Beth over at Lorna’s Laces posted an update to her three-year-old list yesterday, and inspired me to sit down and jot down my own. Also, how fun to resurrect a hundred-year-old internet meme! In no particular order:
- My first name is not Kimberly. I have, at times, been annoyingly called, “Just Kim.”
- As a kid, I lived in Canarsie, which is a neighbourhood in Brooklyn you’ve probably never heard of nor been to, even if you live in New York City.
- My left thumb is double-jointed.
- I absolutely detest raisins.
- I found my first grey hair when I was 18.
- I nearly failed a six-week course in Old Norse when I was in university.
- However, I was aces in a six-week course in Sanskrit.
- Absolutely no knowledge of either dead language remains with me.
- One time, as a summer-camp counsellor, I won a contest by eating a bowl of whipped cream so quickly I spent the rest of the day curled up on a cot in the nurse’s office (I also ate the Hershey’s Kiss at the bottom of the bowl, because I took my job as a camp counselor very seriously).
- I learned to ride a bike on the paved playground of my elementary school.
- The bike was blue, and I loved it.
- One summer in the early ’90s, I worked in an ice-cream shop that didn’t have air conditioning; it was hotter inside than it was outside, during a heat-wave.
- I do not bite my fingernails.
- Spiders make me very, very uncomfortable.
- Bright sunshine is my nemesis.
- I was a camp counsellor till I was 25.
- I’m an atheist.
- At the same time, being Jewish is a very important part of my identity.
- My favourite book is The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, by Michael Chabon.
- The book I recommend most to people is What is the What, by Dave Eggers.
- The first proper concert I ever attended was the Dirty Dancing Concert Tour.
- I majored in linguistics.
- Nine months after I got married, I went to Italy with my partner’s parents, without my partner.
- Which is when we stayed in a 14th Century monastery, which remains my favourite travel lodging, ever.
- My preference for New York-style bagels over Montreal-style bagels is passionate and unwavering.
- I had my ears pierced when I was six.
- I got my first tattoo when I was 35.
- If the circumstances are right, I’ll tell almost anyone about my reproductive health and experiences related to it.
- That doesn’t mean we’re best friends.
- Neil Diamond: Yes.
- Celine Dion: No.
- When I was eight, I got a hamster and named it Fluffy.
- When my little brother’s hamster Fuzzy killed Fluffy, I got another hamster that looked like Fluffy and I named it Fluffy.
- After Fuzzy killed the second Fluffy I just started taking care of Fuzzy as if that murderous beast was my own.
- Only recently did I wonder why my parents didn’t ask at the pet store if it was wise to put two male hamsters in a cage together. Twice.
- On 9/11, I learned about the attack when I was in the shower, listening to the radio.
- That day was my first working as a substitute teacher.
- In the great state of Delaware, a place I hate with the intensity of a thousand suns.
- I once got like 500 mosquito bites on a hike, and the next day I had a fever.
- I’ve never broken a bone (knock wood).
- When I was 18, though, I did suffer a wicked concussion.
- Once, in grad school, my car mechanic ran after me as I pulled out of the station, and when I stopped he asked me out.
- I didn’t date him.
- I did, however, date a guy who asked me out in a sporting-goods store.
- Come to think of it, when I was in college I also dated a guy who asked me out in a sporting-goods store.
- The grad-school guy was an asshole and I hated myself for ever dating him; the college guy was not.
- On my 21st birthday I drank a bottle of peach-flavoured Boone’s Farm and sang Air Supply’s Greatest Hits from beginning to end with my roommate.
- It’s possible those things happened on two separate occasions, but I don’t care that in my memory they’re combined.
- I’ve never ridden a motorcycle, but I’d like to.
- The only drug I’ve ever tried is pot.
- It makes me paranoid and hungry. Also more giggly than usual.
- The shining highlight of my time spent orchestrating shenanigans on the internet was interviewing Joss Whedon.
- I still have the first scarf I ever knitted (purple acrylic boucle; about 3 inches by a gazillion inches).
- I’m confused by why that scarf wasn’t my first knitting project, period; I also still have that, though – a very boring felted bag.
- At the moment, I have no idea what my first completed crochet project was.
- Growing up, I often had a fat lip.
- In high school, I wore clothes that were too big for me.
- I was a painfully self-conscious adolescent.
- I’d like to take tennis lessons.
- Dolls that look very much like human beings scare the shit out of me; I do not visit wax museums.
- I have a special love for dolls that do not look like human beings, and especially ones that are grotesque in some way or another.
- At an editorial retreat back in my Interweave days, I came up with an idea for a webcomic that I’d still like to make, featuring a protagonist named Maeve.
- I don’t draw comics, however*.
- We adopted our son with less than 24 hours’ notice.
- Breast-is-best rhetoric makes me twitchy, and occasionally very, very angry.
