Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Only Ten? (I Could Go on Forever...)

OK, OK I get it: you've all had enough of Tori. Tori this, Tori that -- I promise she's not the only topic I have on my mind these days! On the contrary, for once I'm sort of brimming with creative thoughts and reflections, so we'll see how productive I can make myself and share those things here with you and all the world. I've just been tremendously lazy these past few days, and I've been trying to catch up on my blog-reading. Now let's see if I can actually participate in some blog-writing for a change!

Oh, and on a side note, I just had to say thanks here in my own space to Petite, Le Meg, Mr. FwAB and Rhino for putting together the great Paris Bloggers' Picnic last Saturday. Yes, I did go (after hemming and hawing for days as to whether I would make it...) and I had a great time, but ended up leaving a little earlier than planned. Then again, I don't know if I had any particular departure time planned per se, so that may not be so true... Let's just say that my boy dragged me away kicking and screaming after he realized I had downed just a wee bit too much red wine. But that's nothing new! He doesn't say I'm the one with the bonne descente for nothing...

So that leads me to the point of this post: Ten Things about me that you may not (or probably shouldn't) already know, unless you're a mind-reader or are living the double of my life on the other side of the planet, like something out of La Double vie de Véronique...

Earlier last week my dear JennC at NPLI tagged me for a new meme, and this one I promised to participate in, even if it killed me... Which it may very well do, because although I'm sure there are loads of things I haven't shared about myself on this here blog (but apparently enough for certain somebodies to track me down and identify me though, eh?!) I'm not so sure all that many of them are "interesting". And that, dear friends, is apparently the goal of this meme. So "Ten Interesting Things" you say? Let's give it a go... (in no particular order)

1. I've always been crazy about illustration, cartoons or animation in some way, shape or form, but most especially as a little girl. It started out with a frightening obsession with Garfield (bear with me folks -- I was 9 at the time!), who I would draw everywhere and reproduce in all of my school notebooks. This eventually led to the creation of my own cartoon character, Binky the Mouse, who certainly would never be able to compete with our dear beloved Mickey. I also tinkered with the greeting card domain in my youth, drawing cards for family members and even trying to sell some of them. I distinctly remember a series of "Heart People" cards -- I should have had them syndicated! I moved into a heavy-duty Disney stage from 9 to 13, and then became fascinated with all things Pooh -- the Classic Pooh, thank-you-very-much, Ernest Shepard style, long before that particular fascination became popular. Now Pooh paraphernalia is rampant, mais bien sûr. I even bizarrely remember writing an Honors essay for a college entrance exam in which we were asked to create a holiday, and I decided that all children's book illustrators should be honored, and named E.H. Shepard as my prime example. I think a holiday like that actually exists now! (but I promise it didn't back then...) Wish I could take credit for it.

Later on, in high school, I mentored with a political cartoonist and toyed with the idea of pursuing that career path -- but I knew it wasn't for me when I realized how very much I abhor politics in general, and no matter how hard I try I cannot muster up enough strength or interest to devote more than 15 minutes' attention to a political discussion -- if that. So shoot me.

2. And this, ironically, leads me to my previous job posting in the U.S. before moving to France about five years ago... How in the hell I ever ended up there, I could not tell you really, aside from the fact that a random opportunity fell into my lap and I decided I would give it a go, even if it was only for six months or a year and if it didn't use any of the skills I had hoped to be using on a daily basis (namely my French...). That particular job had me, on one occasion, face to face in a limousine with Mr. Bill Clinton himself while he was being interviewed for Esquire magazine, one of his final interviews before the end of his second term of presidency. [As an aside, the author of that interview, Michael Paterniti, wrote a fascinating book about driving across the country with Einstein's brain in the trunk of his car. He was quite the character in person, too!] I did get to shake his hand before getting into the car (and quickly wish him a belated birthday) but I think the most memorable part of that experience was the deer-in-headlights look on my face as I tried to register the fact that if I didn't get that interview fully on tape, and if that tape was missing the slightest smidgen of dialogue, I would be in DEEP caca. (And I know about that look because I was recorded on video by military staff!) So how did a politics-abhorrent gal end up there? Again, don't ask; life sometimes throws us curveballs like that. But trust me, it didn't last long! (Especially since Bush, Jr. was soon to be in office, and I couldn't imagine finding myself in the same room as him in order to record his humdingers for posterity -- so I was transferred to an office at the State Department.)

3. Music played a huge role in my life for years (another thing missing from my daily routine now): I sang in a choir from the age of 10 to 21 and played the piano for even longer. I even had a music minor in college, although you could hardly tell now, given the fact that I haven't touched the keys in more than 10 years, I'm ashamed to say. I do miss it sometimes, although I think I was always playing for the wrong reasons. I'm hoping the desire to play, and the right opportunity, will arise when I least expect it, and that the notes will come back to me somehow. I'd like to think it's similar to riding a bike, but I know it's much tougher than that! I even think I've forgotten how to read music, and that frightens me. Strangely enough, when I sang in choirs, it was always with other gals, as I went to an all-girls high school and then a women's college. There's another intriguing tidbit for you! Singing in the shower today, in any case, can hardly qualify as living up to my musical potential. (Even if my boy finds this highly entertaining. Apparently it even brightens his day to hear me yodeling away in there.)

