Tag Archives: questions

New Year, New Liebster Award!

Well, what better start to a New Year could a gal ask for? My pal, and fellow blogger Kate over at Will Wally Wonder has nominated me for a Liebster Award, which basically involves me answering a load of questions about myself and – hopefully – trying to spread the love a little by nominating other people, all of whom are the custodians of blogs I enjoy reading, for the same award. Nobody is under any obligation to take part, of course. It’s all in good fun.

But let’s hope we kickstart the New Year in style, all the same.

Image: willwallywonder.wordpress.com

Image: willwallywonder.wordpress.com

In bold (below) are the questions Kate put to her Liebster nominees, and which I’ve done my best to respond to.

Name a television program that makes you laugh. Who is your favourite comedian?

Funnily enough, I don’t actually follow a lot of TV comedy any more. The only TV programme I can think of which I hate to miss because I enjoy it so much is ‘The Big Bang Theory.’ It’s one of the shows my husband and I can watch together – understanding the jokes makes me feel clever, and it’s great for me to have him around to explain the more complicated bits. I can’t choose a favourite comedian, either – I really enjoy Bill Bailey and Eddie Izzard in equal measure, so they’ll have to fight it out for the title. Or, just merge into one, and create a new super-comedian…

Tell me about the worst film you have ever seen.

‘The Ninth Gate.’ Has to be. It’s been years since I saw it, and I’ve done my best to wipe my mind of it since, but from what I remember there’s Johnny Depp (usually watchable, yes? Well, not in this festering mess, believe me) who plays a rare book dealer. Like all rare book dealers in film, he’s on the hunt for a book written in the seventeenth century and apparently a copy of a work written by the Devil himself, which gives the reader powers of immortality and super-strength. This reasonable plotline turns into a convoluted and largely senseless chase around Europe with people trying to murder and/or seduce each other as they search for this tome, which culminates in a scene beside a burning castle which I almost felt I hallucinated, it was so bad.

I love mysteries. I love rare books. I love stuff that has to do with codes and the supernatural. Heck, I even love Johnny Depp. But this film is utterly ridiculous, and a total waste of time. In my humble opinion.

What animal do you feel most connected to?

Well. As a melancholy teenager I felt very drawn to dolphins and whales, perhaps due to the mournful calls that whales make ‘neath the waves, or perhaps just because I was passionate about conservation. My room was plastered with posters of them in their natural habitat, and I entertained notions of becoming a marine biologist when I grew up – this was before I realised how utterly useless I was at things like maths, science and standing upright on a boat. With the years I have developed a love for elephants, and I have a small collection of elephant figurines which I prize highly. I wish I lived in a world where they weren’t being held in captivity and/or being hunted for their ivory, though.

Image: animals.nationalgeographic.com

Image: animals.nationalgeographic.com

What would be your superpower of choice?

Knowing the right thing to say at every given moment – the right thing to say to help someone when they’re hurting, or when they’re struggling, or when they’re in a wild rage and likely to hurt themselves or someone else, or when a painful truth needs to be shared with a delicate person, or when a misunderstanding with potentially dreadful consequences is looming and needs to be put right before it can do harm. It doesn’t sound like a hugely important superpower, but I think it would be amazing to be able to use words like this, to stave off pain before it even begins.

Of course, like all superpowers it’s wide open to misuse, but I’m pretty sure I could trust myself to use it right and bring calmness and peace wherever I went. If only it were possible.

Name a little moment in time that brings you joy (for example, I love it when the best before date on perishables matches my birthday).

I love it when the numbers on car registration plates add up to one another (like ‘235’) or when two numbers can be multiplied to give another number (like ‘6318’) or divided to give a similar result (like ‘2464’). I used to get massive joy on long car journeys as a kid, doing this sort of simple maths to amuse myself. The more ways I could get the numbers to interact, the better.

