Iím rather dull by most peopleís standards. I tend to lounge on the homebody side of life, as I can be quite lazy (despite the fact that Iíve been working like a packmule lately to save money) and Iím quite the hermit. Stick me on a sofa with a pile of books and/or magazines and a remote control, and I will be content. I get bored in bars and clubs and usually end up writing stories in my head about the people I am seeing and remembering random memories that make me giggle out loud and look like a fool, rather than being social and flirty. (I say that with a eye-rolling shout-out to the Temple of Societal Expectations.) In terms of being active...well, okay, Iím not very active, but I do love wandering and the occasional hike.
Iím far from being the best swimmer in the world, but I adore being in and near water and Iíd love to live right by an ocean/bay/inlet/lake/river someday. That is part of what drew me to Greenwich; being just a 10-minute walk from the Thames was a joy I never took for granted. Nature is magical to me in general. Yet I also have a fondness for urban landscapes, particularly those with pockets of decayed beauty.
I have lived with clinical depression ever since I was about 13 years old. When I was 21 and a senior in college, I started a course of antidepressants that remains to this day. Because of my experiences with depression, and the experiences some friends and relatives have had with depression and other mental disorders, I have a strong interest in anything having to do with mental illness.
Iíve been a voracious reader my whole life (you can spy on my reading antics here) and remain a devoted fan of all the wonders reading can bring. (Side note: several years ago one of my favorite books, The Handmaidís Tale, was turned into an opera in Denmark. How amazing is that? Although it had a brief run in Minneapolis a few years ago, it hasnít yet returned to the US, and I fear that, in light of todayís conservative climate, it will never return.) Iím a disaster and dystopian literature buff, and in that vein, Iím bit of a morbid ghoul who enjoys reading about other depressing subject mattersóeverything from Chernobyl to the bubonic plague.
I adore writing as well, although I hardly ever do it anymore. While I was an active poet throughout high school and college, my focus shifted in adulthood to writing bizarre, dark short stories that I generally did not share with people. These days my writing is generally limited to articles for work, unfortunately, as well as my journalsóIíve been an active journal keeper since I was eight years old and received a Pac-Man diary for Christmas 1982. Over 25 years of journal-writing equals a lot of blathering! My old journals are both pleasurable and painful to read.
Despite the fact that Iím a homebody, what I really want to do most in life is travel. I want to savor the marrow of foreign placesóboth the great things (museums, monuments, cathedrals) and the flotsam and jetsam of daily life. Aside from a family trip to Canada when I was a teenager, all my traveling has been restricted to Europe; Iíve been fortunate enough to hit 10 countries there so far. There are many more places I want to explore in Europe before I move on to other continents (although if the opportunity to travel to New Zealand or Antarctica or Greenland arose tomorrow, Iíd be all over it). My next trip, scheduled for May/June 2011, will encompass Krakow/Auschwitz, Kiev/Chernobyl, Lviv, Dubrovnik, and Sarajevo/Mostar.
In terms of recording life, I also have an acute fondness for snapping photos at every opportune moment. Really, Iím a bit of an out-of-control shutterbug. And I tend to hold on to every letter and card I ever received. I even have a box full of every note ever passed to me in class by my friends throughout high school.
Although Iíve been a Sylvia Plath fan since I was 17, George Seferis remains my favorite poet. (If you like his work, I recommend checking out the CD Erotikos Logos, in which Christos Hatzis sets several of Seferisís poems to music.) I also love the tormented works of Anne Sexton and I dig the works of Octavio Paz, Rumi, and Pablo Neruda. Poetry in general electrifies me.
Marc Chagall is my favorite artist, and I have a great love of modern art. I have managed to hit a few different modern art museums (in DC, New York, Chicago, San Francisco, London, Helsinki, Reyjkavik, Glasgow, and Edinburgh) and am jonesing to hit many, many more. I also love modern sculpture (metal in particular) and really dig wandering around sculpture gardens. Andy Goldsworthy is my favorite sculptor; I think heís a truly talented genius.
Tori Amos is a favorite musician; I discovered her music in 1992 and have loved it ever since. I enjoy a range of musicóNordic folk, jazz, world, classical (especially mournful strings), opera, alternative, í80s, folk, undefinable. My iPod, like many peopleís iPods, is a bit schizophrenic, covering the gamut from Bach to the Beastie Boys, from ABBA to ZZ Top. These days I am primarily listening to Peter Gabriel, Damien Rice, Joshua Radin, Simon & Garfunkel, U2, Garbage, Joseph Arthur, Neil Diamond, Ray LaMontagne, Coldplay, Giacomo Puccini, Unkle Bob, and Bloc Party.
