Janet (j4) wrote,

The club of query trades

It seems like everybody I know has done this heap-of-questions thing, so I'm joining the club (no, not that club).

Can you cook?

Yes. I can't improvise very inspiringly without the aid of a recipe, but I can cook a couple of dozen dishes (with minor variations) competently. My parents had a good solid repertoire of tasty and healthy food with which to feed a family, and I'm slowly learning to replicate most of those dishes (even the ones I didn't like as a kid). I'm much more make-that-stewing-steak-stretch-till-Saturday than drizzle-these-rocket-leaves-with-cranberry-jus, but that suits me fine.

"Can you cook?" is a funny question, though, isn't it. So few people are willing to just say "yes" unequivocally. It encapsulates whole realms of strange changed assumptions about food, about feeding yourself and your family, about necessity and leisure. I don't think anybody over the age of 21 should be able to say "I can't cook"; what really baffles me is when people seem to take a kind of pride in claiming that they can't cook. I suppose it's like keeping your skin soft and pale to prove that you don't have to do any manual labour, but, really.

What was your dream growing up?

To be a concert pianist; then (when I realised I was never going to be good enough, at least not without giving up all sorts of things that I didn't want to give up, and probably not even then) to be a poet. I wrote reams of poetry as a teenager; it started with all the usual emo outpourings, but then I started writing more deliberately, making myself write in set forms like sonnets and villanelles, seeing it as a craft I could learn. I wanted to be the first woman to turn down the laureateship -- so anti-establishment, yeah. Circled 'A's on the underpass pencil-case. I won a few 'youth' poetry competitions, but couldn't get anywhere with adult ones; I read the poems that won the competitions and found that they just didn't say anything to me. I thought I just couldn't write in what seemed to have become the modern idiom, but actually I probably just wasn't very good. By the time I graduated I'd more or less stopped writing poetry, and dreamed of being famous on the internet instead.

What talent do you wish you had?

I can't think of many talents I'd wish for which I couldn't just, you know, go and learn. I might not be very good at them, but at least I'd've tried. The problem is that there are so many things I'd like to be able to do that I can't focus on one of them for more than about 10 minutes before something else comes along. Maybe that's the talent I should wish for: the ability to focus. It's not about wishing, though, really, is it? It's about training your mental muscles. You have to stop waiting to be the sort of person who stops waiting, and just go and be the sort of person who is.

Conciseness, though, that's a talent I wish I had. The ability to stop deconstructing things (at least while I'm still standing on them).

Favourite place?

Val de Bagnes, Switzerland, in summer. Do a Google images search for "val de bagnes" and you'll get a good feel for what the area looks like. The mountains look like pictures of mountains, only more real, more-than-real. The air is clear, so clear that the mountains look nearer and the sun feels warmer and sounds carry for miles and it seems that every wild flower and every blade of grass is placed exactly where it's meant to be: not regimented, just right. You can pick wild strawberries and wood-sorrel from the side of the roads through the woods, and a river like green-grey ice runs along the bottom of the valley. There's a stillness and peace so perfectly-formed that you can hold it in your hands like a sun-warmed stone.

Favorite vegetable?

Avocado. No, wait, that's a fruit. Spinach, maybe, or broccoli; something solid and full of iron and able to stand its ground in a fight with meat. Mind you, potatoes are probably the most versatile, so maybe I should choose them... and mushrooms aren't far behind in the versatility stakes. And all raw vegetables are great, all that crunching and thirst-quenching. (Okay, mushrooms aren't crunchy or thirst-quenching, but they're not really a vegetable, are they?) Peas from the pod, actually: possibly the best snack food in the world. Yes, I think I'll choose them as my favourite, for now.

What was the last book you read?

I keep a record of this on my website, you know. I'm currently reading Grey Areas by Will Self, which so far isn't as funny as he thinks it is (though still smirkworthy), as well as re-reading Tamora Pierce's Protector of the Small quartet for about the millionth time (comfort reading, there).

What zodiac sign are you?

Taurus, Gemini rising. In Chinese astrology, I'm a Horse. I do find it interesting to see how people react to externally-assigned personality profiles, whether it's Zodiac signs or Myers-Briggs or gender stereotypes or "which Pokémon character are you?" quizzes.

