Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Eleventh Hour . . .

When Raquelita, the Running Historian, tagged me for an  "11 Random Things" meme last week (and go check out hers -- the questions, answers, and revelations are interesting and fun), I decided to pick up the challenge. While I've generally been of a mind to ignore memes this past while, it's been quite some time since I've done one and perhaps newer readers don't know all my oddities yet. And perhaps those of you who have stuck with me for a while have forgotten some. And perhaps I've come up with new random "things about me" since the last time I did this. 

However, I can't imagine tagging the requisite 11 fellow bloggers, having tagged some in the past and knowing how busy everyone is. I'm only going to tag a very few and hope other readers might decide the challenge is fun -- If you do, please let me know and I'll link to your post.

The rules are:
1. Post these rules
2. You must post 11 random things about yourself
3. Answer the questions set for you in their post
4. Create 11 new questions for the people you tag to answer
5. Go to their blog and tell them you’ve tagged them
6. No stuff in the tagging section about you are tagged if you are reading this. You legitimately have to tag people! (As you can see above, I'm bending the tagging rules. Ooooh, the rebel yell!)

First, then, eleven random things about me:
1.  I grew up with eleven younger siblings.
2. My "baby sister" is 15 years younger than I am, 8 years older than my daughter, her niece.
3. My mother and my father each came from families with ten children -- my dad was the youngest of his, my mother the third youngest, so I had many, many older aunts and uncles, and at least 50 cousins on  each side of the family.
4. By now, it might not surprise you to learn that I was raised Catholic.
5. I dropped out of university during my second year, somehow managing to pass two of the courses without taking the final exam. I didn't formally withdraw, and it took a few years to get past those Fs on my transcript.
6. I was over 40 when I completed my BA, over 50 when I defended my PhD dissertation.
7. I once accidentally kicked a hole in a wall in our house. It would take longer than I want to explain this to you, but it's a true story. And it truly was an accident. There was frustration and sleep deprivation involved and I was standing too close to a wall and the heel I jerked up and backwards punched right into the drywall. I was teased for years . . . 
8. I've watched the complete series of Buffy 7 or 8 times and Angel 5 or 6, have a paper on the shows in a forthcoming anthology and will present another paper at an upcoming conference. Bit of a fan.
9.The first perfume I ever bought for myself was Ma Griffe.
10. I met my husband through friends and wangled another chance to visit with him by offering to type (on my Royal manual typewriter) a paper for him.
11. Travelling in Britain on my own as a 14-year old, I arrived at the train station in London puzzled that no relative was there to pick me up, even though I'd written to say when my Glasgow relative was putting me on the train, when I'd arrive, etc. After my initial panic, and after waiting a reasonable period, I decided to take one of those big black cabs, confidently giving my aunt's address and reassuring myself that I surely had enough cash for the ride. As we drove up to the address I'd given, I heard myself saying "209" instead of "109" and realized why they hadn't yet got my letter -- and why they hadn't met me. I learned a valuable lesson I rely on still -- if you're lost, a taxi driver can rescue you and it only costs money!

RANDOM enough for you? Okay, now to answer Raquelita's questions.

1. If you had to enter a different profession from your current one, what would it be?
Hmmmm, had to? Let's pretend the question is "got to" -- I think it might be fun to try a stint in fashion retail, something completely different. Or editing/publishing. We once came very close to buying a bookstore (a 12th random thing!), and I would have loved running it, but thank goodness it didn't work out given the financial perils of such a venture these days.
2. Apart from running, what is your favorite way to work out? 
I really enjoy walking, and I love the way I feel by the end of my Pilates Reformer classes
3. Would you consider yourself a dog person or a cat person and do you think this reflects in any of your other personality traits?
Definitely more a dog person, although we've had a cat in the house for almost 30 years now (two, in succession). I'm sure it does reflect personality traits, but couldn't specify which.
4. If you could spend the day with one celebrity, who would it be and why?
Kim Raver (of Grey's Anatomy), especially if I could spend that day with her in Paris, because I once saw her there when Paul and I were having coffee with my friend Andrea, and she was so fluently French-speaking that Paul and Andrea were trying to convince me I was mistaken. And then she switched into English and I was vindicated. I was intrigued by how she could be herself on those streets, escaping any fans, and would love to chat with her about what the city represents to her.
Of course, there are also good reasons for wanting to spend such a day with, oh, say, Salman Rushdie, but I'd be terrified of keeping up intellectually. Diana Athill, whose memoir I'm currently reading. . . I have to admit, though, that I'm pretty skeptical about that whole notion of spending a limited time with a celebrity -- I think such meetings would be fraught, awkward, and generally I'd be just as happy watching or reading their work from a more comfortable distance.
5. What is your favorite thing to cook?
I love the process of stirring a risotto -- it's slow-cooking at its best, I think, with that patience resulting in a magic transformation. But I'm also very proud of my pie crust and enjoy putting together blackberry pie in the summer, knowing how much it will be enjoyed.
6. Where did you grow up?
In New Westminster, BC, a small city near Vancouver.
7. What is the last book that you read?
I juggled two novels last week, and can't remember which got finished first: either Timothy Taylor's Story House which I reread for my class, or Michael Ondaatje's Cat's Table.
8. Why did you go to the college that you attended?
Oh, my transcript is such a patchwork, with at least 5 different institutions.  But all were chosen for pragmatic reasons -- I needed to make my mature-student-return-to-school work with my family life

