously considered cutting her out of my life if she didn’t change her ways. Here I was, making this huge personal life decision at 13. Could I really cut my mom out of my life? I didn’t get to think about it for long because in the fall of 2012, my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Suddenly, I felt like a terrible daughter — like somehow I was responsible for it. I remember the night she told my brother and me — I cried myself to sleep. Whenever someone tells you they have cancer, you automatically assume they’re going to die. I kept having dreams where she did. But she didn’t. Luckily, her cancer was detected early at Stage I. She had a hysterectomy, went through chemotherapy, and things returned to normal. All of the events that happened beforehand didn’t seem to matter as much anymore—I moved on. I tried my best to strengthen our relationship because
I didn’t want to live without her in my life. By the time eighth grade ended, I was exhilarated. I was actually excited about going to high school. Freshman year was a blur — I honestly don’t remember much of it. I do remember how excited I was at the end of that year about being able to join the newspaper staff. I had a plan in mind for the future, but it didn’t matter. The summer after ninth grade, my dad, brother and I moved to Humble, because my dad had accepted a teaching job at Atascocita High School. Beaumont ISD was crumbling and it seemed like a great opportunity for us. Sure, we would be leaving friends and family behind — Beaumont was my whole world — but the chance seemed too good to pass up. We were all optimistic, but the move was damned from the start. I don’t really believe in “signs” or whatever, but if I did, there couldn’t have been clearer ones. We ended up moving one week before school was supposed to start, which added anxiety to already overwhelming amounts of emotion. We couldn’t afford a moving company, so with the help of some friends and a rental Penske truck, we loaded up and set out on a new adventure. As we were driving down the street away from my childhood home, my dad drove under an oak tree that ripped off the entire roof of the moving truck. We didn’t realize how bad the damage was until we opened up the truck when we arrived at our new house — after we had driven through miles of torrential rain. Suffice to say, it wasn’t the most promising start. I wasn’t deterred, yet. I was excited about being able to start a completely new life in a place where no one knew who I was. I wanted to get over my social anxiety. My junior high insecurities ruled my life, causing me to be extremely shy and hesitant to talk to new people. Attending a school twice the size of my previous one was extremely daunting, and I ended up retreating back into my old habits of never talking and being perpetually embarrassed anytime someone even looked at me. The few friends I made didn’t last, everyone was constantly moving away. Plus, I was homesick for Beaumont and wanted something familiar. I cried myself to sleep most nights.
Graphic by Cormac Kelly To add insult to injury, my family was once again in financial trouble. My dad’s car broke down three times, each time needing an expensive repair. The stress kept building up, to the point where we had all lost significant amounts of weight. We were miserable. It seemed as if we lived in a sit-com, because life was getting pretty ridiculous. As much as we had all wanted it to work out, it didn’t, and in the summer of 2015 we moved to China, 10 minutes from Beaumont, just in time for my junior year. I went back to the same high school I attended freshman year, and finally joined the newspaper staff. The first half of junior year went really well, I was still shy but I was branching out and everything seemed to be looking up. By spring semester, everything from the past four years of my life had become this unbearable weight on my shoulders. I wasn’t happy and I always felt terrible. I was in a really dark place but I didn’t say anything because I knew other people had it worse. I realized I needed professional help when life seemed like it had no purpose. So, I went to my doctor and told her everything that I was feeling. She prescribed me anti-anxiety and anti-depressant medication. Then I was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, a chronic condition that causes enlarged ovaries
with small cysts on the edges. I know, it isn’t the most “glamorous” syndrome, but it impacts more people than you think and I didn’t even know it existed until I was diagnosed. PCOS can also cause severe depression and anxiety. Everything was coming full circle. There’s no cure for PCOS, but medications like birth control definitely help ease the effects. So I started taking birth control. No one told me how much birth control changes your emotions. I delved even deeper into depression even though I was already in a pretty dark place. I couldn’t take it anymore. Fortunately, I was put on more medication, and my emotions leveled out. I was happy again. For the rest of junior year I could say I was genuinely happy and glad that I was alive. Senior year prompted different kinds of stress about my future (plus, we ended up moving again, back to Beaumont this time), but I was excited to leave behind my formative years. Some people judged me for staying behind and attending Lamar, but it was the best decision I could have made. I know what it’s like to be in a completely new place where you don’t know anyone, and I wasn’t ready for that. Sure, I have my bad days, but I know how to handle it. I
went through four years of severe depression, but I made it through, and that is all I need to get through hard times. I’m a full-time college student who works three jobs, all while having to share a car with my dad. He works two jobs and is a full-time graduate student and I live at home — we’re living the American dream, or, at least, the American reality. I’m OK, though. I’m not complete yet. I still have a lot of life left to live, but if there’s one thing that I take away from my experiences, it’s that bad times pass. I know that’s cliché but it certainly carried me through some rough patches. The first step in dealing with an issue was realizing I had a problem. It can be hard to realize that life isn’t perfect and things will not always work out how we want them to — and just because I made it through one rough patch doesn’t mean I won’t have another. As a kid, I thought everything was great. As an adolescent, I thought everything was terrible. Now, I realize that life is somewhere in between. I have high hopes that my future is bright — I will always keep working to see my ambitions become a reality. I’m not going to give up on myself because I deserve to see myself accomplish great things. Everyone does.