My husband tells me this is actually ‘number theory’, and that it belongs to several branches of advanced mathematics, but I just think of it as my registration plate game. It still gives me a jolt of happiness when a car drives past with a satisfyingly balanced and interesting registration plate. Yes, I am a nerd.

What is the oddest object you own?

Gosh.

I don’t really own a lot of odd stuff. I collect books, and I have a mountain of CDs (which I’ve been collecting for over 20 years, in my defence) – in the modern world we live in, books and CDs are quite odd in themselves, but I don’t think that’s what the question means.

Besides that, I suppose you could say that a grown woman with a teddy bear collection is a bit odd. Is it? I have lots of them, and I love every one.

Name a celebrity you’d like to meet for a coffee (or beverage of your choice) because you believe you would get along well.

I think this would have to be the actress Claire Danes. We are almost the same age (give or take a few months) and I have been following her career since the mid-90s, when she played Angela Chase in my favourite TV show, ‘My So-Called Life.’ She’s currently playing Carrie Mathison in ‘Homeland,’ another show I love (mainly because she’s in it). I have always convinced myself we’d get along well, but she’s a multi award-winning artist with several homes across the globe and a background in modern dance, and I’m a person who can’t even stand up without falling over and who once dyed her hair the same colour as a character Claire Danes played on TV, so I’m probably kidding myself.

My bestie! In my dreams. Image: huffingtonpost.com

My bestie! In my dreams.
Image: huffingtonpost.com

Tell me about a moment in your life that has made you unexpectedly emotional.

The most significant recent bout of waterworks, for me, came on Christmas Day during Mass when the congregation started to sing ‘Away in a Manger.’ By the last verse I was a blubbering heap. I have no idea why I became emotional, what triggered it, or why that particular hymn set me off. I am a person who cries easily anyway, so I get attacked by unexpected bouts of emotion at least once a week, but this is the one that springs to mind.

Right! So, I hope those answers passed muster.

Here are the folks I’d like to nominate for the Liebster award – not that they are under any obligation to take part. Mainly, I’d just like to let them know I enjoy their blogs.

Zissa over at Sanity? Optional. Writing? Required, a blog which amazes me with its wit and intelligence and the wonderful things it has to say about writing.

Loonytuney over at The Loony Teen Writer, another blog which amazes me with its wit and intelligence, and the wonderful things it has to say about writing, and the energy and passion its author brings to her subject matter.

Claire over at Written in Haste, a blog which amazes me because it’s always interesting, always fun, always clever – and written by a lady with a tiny son, as well as a demanding job and lots of other calls on her time. Also, she happens to be awesome in real life.

And now I have to supply some questions…

What is your favourite smell, and why?

What object in the world would you most like to own?

If you were a number, which number would you be – and why?

What is your biggest regret (if it’s something you can share)?

What are you most afraid of?

What is your favourite piece of visual art (i.e. not music, literature, theatre), and why?

Tell me about the best dream you ever had.

If you could be anyone, from any historical period, who would you be – and why?

 

The Proust Questionnaire

Today, I feel like answering some questions.

Image: blog.freeforums.org

Image: blog.freeforums.org

Not, of course, that anybody has asked me to answer any of these questions – but that’s beside the point. I scoured the internet for a list of suitable questions, and decided eventually that the best list I could find was this one – a questionnaire made famous by the answers given by Marcel Proust. I won’t answer them all (because we’d be here all day), but I think there are a few excellent questions in here. So, here goes!

My favourite virtue: My favourite virtue is kindness. Proust seemed to take this question as referring to a virtue he possessed himself (and in which he excelled); if that’s the way you’re supposed to answer the question, then my answer stays the same. I try to be kind, and I hope I succeed most of the time.

My favourite qualities in a person: The original questionnaire split this one up into ‘favourite qualities in a woman/man’, but I don’t think that’s really appropriate in our modern age. My favourite qualities in a person would include kindness, but also gentleness, generosity of spirit, compassion and the openness to love.