9. What is your favorite kind of ice cream?
Baskin Robbins chocolate peanut butter, the kind that has chunks of peanut butter in it, used to be my favourite, altho' I have no idea if they even make it anymore. There's a local company The Udder Guys  that makes a magical Coconut flavour. If pressed, I'd call that a current favourite.

10. If money were no object and there was no need for concern about exploitative means of production or harm to the environment, what would you splurge on?
I'd fly all my kids, partners, granddaughter to Paris to join us in the several apartments we would rent so that we could show them what we love about the city. Then we'd follow it up with a week or two at a French Meditteranean chateau, poolside, so they could see another side of the country.

11. Why did you decide to start blogging?
After the dissertation process, I really wanted to get my inner editor off my back, and I wanted to find ways toward a more integrated life. The academic one seemed often to push my personal life out of the picture -- conversely, those in my immediate personal life rarely heard much about my academic life. Not sure I've managed that integration, but I do think I've loosened up my voice a bit, made it more my own, and I know that has translated into my academic writing.
12. What did you eat for breakfast?
Haven't had it yet -- waiting for my guy to come back with the Saturday papers and we'll probably have bacon & eggs

AND FINALLY, the eleven questions I'll set for the bloggers I'll tag AND any others who wish to pick up this challenge:
1. What was your favourite film last year and why?
2. If money were no object, where would you spend your next vacation? and why?
3. Describe the earliest meal you can remember enjoying.
4. If you were dividing domestic chores with a new roommate, which ones would you try to claim?
5. Do you play a musical instrument? If so, which one?
6. When you're bothered by prolonged muscle or joint soreness that's interfering with your workout plans, do you visit a General Physician, a Chiropractor, a Physiotherapist, or a Massage Therapist?
7. What activities do you hope will sustain you throughout your 80s and 90s?
8. What was the first important car in your life?
9. What was the most significant course you ever took?
10. If you had the resources, which elementary or high school classmate would you try to track down, and why?
11. Which chef would you like to have come to your house to prepare a meal for your guests -- or, alternatively, give you a cooking lesson in that chef's professional kitchen?

I'm going to tag Lorrie of Fabric, Paper, Thread and Blue Jeans & Black Coffee, both fairly new-to-me bloggers that I'd like to know more about. And Hostess of the Humble Bungalow because she's always such a good sport and we grew up not so far apart in place and time.  I'd love to see IndigoAlison reveal her answers and know she'd come up with some great questions. . . But I know we're all very busy and I'll understand if any of you say no. And if you aren't tagged, but would like to take on this meme, let me know and I'll link you up! 


Pondside said...

Well, that was a lot for a Saturday morning, but I truly enjoyed all of it.
I have 53 first cousins - four of them are double firsts. Another Catholic-raised here.

materfamilias said...

Pondside, Whew! You're telling me it was a lot for a Saturday -- took forever to write it, so I'm so pleased you took the trouble to say you enjoyed it. Double first cousins! and an impressive total of 53 1st cousins overall. I'm thinking perhaps you'd like to take on the 11 Random Things meme challenge. If you decide to, let me know so I could link to you!

K.Line said...

Awesome! I loved reading Ray's also. And it fascinates me that you have embarked on a life of academia after raising a family. After raising 4 kids, I'd probably never want to see homework again :-)

Sorry to be stupid, but what are double first cousins?

materfamilias said...