4. My first "real" concert as a teenager is also a reflection of my madness for all things piano-related: Billy Joel. (All right, all right, stop laughing -- these were the days of "We Didn't Start the Fire" not "Uptown Girl." Although I did end up loving all of his stuff! Oddly, I hardly ever listen to him anymore, although my older brother is still a fan.) Later on in college I saw Peter Gabriel -- now that was some performance! As you can see, my musical interests somewhat diverged at that point.

5. After all those years of playing the piano, and then my subsequent gradual love of all things French, I ended up becoming fascinated with Frédéric Chopin and his relationship with George Sand and managed to jangle those two interests together into an independent study in my final year of college, my justification for returning to Paris for three weeks in my final semester before graduating. This led to a paper entitled "Chopin : L'harmonie d'une double identité" or something of that sort, proof positive that I was probably not cut out to write university research papers for the rest of my life. I was (and still am, I guess) a pathetic romantic, and had a way of turning things so they all sounded stickily sweet and melodramatic. I still adore Chopin's work, but I was never able to play any of his work with true passion. My strengths lay in the domain of Bach, Haydn and Mozart... As romantic as I am, my perfectionistic personality tripped me up every time. And prevented me from truly interpreting any "romantic" work with personal flair.

6. I had a hernia operation in my belly (technically my abdomen) when I was four years old, and I hardly have any memory of it aside from visions of an adorable doggy puppet that I was alllowed to choose from the hospital gift cart after the operation. Of course, to this day I can't entirely forget that moment, though, as I have a scar just above my bellybutton that will remain there forever. And as a result I still feel uncomfortable wearing a two-piece bathing suit -- and I haven't even had kids!

7. That's not my only bodily scar, though, as a few years ago, in my tiny studio apartment in the 18th I managed to burn my right thigh with an iron as I attempted to do two things at once -- I never said I was very good at multitasking! Another reason why I now hate swimsuit season, as that scar is virtually impossible to hide or camouflage -- unless someone has some really powerful (and waterproof) makeup! I also have a tiny scar on my chin as a result of a backwards dive into the pool when I was about 10 -- trying to imitate my older brother, bien sûr. It was all his fault. The vivid image I've retained from that day is of my Olive Oyl bathing suit being stained by bright-red blood. What is it about me remembering what I was wearing in moments like that? Sheesh.

8. Like when my father had a stroke when I was 11; he was only 37 at the time. I was kneeling beside my bed with a hot hair iron in my hand, curling my hair under as my mother had so painstakingly taught me (without burning my ears in the process). This was 1985, people! To this day I have vivid memories of that morning -- and the peculiarity of my shorts-ensemble with tiny umbrellas all over it. I was preparing for Field Day at school. When I heard the commotion downstairs, I ran down and in the panic of the moment called 911 and proceeded to tell the emergency operators that my father had fallen off of a ladder while helping my mother clean the windows. In my defense, there was a ladder in the kitchen, and I think they were cleaning the windows together. But of course I didn't understand what had happened. All I could see was my daddy on the floor in my mother's arms, as she held a spoon in his mouth so he wouldn't swallow his tongue. He had in fact been helping my mom with the windows, and when I saw the ladder I put two and two together in my child's mind. There was no way I could know what had really happened, although I would soon learn and then speak about it at school in a future science class.

9. I can't stand anything science or math-related, so following my mother in the nursing profession was a virtual impossibility, even though I briefly entertained the idea in elementary school. I managed to get decent grades in those classes, but only because I was a complete nerd and studied like crazy for everything. But I am in awe of all those who work in the medical profession, including my best friend, who is a psych resident in New Orleans. To think that she's a doctor, and a really good one at that, is unfathomable to me. Yet it's true. And she loves it!

10. I hate the taste of licorice or anis, something I think I must share with a lot of other people out there. As a result, anything with those flavors, or something similar, including pastis or fennel, seems disgusting to me. There are a lot of things that I've grown to like over the years, and I know my tastes have changed enormously, but this is one that I think will remain unchanged.

Is it really obvious how completely unrelated most of these Ten Things were? Oh well, that's me in a nutshell. Just a jumble of random, unrelated information, and overflowing with contradictions! Someone recently told me this may be a result of the fact that I'm a Leo on the cusp of Virgo, something that probably also explains my extreme incapacity to make a decision. Does anyone have a cure for this?

Oh, and I believe I'm meant to tag some people out there with this meme thingie, although I'm not quite sure how many I'm meant to tag. But I'd love for y'all to participate! So let's hear it from:

Antipo (I'm sure she's done these before, but she'll make this real entertaining!)
Amy at C'est la Me
Colour Me Crazy (you haven't done this yet, have you?!)
Emily in France
Little Fugitive
Jennifer at RuebyStreet


Ms Mac said...