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right — and these are just some of the composers. That is not counting the numerous other musicians, as well as actors, artists, scientists and other historical figures who are also buried there. In fact, some notable figures in Austrian history who died and were initially buried in other cemeteries were disinterred later on and moved to the Zentralfriedhof as an honor — including Beethoven. Stephansdom, or St. Stephen’s Cathedral, is the largest church in Vienna. A medieval Gothic cathedral that was originally built in 1147, the church has been renovated and rebuilt several times in its history to make extensive repairs after various disasters, such as the damage the church suffered in 1945 at the end of World War II. The bell in its south tower, which weighs 20 tons, is only rung on a handful of holidays during the year, one of them being the Feast of Corpus Christi, which falls during the early summer. I feel fortunate that I was there to hear it. Originally there were two such bells, one in the south tower and one in the north. However, the one in the north tower was destroyed by a bomb during WWII. Even though it has been redone extensively over the centuries, the inside of the church still feels medieval, with enormous vaulted ceilings held up by massive stone columns, and beautiful stained-glass windows. If you enjoy a little bit of creepiness, St. Stephen’s has another interesting feature — it sits on top of the city’s old catacombs. The catacombs were used as a cemetery — there are an estimated 11,000 people buried there — until the 18th century when a plague in Vienna forced officials to ban burials inside the city walls as a public health precaution. One of the chambers in the catacombs also contains broken statues that were removed from the exterior of the building after they were damaged during WWII, as well as the clapper from the north tower bell, a giant piece of metal that weighs more than a ton by itself. A tour of the catacombs is a must for any visitor. If one is in desperate need of fresh air after walking through the catacombs, the Kahlenberg, a small mountain located just outside of the city itself in Lower Austria, is a good option. Part of the foothills of the Alps, it is a great place to go hiking through Lower Austria’s wine country. One gains an appreciation for how far back Austria’s history reaches when one realizes that some of the vineyards on the Kahlenberg are hundreds of years old. At the top, one can look out over the entire city of Vienna, including the Danube River, and one can see the spires of the larger churches, such as St. Stephen’s, poke up above the rest of the buildings. I was a music major, but after studying abroad in Vienna, I switched to history with a music minor, with the goal of attending graduate school to study music history. I also have a desire to see more of the world, to travel more and, especially, to go back to Europe some-
day. Vienna is an amazing place, where one is completely surrounded by history on all sides. There, history is not just a subject of study — it is an experience.
For more information, visit www.lamar.edu/ studyabroad. For more on the University of Southern Mississippi’s Music in Vienna study abroad program, visit www.usm.edu/study-abroad.
The boxes in the concert hall of the Vienna State Opera.
