10 Things You Don’t Know About Me

#5: I’m terrible at making popcorn


Tagged by Tim Cigelske in his post “Hello, world! 10 Things About Me”. I see you.

I love writing about things that are directly applicable to others, but I also understand where Tim is coming from when he says,

“I miss getting to learn more about a blogger’s life, journey and motivations. What’s their story?”

I get it. As a reader, I, too, love learning a bit more about the people I read, like Sarah Kathleen Peck’s “32 things you don’t know about me — or, Hello” and Corbett Barr’s “Things I Never Told You,” and inspired by these posts, here are 10 things about me:

1. I like work. A lot.

But I am not the “gold-star employee” — not the sort of person who’s a “task-oriented work-horse” or “just loves to get it done.” I’m unengaged half the time, difficult most of the rest of the time, and don’t care about titles or accolades, so there are plenty of past employers who would read that and scoff, “likes work?? She was the worst!” I make managers who are unsure of themselves very uncomfortable.

But there were also several past employers who understood that even though I only do what I think is important, I also do a pretty good job of discerning what actually matters — and doing those things really, really well without being told or asked.

I believe that having “work,” however you define your work, is one of the most important things to human morale. Even if I had the means, I would never want a life of leisure. That sounds like a total nightmare, not “the dream.” The happiest times of my life (and my idea of “perfect happiness”) all involve work.

  • My first “real” job in high school (after babysitting, like every self-respecting suburbia girl) was at a bakery, and it is still one of my favorite jobs to date. I had opening shift in the summer and closing shift during the school year, and am still friends with some of the closing crew. (In fact, it’s how I originally met my current partner; we’ve stayed friends for over 15 years.)
  • I worked throughout high school and college — often more than one job at a time — in bakeries, bars, banks, and boys’ club private equity.
  • My day job is now in software. I really like what I do, and my favorite thing about software is the speed at which you can get things done and working with people who love to do it.
  • My dream jobs as a kid were, in chronological order: “Shamu trainer,” fashion designer, architect, and “entrepreneur” (i.e., I hit half the “most cliche dream jobs” list.) My current dream job looks a lot like what I actually do, except “even more.”

2. I also like reading and writing

And I also see this as “my work,” albeit a definite labor of love.

I write upwards of a million words and read roughly 50 books per year. (And, interestingly, almost all of that is nonfiction. Of the 300+ books I’ve read in the last six years, fewer than 30 of them were fiction.)

Non-work things I enjoy: driving, riding a motorcycle, walking, being outside (any weather), humidity, good textiles, leather, knee high boots, air travel, the first sip of beer, a really good book, coffee in the morning, crowds, industrial areas (especially abandoned ones), grittiness, trees, critical thought.

3. As a kid, I would wander off by myself a lot

I still do, to be honest. I just sometimes don’t consider that other people might care about my whereabouts. Most people in my life just kind of learn to understand this about me.

4. I’m really good at waking up early without an alarm

I swam competitively throughout childhood and into high school, and between 5 a.m. practices five days a week and opening the bakery during the summer, getting up early has long been wired into me — and I like it. The early-morning hours are my favorite time of the day.

That being said, I start to come apart at the seams after about 9 pm.

5. I’m NOT good at making popcorn or watching movies

Whether it’s in the microwave or on the stove, my popcorn comes out 1/2 kernels and 1/2 burned. I don’t know what my problem is.

When it comes to movies: I’m a talker. (After hearing this, people always want to clarify: “but do you talk about the movie?” And the answer is “yes,” but it’s still annoying AF. Even to me.)

But the funny thing about both of these is: I like movies and popcorn. I’m an absolute sucker for any film “based on a true story,” and my favorite films about love are High Fidelity and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

6. I really admire people who are verbally captivating

I have a ton of respect for stand up comedians and other people who can hold a group, whether big or small, spellbound with a good joke or story.

This is largely based on my own shortcomings. I’m a decently good speaker, but only after years of practice — I ran for student government in elementary school, and when I stood up to give my speech, found myself verbally paralyzed and physically unable to speak words. I remedied this by entering debate competitions in high school, taking public speaking classes in college, and joining groups like Toastmasters as a professional. I can now speak in front of groups — and do it well — but I still absolutely love getting swept up by someone who is a true natural at it. I think we all do.

I also admire people who: know what they want and actively works toward it, but that’s just a basic “human being” thing.

7. My favorite food is vegetables

I could eat a salad every single day and be over-the-moon happy.

It’s somewhat a “health” thing, but mostly it really is a “flavor” and “mouthfeel” thing (my favorite food in preschool was broccoli), and a little bit a “simplicity” thing — I just don’t “get” foods that are contrived or complicated (my favorite dessert, hands down, is chocolate chip cookies.)

Sadly, vegetables are often not given their due respect, either mutilated in preparation (i.e., doused in butter or dressing) or downgraded to boring afterthought.

I also like: eggs (all kinds) and Ethiopian food

8. I’m not afraid of getting old or dying

Sure, youth has its benefits — especially, sadly, for women. Even women like bell hooks (who have built a life around their work and are valued for their intellect rather than their youthfulness or looks), report entering the middle of their life and suddenly realizing they don’t hold the attention of those around them anymore. Then there are the health and energy considerations, and “everyone around you” dying— all the gloomy side effects we hear about.

But even all that being said, I’m not afraid. This is all simply what life is. It’s okay.

I love life — and I love life genuinely enough to honor and respect life for what it is.

A fear of dying is just our ego barking in our ear, and to anybody who is afraid of their own mortality, I invite you to consider that, despite each of us being the center of our own little universes, we are all but infinitely tiny specks in the grand scheme of the real universe and existence. It is by mere chance that we are even here, physical manifestations of tiny blips of energy, and considering that, I am filled with so much delight. (And if that thinking doesn’t work for you: there’s always religion and the promise of an afterlife.)

What I am afraid of: the “Francesca Johnson” effect — i.e., entering into the middle of my life and waking up one day to realize none of it makes me happy and I’m not sure how I got there but I feel too trapped to reroute my decisions. And not so much “waking up” that way as “not being focused enough on what I want to pursue it.”

Also, I’m cool with most creatures — snakes, bats, sharks — but still not down with spiders. That, and sometimes I still bolt for the bed in the dark.

9. I often forget how young I am

Like, I was telling people “I’m 30” for at least two years before I actually was, and every time someone asks me, I have to take a beat to remember. I’m not sure I was ever really a kid, I experienced high school as an odd, overly-structured obligation (and certainly not the highlight of my life), and most of my friends have been 2–10 years older than me since I was in college.

10. I’m currently working on…

In addition to everything I’m “always” working on (especially “the big questions”), I have two newish big things for this year:

  • Connecting with others and building off of what they share
  • Mindfulness, conscientiousness, and coming to decisions and acting on things more quickly

I’m taking an improv class starting February. I have high hopes it will help with both.

If nothing else, I can at least enjoy watching people who are good at improv work their magic 🙂

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