What I appreciate the most in my friends: I appreciate the fact that I’ve got friends at all! Each of them has their own talents and wonderful qualities, but one thing they all possess is a sense of humour. We make each other laugh so much, my friends and I, and hopefully we always will.

My main fault: I have so many faults, I’ll have to limit myself to the main ones. So – my faults are as follows: I have a quick temper, I tend to close myself off when I’m in a bad mood, I find it hard to multi-task (despite the stereotype about women being better at this than men!), I tend to be impatient, I’m nowhere near healthy enough, I don’t like change and find it hard to cope with, and I’m very (very) stubborn. And that’s just for starters.

My favourite occupation: Whether the questionnaire means occupation in the sense of ‘job’ or ‘pastime’, the answer remains the same: writing! Reading, drawing and walking are not far behind it on the list of favourites.

My idea of happiness: It doesn’t take a lot to make me happy, really. At least, I hope not! Happiness, for me, is knowing that all my loved ones are safe and happy, being with my husband – not necessarily doing anything in particular, just being in his company – and spending time with my family, and knowing that I have enough and I am enough. Happiness is a conscious decision, I think, but it’s one you have to make every day.

My idea of misery: Misery to me is being separated from someone I love. If I don’t see my family for a while, I tend to slump down into sadness, and I hate when my husband is away. Misery would be knowing that this separation was going to be permanent.

If not yourself, who would you be?: This is a dangerous question. I’d like to say I’d love to be a published author (take your pick from Laini Taylor, Kristin Cashore, Jeanette Winterson, Catherine Fisher, and so on), but I know that it’s never a good thing to wish to be someone else. Everyone is carrying their own burdens, and most people carry them with grace and dignity, and so well that another person (even a close friend) may never even guess at them. I may not be able to carry another person’s burdens with the same strength they have. As I’ve grown older, I’ve realised it’s a huge blessing to be happy just to be yourself. So, if I couldn’t be me as I am now, I’d like to be me in a year’s time. Just to see what’s changed.

My favourite heroes/heroines: My real-life heroes include my family, particularly my (deceased) grandparents, whose lives were unimaginably different from mine and who surmounted difficulties I know I couldn’t cope with. In history, I admire a huge amount of people, including St. Maximilian Kolbe, Anne Frank, Leonhard Seppala and Gunnar Kaasen and their dogs Togo and Balto, Ada Lovelace, Madame Curie, the Brontes and Austen, Harvey Milk, Sophie Scholl, Marie de France, and so many others. In general I admire any person who does what they can to stand up against oppression, to create art even when they’re told they can’t, who defies injustice and fights to protect their rights and the rights of others, and who doesn’t let their gender or social status hold them back. Not a lot to ask, then.

The natural talent I’d like to be gifted with: I’d love to be able to dance. Not just the belly-wobbling flailing that I get up and do at family weddings, but proper ballet-style dancing. I’d love to be graceful. As it is, I fall over when I stand on one foot.

My favourite motto: I have a few mottos that I really like. These are: ‘All will be well, and all will be well, and all manner of thing will be well,’ which is attributed to Julian of Norwich, a medieval nun. I also love ‘Thaes ofereode; thisses swa maeg’ which is the refrain from an Old English poem named ‘Deor’ (it means ‘That was overcome, and so will this be), and I like to think of this one when I’m facing a challenge. It reminds me that I’ve survived up to now, and I can face whatever’s coming. And I also love a line from Beowulf, which is ‘Gaeth a wyrd swa hio scel’, which roughly means ‘Fate will go as it must’ – in other words, if something is going to happen, it’ll happen. It reminds me that I can’t control anything except myself, and my own reactions to what happens in my life.

Well, I hope this has been an illuminating read! I’d just like to let you know that I won’t be blogging on Monday morning because it’s a Bank Holiday in Ireland (and, more importantly, I won’t have access to a computer that day), so I wanted to wish you all a happy St. Patrick’s Day and a good weekend.

