I wrote this on April 15th 2013

Dearest Jenni,

You did this once and it was really cool, and again so I am sitting writing you a letter at your intern apartment in New York City.

In the next year I hope you,

  • Commit to eating way more fruit and more organic food
  • Stop making trash
  • Move out or make plans to move out
  • Learn more about communicating your mission to the world
  • Get at least 10 people to go vegan.
  • Write monthly letters to help animals!
  • Host a French party (maybe this one takes a little longer haha)
  • Make Paper!
  • drop something off a building
  • Try stand up comedy!
  • Perform Spoken Word Poetry

You were semi-effective last year and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish! You are amazing. I love you.

Peace,

Jenni (2013)

My Problem with Privilege

Disclaimer: This is my opinion and perspective only. I am not trying to tell other people what to think and I am not looking for a debate/argument. I’m actually doing pretty bad lately and really don’t want to deal with a giant backlash. I’m not trying to speak badly about anyone and honestly I’m pretty scared of potential backlash but I wanted to publish this to reference. Please, don’t hurt me.

Opression by Narnia • http://flic.kr/p/bn92FL

Opression by Narnia • http://flic.kr/p/bn92FL

Life is hard.

Regardless of where you are from, your race/gender/height/weight/ability, or any other factor, I would like to propose that we all have, at some point, had challenges or difficulties to face. I repeat, life is hard.

Relating this to social justice, and anti-oppression work, I think the term privilege is often used to encourage people to be more conscious and reflect upon their attitudes and ideas towards others. …An effort to decrease judgement and create understanding. In practice however, I think the use of the term privilege creates many assumptions and judgements against others. For example…

Jazmin Singer recently published an article describing her experiences as both a (to use her words) fat person and a thin person. In her article she referenced the “privilege” of being thin. I think I could argue equally for the “privilege” of being fat. I am not trying to say being fat is easy, because as mentioned, LIFE IS HARD. But being thin has its own challenges. As a child I was very small for my age and was often bullied for my size. People would call me anorexic, bulimic, and on a few occasions some other girls took me to the bathroom and tried to force me to throw up. Some people might not agree with me. Perhaps my struggle and pain as a thin person is not great enough to validate pointing out the privilege of other sizes. But I’d like to propose, it is not a contest of who is worse off. We all have the ability to suffer, to feel pain (physical or emotional) and hardship in some capacity. What might be a step to one person is a mountain to someone else. Some people might have more challenges to overcome than others. That doesn’t make any struggle less of a struggle.

In another case I read an article that said, “White people aren’t told that the colour of their skin is a problem very often.” – for me, this was not the case. Growing up in a mixed Canadian community I was part of a white minority in a primarily South Asian population. I was bullied at school, there were certain expectations of how I would act because of my race, I was often excluded from social events and was definably not a part of what my classmates called “brown pride”.

I am not ashamed to have lived as a thin, white, middle-class female from North America. Believe it or not, life has been hard for me too. I get stopped at the border and asked about drugs, I get physically searched down almost every time I get on a plane. There have been times when food was not available to me and the prospect of homelessness loomed. LIFE IS HARD.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am not advocating for oppression. I think it is wrong to discriminate against others based on any number of factors including but not limited to their: gender, race, size, ability, appearance, religion, or species. But I think often in activist work to stop this discrimination, other people, perceived to be more “normal” or better off  or “privileged” are denied the benefit of the doubt.

Why I Will Not Eat Gluten Again

Dear Jenni,

Please don’t go back on this one…

The stomach pain
The bloating
The burps and subsequent embarrassment
The other bodily gases and subsequent embarrassment
What will the good looking people think?
Food comas
The bathroom isn’t the best place to spend a nice evening
There are so many things I can’t enjoy when I am preoccupied with gluten sickness
Vicious cycle of gluten eating leading to more gluten eating

Stay chipper. Love always,
Jenni

THIS IS BEING ALIVE: A Very Rough Draft

So earlier I had one of the un-ignorable fits of inspiration that took me flying down Hastings on the way to do my radio show. Written/Chorded/Recorded in about 90 mins total. Here’s to a very rough draft! Cheers.