- Though my partner assures me I’m not actually tone deaf, I manage to carry a tune only on very rare occasions.
- But I once carried a tune through an entire Alanis Morissette CD on a road trip, while imitating her voice.
- Dune is one of the few books I’ve read more than once.
- Also Pride and Prejudice.
- I enjoy going out to the movies by myself.
- Though I’m outgoing and social, I have introverted leanings and need quite a lot of time by myself to feel happy and balanced.
- This is my biggest challenge as a parent.
- I’ve waited so long to prepare my Canadian citizenship paperwork that I feel stuck by my own procrastination.
- I feel a bit of self-loathing for not being able to vote where I live.
- I thrive when I don’t have a boss.
- I have no desire to be anyone else’s boss.
- Generally speaking, I get far more excited by the potential of things than the reality of them.
- That said, when the appropriate factors align, I can seriously get shit done.
- I find garbage day deeply satisfying.
- If I have the time, I prefer taking public transportation over driving.
- As a teenager, I worked at a research firm doing phone surveys on topics like a person’s satisfaction with their doctor or their bank.
- I’d have dreams that involved going through questions like, “When thinking about the bedside manner of your primary-care physician, would you rate your primary-care physician’s communication style as excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor?”
- I was a university tour guide.
- I was a tomboy.
- I like to wear mascara every day.
- But I don’t.
- I don’t have a great love of shoe shopping, but I will spend an astonishing amount of money on a pair of boots if I’m fairly certain I’ll wear for them for at least a decade.
- I’d like to lose about fifteen pounds, but I’m not much bothered by carrying them around with me.
- I sleep on the left side of the bed.
- I enjoy lots of different kinds of food, but find some very common ingredients revolting.
- Like vinegar and goat cheese.
- This makes people think I’m a very picky eater, but it’s just that the foods I can’t force myself to choke down are often in that salad you brought over.
- I love olives, spicy food, black liquorice and bourbon.
- I don’t like cake.
- I love doughnuts, but I don’t eat them frequently.
- I’ve never been to Paris.
- I’d like to visit Russia.
- I was not awed by the Grand Canyon.
- The Black Hills of South Dakota, however, left an enduring impression.
- When I pronounce Mary, marry and merry, they all sound different.
* In search of like-minded collaborator.
Have I mentioned how much fun Brett, Corey and I have working on The Holocene? So much fun.
Like, we’re hosting a pastrami-along. In the vein of a knit- or crochet-along, we’re following Corey’s instructions and recipe for making bourbon-smoked pastrami, and the project starts today. I’ve never done anything remotely like this, and I’m very excited to give it a shot.
This afternoon, I stopped by the butcher to buy a brisket, which is now sitting in my fridge. This evening I’ll make the brine for it, to start corning the beef.
Want to cure meat with us? Join in!
Jen and Jena at the Maven Circle are focusing on community over on their blog this month, and they asked me to write a guest post on the topic, related to Mighty Ugly. So I wrote about secrets. Go read and comment!
I just wrote this in response to a comment on Facebook:
I often bully myself into drawing a very bold line between personal and professional obligations – prioritizing completing the professional ones before I attend to the personal ones. This NEVER works, but I do it anyway. But then I’ll get to a breaking point, and in the middle of crazy stressful deadlines, I’ll go shopping and take myself out to lunch. And then I get all my work done. You’d think I’d learn…
Most of the time, I don’t have much trouble striking a balance between my professional and personal obligations. Most of the time.
Most of the time, I’m fair to myself. Most of the time, the bold lines I draw help me focus on whatever I’m doing at that moment. When I relieve the babysitter at 4:30, my work is done for the day (or it’s done at least until later in the evening). I’ve always done my best to keep work out of my weekends. And when I’m working to a deadline, my work time is sacrosanct. I often refuse to answer the phone (even more than usual, anyway). I don’t make as many social plans so I can conserve my energy for the intense work. I allow myself to cancel non-essential plans.
But sometimes? Sometimes I’m an absolute prick to myself.
In the “interest” of my lengthy work to-do list, I put off haircuts, relaxation, social plans, time to daydream and doodle and otherwise keep my creativity fueled. I’m an utter asshole to myself about it, too. The voice in my head is unrelenting in its harshness as it tells me how uncommitted I must be to want or need those other things, about how weak I am to find it difficult to balance all the factors of my life when one variable is taking up too much room and weight.
But you know? When I punch that fucking bully in the face, I end up feeling far more capable. Every. Time. Every time.
What about you?
Join me in a wee creative exercise?
I spend an hour and a half every Friday morning in preschool with my kid. It’s a parent-participation preschool, and because parents are in the classroom, there’s a requirement that we attend a monthly meeting with an educational component. Always cynical, I was wary of this at the beginning of the school year, but I’ve grown to love the social time with new friends, and most of the sessions have really been quite useful.