Any Tattoos and/or Piercings?

Both ears pierced twice. I got the second set done because my parents told me not to get anything else pierced at university. Sigh.

Worst Habit?

Biting my fingers. But I realised the other day (while getting mildly irked by the whole giving-chocolate-up-for-Lent thing, for reasons which are both complicated and boring) that, you know, it was something I could just stop doing, because they're my fingers and it's my mouth and I've got a brain.

Do we know each other outside of lj?

I've seen various people do this quiz now and I think I know all of them outside of LJ. Though, given that LJ is the place where I most frequently spend time with most of the people I know (wherever I originally met them), it seems like a bit of an irrelevant question to ask. I get very annoyed when people attempt to divide my friends up into "real life" friends and "internet" friends: the internet is real life! It's as real as talking or writing letters or shopping or banking or, really, anything in 'culture' or 'society': it's all real, it's all virtual.

What is your favorite sport?

If martial arts count as a 'sport', then karate. Taking up karate was the first time I deliberately chose to do any kind of organised physical exercise as an adult -- I was still carrying around a perception of myself as "unfit" and "no good at sports" based on being a reluctant hockey player and a hopeless sprinter at secondary school. It was good to ditch that label.

Negative or Optimistic attitude?

I'm aiming for 'realistic'. A lot of the time, though, I think what I do is more important than whether I'm "pessimistic" or "optimistic"; that is, the sort of optimism I'm interested in is the sort that says "I'll give it a go" rather than the sort that says "don't worry, everything's going to be fine!"

What would you do if you were stuck in an elevator with me?

Phone the elevator-fixing people, or press the 'this elevator is broken' button, or whatever. Then carry on talking. Actually, I probably wouldn't have stopped talking in the first place. Even being asleep doesn't make me stop talking.

Worst thing to ever happen to you?

I don't think there's any one thing I can single out, either by trying to apply some kind of objective scale of badness or trying to think what's made me the most unhappy. Splitting up with one particular boyfriend pushed me over the edge from depression into suicidal despair ... but in retrospect, it feels pretty stupid to have got so upset over a boy, and the whole sorry mess had a lot of good side-effects: it made me drop out of my course, re-assess what I was doing and why, and then get out of bed and get a job; it got me away from the church I was involved with at the time, which was a pretty poisonous social and spiritual environment. It also made me hit rock bottom, and you can only go up from there, really. I'm not proud of wasting everybody's time and resources by getting myself into such a state, but I can't undo it now, only use it to avoid making the same mistakes again.

I think I've made all the "worst things" into something useful, woven them into the pattern somehow. I'm not claiming I'd be able to do that with anything that happened to me, though, and maybe this just means nothing very bad has happened to me. On any kind of global scale, that's true: I've been very lucky in lots of ways.

Probably the worst single decision I ever made was going on the pill, and I didn't really make that decision by/for myself. I'd love to know what I might have done and how my life might have gone if I hadn't been so depressed, and I think a lot of the depression was due to hormonal imbalance -- when I stopped taking the pill I felt like I'd got a whole section of my brain back. But, again, you know, you have to start from where you are, and I can't go back and make that decision again.

Tell me one weird fact about you:

I was home-schooled for a while (about a term) when I was about 7 or 8. Not very weird, but it's something not everybody does, & something not everybody knows about me. I don't remember finding it better or worse than school, particularly, just different.

Do you have any pets?

No. I'd like to have cats, but only the sort of cats that don't scratch your furniture, don't bring dead birds in, don't cost a fortune to feed, etc. Other people's cats, in other words. Cats you can give back when you've finished playing with them.

Do you know how to do the macarena?

Yes, and I'll teach you if you want. I can do the "Saturday Night" dance as well. It's pretty good exercise, actually, doing the dance for the whole song: like a kind of gentle aerobics. I ended up doing both dances at my high school's 10 year reunion disco, as part of that whole 90s nostalgia kick; it was weird being the one who remembered all the moves rather than the gawky one who didn't fit in, though really, dances with set moves are an absolute godsend if you are the gawky one, because you just have to follow everybody else rather than worrying if you're dancing "right".

