3 things from this week (#6), the millenial edition

Let’s face it: I’m not very good at this. 

Writing is hard. Not hard like depression or grief, of course. But not hard like growing your nails when they’re naturally brittle, or not eating the whole bag of chips, either.

For me, writing is about as hard as getting out of bed on a Saturday morning after a long week of 9-to-5 work. It’s about as hard as making your first dentist’s appointment in five, six years. It’s about as hard as saying no to a friend, or responding to an email that’s been sitting in your inbox for four, five days—about as hard as not apologizing to anyone, about anything, for an entire day.

It’s about as hard as deciding whether to reach out to a friend who you know has been going through tough times but didn’t reach out to immediately, and so you’re stuck in this weird place of not knowing whether it’s already too late, and maybe the friendship is ruined and over and done.

Writing for me most days is not writing at all; it’s thinking about it, getting excited, then getting delayed, then getting distracted, and ultimately, forgetting until the next day, or the next week.

So, yeah, writing is hard. But I like it.

And so I thought I’d make it easy. I thought, “let’s come up with a formula.” I thought, “three things a week—perfect. Simple, factual, easy.”

Woops.

1) Lana’s new song.

love

Just cuz.

2) Lovesick, s02e08.

lovesick

Because it took Lovesick (AKA Scrotal Recall, as I’ve just learned) a few episodes to grow on me, but “Abigail (Part 2)” was the point of no return, and I’m now eagerly waiting for season 3.

3) Drawing!

I used to draw a lot as a kid, and then I stopped. I started again last week. It’s hard for sure, but less so than writing. I’m going to try and keep at it.

Have a chill week,

—s

 

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#veganmofo 2016 (day 11, except 12 hours late): my favorite cuisine (plus some election-related stuff)

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I know, I know: today is Saturday, November 12th. I really meant to upload this before midnight last night, but then I fell asleep while watching The Matrix Reloaded, and when I woke up from this impromptu nap, going to bed just seemed like the sensible thing to do.

So, it’s been a terrible week, huh? Donald Trump is now President-elect of the US of A, which I guess means white supremacy and the patriarchy are both alive and well. (I mean, I knew they were going strong; I guess I just didn’t know how strong.) I don’t have anything good to say about this mess, really, except that I stand in solidarity with people of color, fellow women and members of the LGBTQIA+ community, poor folks, disabled folks, and everybody else—American or not—who will be impacted (if they aren’t already) by a Trump presidency.

As a white feminist, I would also like to direct other white feminists to this excellent thread by Marcelle Kosman, producer and co-host of the Witch, Please podcast and Canadian scholar, on the intersection of white feminism and white supremacy and just why so many white women voted for Donald Trump.

This comic by illustrator and artist Mae on how to help when witnessing islamophobic harassment is also a good thing to read and share, I think. I’ll try to add other relevant stuff as I happen upon it.

And if anyone out there is doubting how strong, overt and unashamed the racism of white conservatives is these days in America, #BlackLivesMatter activist and New York Daily News Senior Justice Writer Shaun King has been doing a good job of documenting that on Twitter and Facebook.

Okay.

Now, to the food.

Yesterday’s Vegan MoFo prompt was about favorite cuisines. More specifically:

Where does your favourite food come from?

those nice people from the Vegan MoFo site

I thought long and hard about this (a solid five minutes, at least) before coming to a conclusion. This was my thought process:

  1. I enjoy and will eat most food, so long as it’s vegan.
  2. While I have some favorite dishes, I don’t find myself knowledgeable enough about any world cuisine to say it’s my favorite.
  3. Also, choosing between cuisines is hard, man.
  4. I like cooking, but I also like when someone else cooks for me. Because of this, I love going to restaurants.
  5. Most days, though, I’d rather stay home.
  6. My partner Ben makes half of our meals and I like his cooking.
  7. Having someone cook tasty vegan food for me + eating it on the couch while watching Gilmore Girls = one of my favorite things of all time, for sure.
  8. Conclusion: Ben’s cuisine is my favorite cuisine.