In high school I wouldíve been consideredóapart from a geek, loser, and maybe, in my earlier high school days, a goody two-shoesóa goth (although I really kind of...wasnít). Thus, in tandem, I was referred to as a Satanist, witch, schizophrenic, homicidal, Communist, fruitloopóyou name it. As an adult I remain fairly goth in spirit. In my opinion, true gothiness lives in your mind and spirit, not just in your wardrobe and jewelry. True gothiness is an ability to embrace and appreciate the dark side of life. My favorite dark historical figure (yes, I actually have a favorite!) remains Elizabeth Bathory, known as the Blood Countess of Hungary. I learned about her in a Gothic Lit class and I still find her fascinating. An opera is even being made about her life! In general, the darker side of life intrigues me and I have an incredibly black and twisted, yet also random and silly, sense of humor. But I also dig people who arenít afraid to be in touch with their light sides as well. I once knew someone who criticized me and basically wrote me off as being vapid and shallow because I watched 90210 and listened to REM. Being comfortable with myself means that I accept my interest in things both light and dark, mainstream and underground. Why try to fit into a conforming or non-conforming mold? As cheesy as it sounds, nothing is cooler and sexier than a person who can be him/herself and embrace all of his/her paradoxical and conflicting interests, even if that means being a complete dork (and trust meómy friends and I are prone to dorkiness). People are uncomfortable when they canít squeeze you into a box, but hey, thatís their problemónot yours. As Tori Amos once said: Some of the most wonderful people are the ones who donít fit into boxes.
I consider myself an agnostic Pagan. Agnostic, because I donít believe itís possible for anyone to know whether god does or does not exist (itís all a matter of faith, or lack thereof) and Pagan, because I do not adhere to any organized religion. Upon becoming an official Recovering Catholic at age 18, I went through a phase where I looked down upon all organized religion, but now I support each personís desire to believe in something that brings him/her comfort and strength. I, however, remain uncomfortable with committing myself to an organized religion. I believe in reincarnation or, should I say, I like the idea of it, and I believe it might exist, but no one knows for sure. I am particularly fascinated by claims of Holocaust/WWII reincarnation.
Ever since I took a course on Jewish literature in college, I have been interested in the Holocaust, particularly from the viewpoint of survivorsí and victimsí writings.
Iíve been a vegetarian since I turned 18 in 1992, I hope to one day get the strength and resolve needed to become a full vegan, and I eat waaaay too much breakfast cereal. I adore ethnic cuisine and will try food from anywhere in the world, as long as it doesnít have meat or meat byproducts in it! (Vegetable soup made with beef broth, Iím looking at you.) But because I was raised in a town full of diners, Iím also a huge greasy spoon-lover.
Iím crazy for foreign films, and thatís one of the reasons why I love living near Washington. With two indie multiplexes and the fabulous Video Americain nearby, not to mention DCís annual foreign film festival, smaller themed film festivals during the year, and the annual European Union Film Showcase at the American Film Institute, Iím able to get my fill of excellent foreign cinema.
Another advantage to living near DC: museums, museums, museums. Most are free, or at least have one or two admission-free days each month. The grandaddy of them all, of course, are the Smithsonian museums. Meanwhile, the International Spy Museum is very cool, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum is an incredible testament to an unspeakable event. Among a wide selection of other museums in the area are the National Gallery of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, the National Geographic Museum, the National Archives (where you can see the Declaration of Independence and other historical documents), the Corcoran Gallery, and the stunning Library of Congress.
And for being a rather stuffy, conservative town in general, DC does have a few brilliant and non-stuffy nuggets of coolness scattered about: Artomatic, the Capital Fringe Festival, Palace of Wonders, DC Cabaret, Burlesque University, Crafty Bastards, embassy events, and more embassy events.
Some other varied interests of mine include:
sloth, playing with my niece, collecting quotations, sleeping, overanalyzing every episode of Lost, Schadenfreude, animal protection, hanging out with friends, London, hitting cool exhibits at museums, snarking, watching TV, pop culture, Cold War and Soviet ephemera, savoring nature, vintage clothing, laughing at inappropriate things, pulp art, bad baby names, trashy British magazines (like heat, Reveal, Chat, Pick Me Up!, Take a Break), celebrity gossip, abandoned places and urban ruins, architectural salvage, dystopian books/films, postapocalyptic books/films, strange neurological phenomena, modern poetry, Scandinavian design, PostSecret, mental hygiene films, urban legends, dark and irreverent satire, 1980s pop culture, old cemeteries, vibrant wildflowers, cool rocks, solitude, spending way too much time on Facebook and MyDeathSpace.com, finding out what is being overheard on the Tube and around New York City, the daintily subversive world of Anne Taintor, self-injury art/education/awareness, black and white photography, learning about plane crashes (primarily the forensics employed by the NTSB after a crash)