Lingering childhood stubbornness, laziness about having to cook anything complicated, a taste-processing section of my brain that is apparently not as easily bored by repetition as most people's, and hypersensitive taste buds that have not been dulled by years of abuse with spicy or ultra-bitter foods. My parents were relatively tolerant of my unwillingness to eat anything green, spicy, or from the ocean. They sometimes blackmailed me into eating one pea at dinner in exchange for the privilege of being allowed any dessert, but when I got beyond elementary school and still showed no sign of having been persuaded to start liking the icky foods they had been blackmailing me into eating tiny amounts of, they pretty much gave up on me and let me eat whatever I wanted.
Oh, and a mysterious and inconvenient absence of (a fully functioning pair of) the lactose-tolerance gene. With a family tree as overwhelmingly northern European as mine, how did I manage to miss that? Back before the gene stopped fully functioning, dairy products sometimes constituted a majority of what I ate. The absence of those is still kind of annoying. But I guess that's not so much a matter of my tastes as a matter of what I can eat.
2. Describe some of Stardust's most appealing antics.
During the time I spent writing this journal entry, she climbed on the back of the chair I'm sitting in and curled up on my shoulders for a while. I was having a little trouble deciding whether that was primarily appealing or annoying, but I'm leaning slightly more toward appealing.
She also has a strange sort of half-somersault trick that I've never seen any other cat do - and I can't imagine why any other cat would want to do it, because it's really not very practical. She usually does it when she thinks I'm chasing her. Her first response, before running away, is to sort of try to hide her head under own body, raising her back end while turning the top of her head parallel to the floor. She pushes her head farther and farther under herself until she sort of falls over sideways, and then she gets around to actually running away in a normal and functional way like a cat who isn't quite so ridiculous.
3. Have you always aspired to be an editor? If not, what would be your ideal job?
How many four-year-olds have you ever met whose great ambition in life is to be an editor? Actually, I do remember announcing my desire to be a professional proofreader at some point when I was fairly young - maybe elementary school, maybe middle school; I'm not sure. But my mother told me that most proofreading jobs have been combined into editing jobs, so you have to be an editor instead of a proofreader, and that most editing jobs required that you find a bunch of famous author friends and talk them into publishing through your company, so it would be sort of like a sales job really. I didn't want anything to do with a job that would require me to have social networking skills, so that was the end of that ambition.
When I was eleven years old, I organized my top career choices into alliterative pairs to help me remember them all. For some reason, the pairs all seem to have been strangely gender-polarized. The pairs I still remember are: poet/paleontologist, cook/chemist, mother/millionaire. I'm not sure how I figured "millionaire" to be a career choice. The poet/paleontologist pair was the one that really appealed to me most, and the one that I struggled to decide between, at that time. But then I started realizing that being a paleontologist didn't actually consist primarily of impressing people with my ability to spell and pronounce the long names of all the different dinosaurs, or even the ability to recite memorized facts about them. This made it much less appealing to me. Really my desire to be a paleontologist had a lot to do with my desire to use big words.
I spent much of college believing, foolishly, that I could finish and publish a novel before I graduated and never need a real job. (That's still my theoretical eventual dream job.) Then it became clear that I needed an alternative plan, so I applied to be an English teacher in Japan. I wasn't hired, so then I applied for just about everything advertised in the newspaper that seemed possibly tolerable at all. Including a job as an insurance salesperson - I remember that one because they interviewed me and seemed very interested in hiring me, and it would have paid what seemed to me like a vast amount of money; however, they wanted me to have a bunch of friends and go around persuading the bunch of friends to buy insurance. First of all, I do not really believe in having a bunch of friends (well, except on LiveJournal, but LiveJournal didn't exist back then); and second, I do not believe in ruining any of my friendships by trying to sell products to my friends. So I thought about it after the interview, and when they called me to ask me to come back for a second interview, I told them that I had decided I didn't want the job. Then I remained unemployed until nine months after graduation, when I was amazed and delighted to find an ad in the newspaper indicating that there actually was such a thing as a publishing company in Sacramento that didn't publish horrifying self-help books that I'd sooner starve to death than be affiliated with. So I became an editor of two-paragraph biographies of lawyers and judges. But then that company laid me off, so I became an editor of math tests. Then my new company expanded my job to include English and science tests along with math tests. And then they promoted me to just English tests.