(Yes, this may just be the cheesiest entry of this entire MoFo. I have decided I am okay with that.)

Ben went vegan a little over a year ago (yay!), but he was cooking vegetarian and vegan long before that. I like that he gravitates towards comfort food, like me, but also towards recipes I wouldn’t look twice at, or ones I wouldn’t dare try. He’s also much, much better than I at trying new things in the kitchen, and at making sure we eat our greens.

I don’t always take photos of Ben’s food, so you (and he) will have to forgive me if the samples below aren’t 100% representative of his style. I think they’ll still give you an idea, though.

So, what does Ben cook?

Well, Ben cooks many things.

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He makes soup, and never forgets to buy and slice baguette for dipping.

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He makes tofu tostada.

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He makes the best bowls, with rice, lemony, garlic-y kale, grilled spicy tofu and homemade ranch.

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He makes burgers from a box, and he makes them look a lil’ fancy.

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He makes me stew when I’m sick. (This is the White Bean & Portobello Stew from Kristy Turner‘s But I Could Never Go Vegan!)

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He makes shepherd’s pie!

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He makes other kinds of bowls, too. This one had a quinoa and split pea blend, some baked squash and more grilled tofu.

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And he cooks vegetables I tend to neglect, like cauliflower and zucchini. (You may recognize this last picture from earlier this week. I’ve since found out the dish is Budget Bytes’ Spanish Chickpeas & Rice, topped with Lemon Pepper Zucchini.) Also, he makes lemonade from scratch and flavors it with fresh rosemary or mint, because he’s that fancy.

If you’d like to follow Ben on Instagram, you can do so here. It’s mostly pictures of cats. Oh, and he has a blog, too. He only started it a little bit ago, and it’s not about food, but you should have a look anyway.

Well, that’s it for today! Feel free to check out my Vegan MoFo posts from Days 7, 9 and 10 (I skipped # 8).

Thanks for reading,

—s

#veganmofo 2016 (day 2): my go-to “impress me” meal

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Today is Day Two of the Vegan Month of Food! Hurray! This is my first year taking part in the Vegan MoFo and although I’m still a little intimidated by the prospect of writing about food on an everyday basis, things are going well so far. Now, let’s have a look at today’s daily prompt, AKA “How to Make Friends” or, as they put it on the interwebs:

What’s your go-to “impress me” meal?

the Vegan MoFo folx

I decided to cheat a little bit for this one. Well, not cheat, per se; it’s just that my interpretation of the word “meal” may be a bit more literal than was originally intended by the fine MoFo people, because my favorite impressive meal is… brunch.

I love brunch, though I didn’t eat it much as a kid. In my family, brunch was something that happened either on Mother’s Day (and not every year at that) or once in a blue moon at Cora. What can I say? I just didn’t grow up in a very brunchy household. In fact, I don’t think I started truly appreciating brunch until just a few years ago, when I started taking an interest in veganism, and particularly in Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s books, which feature brunch recipes, both savory and sweet, in copious amounts.

I think the main reason I love brunch so much is how varied it is (or can be, anyway). I love being able, if I feel so inclined, to pile up a savory protein, a tasty starch, something sweet AND some fruit or veggies on a plate. It’s like a little plate party! (Also, there’s generally coffee. I like coffee.)

Another thing I enjoy about brunch is how it tends to get other people really excited. Maybe it’s because contrary to breakfast, lunch and dinner, it’s a meal most of us don’t have every day? Anyway, I like it.

Last but not least, brunch provides ample opportunity to impress (see what I did there?), especially when served to omnivores. What’s that? A frittata made from tofu? Perfectly fluffy pancakes that are also egg- and dairy-free? A potato hash with sausages and a creamy sauce? Yep, yep and yep. And it’s all vegan. I love it. I even get a little smug about it.

And now, without further ado, here are some brunch pictures.

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I made this frittata pretty recently for an omni friend who came over for (you guessed it) brunch. It’s the Swiss Chard Frittata recipe by Isa Chandra, and it’s delicious. The friend in question even said it tasted eggy!