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Protein can be found in beans, legumes, nuts, meat-alis doing to their body. Japan (whose people eat an Okinawa diet — feasting only ternatives (tofu and tempeh), greens, nut butters, grains When it comes to maintaining a healthy diet, it is too on sushi and vegetables), Australia and Iceland are all (quinoa and buckwheat), almond milk, seeds, vegetables, narrow minded to say one size fits all, but learning how to amongst the top ranked places for highest life expectancy. lentils, and the list goes on. The common denominator? Low stress, active lifestyles, combine proteins to get the nutrition your body needs is a Americans have an overemphasis on protein as it is. significant tool to health. and diets consisting of plants and unprocessed foods. Have you ever met a protein-deficient person? The best way to find the right dietary lifestyle is to There is no overreliance of red or white meat in any these It’s true that one of the most accessible ways to get pro- places. begin trial-and-error experimentation. Test out a meattein is meat — but it’s not the only way, and it is certainly free diet and see how your body responds. On average, Americans have a 78-year life expectancy not the healthiest way. making them 50th in the list of countries rated. Do you have more energy? Are you sleeping better at Most meats have hormones in them that can make night? Have you stopped snoring? Have your cholesterol However, Loma Linda, Calif. has one of the highest life people resistant to antibiotics. Meat carries the highest levels decreased? How about your circulation? Compare expectancy rates in the U.S. Many residents are members risk of food-borne illness, heart disease and diabetes, and your meat-eating experiences with your meat-free experiof the Seventh Day Adventist Church. The church recomcan increase one’s risk of death. Lifestyle, diet included, ence and you may be surprised by how your dietary plan mends a vegetarian diet and the avoidance of alcohol, toaccounts for 80 percent of life expectancy. is affected. bacco and mind-altering drugs. Loma Linda has no fast When ridding one’s diet of meat, one does not have to It is one thing to take presented information and adjust food restaurants and the Loma Linda Market does not sell wait long to see results. Most people see an exponential eating habits, but it is another to take that presented ineven an ounce of meat (red meat, poultry or seafood). amount of energy increase within days. This is not beHeart surgeon and vegan Dr. Ellsworth E. Wareham re- formation, do your own research and go from there. cause what they’re eating gives them more energy, but be- cently turned 100. He worked until he was 95. Based on While I may miss my lovely ribeye on occasion, I have cause that person’s body no longer has to work as hard to age and occupation, it is safe to say Wareham sees, and can learned to love my filling and nutritious meals of bacondigest its food as it would when consuming meat. Quick attest to, the benefits of eating an animal product-free diet. bitless baked potatoes, or my Freebird’s vegetarian bowl, digesting foods have to wait for slow digesting food (meat) guacamole included with no upcharge. Although “What the Health” presents its information to digest before they get the opportunity to be digested. Not everyone will go vegan, or even vegetarian. Just in an aggressive manner, and goes into assumed detail According to a study published in the “British Journal know where your food comes from and what it is is where the specified detail may be inaccurate or exaggerof Nutrition,” the digestion transit time for vegetarians doing to your body — it’s just a little food for ated, it is still highly important for people to question ranges from 27 to 54 hours, whereas digestion for meatthought. what they are eating, where it is coming from and what it eaters ranges from 31 to 96 hours — a significant difference. The longer food sits in a person’s digestive tract, the more that can be absorbed from that food. Whatever is in the food you ate is now being absorbed into your body. Dr. Baxter Montgomery, Houston cardiologist and cardiac electrophysiologist, began integrating a plant-based diet in his practice 13 years ago. Montgomery put patients who may have needed bypass surgery, heart-transplants or a defibrillator on a plant-based diet and saw exponential improvement in their health. “I have treated two different patients who were in the hospital on life-support,” Montgomery said in a documentary on LadyFreeThinker.com. “One, in particular, we fed green food through her peg tube. I detoxed her in the hospital and she eventually walked out. “Another patient who came to see us, who is in her mid-90s, came to see us at age 89, and at that time she was taking about 22 medications, including about 40 units of insulin twice a day, and she had been on insulin for 40 years. We put her on a raw detox and we got her off the insulin within a couple days. She is down to taking no medication, and she hardly has to come and see us as a patient.” Montgomery poses the question, “If you were on an island for 25 days, you could have 25 days’ worth of baked chicken, or you can have 25 days of water — you can’t have both, one or the other — people choose the water beA typical meatless Sunday lunch includes, from top right, a bowl of lima beans and white rice. Plated is baked sweet potatoes with vegan cause they know that they can’t survive 25 days without butter and pink Himilayan salt, kale, cranberry and walnut salad, green split peas with diced carrots, a couscous salad blend, cucumber, water.” onion and tomato salad with olive oil vinaigrette, and raw avocado, tomato and broccoli on the side. Hong Kong, the Nicoyan Peninsula, Greece, Monaco,
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