I think you could have stuck being dragged away from a picnic for being under the influence as one of you things. I would have liked to have seen that!

kylie said...

just for the record, i didn't mind the tori gushing. :)
see you at the next picnic!

ViVi said...

Hey, Billy Joel is great! You don't have to be embarrassed about that. I totally grew up with him. Plus, he went to the same high school as my uncle, though I think it's safe to say that they weren't moving around in the same circles!

And it was fantastic to meet you on Saturday as well! Hopefully I'll be able to make it to the next one. :)

amy said...

I'm sorry you left early... I certainly didn't have the impression that you had drunk to excess. I hope you'll hang around longer next time.

ColourMeCrazy said...

Hello! I would have liked to see a picture of Binky the mouse!
And thanks for the tag! You've given me some work to do!

l'embrouillamini said...

Thank you for your lovely comments on my blog.

Every spare minute of my time is spent doing my research for my trip. I keep getting warned that I may be building it up too much but I cannot see how it's not going to work out. Paris is the best. x

Jennifer said...

I feel exactly the same way on #s 9 and 10!
And thanks for giving me something to write about for my next post!

jchevais said...

Your list is awesome. And i'm with CmCrazy. Let's see Binky!

Wendz said...

Oh you seem to have as many scars as I do. I also have one on my chin, but just under my chin so it isn't very noticeable, that I got when I was 4. I was at the children's Bible group at church and after the meeting, I went 'ice-skating' down the highly polished corridor and ended up skating on my face. I remember it vividly, and the fact that at the hospital, after they stitched me up, I was given 2 toffees for being so brave...but I couldn't eat them as it would have ripped the stitches out - I howled my eyes out.

Then I have an appendicitis scar, and another on on my belly from having a melanoma removed and 2 C-sections scars - I NEVER wear a 2 piece swim suit, as you can imagine!

avec amy said...

I really enjoyed reading this. And something tells me that there is still a lot more interesting things about you given this preview. I was laughing about “Pooh” because I feel like I hear French people refer to him as “Winnie” which is completely wrong. He’s Pooh Bear! I want to correct them (as I do when they say “Miiikeeeeyy” for “Mickey”). I’m sorry I didn’t go to the picnic; it would have been nice to have met you. I hemmed and hawed about it too, but I let the insecurities of being the dorky kid on the first day of school get the best of me and I chickened out. Thanks for tagging me, I don’t think you’re going to be a hard act to follow, but I’ll do my best.
P.S. Yeah, I want to see Binky too!

avec amy said...

OMG, I meant you ARE going to be a hard act to follow! See the thought of even writing one after yours is intimidating me and making me get all confused!

Antipodeesse said...

I'm going to marry Billy Joel when I grow up, so BACK OFF Bloomie and Vivi!

Antipodeesse said...

PS If you really are inviting me to write ten things about myself, they'll have to go on the naught blog...

little fugitive said...

It was great reading some interesting details about you! Very vivid. And I'm lagging with my blogging so thanks for the assignment.

Polly said...

I'm sorry I didn't meet you at the Paris Bloggers'Picnic. I wasn't trying to be anti-social, just anti-sun, so hung out in left field, in the shade of that big tree, feeling tired and old...ish.

I love your "ten things" and for what it's worth, I hate licorice too.

Halley said...

Re: # 4 and 10

4. My first concert was...ummm...Peter, Paul and Mary. No really...I was 14 I think, and absolutely mortified to be there with my parents...but they loved it, so I guess that's okay.

10. I hate licorice too, you're not alone!! Even the smell makes me queasy. Unfortunately my dad loves it, and I've spent many an unpleasant car drive with my head out the window so I can't smell his Good n' Plenty's or other licoric-y disgustingness.

I'm also sorry we didn't get to meet at the picnic – perhaps we can put on the pressure for another one soon-ish??

Antipodeesse said...

I've done the meme! It took me all afternoon, but I had such a laugh!

Jules said...

That was very interesting! I have that hernia scar as well and it seems that every time I see a new doctor he is fascinated by it and does not seem to believe what it was for. Weird.
I used to hate licorice until I lived in Holland and learned to enjoy a piece after dinner. Now I really love it, but only the coins or cats.

Linda said...

I like Billy Joel. I still listen to his music. I hate licorice too and can't drink Pastis that everyone is so crazy about. Anyway, I found your list of 10 things very interesting. I think you must be a very talented person. I am a nurse-back in the States- but have to say that I've never really enjoyed it.

The Late Bloomer said...

Just wanted to thank everyone for their great comments on this post... I really did get a kick out of writing out all these crazy memories and anecdotes, and I'm glad that those I tagged had a good time with it, too!

As for Binky the Mouse, maybe someday... I'm still trying to get up the courage to really work on some drawings again. One step at a time.

Oh, and Billy Joel -- I guess he's not all that bad after all... He brings back good memories for a lot of us! And Linda, that was such a nice thing to say, thank you; I used to really believe it when someone would tell me I was talented, but if that was so true, what am I doing wasting away my talents today? Ha ha... Maybe I'll figure out something.