The pancakes on the left were heavily inspired by the Banana Pecan Pancakes from Isa’s book Vegan with a Vengeance (the new edition). And on the right, you have a picture of a simple brunch I made for my partner’s last birthday: the Chipotle Sausage Hash from Isa Does It, topped with cubed avocado and a creamy tahini-based sauce, plus grapefruit triangles, orange juice and coffee.

Tofu scramble! I care a lot about tofu scramble. It was one of the first plant-based dishes I became truly comfortable making without a recipe, as seems to be the case for a lot of vegans.

I like tofu scramble because it’s easy, cheap, delicious and super versatile—though nine times out of 10, mine is a combination of firm tofu, garlic, fresh tomatoes, lemon juice, dried basil, nooch, turmeric for color, salt and pepper. I just dunk it all in a hot, lightly oiled pan and sauté the mixture, stirring often, until it smells just right. I like to wilt in some spinach at the end and serve the scramble with avocado slices and a toasted English muffin brushed with olive oil. Or toast. Toast is always good.

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Sometimes, somebody else will make me vegan brunch (in this case, it was Maya), and I’ll be totally impressed! This is Maya’s own tofu scramble, served alongside avocado, sliced baguette, homemade pâté, a berry smoothie and some kombucha.

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And of course, I love going out for brunch, too! If I’m looking to impress some omnivores, Aux Vivres is definitely a great choice. Their brunch platters look and taste fantastic (even though I sometimes think they’re a bit heavy on the salad). Pictured here: Huevos Rancheros (corn tortillas, refried black beans, tofu scramble, sour cream, salsa, guac and sweet potatoes) and Le Complet (tofu scramble, tempeh bacon, cornbread, sweet potatoes and salad).

Well, that’s it for today! Now I’m off to make lunch for tomorrow. And who knows? Maybe that recipe will make it into tomorrow’s MoFo post.

Thanks for reading,

—s

3 Things from This Week (# 1)

So, it’s been a solid week-and-a-half since my last update on here. I was starting to feel bad about it, which somehow made it harder to remedy the situation, but luckily, I came up with a (partial) solution to what I expect will be a recurring problem. I call it 3 Things from This Week. 

One of my favorite things about personal blogs is that when updated somewhat regularly, they can serve as an archive of sorts for one’s feelings, thoughts, and experiences. Sound like a diary? Yep. The problem with diaries is, I get bored with them. Within days. I think it’s the whole privacy thing: I always get sick of writing for myself only. Not that this blog has attracted a vast readership so far, mind you; nonetheless, it’s out there, anyone could theoretically read it and, thus far, that’s plenty for me.

But I digress. The reason I started talking about this diary stuff is that I think I want Végane franglais to function as an archive. I like the idea of being able to look back on it, months and years from now, and be reminded of some of the things I read, saw, heard, or did during a given week. Hence 3 Things a Week, which (as you’ve probably guessed by now) will be about at least three things from a given week that I’d like to remember (or be reminded of) in the future.

To be clear, this may not actually be a weekly feature. Most likely, there will be weeks where I’m too busy to post—and maybe even weeks so boring or terrible that I won’t wish to remember much about them at all. Hopefully, it will also be about more than three things, sometimes—whether because the past week has proven particularly interesting, or because I’ve waited too long since the last installment, and things have started to pile up.

Oh, and in the spirit of this blog’s premise, 3 Things from This Week will be a bilingual feature. I might call the French version Les 3 choses de la semaine. We’ll see.

Cool? Cool. Then, without further ado, here’s three things from this week:

1) ‘The Deaf Body in Public Space’ by Rachel Kolb, via The New York Times.

