Food for Thought

Writing a Book? Veganism? Answering Questions Nobody Asked

Hello!

I thought I would make this quick post to help readers get to know me as well as make a few announcements. Lots of big plans in the future! I appreciate those who have taken the time to read my work.

 

Are you writing a book?

I am writing a book. Right now I am working on the high-level outline and am experimenting with various approaches in terms of format. I have already captured two hours of interviewing, hundreds of photographs, as well as located land and genealogy records from the 18th century.

The novel is non-fiction. It is equal parts history, genealogy, and memoir. In it I trace the history of a family home in Savoy, Massachusetts (the oldest house Savoy, built in the 18th century) and the lives of the women who lived there. There’s also a fair dash of the paranormal… ghost stories, haunting, mysterious arson… it has been a joy to take part in some spooky conversations. It’s enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck! I have a working title which will be announced at a later date.

How old are you?

I turn 21 this April!

Are you in college/university?

I have two semesters left at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where I will graduate with a degree in journalism and linguistics. My projected graduation rate is December 2017. (A semester early! Yay!)

What do you do with a journalism degree?

There’s a lot you can do with a journalism degree. I will compare journalism versus English degrees in a later post. Broadly, journalism and English degrees differ in terms of emphasis on multimedia, the writing style, and its focus. Journalists tell non-fiction stories through newswriting, profiles, features etc. to help readers be informed about their world or community.

I have a few writing/multimedia gigs at the moment. I work in public radio teaching journalism, mentor in a school system, and write local news and sports for two different online publications. I also have an internship in public affairs I do one weekend a month (public affairs is basically marketing/community outreach… I cover events and take photos). On the side I record audio books and work on Stories for Strangers.

Especially in today’s fast-paced, digital world, journalists need to be proficient in multiple angles of storytelling.

What do you do with a linguistics degree?

That’s a great question. Linguistics is broadly broken down into syntax, phonology and semantics. A lot of linguists venture into academia, communication disorders, interpreters, into the field to document dying languages, or study language acquisition on the neurological level in babies and children. Why am I doing it? I like learning languages and understanding how English syntax (grammar) works tightens my writing.

Wait, you make audio books?

I do! I am working on one as we speak. And you should too! I am self-taught member of the audio book world. I will make a post in the future about how I began with limited knowledge or equipment compared to where I am today. Making audio books has helped me develop my voice for the radio as well as made me more conscious of how I speak in conversation. It was making audio books which broadened my horizons to radio work, commentaries and podcasts. At the very least it is a cool way to vocal exercise and practice editing sound waves. Imagine how rad it would be to make a series of bed time stories for your kids!

What do you do in your free time?

What free time? Kidding. I write a lot. I also run, make oil paintings of sunsets over water, knit blankets, and mess around with photography. I like to hike or visit the local park if it is warm enough. Sometimes I volunteer at a soup kitchen.  I enjoy travel and road trips either alone or with other people. I am one of those people who is perfectly comfortable eating alone at a cafe or taking myself on a cool adventure.

Are you a vegan?

That’s the trendy thing these days isn’t it? For real though, I stopped eating meat when I was in third grade. That lasted a few years with infrequent slip ups. By middle school I was off it for good. I wasn’t forced by a parent in any way. To be honest I stopped eating meat because I thought it was cool to be rebellious.

During mid-high school I slapped the vegan label on (because it was cool to have labels) and I’ve eaten that way ever since. These days I feel less jazzed about the vegan community, especially online.  I can’t muster up the energy to be so judgmental about other people’s lifestyle choices. Being hateful is self-destructive. Nobody responds positively to being yelled at.

Do I eat or buy anything with animal products? No. Do I care if others do? Not really. It’s up to you. Everyone has their own path in life and plans they follow. Not everyone’s timeline looks the same. Connecting through deep conversation is exciting to me and I can’t do that if patronize others with what I feel is right what I think others should follow. We know ourselves to be unfinished, you know? (Paulo Freire said that). Who knows how I’ll feel in twenty years, or what experiences I’ll have to open my eyes to new ways of imagining the world. I’m not worried about it.

