Été : T'es Capab'

L'été qui n'a pas été

Chers lectrices et lecteurs et tout le monde : chers vous autre,

Hey, if you signed up to my newsletter T'es Capab' during "this foul year of our Lord" twenty-twenty: welcome. It’s usually a monthly thing. Well, not this year: nope. For those who don’t know T'es Capab' is a shortened version of "tu es capable," which is simply honest encouragement, smack-on-the-back style, that translates into "you can do it!" 

Vous lisez mon infolettre-par-courriel anglais qui a un titre, un nom, un « 'eadline » français. I, Joseph Mathieu, vow to write more in French in 2021, because currently it's only once in a blue moon, seldom, rarely.

Some people might say, "Whoa there, Joe! Slow down. You've already made a mighty fine amount of vows this year! New Year who dis? New Joe? New Life? Really?!”

Okay. Maybe not. But I can try.

I’m a writer and editor based in Ottawa. I look like this:

I take writing and editing very seriously, I promise. However: life is ridiculous. And nothing really matters, you know? Is that nihilistic? Or terrifying? I mean, just because something is absurd doesn’t mean it’s pointless. I think there’s a difference between “what matters” and “what’s the point.” I care about that difference. And I know that it’s okay to relax in a terrifying world because I read that in a book. A good book, I promise.

I write this free newsletter because I get paid to write and re-write English sentences. It’s my way of sharing my work, and my thoughts, and my life. It’s fun, I like it. The writing and the rewriting are fun, and I like the payment part too. I teach journalism at Algonquin College, and if any student is unsure she or he is a writer, I ask: “Do you like reading? Do you like sentences? Do you like homework?” Liking these things will help.

But: here’s an important caveat: there is no one way to be writer.

To write and to teach writing simultaneously is difficult, because I’m still a new beginner. But I did write this article, which I consider my best public work of the year. My goal is to get the kids to think that way, “what one thing can I have done that I’m proud of?” (The trick is to do it a lot for a long time. The trick is there are many articles from this year that are just… fine.)

I used to look like this:

I’m looking at baby pictures a lot lately because a new member of my family has been set to arrive. She was born today: Aude, little girl of my cousin Jai. I won’t get to meet her for quite some time… But that’s okay, too, because she won’t understand this for a bit:

Chère Aude,

Bienvenue chez les Mathieus, petite! L’extrait d’un roman que j’aime bien me vient à l’esprit, où j’ai lu que tous les nouveau-nés devraient se faire dire : « Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It's hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It's round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you've got a hundred years here. There's only one rule that I know of, babies—“God damn it, you've got to be kind.” »

C’est Kurt Vonnegut qui a écrit ça. Je ne suis pas Kurt Vonnegut. Je m’appelle Joseph Mathieu. Je suis ton cousin Vovef. Voici un croquis d’une femme que j’aime bien, qui est ma cousine Jai mais surtout ta mère: elle est forte et sérieuse, et elle est coquine et vite, et elle sais rire à tu-tête. Elle ne demande pas souvent pour de l’aide, mais elle en donne généreusement. Elle crée des choses, parfois en peinture, parfois en métal. J’ai des morceaux de bois, de fer, une toile et des photos de ta mère partout dans ma maison. Elle a déjà été mon employée, pendant un hiver! J’étais son gérant, mais surtout son cousin. On mettait des bracelets de GPS sur des enfants à une école sur neige—pour pas qu’ils se perdent.

Aude, ton nom me servira comme préfixe que j’apposerai sur plein de « nicknames » : Audacieuse, Audio, Auditive — cette Au-Devant, ainée de la nouvelle génération. Le son de ton nom me fais penser à un poème mis en musique. Je ne te connais pas encore, mais je t’aime.

Welcome to Earth,

Mononc’ Joe

So, I’m collecting pictures and thinking quickly and staring at my computer screen a lot. I’m answering emails and grading assignments and eating much candy. I’m going very hard at the work in front of me, this busy time, and I’m wondering what will happen when the busy times… stop. That’s coming up, shortly. Not for long, just for those precious few days at the end of the calendar year.

First, we need a few more newsletters for 2020, eh? It’s been quite a year.

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