This is a piece about alienation, otherness, exclusion, visibility, relationality and relatability, and the ways in which certain bodies and their means of expression are made to feel or seem too loud, or like they take up too much space, while others are validated, essentialized even. I like this paragraph a lot:

“When I reflect on this memory two decades later, I recognize how my childhood friend, whom at the time I had found to be so accusatory, had really gaped at me with a sort of wonder. My signing challenged the rules of social conduct she’d absorbed from adults, and to her I must have seemed ignorant or radically rebellious, or perhaps both. But pointing was a truly fundamental act for me; it was how I expressed what my grown-up scholarly self would call relationality — the idea of being in the world in relation to others. Through sign language, a properly poised finger allowed me to say you and me and he and she and they. If I did not point, how could I make a human connection?”

This is also, I think, a piece about self-empowerment and self-affirmation through language, and specifically through sign language. On that topic:

“When I sign, when I use my body to communicate, it indeed elicits a different state of mind, one that invites and guides the physical gaze, but this need not feel discomforting or unwelcome. On the contrary: looking at me, at my body and everything it says, shows me that you are paying attention. We meet each other in the midst of this physical and linguistic self-expression, and our connection surpasses a disembodied voice and expands to include our entire beings. Right here, looking back at you, I feel like I have made contact.”

Mental note: I should really start learning LSQ (Québec’s sign language) again.

2) ‘Texts from Jane Eyre’ by Mallory Ortberg, via The Hairpin.

This just made me laugh a lot. I know it’s from 2012, but I don’t care. Here’s my favorite part:

“RELATE TO ME THE VAGRANT GLORIES OF THE RUINED WOODS
do you really want me to describe my walk to you
MORE THAN ANYTHING YOU POCKET WITCH
it is fairly cloudy out
looks like rain soon

3) Yamato (California) by Daisuke Miyazaki.

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This is the first FNC film my partner and I went to see this year. It was being shown at UQÀM’s Judith-Jasmin Annexe building, which I’d never been to before. The projection was followed by a short Q&A with director Daisuke Miyazaki.

Yamato (California) takes place in Yamato, Japan, the director’s hometown. In Yamato is the Atsugi Naval Air Facility, which is the largest U.S. military base in the Pacific Ocean. The base is like an American island within Honshu Island: the soldiers have everything they need on the inside, and so seldom leave the base, and all mail addressed to them is sent to “Yamato, California”. The film follows Sakura, a young aspiring MC influenced by American rappers, who lives with her mother and brother. When Rei, the mother’s absentee boyfriend’s daughter, comes visiting from San Francisco, she and Sakura become friends.

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I’m happy we went to see Yamato. I really liked the way it portrayed the friendship between Sakura and Rei, and it was especially interesting to share the director’s insight into today’s Japan. I’d like to watch it again someday.

Well, that’s it for this first installment of 3 Things from This Week. I did it! And you made it to the end! Congrats!

Thanks for reading,

—s

 

This is the English intro post that’s roughly equivalent to the French one below.

Except not quite. 

As I mentioned in my first post, although I am a Translation major (English-to-French), I don’t intend for this blog to feature translated content—not for the most part, anyway. Still, I feel as though it’s only fair I should introduce the blog and its linguistic premise in both languages. For one, not doing so would seem sort of rude; plus, I’m a rather self-centered individual, and as such, I tend to seize every occasion to write about myself and the reasons I do the things I do.

So. The bilingual thing.

A friend once called me a “secret francophone”, a turn of phrase I find at once quite cute and fairly representative of the kind of self-image I’ve tried to project in English-speaking circles for a while now. I’m a born-and-raised francophone from Montreal, PQ. Like most French-speaking Québécois kids my age, I started ESL classes in the third grade, when I was seven years old. For years, English was primarily a source of mid-level anxiety: I was very self-conscious about pronunciation, grammar, spelling—all of it, really—and I wasn’t getting the amount of practice required to actually get better. Then, when I was 12, I spent a school year in an English “immersion” program, which helped a lot with the confidence issue. From then on, I was, for lack of a better word, hooked.

I consumed a lot of English media in the years that followed—movies, music, blogs, etc. I also started talking to myself in English when I was alone. I’d reenact conversations I’d had in French and try to translate them into English, or come up with new, fictional exchanges from scratch. I’d practice whenever I was (relatively) alone, which was often on my walks to and from school and, eventually, my part-time job. It must’ve looked pretty weird, but I was getting better.