THIS IS BEING ALIVE

It’s like running to catch a train

That you know you’ll never make

And then somehow

You just sail through the door

Or someone holds it open

Cause we can’t move mountains on our own

And that’s when

That’s when you know

This is being alive

When all the odds defied

When you jump and then you fly

You succeed after you try

You know you know

This is what is right

Your mission matches your life

(Your mission is your life)

And somehow

Simultaneously

I want to throw up

And swim the sea

Cause I could win at anything right now

This is more than being lucky

This is just believing something

And maybe

Maybe This time I’m just right

That man doesn’t believe in love

And that man can’t feel god In His blood

But I can and it always brings me home

And I think of

That feeling when you know

You’re doing something right

Maybe I’m just crazy

Maybe this is what it means

To be manic an uncontrolled

Living in dreams

But I don’t care that I can’t explain

And I don’t care what’s wrong with my brain

I’ve got a feeling

Oh oh oh

Had some well spent time

There’s peace under my eyes

And it shows

I feel like I have a glow

And I want the whole world to know

That were doing better everyday

Yes we are better every day

I’m on the wrong side of the street

And there’s needles on the ground around me

But I don’t care an I just wanna scream

How much I love everything

And I wanna cry

Cause I am more than happy inside

How to Be a Gluten-Free Vegan

According to Jenni Rempel

So, you want to be a vegan… (Start here)

Though I am not strictly gluten-free myself, my Mom is gluten-intolerant so I am well aware of the challenges with avoiding gluten. After my mom was diagnosed I went gluten free (in addition to being vegan) for several months. For myself, I found the best way to do this was to eat mostly raw food and look at raw food recipes. Especially in the gluten-free dessert category, I think this is the tastiest and healthiest way to go (cashew cheesecake anyone?). Beyond that there are also many recipes for dishes that never contained gluten to begin with. Quinoa, rice, and lentils can be the base of many tasty meals.

Popular gluten-free alternatives to animal flesh include: tofu, tempeh (fermented soy bean… there are some great tempeh bacons out there), and veg based products (such as vegetable burgers). Avoid seitan (which is made from wheat gluten).

Like many dairy and egg products, most vegan alternatives are gluten free. Daiya Cheese (who now makes vegan-gluten-free frozen pizzas), all non-dairy milks, and the almond and soy based vegan yogurts on the market are all gluten free. Egg replacers like flax meal, apple sauce, banana and some packaged egg replacers are also gluten free!

Christine Norris, a gluten-free and vegan living specialist says…

When doing both [gluten-free and vegan], stick with fresh, whole foods and you won’t have any problem. When buying packaged foods, get used to reading the label. Major allergens are usually listed at the bottom in bold (i.e. milk and gluten, wheat), but not always.

Going to vegetarian restaurants helps eliminate half the trouble, and most will mark if something’s gluten freeon their menu. It gets easier as you do it more… also try sticking to non-American restaurants for a while, since most other cultures don’t use the same types of flours or have plenty of alternatives; i.e. Mexican food (vegan enchiladas, fajitas and tacos on corn), Indian food (most things are made with chickpea flour), Ethiopian (injera), Thai (vegan curry dishes), and Chinese (Mongolian stir fries). It’s best to make your own food when you can – it will save you money and frustration.

It should be relatively easy to be both vegan, and gluten-free, as both lifestyles involve reading ingredients thoroughly and being very conscious about what one puts into their body.

Here are some great blogs with recipes and info:

Eating out:

  • Raw food restaurant are usually 100% vegan and gluten free (check for and avoid honey and Nama Shoyu [raw soy sauce]). In Vancouver I love Organic Lives and Gorilla Food.
  • Sushi is also a great option (skip the soy sauce or bring tamari). Try standard veggie rolls, kappa rolls, avocado rolls and other veg-based options. Other Asian traditions also featured products made with rice flour and rice wraps that can usually be made gluten-free and vegan.
  • Indian food also tends to have a number of rice-based and curry dishes which are gluten-free and vegan.
  • Mexican food often has options for gluten-free corn based tortillas and tacos which can be filled with veggies, beans, rice, potatoes, salsa and guacamole. Mmm!