This week, the speaker was a family therapist who specializes in positive approaches to dealing with negative behaviour. Not a day goes by that I’m not grateful for my son’s generally happy and compliant disposition, so I happily knitted while letting her words flow by.
But then something she said struck me. She said that the single most important thing she has parents do with their kids is to spend ten or fifteen minutes every day in “special playtime”. During this short time, the kid gets to be in charge. He gets to choose the activity, drive it, change it, move on. The parent’s job during this time is to essentially give a running commentary on what the child is doing. “Doggy’s going down the slide now. Now doggy’s eating the Lego guy.” Whatever.
The playtime is special because it’s unlike much of the rest of playtime, when a parent might be folding laundry, doing some half-assed work, talking on the phone, thinking about making dinner, whatever.
The idea is that even just a little bit of this communicates to your child that they’re important. That you’re interested and that you think what they’re doing is worthy of your undivided attention.
That’s not the part that struck me. What struck me is that this would be a fabulous way to approach one’s own creative practice.
Fifteen minutes a day with you in charge. Not a client. Not a customer. Not a boss or an audience. No “shoulds”. No “musts”.
Just you, doing what you please, creatively. Letting the creative part of you know it’s important. Giving it license to be silly. Or serious. Or to eat the Lego guy.
When I sent my last newsletter and asked people to write me a letter, I wasn’t entirely confident that anyone would. How amazing that I’ve already received four letters! It’s a very intimate exercise, to entrust me with these letters, with these thoughts and feelings. I don’t take the responsibility lightly.
The first letter I opened is from Kirsten Moore, a fashion designer and maker from Portland, and she gave me her blessing to write about it here. In her letter, she expressed how frustrating it can be when people respond negatively to her when they learn she’s made her outfit or her coat, as if she’s “some sort of freak of nature to be able to make things that are supposed to come from stores, made by machines in mysterious factories overseas.”
Honestly, my first reaction was to be baffled that she encounters anything other than wonder and support in Portland, a place that in my mind is a utopia of makers and making. Good to be reminded there’s no such place of perfection.
I also thought about my own experience waking up to the importance of the provenance of clothing. It was after my family moved to the suburbs of Albany, NY, when I was ten. Before then, we’d lived in Brooklyn. Before then, I wore whatever I wore, and I actually have no recollection of my wardrobe whatsoever.
After moving, though. After moving there was nothing but blatant and baffling social stratification in my life, and the clothes kids wore were somehow tied into the complicated hierarchy. Brands I’d been unaware of were vitally important. Not style, so much, but brands. The cool kids wore clothes from The Gap and The Limited. Uncool kids wore clothes from Champion or Kmart. The least cool kids of all wore handmade clothes.
I hate that, looking back on this exceptionally difficult time in my life, I felt I couldn’t get to know those kids wearing handmade clothes, for fear of being ostracized by association. When, in fact, I was ostracized for any number of reasons, regardless.
Have you encountered this kind of judgment as an adult, like Kirsten has? I’m relieved to say I haven’t. Then again, the stuff I make isn’t sewn clothing (and I long ago released myself from brand judgment, relaxing into my own style and caring about branding only when it relates to how and from what my clothes are made).
Something else Kirsten said struck me in an entirely unexpected way. She said, “It is also irritating to me that people don’t seem to realise that everything they own was made by hand. Just not their hands. Someone made your phone, your computer, all of your shoes and clothes, furniture, car, refrigerator, pots and pans… Yes, certain parts are machined, but more passes through human hands than most people realise.”
She’s right, of course. That’s not what surprised me. What surprised me was that I wanted to discuss her experience with you here on the blog, and I wanted to draw an illustration to go along with it. I can’t remember the last time I drew anything, save for countless buses (big! big buses!) for my kid.
So here you go. Thank you, Kirsten, not only for putting pen to paper to share a piece of your creative frustration with me, but also for inspiring me to put pen to paper in a new way, myself.
This morning I spent half an hour listening to one of the best interviews I’ve heard in a very long time. Jian Ghomeshi, host of the outstanding CBC Radio arts and culture show Q, spoke with Mandy Patinkin about his career.
At the end of the interview, Patinkin mentioned that one of the things he loves about his life right now is that, unlike at earlier points, he relishes not knowing what will happen next. Ghomeshi asked him if he’s scared. This is, in part, how he replied:
I’ve been scared. Fear ran my life, and the greatest lesson I learned… has been to stop thinking that I could run away from fear, of any nature. And I’ve been learning and practicing to invite any and every kind of fear to sit right on my shoulder, give it a front seat… Let it make me shake and sweat and be terrorized. I will eventually get bored with it and proceed… I can’t run away from it. And so I’m learning and practicing to let it be there. And it will be part of my process, work, journey for the rest of my life. But it consumed me so up until this point, and I no longer am trying to escape it. I welcome it into my life, every second. I encourage it.
If ever there were a person whose wisdom I’d want to listen to on continuous loop, it’s him.