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.

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Just cuz.

2) Lovesick, s02e08.

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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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3 things from this week (#3)

I was about to start this blog post with a heartfelt “it’s been a while, hasn’t it?”, and then I realized that that is, word for word, the way I started my last blog post over a month ago. So, yeah, that’s where we’re at.

It’s a little past 8:30 p.m. and I’m writing this from my couch. Gilmore Girls is playing in the background. It’s season six, episode 20. Rory is with Logan in the hospital after a quasi-deadly skydive jump, and Luke is hosting a terribly unsuccessful birthday party for his daughter April, until, that is, Lorelai flies to the rescue with feathered tiaras, makeover baskets, and Pretty in Pink. It’s a pretty cute episode.

Our Christmas tree is still up and we still turn its lights on at night. It’s a little Christmas tree, not even two feet tall. It’s sitting on the window sill. I know we should probably take it down (after all, it is January 15th, and even the Wisemen have come and gone by now), but I always get a little sad about the cold and the darkness this time of year (what exactly is winter good for post-holidays, anyway?), and the tree seems to help a little. Plus, the Christmas lights are still hanging from the canopy on the Plaza right outside our building, so really, I think it’s fine.

Anyway.

Since we’ve now entered a brand-spanking-new year, I’ve decided to make a blogging resolution, and that resolution is to be more diligent about the 3 Things a Week posts, of which this is the third installment. Things got a little bananas during the Vegan MoFo, and finals didn’t help either, but starting today, I am determined to make this space a livelier, more regularly updated corner of the Internet. (We’ll see how long that lasts.)

So, here we go: let’s talk about 3 Things from This Week.

1) This months-old piece on 10 Cloverfield Lane (spoiler alert!).

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Last night, Ben and I sat down with a bowl of BBQ chips and some drinks to watch 10 Cloverfield Lane. The movie had been on our Netflix queue for a while. Personally, I think I was kind of saving it for the perfect night—the kind of night for some cheap thrills, jump scares, and good ole Hollywood silliness. Last night was that kind of night—or so I thought.

It turns out, while 10 Cloverfiled Lane delivers all of the above in sufficient amounts, it’s also a pretty decent movie. I won’t get into too much detail in case you’re even more behind than I on new(-ish) thriller releases, but I found the film’s take on doomsday paranoia, creepo masculinity, and straightup abuse pretty darn interesting. Luckily for me, I don’t have to articulate any of these thoughts any further, because as I soon found out during my routine post-movie googling session, the much smarter and better-equipped film critic Tasha Robinson had already done so (and back in March, too!). Her piece uses viewer backlash against the film’s finale as a starting point for a pretty cool, pretty subversive analysis of the protagonist’s arc, and I really, really recommend giving it a read. (If you’ve already seen the movie, that is; otherwise, go watch it first, then read the piece. Duh.)

2) The new Potter book!

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(A design sketch for Cursed Child’s main characters’ new wands, found here.)

As some of you may know (hey Ben), for some of 2016, I was re-reading the Harry Potter series. I was quite fond of the books as a kid, but what really got me back into them was the Witch, Please podcast, hosted by Canadian scholars and super-rad feminist heroes Hannah McGregor and Marcelle Kosman.

I started listening to the podcast back in June, when I was getting ready to move out of my tiny Plateau Mont-Royal studio apartment and into our current place in Rosemont. It was an exciting, but stressful time, and listening to Witch, Please while taping boxes and throwing clothes in trash bags definitely helped. Eventually (inevitably), I ended up picking the books back up, half for nostalgia’s sake, and half because I was curious to see what Adult Me would think of them. (The answer to that last question is long and complicated. Maybe I’ll write about it someday? Mostly, just go listen to the podcast.)

Of course, after re-reading all seven books, I had to get my hands on Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which is a play set 19 years after the end of the original series, featuring some of the original characters, plus some new ones (mostly their kids). I asked for the book for Christmas, and got it. I haven’t finished it yet (I’m reading a few things at once, and also (mostly), I’ve gotten kind of bad at reading? What’s up with that, btw?), but I am enjoying it thus far, and if you like the HP-verse, I would recommend checking it out.

3) My new job!

I have a new job! For the past six years, I worked as a copy writer/social media person for a small sales company, and just before Christmas, I quit! (Well, I actually let them know way in advance, but my last day there was December 22nd.) And on January 9th (after a whole two weeks vacation!), I started my new job as a translation intern at a mid-size, Montreal-based firm.

This is both my first internship and my first time working officially as a translator (down to the job title in my email signature!), and I must say, I am enjoying it a lot so far. Everyone there is very nice. The work is interesting. The office is well lit (but not too bright) and relatively quiet (but not so quiet that it would be creepy/distracting), and for once, my place of work also feels like the right place for me to be. And I like it.

Alright, kids, I guess that’s it for tonight! Thanks for reading, and sleep tight!

—s

 

#veganmofo 2016: recap

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Hey there! It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

My last update on here dates back to November 14th, about halfway through this year’s Vegan MoFo. What can I say? Things got really busy, and while I did manage to post a little something on Instagram most days throughout the second half of November, I just didn’t have enough time to update the blog until today. Sorry about that.

Now that it’s December and I’m a little less busy, I thought I’d do a recap of my Vegan MoFo 2016 posts, both Instagram- and blog-wise. You know, for posterity. So, here we go.

Phew! I can’t believe I managed to post something almost every day for a month. It was a bit stressful at times, but still a lot of fun! I might even do it again next year. Until then, I’ll be resuming my regular (AKA sporadic) posting schedule on here. Talk to you soon!

Cheers,

—s

#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