Cookbooks: (thanks to Genny B.  and Christine Norris for the recommendations)

  • Flying Apron’s Gluten-Free & Vegan Baking Book, by Jennifer Katzinger
  • Gluten-Free and Vegan Holidays, also by Jennifer Katzinger
  • The Gluten-Free Vegan, Susan O’Brien.
  • Genny says… I use the first cookbook about 90% of the time and I consult the other two books the odd time. Katzinger’s cookbooks are amazing because not only is it vegan but it’s also whole foods (healthy sugars and flours) and next to no binders. My fav is…
  • Babycakes NYC! http://www.babycakesnyc.com/books.html Yummy desserts! Learning how to bake is a great thing when you are a gluten-free vegan! It can be fun too!
  • Alison Kramer’s Great Gluten-Free Eats
  • Christy Morgan’s Blissful Bites (gluten-free options clearly marked)

A friend recently asked, why be vegan and gluten free?

While choosing to avoid gluten has no moral basis and is purely a health or dietary choice, being vegan is a social justice issue, an ethical stand point, and a firm decision to stand up to oppression. It is a moral position. Why be vegan AND gluten free? For health, and for the animals, and for the planet.

Overall vegan nutrition info can be found at http://vegankit.com/eat#nutrition, chooseveg.com and also nutritionfacts.org : )

So, You Want to Be a Vegan

Dedicated to B, who asked.

I would love to help you in any way that I can! You rock!

First place to start: http://vegankit.com/ – Great overview of everything!

The resource I am most excited about at the moment is Mercy For Animals Vegetarian Starter Guide (http://www.mercyforanimals.org/VSG.pdf). It’s free online but is also mostly the same as their website: http://www.chooseveg.ca/ (I totally worked on this haha). It has some info about the animals (nothing gory), environmental impacts and positive health benefits. It also has some basic nutrition info (http://www.chooseveg.ca/foodplate).

For nutrition info I also recommend the book “Becoming Vegan” by Brenda Davis. Many people consider it a stable book for this info. Also, I recently got to meet the doctor from http://nutritionfacts.org/, this website posts new content every day and any questions you have they will likely have an article on. Nutrition as a vegan is actually quite easy because a plant-based diet is the optimal diet for disease prevention. The films Forks Over Knives (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O7ijukNzlUg) and Food Matters (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4DOQ6Xhqss) talk about how a vegan diet has been proven to REVERSE major killers like heart disease, and cancer, and many other illnesses (though it has been a long time since I have watched them and only recommend them as a starting point for further research)

The meat and dairy lobbies pay actors and people to advertise and promote their products (got milk?) because they are industries seeking to make more profits. I was really shocked when I learned that many of the supposed benefits of animals products are just marketing lies. For example, milk can actually CAUSE osteoporosis by leeching Calcium from the bones (http://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/09/12/13120.aspx) and even Harvard no longer promote consumption of milk and dairy products (http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/nutritionsource/). Another big one is the “protein myth”. Meat companies promote their products as having “enough” protein, but no one even mentions how much protein people really need. Many people eat too much protein which can cause problems. All fruits, vegetables, and plants have protein. Even if you wish to eat large amounts of protein (which is generally unnecessary) there are many plant based sources you can use such as Kale, Lentils, Beans, Hemp Seed etc.

Personally, I do 2 things the ensure I am adequately nourished:

  1. I try to have a “Green Smoothie” every day. A green smoothie (greens: I use spinach; + ANY YUMMY FRUITS YOU WANT) is the fastest way to get the most nutrients into your body. Greens are nutrient dense and fruits is tasty and full of vitamins and minerals. I take a big handful of spinach and blend it with lots of fruit, so I don’t taste the spinach, I taste the fruit, and get all the health benefits of the spinach. Yay! Here’s a tutorial: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eXr8-jru1KE&feature=c4-overview&playnext=1&list=TLqTDsKXLPYiM
  2. I either eat nutritional yeast or take a Vitamin B12 supplement once a week. (http://nutritionfacts.org/questions/what-is-the-best-way-to-get-b12/)

There’s tons of resources online. When I want to make a certain dish I usually google “the best vegan” + the recipe I am looking for. This usually brings up the best results. Here are some of my favorite recipe blogs:

http://www.theppk.com/

http://www.choosingraw.com/ (lots of nutrition info, written by a nutritionist)

http://www.chooseveg.ca/breakfast

http://vegweb.com/ (huge database)

There are also lots of all vegan restaurants in the lower mainland: Karmavore in New West, Graze on Fraser, 3G Downtown, Dharma Kitchen near UBC and Vegan Pizza House near Joyce Station are some of my favorites. Lots of common restaurants also have vegan options. I like getting veggie sushi rolls, veggie sandwiches from Subway, and veggie or tofu stir fries when I am in a rush (but I always ask to make sure the sauces and ingredients are vegan).