What are you excited about?

I’m excited about everything. I’m excited about graduating, writing books, travelling, and starting new projects. I’m excited about trying new things with my hair. I’m excited to see people I haven’t seen in a while. I’m happy that I’m on spring break, despite the several feet of snow. I’m excited about listening to early 2000s music that makes me feel nostalgic. I like to like things. If you like something it is best to like the hell out of it.

What are you not excited about?

I’m struggling pretty hard with this linguistics assignment right now. I am taking the class pass/fail because it is way over my head. Luckily, it is the last class I need to finish up my linguistics requirements.

Do you have tattoos?

I have a few.

Do they have meanings?

Read about it here! In short, putting permanent artwork on my body encourages self-confidence and helps me love the parts of myself I otherwise dislike. Do they have meanings? Yes, but the meanings change day by day depending on how I feel about myself and what strength I need when I look at them.

I have a swallow on my shoulder blade for self-love and feeling at home in my body. It’s very traditional, done in black and gray. It was my first tattoo so I wanted something in a place that wouldn’t hurt and something that would symbolize how it felt to be 20-year-old me.

I have a fern on my chest–ferns are usually depicted as delicate and feminine–however, although placed in a feminine spot and following the curve of my body it is executed in really solid, powerful black work that is in sharp contrast to my pale skin. It makes me feel powerful. I especially like how it was drawn directly on without a stencil. Find it on the artist’s Instagram (NSFW). A censored version is found here if nipples bother you.

I also have a large Medusa with ten–yes, ten–snakes on my sternum  in black and gray done by a fantastic artist recently. I wanted something to compliment the artwork already on my front and cover a few surgical scars. The Medusa tattoo has layer upon layer of meaning for me and the placement is also incredibly significant. I think that Medusa is a very misunderstood character and for me the tattoo is broadly about power, self-acceptance and being a strong woman. Its execution is positively bewitching. You can find it (looking very fresh) on Instagram.

Yikes! What will you do when you’re old or have 37 children?

When I’m a 90-year-old woman with tattoos or if I get pregnant 37 times and ruin them, I think I’ll have bigger problems on my hands than ink under my skin. Like, you know, the looming reminder of my own mortality or worrying about how to pay for all that college tuition.

Are tattoos vegan?

I have no idea.

Upon researching I found that tattoo ink is composed of a pigment and a carrier. The pigment is general derived from plant, metal, or sometimes animal sources (charcoal derived from charred bone). Carrier solutions generally contain water, ethyl alcohol, propylene glycol, glycerin and sometimes contains witch hazel. Glycerin is sometimes plant-based, sometimes not. Sometimes ink contains gelatin. The tattoo process also uses Vaseline (sometimes derived from that dastardly bone char and always tested on animals) or some other lube-y business like petroleum jelly that I’m pretty sure is plant-based albeit a byproduct of the oil industry.

So are they vegan? Yeah there’s a chance. There’s also a chance it isn’t. Am I going to get worked up about it? No (too late anyway). If it contains an infinitesimal amount of animal product, I’m just glad that all parts of the animal are being used despite my stance against industrial animal farming. I’d rather not have it wasted.

Then again, I also refrain from labeling myself vegan because I reject this demand for perfectionism in all areas of my life. Maybe a stricter person has a different attitude towards this subject. How do you feel about it?

What are you doing today?

Today is another snow day! It is the second one in a row. I am spending it by catching up on writing for work, chipping away at assignments for class, and writing this post. I’m glad that we were able to sit down together so you might get to know me.

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(Photo by Allyson Morin/Stories for Strangers)

If you have any other questions about me, don’t hesitate to write them below!

Thanks for reading,

Allyson

 

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6 thoughts on “Writing a Book? Veganism? Answering Questions Nobody Asked

  1. Hi Allyson! Lovely post and nice knowing you….this post gives me an idea that I should also write about myself so that my readers know me better. And also I know myself better while writing…does that make sense?

    Liked by 1 person

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