1. Leave me a comment saying anything random, like your favorite lyric to your current favorite song. Or your favorite kind of sandwich. Something random. Whatever you like.
2. I respond by asking you five personal questions so I can get to know you better.
3. You WILL update your LJ with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and offer to ask someone else in the post.
5. When others comment asking to be asked, you will ask them five questions.
My questions and answers are
1. What kind of high school student were you?
That's an interesting question. First, believe it or not, I was a very happy one. That is, at least, for Senior High. I hated Junior High and couldn't escape fast enough. I went to Vic High, which at that time was one of the top three schools in Victoria. Possibly the top two, after Oak Bay. It was also "cool" - much cooler than any other school, maybe because of its inner city quality. Fernwood was already a fairly funky neighbourhood, and it was a nice place to hang out when cutting class or at lunch time. My last two years of high school were blissfully happy. I did well without having to work hard, I was socially fairly successful for the first time ever, and I was in looove and having it vaguely reciprocated.
In a more generic sense, I have it on fairly good authority that I was "cool." In fact, I was scruffy and artsy. I was a "theatre person" and also took double sections of Art which meant that I hung with an artsy crowd. I wasn't with the self-styled High School popular people - the jocks and their hangers on - nor did I hang out with the "future teacher" sucky crowd. No, I was a bohemian intellectual artsy type. I had long hair past my shoulder blades, wire-framed granny glasses a la John Lennon and I dressed in Thrift-shop chic, actually because we were very poor and I couldn't afford "real" clothes, but as it happened Thrift-shop chic was cool then. I was a hippy, in fact. I had precisely one pair of jeans that I wore almost every day, washing them on the weekend. I had a navy blue private school blazer bought for $1.50 at Goodwill that I wore all through the winter because we couldn't afford a winter coat. I had one pair of leather shoes for winter and a pair of buffalo sandals, which cost all of $3.00 at Woolco and left oil stains on my feet, that I wore all through the summer. I smoked, which was quite daring for that time, but did not do drugs until a few years later.
Academically, I was lazy, but did well in the subjects that interested me, which were English Lit 12 and Civilization 12 and Drama. I won the Drama prize in Grade 12, and would have won the Literature prize except that my friend kp, who was in the other Lit 12 class, got a higher gpa, so she did. My Lit 12 teacher gave me a book prize because I had contributed so much to her class *blush* (guess who was going to grow up to be a Literature professor, though she didn't know it then). It's scary to think that with my graduating average - B+ - I wouldn't have been accepted at UVic a few years ago. I wrote the scholarship exams in French and English Lit and won.
I dated - get this - the school president, and went with him to the "prom." He was (and still is) a musician, and was also in Drama, and was also Cool and Artsy. The fact that he was the school president shows you what kind of school it was then. I was madly in love with him, and so innocent that just going out for coffee and being taken to the "prom" was enough to send me over the moon. I don't think, in fact, he ever kissed me. No teenage pregnancy for me! Indeed, I believe he turned out to be gay, but we didn't know much about such things then. Things are so much more open and interesting now.
2. You've referred to your travels in China. What were those travels like and how did they affect you personally?
Two words: amazing and fundamentally. I didn't just travel in China, I lived there for two years, teaching at a University there. The way that changed my life fundamentally was that I discovered not only that I loved teaching but that I was good at it, and that's when I became a teacher. When I came home from China I had a vocation, not just some vague plans for the future.
We had long breaks for winter holiday (Chinese New Years) and I travelled extensively during that time. A moment I remember vividly was sitting on a bus in the middle of nowhere - driving from Kunming to Datong along this hair-raising winding road (in fact, part of the Silk Road, travelled by Marco Polo). As I looked out over the foothills to the Himalayas, I remember thinking "this is it. This is what I want to do. I want to have an interesting life." Ironically, a year later, my dad died and my mum needed me, so my "interesting life" was pretty much over for almost twenty years. I still have that spirit now, though, and want to make up for lost time.
I think that time also gave me greater strength and independence. I went to my job there on my own, not knowing a soul or speaking the language, and did really well. While I was there, I travelled around China alone some of the time, and that taught me that I could do that and survive pretty well.
3. What would you identify as your greatest extravagance?
My single greatest extravagance is without question books. I buy them without hesitation. Someone yesterday was asking me how much I paid for Harry Potter from Amazon, and I was ashamed to admit that I didn't know. I just ordered it. I also buy books not just because I love to read them, but for their beauty. I belong to the Folio Society, and buy some of their editions of books that I love. I have no less that three editions of The Lord of the Rings - a paperback set that I read, the one-volume hardbound boxed edition on India paper that came out in the early Seventies, that I take out and gloat over every so often, and a three-volume hardcover set with the illustrations by Alun Lee, who was the chief art director on the Peter Jackson movies. I once paid $500 for a book illustrated by Arthur Rackham, and I actually own about 5 or 6 of his, and some by other well known illustrators, a collection worth something in the thousands of dollars. But I'd never sell them - I love them. Maybe I'll sell them when I'm 80 and impoverished, but not now.
4. Name a place in Victoria that you like to go and say why.
Hmmm. Hard to choose one. I have a lot of favourite places. Perhaps right now one of my top faves is the top of "little Doug" in Mt. Doug park. I like walking the dogs in Mt. Dog park because it's quiet, the dogs can run off leash, yet there's a sense of it being a little bit of woodland really close to the city. In spring the sides of the mountain are covered with wildflowers, and there are always interesting birds around. At the top, you can sit and look out over the city - it's a panoramic view that you can reach without having to suffer for it. There are seldom any great numbers of people there, except other dog walkers, so you can sit there in some solitude and think and relax.
5. Tell me about that love story that seeing Once brought back to you so poignantly. (You must have known I would ask about this, but feel free to answer a question of your own devising if this one is too uncomfortable.)
Hmmm. I'm not going to answer this in great detail, except that it represented not one single love story but elements of many of my relationships (including the guy I mentioned above). I haven't been very successful in my choices. I think, for various very complicated reasons that I'm also not going to elaborate on, that I've always subconsciously gone for relationships that couldn't possibly work. But that girl reminded me so much of myself, and the hopeless longing that comes through in the music - that song where her voice breaks broke my heart - really awoke a lot of suppressed feelings. Maybe it's a clue that the movie of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie also speaks volumes to me - remember that scene where she's talking about Dante seeing Beatrice across a bridge and being filled with "such a longing" - and Maggie Smith's voice breaks? Same kind of thing. And I think because the people in that movie were 20 and 30 something, and remember that I said that when my dad died (I was 30) my life pretty much ended? And now I'm fifty and have lost any sense of promise of a relationship in my future, but I haven't lost the longing. And that's actually more of an answer than I intended to give, but there you go.