Image: bunclody.net

Image: bunclody.net

Thanks for reading!

 

The Shine On Award

Hello! Thanks for leaving the fire lit and the kettle on for me, folks. Am feeling all warm and welcomed.

Today’s blog is all about the lovely award which was kindly bestowed upon me by the fabulously talented zissadc of ‘Sanity? Optional. Writing? Required’. Apparently I have several obligations to fulfill in order to accept this award, including answering some fiendishly difficult questions, so I’d best crack on!

First step: acknowledge the blogger who nominated me. I did that (see above. Did you miss it?)

Next step: Post the badge of the award on my blog. So, here it is:

Shiny!

Shiny!

Now for the hard part. The questions! I’ll give it my best shot. Here goes:

Why did I start blogging?

I started blogging because I’d wanted to do it for years but never had the courage. When I started trying to become a writer I figured what better way to get my writing gears a-crankin’ while also making friends and getting to know other people going through the same process as me than keeping a blog. So far it has worked out excellently! I really enjoy writing here.

Tea or coffee?

Ah, the doozie. Can I answer ‘both’? It’s the truth, you know. It depends on the time of day (usually coffee in the morning, tea during the day), but also my mood. And, also, my conscience. I’m trying to cut down on my caffeine, so these days it’s more likely to be herbal tea. Which is delicious. *grimaces*

Most inspiring writer?

I’m going to take this as referring to writer writer, as opposed to blog writer, but if I’m wrong I hope zissadc will correct me. My most inspiring writer is probably Ursula K. Le Guin. The breadth and depth of Le Guin’s imagination leaves me astounded, and her spellbinding storytelling is a treasure. She is inspirational because she writes so perfectly across genres and forms, whether dealing with space travel or dragonflight, and all her books (despite their settings) are so real and believable that you feel like you have a personal relationship with her characters. Her work is fluid and effortless to the eye, which of course means the author is not only an expert at doing huge amounts of work, but also at hiding it expertly beneath the beauty of her words. But if I was able, I’d love to say my most inspiring writer is a cross between Le Guin, Jeanette Winterson, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman. If only such a creature existed…

Your favourite fandoms?

Well. I’m a huge fan of lots of things, but I don’t know if I really qualify as having ‘fandoms’. I don’t go to conventions or dress up in costumes (yet, at least). If I was to list some of the things I’m a fan of, it would look a bit like: ‘Lord of the Rings’, ‘Harry Potter’, ‘Firefly’, The SF Masterworks Series (the yellow covers make me happy), the Sandman graphic novels, Neil Young’s music (in fact, I did sort of dress like him when I was younger… but anyway), ‘My So-Called Life’ (90s television show), ‘The Big Bang Theory’, the life and works of Geoffrey Chaucer. I’m sure there are loads more, but those must be the ‘cream’, because they rose to the surface of my mind. Whatever that means.

If you were to take over the world, how would you do it?

Lovebombing, I think. I’d equip myself with a giant airship and spend my time flying gently around the globe tipping armfuls of candies, chocolates, art supplies, pens and paper, story ideas, books, aphorisms (‘you’re so wonderful!’, etc.), pictures of happy things like kittens, tons and tons of syrup, glitter, feather boas, happy wishes, love letters, and all that stuff. I’d keep going until the entire surface of the globe was covered in at least five feet of detritus, and then I’d sweep in and claim the whole lot while everyone was struggling to free themselves from a mixture of syrup and glitter. I’d expect most of the world to have surrendered to me, citing happiness burn-out, by that point anyway.

Which do you prefer, a computer or paper and a pen?

Well. Normally I write straight to computer, so I suppose I should say ‘computer’. But I love writing with a paper and pen, too. I have a collection of ornate little notebooks all over the house and in every bag I own (I can still never find one if I really need it, though), and a pen with each one (which normally doesn’t work). Despite all that, I usually make notes straight into my phone and then transcribe them into my computer file. So, the only fair answer is ‘computer’. Much as it pains me.