K, I've been a perpetual student, taking courses all through my kids'childhood. I finished my ARCT Piano performance diploma (from the Toronto Coservatory) by the time my 3rd was born and then I started correspondence courses until we moved. Once my youngest was in kindergarten I started classes again and have been in a classroom ever since.
Double first cousins, as I guessed, then confirmed with the help of Google, are those that result from siblings marrying siblings. Right, Pondisde?
AND if anyone can tell me why the Reply threaded comments feature is not working on my blog, please jump in and help.

Anonymous said...

I had not known most of this information. One thing we share is dropping out of college mid way through...and taking our time about getting back into the academic life.

Lorrie said...

I'll take you up on the meme, but won't get to it until later. I learned a lot of interesting things about you, Mater, and look forward to reading the others' postings as well.

I have 56 first cousins - not a Catholic family, but a Mennonite one. Some are younger than my own children. But maybe I should save that for one of my own random things.

Susan Tiner said...

Mater, I had no idea you grew up in a family with eleven siblings. You mentioned it being a large family, but I didn't realize you meant twelve children. Have you ever written about your experience growing up in your family? I'd love to read your memoir pieces if you ever thought of doing that.

Raquelita said...

I loved reading these and learning more about you. I really enjoy making risotto myself, and I usually do it about once a month. It's also one of my favorite things to eat.

I would love to read the pieces you've written on Buffy and Angel! (Would it be weird for us to be Facebook friends?)

Lesley said...

There are so many interesting things here. I look forward to talking with you about some of them, perhaps not in a château on the Mediterranean but in a little house in the Sud-Ouest. (Would you believe ethat I have never seen Buffy? Not a single episode)

LPC said...

So much here I didn't know. In some ways I envy you your late finish on the academic front. I graduated college at 21 - and ever since, literature has been like a secret I keep. If that makes any sense at all.

Duchesse said...

Family, traveling at only 14; first sighting of Pater... lovely reminiscences.

materfamilias said...

Terri: And it was better the second time around, right? (altho' the juggling was tough!)
Lorrie: I can already tell your 11 Random Things will be worth waiting for!
Susan T: There are a few reminiscences on this blog but otherwise, no. Someday, perhaps, when I'm retired. . .
Raquelita: I've only written one Buffy article but had a proposal accepted for Slayage so will be writing another one. As for FB, not weird at all, but for now I've been restricting it to people I've met IRL, just because I have so much family stuff on it. Strangely, it's probably my most guarded Social Media site, so far, at least.
Lesley: I'm really looking forward to the visit -- and many glasses of Bordeaux! Hope I'll convince you to watch Buffy (the first 2-3 seasons are not always convincing, but really picks up after that)
Lisa: Interesting comment -- I sometimes think that instead of worrying so much about "Recruiting" young students into humanities, there must be so many older folks keen to have a chance to talk ideas with others. I loved coming to seminars in my late 30s and through my 40s.
Duchesse: Yes, it was a rather exhausting meme, but it seems to have teased out many little corners of my life. Glad you liked it, thanks!

indigo16 said...

I love lists, so thank you for this one which is wonderfully navel gazing and right up my street.
Given the choice between making lists and entering data this meme will win every time!

Blue Jeans Girl said...

I don't know what I would have done if my people weren't there to pick me up at the airport! You were a very brave, resourceful 14 year old. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your lists and getting to know you better. I'm planning on participating in this, my first meme!

materfamilias said...

Alison: Ooh, I can't wait to find out some new details.
Blue Jeans Girl: I certainly can't imagine letting my own kids do the trip at 14, but it was a wonderful chance to meet those English relatives. Thanks for being a good sport about being tagged -- I'm looking forward to learning more about you.

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Maria said...

I've just started reading 'The Cats Table' by Michael Ondaatjes, what did you think of the book? did you enjoy it? I hear it's one of the must read books and that Michael is one of a few authors nominated for an award.
I heard Michael Ondaatjes talk to Elaine Charles on her radio station 'The Book Report'/, where I hear he has written 13 poetry books. That's impressive.
I like to hear more about a book and the author before I buy it so it's great to read the book reviews and radio review to hear what kind of research the author did for the book.

Raquelita said...

Regarding Facebook, I definitely understand.

materfamilias said...

Maria, thanks for visiting and commenting. Yes, I enjoyed The Cat's Table. I've read many other Ondaatje books -- all of his novels, I think, and much of his poetry. You might have seen the film The English Patient, which was based on his novel by the same name.
And yes, it's very helpful to have good interviews and reviews as guides to good books, new authors -- Ondaatje's work always seems to me to build on an impressive body of research.

materfamilias said...


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