None of these editorial positions have ever required any outside authors. More importantly for my sanity and self-respect, none of them have ever required me to have anything to do with icky self-help books or icky political propaganda. The biographies of lawyers and judges just listed their court cases and degrees and awards, and did not allow for any subjective opinions of our own to influence the text. (All the wording was standardized to the point that they could have been and sort of were written by machines.) The math and even the science tests tended to consist of fairly indisputable facts, and although the English tests have once or twice included stories of somewhat questionable political acceptableness (e.g., there've been one or two fairy tales that at least implied an eventual ending of the cliche heterosexual marriage), in general the rules are quite strict about forbidding us to expose children to stereotypes of any kind. (And they're even more strict by the time I get done with them than they were to begin with . . .)
4. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I really don't think I'll ever be much of a world traveler. I sort of like the idea of just remaining a lifelong northern Californian, just like both of my parents and three fourths of my grandparents and I don't know how many of my great-grandparents. However, I have at various times vaguely contemplated the idea of moving to the following places (in chronological order):
Japan. I'm really not sure anymore why Japan ever became of any particular interest to me, other than it being in Asia. Asia was of interest to me because historically, during most of my school years, people who were Asian were my friends and people who were not Asian were not my friends. So an entire continent of people who were my friends would surely be interesting! But none of my friends were ever from Japan. Maybe I picked Japan because it was just about the only place in Asia that I didn't ever have friends from, and this meant it was left over for me to claim as my own. Also, Japan is widely hated for doing various oppressive things to other Asian countries, and I could relate to that because my own ethnicity is known for doing similar oppressive things. Oh, and also the best essay I managed to find while in college that gave really detailed descriptions of a society where heterosexuality was not the norm was an essay that happened to be describing Tokugawa-era Japan, so that definitely increased my interest. Anyway, when I graduated from college I wanted to move to Japan, so the first job I applied to was a job being an English teacher in Japan. I didn't get the job though, so that was the end of my plans to move to Japan.
Vancouver. chisparoja was urging me to flee the oppressive United States government, so I gave some consideration to places in Canada that I might enjoy. The pictures I found online of the landscape around Vancouver reminded me of northern California, and the descriptions I found of the cultural variety in Vancouver seemed very appealing. Really it's the only place in Canada that did seem appealing. Naturally, however, the very things that made it appealing to me made it unappealing to chisparoja.
Singapore. My only initial interest in Singapore was that rekraft lived there. However, if you consider that I've long had a vague interest in Asia in general, and then you consider the fact that English is the only language I'm fluent in and I can't very well find editorial employment in a country where I'm not fluent in the native language, then Singapore has very definite advantages. It's also very handy to be able to see lots of both East and South Asian culture in one small English-speaking location (and with food available that I actually like!). And Singlish is the the perfect combination of just alien enough to be intriguing to study yet not alien enough to be intimidatingly difficult to learn. However, fleeing the oppressive-primarily-of-other-countries'
5. What is the most inspiring place you have ever visited?
You're asking the wrong person! I've hardly ever left northern California, so there aren't that many places to choose between. Having said that, however: Yosemite National Park. But with an honorable mention to San Francisco's Castro District. Maybe I should live halfway between them. What's halfway between them? Modesto? Is that far enough away from the scary San Francisco housing prices? Maybe halfway up the mountains toward Yosemite would be better.
. . .
(Anyone want me to ask them questions? Anyone want to ask me questions?)