The best moment of your life was – ?

The day I got married. I suppose you could narrow it down to the moment my husband and I exchanged our vows, if you want to be picky. But I also loved the day I was finally conferred with my PhD, and the day my Dad got out of hospital after having a major operation nearly five years ago. All of those were marvellous moments.

The first song to come up on your portable music device of choice?

Um. I don’t have a portable music device. *blushes* I’m so old school. I still listen to CDs, and if I’m on the move I’ll pick up the radio on my phone. The CD currently in my player is ‘The Lumineers’, by (funnily enough) The Lumineers. The top 5 CDs in the pile beside my player are: Muse ‘The 2nd Law’, Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Lana Del Rey’s ‘Born to Die’ (Paradise Edition), Neil Young’s ‘Psychedelic Pill’ and the aforementioned Lumineers. I feel so old and out of touch now. (I’m not that old, really).

Love is –

Love is the freedom to be yourself, both on the good days and the bad days, secure in the knowledge that no matter what, your partner will be by your side. It’s important to afford your partner the same freedom, of course. Love is freedom, love is laughter, love is the ability to share all you have and all you are with someone else. Love takes courage and a willingness to be vulnerable – as I said in a blog post a while back, love involves a huge amount of risk. But if your partner is the right one, it’s all worth it.

Why did the chicken cross the road?

Because a wily chicken-hunter set up a little sign on the far side of the road. The sign read ‘Vegetarians Only! No eatin’ animals over here, no sir!’, so the chicken did the only thing it could, and made a break for this animal-loving sanctuary. But, just as the chicken reached the sign, embracing it in gratefulness, the tricksy hunter sprang, and the chicken was plucked and in his bag before it could squawk.

True story.

Now I have to nominate people. I’m not sure how this works exactly so I hope I’ll do it right. Also, I hope nobody minds if I only nominate three people (who, I hope, won’t mind my doing so):

Aanderand – because I really like his take on life and his wise, thoughtful posts and comments;

Ania – because I really like her enthusiasm and zest, and her idealism;

WillWallyWonder – because her writing is warm, kind and full of love.

And now some questions for these bloggers to answer:

What is your favourite word?

What did you want to be when you were little?

Are you, or have you ever been, able to do a full handstand?

If you could be any ‘baddie’ from history or literature, who would you be and why?

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten?

If you won the lottery what’s the first thing you’d buy?

Do you have any weird favourite ‘things’, like favourite shoelaces, favourite spoon, etc?

Have you ever been to a ballet – or, better yet, have you ever danced in a ballet?

If you could own anything that you’ve read about in a book (like your own personal dragon, or The One Ring), what would it be?

Happiness is – ?

Questions, Questions…

One of my regular readers and commenters, Ania, wrote this blog post yesterday and asked me if I would answer some of her questions. I’m sorry to say I don’t have time to answer them all, but I’ll do my best to answer some of them in today’s post. I’m going to take a random sample of the questions and try to answer in as much detail as possible.

So, hold onto your hollyhocks, people. Get ready to find out what I keep in my handbag!

What is your zodiac sign? Do you match its description?

My zodiac sign is Scorpio, as I was born one long-ago November. It’s apparently a Sun sign, which is a strange thought considering I was born during the winter! Scorpios are, as far as I know, supposed to be secretive, passionate, jealous, possessive and (ahem) rather amorous in their outlook on life. I’m not sure about the amorous part, but I know I have exhibited most of the other traits at various points in my history on planet Earth so far.

It looks just like me!Image: compatible-astrology.com

It looks just like me!
Image: compatible-astrology.com

What song(s) would you choose as a soundtrack to your life?

Well, this is a tough question for me, because I love music so much. Choosing one song would be impossible, and even choosing a top 10 would be hard. But the first ones that come to mind are:

‘Immigrant Song’ – Led Zeppelin : This song makes me appreciate the Viking heritage which I’m sure I have. It’s a lot of fun, and it also has a killer beat. But then, I pretty much love all Led Zeppelin’s songs!