In terms of becoming vegan, everyone has their own path. I know people that switch overnight cold turkey and others that transition slowly. I myself went vegetarian over night and then slowly eliminated things from my fridge until I was vegan 4 months later. Melanie Joy, a psychologist who did her Ph.D on why we eat animals has a really great site and 2-minute video about why we eat animals which has really helped me to understand the importance of animals rights and ethics (http://www.carnism.org/).

Beyond the nutritional info I think the most important part of being an animal advocate is being well informed. This short video of undercover factory farm investigations helped me to learn about how animals are treated and WHY it is so important to be vegan: http://meatvideo.com/ I found the video very disturbing, but I think it is important to witness the suffering that goes on and be informed about what really happens in the factory farm industry. If you have more time Earthlings is a very comprehensive look at how animals are treated in our society. It is available for free online: http://earthlings.com/?page_id=32. Again, this movie can be quite disturbing, but it is likely that people are going to ask you why you don’t eat animals, and I think it is important to know the facts.

Every time you choose not to eat an animal you are making a huge difference, both for the dead animal on your plate, and for the environment, and the exploited slaughterhouse workers, and to me personally, so for this I thank you. And don’t hesitate to ask if you have any questions etc! I want to create a world where no one has to suffer and I am willing to do whatever it takes to make that a reality! Seriously, i’ll bring you cookies haha : P

In gratitude,

Jenni

Note: As with anything, I highly recommend doing your own research, being critical of all sources and coming to your own conclusions after you have done adequate research and learning, especially when it comes to nutrition.

I WROTE THIS A YEAR AGO

Dearest Jenni,

You did this once and it was really cool, so I am sitting writing you a letter at an airport in Toronto.

In the next year I hope you,

  • Commit to 100% raw, organic food.
  • Stop making trash.
  • Get engaged 100 times
  • Go Camping
  • Do something crazy!
  • Learn more about communicating your mission to the world
  • Do inspiring work that pays the bills and make the world better.
  • Write letter to help animals!
  • Host a French party (maybe this one takes a little longer haha)
  • Make Paper!
  • drop something off a building
  • Try stand up comedy!
  • Perform Spoken Word Poetry

You were very effective last year and I can’t wait to see what you accomplish! You are amazing. I love you.

Peace,

Jenni (2012)

Acting Workout 2: How Do I Act??? What is Acting???

Image

It’s nights like this I question why I am doing this. And why I am not doing this. In some ways, performing and creating are what keeps me alive. Every time something bad happening to me or I have to overcome a challenge I think to myself, it’s okay because this is great songwriting material, or this will give me more to draw on as an actor. Sometimes though, the process of channeling those things is very difficult.

 

Tonight I was playing a character who had just experienced a breakup and was crying. At first I got really caught up on the crying and just wanting to make myself cry. Then I let that go and worked more on trying to achieve my objective in the scene. I was trying to bring my own life experiences in to channel the required emotions within myself but I couldn’t connect the two. It wasn’t like I didn’t have ample things to draw on, or that I didn’t understand what the character was going through.. but I could not bring those emotions into my body within the scene. I felt like I needed to sit there for hours preparing myself to have the intensity and emotions required. I tried getting ready on the train before coming to class but when I got in the room I was overcome with the desire to be social and talk with the class as we waited to get started. I also noticed that as the scene was going I would yawn every time I felt like some emotion was going to come through me. It was like my body was working against me…

 

I remember when I was a kid I was THE BEST at crying on cue. I could cry anytime. I used to play the game “graveyard” at daycare, where someone walks around tries to make everyone laugh… and I would always end the game weeping. I was a fairly lonely kid and didn’t really fit in with most groups (or at least this is how I remember it) so I would draw on that, but mainly I would remember scenes from movies that made me sad. I used to think of this scene from the Grinch where he looks really lonely and everyone is mean to him and I would cry every time….