What time is it where you are now?

DINNER-TIME! I usually wait till 1pm to have lunch because it makes the afternoon go faster.

Do you think clowns are cute or scary?

No. I don't think I've ever seen a real live clown, actually; I've never been to the circus, and I didn't go to the sort of kids' parties that had professional entertainers. And this whole are-you-a-'clowns-are-scary'-person-or-a-'clowns-are-cute'-person nonsense is right up there with pirates in the overworked internet memes department.

If you could change one thing about how you look, what would it be?

"If"? I can change lots of things about how I look. Talking of which, I must re-henna my hair. Of course, on Second Life, I can change everything about how I look, which is fun, though I'm not particularly interested in looking like a teenaged goth ocelot. Having said that... I've often thought that I'd like to have wings, which is fairly predictable and teeny-goth. I try to justify it to myself, though: "But they'd be better wings! Not predictable teeny-goth wings!"

I used to want to be taller, but then I discovered a) platform shoes, and b) the internet (where nobody knows if you're only five foot one).

Would you be my crime partner or my conscience?

Crime partner! But only for the sort of crime that involves doing deeds of derring-do and confounding the ungodly. I'd be Patricia Holm to your Simon Templar.

What color eyes do you have?


Ever been arrested?

No. I've been giving a telling-off by the police for (accidentally) trespassing, but I got out of it by pretending to be a bit more ditzy and a bit more posh than I really am. The same tactic worked when I was caught fare-dodging (trying to use an uncancelled outward half of a return ticket), though I still had to pay a penalty fare. I'm mostly fairly law-abiding, really, though.

Bottle or Draft?

Depends on the beer. Draft, usually.

If you won $10,000 dollars today, what would you do with it?

Convert it to pounds sterling, and stick it in a savings account, with a view to using it towards the deposit on a house a few years down the line. It's quite scary how small an amount of money it seems once you start thinking about houses. (It's also less money than the total I owe the Student Loans Company, which is an even more gloomy thought.)

What kind of bubble gum do you prefer to chew?

I don't really chew gum any more: it annoys me so much to be sat next to somebody who's chewing away non-stop, I don't want to inflict that on other people. But if I was somewhere where it wasn't going to irritate people, then I'd go for Hubba Bubba, unless they've started putting aspartame in it, which they probably have. At 2p a sweet it was among the more expensive things you could buy from the corner shop, but much better value than the halfpenny sweets, because you could chew it forever. I can blow huge bubbles, too.

What's your favorite bar to hang at?

I am liking the newly-reopened Jam Factory, which has three varieties of Cotswold lager on tap, very nice food, an art gallery, comfy sofas with cushions, and shows films on Sundays. It's near the station, too, which is handy for getting the bus.

Do you believe in ghosts?

Not actively.

Favorite thing to do in your spare time?

At the moment, my instinctive response is "sleep", which is rather sad when there are so many other interesting things to be doing, but I'm just so tired all the time. Talking and reading are probably the things I spend most of my time doing, because they're fun and easy to do; but I'd like to spend more time doing different things, things which require a bit more effort to get started but are satisfying when I make that effort.

Do you swear a lot?

All the fucking time. Yes, I know, everybody's made that joke, but it still makes me laugh. I know swearing isn't big or clever, and usually I swear out of laziness or irritation (neither of which are particularly noble motives); but a well-placed curse with the right comic timing can be side-splittingly funny. I could theorise about why, but then it probably wouldn't be as funny.

Biggest pet peeve?

You may be surprised to hear that "people NOT THINKING" only comes in at number 2 in the peeve parade, but that's only because "people not thinking and refusing to even try thinking when challenged" is number 1.

In one word, how would you describe yourself?

Tags: food, money, quiz, say no to emo, werke

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  • Just like starting over

    Hello! Does anybody still read this? I am basically declaring LJ bankruptcy: I haven't read my friends feed for so long that there's just no way I…

  • Running for the wide open spaces

    So I tried to explain this to someone face-to-face, or at least side-by-side, but there are some things you can only say in the small hours of the…

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    Red wall, red chair Red chair. A boot. Still life or love in all its banality as how he sits, or she removes her shoes, or he crosses his ankles,…