One of the things I’ve most enjoyed over my year in Cannes has been gradually building up a blog readership. I sat down one day full of ideas and wrote about how speaking a second language opened my eyes to the greater absurdities of life itself. Many of you seemed to relate, sharing humorous stories and memorable experiences from all around the world. This was the post that really kicked off a community.
Thank you, truly, for reading what I have to say and leaving your thoughts and ideas and encouragement.
Today I’ll be answering some questions about me! (In case you’re interested in learning more about The Blogger). Thanks to My Library and other Mischief for nominating me for the Sunshine Blogger Award– given, doth say the Internet, to bloggers who are creative, positive, and inspiring. I appreciate it!
SUNSHINE BLOGGER AWARD RULES:
-Thank the blogger who nominated you.
-Answer the 11 questions asked.
-Nominate 11 other bloggers and ask them 11 new questions.
-List the rules and include the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post.
What inspired you to start blogging?
My mother. Before I left for France for the first year, Mom encouraged me to share my experiences in writing. I already had a blog, but it was a mishmash of music I liked, some free-verse, some trips I’d taken… My mom thought I should start a new one. Knowing what a perfectionist I can be, she emphasized that it didn’t always have to be something edited and profound. “Just so we can know what you’re up to!” Little did she know (I think) the hours I would toil away on this project, striving to produce pieces that are edited and are profound (or at the very least, thoughtful and true).
My blog has kept me afloat during some challenging times. When things are hard (or funny or ridiculous), thinking about the story I’ll be able to tell makes it better. And the fact that a few people might read it and respond is a bonus: very motivating for me.
What are you most proud of?
A friend gave me a cool compliment last year. She said I was more committed to self-improvement than anyone she knew. When she said that, I realized that it is a sort of skill. When I perceive a personal flaw or weakness, I work hard to change it. “That’s just the way I am” is never something you’ll hear from me. I am proud of transforming from a fearful, miserably self-conscious teenager into the person I am today. I worked for that; it didn’t happen by accident. I am proud of the (hundreds of) times I’ve challenged myself to do things that scared me. This used to mean approaching a stranger on campus (I was cripplingly shy). More recently, that means living abroad by myself, arranging job interviews in my second language, picking myself up after rejection.
If you could meet anyone from any time period who would it be?
I like to ask people “who’s your favorite Missourian?” (If I only had a dollar for every baffled “I don’t have a favorite Missourian…”) I then inform them they could choose T.S. Eliot or Josephine Baker or Walt Disney. But I mostly bring it up as a non-sequitur so I can talk about Mark Twain. Mark Twain had humor, style, soul and wit. He toured Europe and wrote a diatribe about how bad the food was. He wrote a novel that changed the course of American literature. He provided withering and hilarious social commentary, spoke out against slavery, and had this to say about travel: “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth.”
Here is a hardcore Missourian who did anything but vegetate in his little corner of the earth. He saw the world, he unlearned the racist views he’d been brought up with in a slave state, and he used his skill with the written word for good.
(Other answers would probably skew literary as well! I would love to talk to Virginia Woolf regarding “A Room of One’s Own,” just for starters. Or artistic weirdos like Salvador Dalí).
What would you like your older self to remember when you look back on this period of your life?
I would like to remember the actual and emotional challenges of being in one’s early twenties so I am able to provide empathy and encouragement to others in the future. I am helped enormously by older women that remember what it is to be 22 or 24, adrift. Wanting everything, sure of nothing. In a few years, the problems I have now might seem laughable to me. I hope they won’t, though. Each age has its burdens, all of them valid.
Where is the last place you travelled to? Would you like to revisit it in the future?
Venice. And yes, very much so. Venice captured my imagination and won’t let it go. A city of music and water and color and drama.
What is the silliest thing you have ever seen or heard on public transport?
After two years in France, I am begrudgingly well-practiced in the art of public transit. I have occasionally been the silliest thing on public transport, I’m afraid. There is a story involving a very large, very obtrusive swan-shaped pool float on a regional train.
What book do you think everyone should read?
It’s tough to choose a single book. I’ll go with genre. I think everyone should read dystopian novels. The Handmaid’s Tale, The Road, The Girl with All the Gifts, Fahrenheit 451… Besides being impressive and entertaining works of imagination, these books are warnings. They remind us to ask questions and retain a healthy dose of skepticism. They are parables about greed, power, ignorance, fear.
What film would you recommend watching on a rainy day?
My Best Friend’s Wedding. It is no secret I have a massive girl-crush on Julia Roberts. Since I don’t expect to run into her anytime soon, unfortunately, I have to console myself with the thought that perhaps one day I will be as cool. As charming and funny and real, even and especially when things aren’t going my way. In My Best Friend’s Wedding, our dear Julia is a hot mess, a food writer pining after the one who got away. She’ll do anything to get him back. However, her happy ending doesn’t exactly come to pass. In the world of romantic comedies, this is almost revolutionary. A story that’s funny and true, a balm for anyone who has ever been unlucky in love. Laughter helps.
What is your beverage of choice when writing?
It has to be hot. My preference is a cappuccino or really good black coffee.
Have you ever studied a foreign language? If yes which one and what are your study tips?
French, clearly. And much more recently, Italian! What works well for me: creating a personal immersion environment to foster creativity and motivation. I read books about Italy (culture, language, food). I watch Italian movies. I use Duolingo to learn new vocabulary. I listen to opera. I have speaking lessons 2-3 times a week. I have been able to take a few trips to Italy and thus have a real reason to speak the language. All of this keeps my motivation strong.
I guess my advice, condensed, is to make the language/culture a real hobby. If you sit down thinking just, “hooray. Prepositions,” there’s a good chance you’ll let it fall by the wayside. Instead, let it capture your imagination. Learn about (or meet) the people. Taste the food (recreate it at home). Dream of the places you could go and enjoy if you keep studying.
Do you prefer large or small marshmallows in your hot chocolate? 😉
This brings back sweet memories of snow days spent playing outside. Any marshmallows are just fine by me.
Now, here are my 11 questions for some other bloggers/generally cool people. (I hope this could inspire a post if you’re feeling stumped!)
What inspired you to start blogging?
What do you hope to accomplish with your blog/writing?
Have you ever experienced culture shock?
Describe the most memorable meal you’ve ever had OR the worst date. Or both.
What is something you wish you were better at?
What cities/countries have you lived in, and do you have a favorite?
Where do you find inspiration?
What is your travel philosophy?
What is something you think is completely overrated?
What’s your drink?
Describe a piece of art (in any medium) that changed the way you saw the world.
Heide at HeideBlog
Haley at A World Full of Scribbles
Anne at Present Perfect
Ruth at Talk Foreign to Me
Bola at Flâner
Arielle at Whiskey Sour Wayfarer
Diane at Oui in France