 

 

I even considered calling my boyfriend and asking him to pretend to break up with me, or having a friend yell at me… Or finding a friend and asking the specifically to be really mean to me when I ask.. or getting into an argument with a stranger. How do I

I feel like I should invent my own method that works for me, but then people have been acting for centuries – why do I not just follow their training? All of the Grotowski and body training from my classes at SFU finally started to make sense… being aware of my body and how I am being… accessing my emotions… the effects that posture and position have on my emotional life… I finally started to get it… but when I think of the possibility of doing that for a year and a half I dread the idea. I don’t think I could handle being in this hard, tired, yawning place for that long. Where is the play? The make-believe?

I know that acting is an important part of my life but I am not sure how I want it to fit into my career and world.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q4mW8VtgEio

Perfect Stranger

Skytrain

Today a boy I met on the skytrain. We had a little skytrain romance. Before we parted he told me my boyfriend was very lucky because I am beautiful. 

So I see you

and i’m not sure if you caught my eye

or I caught yours

but we keep meeting briefly

in the middle

and I have this urge to know why

to understand

to explain

but I don’t want to ask

I don’t want to break the perfect forcefield of dilated perfection between us

so I sit

and I make up stories that I know you

or you recognize me

or you love me

and then the more I think about it

the more familiar you look

and suddenly we aren’t perfect strangers anymore

we’re just perfect

reunited

or united

I can’t tell anymore

because the past and your unfamiliar face

has become a fantasy

today

was a beautiful day

your face

i love the way

was a beautiful day

a lovely perfect wonderful

beautiful day

I talked about writing this, and this PostSecret I saw about how sometimes people stare at people on the train because they are beautiful, and the wondering…. and I forgot to tell him he was beautiful. And inspiring. And polite. Oops.

Also, he did not mention that I am the lucky one : )

Acting Workout: When can I “do” something?

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Today I had my first acting class downtown with Dolores Drake. I am in her class called “The Professional Acting Workout”. I got to be downtown at night which I love, but not the late kind of night (though I got to do that too) but the sunset time of night. The twilight. When the orange (the pretty kind, not like the CMYK kind) kissed the pavilions and the streetlights and the building’s edges.

I learned so much and I really had a positive experience! So many questions and answers.

 I was wondering about how to know when you “can do” something. For example, an accent. Or a special skill. Like playing guitar. When am I competent enough and proficient enough and confident enough to put something on my resume. I suppose I could think of acting as similar to other types of jobs this way. If I don’t want to be hired for 3D Modeling, then I won’t put it on my resumé. If I don’t feel comfortable playing clarinet for a casting director, I probably shouldn’t advertise that either. My teacher brought up some good point too about getting feedback and confidence. Do [insert skill here] for people and if your peers, friends, classmates, teachers, etc. compliment you on your work, then it is something you should promote. Do you believe yourself and feel confident?

COMEDIC SIDE NOTE:

That reminds me… during the winter break this year I went on the trip to Whistler with some friends and for some reason (I can’t recall if this was before or after the alcohol but neither would surprise me) I spent a large portion of the evening pretending to be Australian (because SO MANY people we met up there were from down under). I went to a cafe with an accent (where the owners were legit Australian), I bought lift passes, I went to a bar… I drank more alcohol. LOL.

I got to read three parts today in class:

  1. A short bit from Brent Butt’s CBC show “Hiccups”
  2. A scene from a TV movie where I worked at an eyeglass store.
  3. I am now working on the role of “Lynda” from Savage in Limbo by John Patrick Shanley

I really enjoyed the class for a few reasons. Everyone is very talented. People are working. One of the guys from the last class I attended was in a commercial I saw on TV  recently! Cool! (I still get a bit starstruck : P).

Also, I really like working with Film and Television material. I was reflecting on my time so far in the SFU Theatre Program and I noticed that often with self-directed scenes from plays I couldn’t “figure it out”. What does this line mean? How do we make the scene interesting? I needed a director or outside eye to help me put things together. Perhaps it is because of all the short film work I have done from a Director and DOP standpoint, but I really “got” the scene today. There were a couple times when the rest of the class was confused but I “got” it. That felt good, to be in on the joke. To understand.

I started to see myself in roles while rehearsing in class today. This has been a struggle with me in my ongoing journey wondering if/how I should pursue acting. I am a character. I fit into role. THAT COULD BE ME.

Overall, beautiful, wonderful day. Job well done. Mission accomplished. YES.