‘Unknown Legend’ – Neil Young: This song is one of many that reminds me of my dad, which is another reason to love it. But truly, I love every single Neil Young song I’ve ever heard, and he’s my all-time favourite artist.

‘Time Has Told Me’ – Nick Drake: This song kept me going during a very hard period in my life. I love it because it reminds me that things will get better and never to give up hope, but that’s just personal to me. The lyrics don’t really reflect that message! Again, I love all of Nick Drake’s tragically small output. He’s wonderful.

‘A Case of You’ – Joni Mitchell: I can’t explain the effect that ‘A Case of You’ has on me. Every note and every word of it makes my skin tingle. I love the song, and the entire album ‘Blue’, and most of what I’ve heard of Joni Mitchell. She’s a legend.

‘Who Knows Where the Time Goes’ – Sandy Denny: Sandy Denny was the best singer in the world. Ever. End of story. This song changed my life, and I adore every note of it.

‘May You Never’ – John Martyn: Just a gorgeous song from a wonderful singer/songwriter, sadly also gone from the world too soon.

If I answered this question every day, I’m sure I’d come up with entirely different songs, every day. Truly, I love so many thousands of songs that I’d never be finished answering this question!

Who are the most important people in your life?

Well, this one is easy. My husband, my parents, my brother, my parents-in-law, my brother-in-law, and my ‘sisters-in-law’. Then, I have about ten million aunts, uncles and cousins, as we’re a good Irish family. And then, of course, I have a huge helping of friends, none of whom I could live without. So, a lot of people are important to me, and I love them all. I’m a lucky girl.

What’s your favourite book/writer?

This is like the question about music. Every day, my top 5 favourite books changes! So, today’s favourites are:

Neverwhere – Neil Gaiman (or, anything by Neil Gaiman)

Lords and Ladies – Terry Pratchett (or, anything by Terry Pratchett. I’m seeing a pattern here.)

The Earthsea Quartet – Ursula K. Le Guin (okay, so technically four books, but you’ll have to allow me that indulgence. It’s Le Guin!)

The Once and Future King – T.H. White

The Passion – Jeanette Winterson (or, indeed, surprise surprise, anything by Jeanette Winterson.)

I’m also going to include The Canterbury Tales by my hero, Geoffrey Chaucer, even though it’s technically a poem, not a book. But I love it. Only in the original Middle English, of course.

What do you carry in your bag?

Well, it varies, but normally I carry a rucksack-type bag, as I’m not very girly. So, I usually have at least three paperback books, my purse, a hairbrush, a bus timetable, an assortment of tissues, lots of receipts, some hand-cream for my eczema, a pen (usually not working), a notebook, and a plastic bag to put everything into if (or, rather, when) it rains. The glamour of my life is just overwhelming, isn’t it? I should have my own style magazine.

What countries would you like to visit?

So many I can’t remember them all. I haven’t been to very many places so far! My dream destinations would include: Iceland, Scandinavia (anywhere – ideally all the Scandinavian countries), Belgium (to visit my friend Tine), Spain, Italy, Hungary (I’d love to see Budapest), Canada, and Antarctica. If Antarctica counts as a country.

If you compare yourself five years ago to yourself now, what has changed?

I’m not working as an English tutor any more, and I’ve had another job in that period too; I’m married now, but I hadn’t met my husband five years ago (though I was about to meet him, which is a happy thought); I’m following my dream in life now (i.e. I’m writing), whereas five years ago I wouldn’t have had the confidence or support network in place to help me to achieve this dream. So, a lot of positive changes have happened.

So, I hope that’s good enough for Ania, and that I haven’t bored the pants off the rest of you. I’ll try to be a little less self-absorbed in tomorrow’s blog post!

Image: thewritersadvice.com

Image: thewritersadvice.com