There was a thrill, I soon found out, to being able to “pass” as an anglophone, even if it was just for the first few minutes of an encounter. I still wonder why that is. I suspect there are a lot of underlying problems to that question. I still feel the thrill from time to time.

In any case, I graduated from high school, then Cégep, with high marks in both English and French. I took a job where I had ample opportunity to speak (and write) the two, and I did. I was starting to feel quite bilingual. Parallel to work, I went to university in French (first for philosophy, then for translation). I met my partner, a New Englander who didn’t speak much French and introduced me to his friends from Nova Scotia and Ontario, who in turn introduced me to more Montreal anglophones. Meanwhile, I continued speaking French with other close friends, with family and with colleagues. Today, I’d say my life is about 50-50: half-English, half-French. It’s a little weird sometimes, but I like it.

One thing I’ve always liked is writing. I get to do it quite a bit these days, between school and work. Another thing I’ve always liked is having a text-based blog. I had a whole string of them back in high school (including some almost entirely dedicated to terrible teenage poetry), but as an adult, I’ve had trouble getting started again. The main issue, I came to realize, was that of language: I couldn’t choose for the life of me between English and French.

In the end, I didn’t.

Thanks for reading,

—s

J’ai longtemps hésité à créer un blogue.

Outre les préoccupations d’usage — « ça va faire dur », « je saurai pas sur quoi écrire », « je vais arrêter au bout d’un mois » — la question qui me chicotait le plus, c’était celle de la langue. Devrais-je écrire en français — la langue de mes parents, de mes grands-parents, de ma meilleure amie et de mes copines d’université — ou en anglais — la langue des téléséries, de mon copain, d’une belle poignée d’amis et de ma vie sur Internet?

La question peut paraître bizarre, mais elle se pose. Je suis née à Montréal en 1992, trois ans avant le deuxième Référendum sur la souveraineté. J’ai grandi dans une famille francophone, plutôt souverainiste et très radio-canadienne. Chez nous, s’exprimer dans un français impeccable était source de fierté. Quant à l’anglais, on n’y était pas hostile, mais on ne faisait pas non plus de pirouettes dans la langue de Shakespeare, et ce n’est que vers l’âge de douze ans, après une année scolaire passée en « immersion anglaise », que j’ai décidé de vraiment m’y mettre.

Adolescente, donc, je dévorais les séries, la musique, les blogues anglos, tout en continuant de lire des livres en français. J’ai même écrit des poèmes dans les deux langues, qui existent aujourd’hui encore, bien cachés (heureusement) dans les profondeurs d’Internet. Éventuellement, j’ai commencé l’université (en français) et pris un emploi de bureau. On m’y a confié toutes sortes de tâches, dont beaucoup m’ont forcée à pratiquer mon anglais avec toutes sortes d’interlocuteurs d’un peu partout dans le monde. Puis, il y a trois ans, j’ai rencontré mon copain, un charmant étudiant anglophone, américain de surcroît, qui ne parlait à l’époque pas un traître mot de français et qui m’a présentée à tout un petit groupe d’amis tout aussi anglophones (et tout aussi charmants).

Tout ça pour dire qu’à presque-25-ans-toutes-mes-dents, je vis moitié en français, moitié en anglais, et que c’est très bien comme ça. N’empêche, lorsqu’il a été question d’écrire dans le format complètement libre et très personnel du blogue, je n’ai jamais vraiment su trancher. Finalement, j’ai réglé la question… en ne tranchant pas. Ce blogue sera donc joyeusement bilingue, pour le meilleur et pour le pire. Et bien que j’étudie la traduction, j’entends faire de mon mieux pour éviter de faire dans la traduction de billets, d’une part parce que du transfert linguistique, j’en fais déjà ailleurs; de l’autre, parce que ça me semble autrement plus drôle (et plus intéressant) de laisser les sujets et les envies dicter le choix de la langue.

À très bientôt,

—s