Just 25 points about myself to help anyone reading this to get a better feel for the person behind the words.
1. When I was 13 I joined an international pen pal club (ah yes, the glorious days before the Internet.) At the height of it all I had over 30 penpals from all over the world and am still have some contact with one from Finland and Poland. My rule was I wrote back to anyone who wrote to me no matter what even Charlie from Norway who wrote me the same exact letter TWICE (word for word) and was annoyingly boy crazy....
2. In my family I was known as the bitchy one (that's for you Renee!) It is, of course, not in the least bit true....
3. When I was 25 I moved from the Bay Area to Berlin. I meant to stay a year or so and learn German, then go back to the U.S. for grad school. Ten years and two babies later I'm still here. Hmmm.....
4. I am related, by marriage, to Count Alfred von Schlieffen, the mastermind behind the infamous Schlieffen plan (ok, I only expect the most truly geeky who are up on their military history to know this reference. That said, my dad knew right away and was quite impressed!)
5. Because of my farm girl heritage and obvious high tolerance for pain, I gave birth twice 100% naturally. My second daughter was a water birth which was very cool. My husband said she looked like a minature whale when they lifted her out of the water.
6. When I was a teenager I often wore a red velvet hat I bought at the Renaissance Faire. Inside was a secret pocket where I kept a spoon I once stole from my favorite cafe in Berkeley. Needless to say, I was a rather strange teenager.
7. One of my best friends in Berlin is a fellow Californian who was living for years in the South Bay while I was in the East Bay. But we never met until we were both teaching English in Germany. When I first met her I knew in about ten seconds that she was from California.
8. I am totally terrified of those grey brown sucker fish people keep in aquariums to eat the algae. If you look into their beady little eyes you just know they would love to get the chance to suck your brains out. Seriously.....This phobia makes dining in Chinese restaurants a sometimes stressful occasion....
9. I once took a month long intensive Russian course at an institute in Moscow. In the cafeteria the wall was covered in little cockroaches, ready to storm the leftovers. This never bothered any of the Russians and even I got used to it. I did, however, avoid the soup the day that, mysteriously, none of the little buggys were in their usual places....
10. My birthday is February 16th. Because I always lived in Arizona or California I always thought I was born in the Spring. It wasn't until I moved to Berlin that I realized February is the freaking middle of Winter!
11. I met my husband in an astrology course. Besides being a count (as is my husband), his brother is also a painter and the astrologer who was teaching the course. Oh yes, and this is my second marriage. Believe me, my life is not as mysterious and glamorous as this number 11 might make it sound.
12. Point in fact: I am currently listening to children singing Hickory Dickory Dock. When the last time you heard My name is John Jingleheimer Schmidt? It is now one of my staples....
13. I firmly believe in following my heart but also consulting my head. Still, when push comes to shove, my heart always wins. So far, it hasn't really let me down.
14. I like to make stuff. Collages. Jewelry. Short stories (a kind of making I guess.) If you have creative impulses, follow them. Don't censor them or put yourself down. Don't shame yourself because you will (probably)never make a living with them. Creativity makes the world go round.
15. When I was around 11 I had this feverish desire to find the secret under ground cave I was sure must be in our backyard (you know, stalagmites, underground lake full of blind catfish, the works.) The real reason was that I realized I could charge admission to see it since it would be on our property. Actually, almost all of my creative childhood endeavors and missions had making piles of money as their main motivation. Hmm....Whatever happened??
16. My sister almost drowned me by pushing me into a swimming pool when I was 8. My head bled a lot. Ouch.
17. I have been known to have very strong opinoins that I, at some point, inexplicably change. Some people find this bizarre and (I'm assuming)a bit scary. Others tell me its one of the things they love most about me.
18. When I was around 10 I had a subscription to Cat Fancy magazine. I had cat posters all over the walls and a handmade sign on my door that said "Welcome to Kitty Heaven." This fact was something I was teased for relentlessly by my family until, like, yesterday.
19. I was a painfully shy teenager. Although I haven't really been that shy for quite a few years I suppose I will always be somewhat introverted and not always the best "group" person. Every one in my family is like this, but when we get together it's so loud you would think we were from Sicily or something. I guess we are all a bunch of walking talking paradoxes!
20. I have had just about every pet you could imagine at some point in my life except a tarantula (but I thought about it.) The last two were a pair of Senegal parrots named Melena and Coco. I gave them up when my first daughter was born and now I have no pets, though kids are something like pets only better.
21. I love big cities and will never ever live in the suburbs. Since they will grow up in the city, I wonder if my daughters will one day long for a house with a fenced in yard. Time will tell....
22. I am a trained opera singer, a dramatic mezzo soprano. My teacher told me it would a sin against God to not become a professional singer. But I just wasn't commited enough to go all the way. I'm sure God understands. I still do love to sing though, though not really John Jingleheimer Schmidt that much.
23. When I was fourteen I dreamed of one day having twins and naming them Java and Jory. I believe I got the idea from a V.C. Andrews book. This is one of the myriad of reasons I am very glad I was not a teenage mother!
24. Yes, I do speak fluent German, but I do nothing to reduce my accent because why should I? I'm a foreigner and proud! I do get annoyed when, on occasion, waiters, etc. hear my accent and then answer my question (asked in German) in English. Invariably, their English also sucks and I know the arrogance behind it (i.e. no American could really speak German.) Grrr!!!
25. My favorite animal is a Rhino. They may be slow and (seemingly)clumsy but when they get angry, then watch out! Hmm. Wonder what that says about me?