Sunday, 26 October 2008

Sheer Indulgence!

I have been tagged twice - by Kate at love you big and Alice at The Plot Thickens, which essentially means I have been firmly prodded to write about myself. This has not taken much convincing. The main reason for the delay is that I have been overseas for the week visiting my mother in hospital. I feel very glad and grateful that I was able go over there to nurture and comfort her, and to make my father's experience a little less intense. I am about to write to my College to thank them for helping pay for my trip. They're good like that, Oxford Colleges.

But while I am on this train and just to balance out my otherwise fairly positive post, there's nothing quite like a shared room in a hospital to get one more susceptible to agitation and neurotic hand-washing (it was, of all things, clean hands awareness week at the hospital so I couldn't walk two metres without a sign reminding me of the micro-beasts going around), and probably, to slight misanthropy, which came for me in the form of resenting my mother's lung-challenged neighbour and his family. They happened to be Chinese. I know I am treading dangerously here, but the Chinese language is a more shouty than English and, generally, Chinese people are less concerned about dance space or sharing bodily fluids than others. That said, perhaps it was just that this poor guy was a moaner and that his large family (as distinct from Chinese people in general) happened to be loud-talkers with colds that needed immediate relief by violently snorting the matter out, who did not mind half sitting in my mother's section, thinly demarcated by a rather dirty sheet. As you can see, stress and anxiety about a loved one can lead to clawy, distrustful thinking. There's something in that.

Anyway, back to the task at hand. I am supposed to share seven random, curious facts about myself.

Fact 1: I am obsessed with banana smoothies. I think about them fondly a lot of the time, and excessively at least twice per week. There is only one place in Oxford - G&D's if you need to know - where one can buy adequate smoothies. The problem is that the English aren't really into smoothies or milk and fruit based drinks. They're just getting the hang of juice drinks with more than one fruity ingredient - what they often call smoothies - and their milkshakes are most often made with artificial flavourings. It's most distressing. Sipping a cold banana smoothie - soft, creamy, potassium-rich with a light bubbling on the surface - is one of life's true delights.

Fact 2: One of my strengths and beloved pastimes is working out (in less and less time) where people's features come from. I thoroughly enjoy dividing up people's faces according to what they received from which parent, relative or side of the family. I use this model when working out whether a relationship will last, based on research at the Ponds Institute (code name for research of questionable validity, usually evidenced by an attractive woman in a white coat pointing out how red dots turn into blue dots). I advise my friends to make sure that their chosen mate has some prominent features in common with themselves or with their family members. One of my brothers (who is married to someone who could be mistaken for my cousin) believes that this model could account for everyone since nearly everyone has 'noses' or 'eyes'. Of course, an explanatory theory that explains everything and therefore cannot be disputed is completely useless. But I would argue that he really doesn't appreciate its finer nuances. My sister and my aunt are exponents. They understand my love of baby photographs (particularly those with the blubbering parents nearby for comparison).

Fact 3: I love a hobby. My hobbies include life drawing, belly dancing, coxing, watching debates at the Union, reading, netball, bike-riding, watching films, listening to Stephen Fry's podcasts, happily selecting fruit and veg at the local farmers' market (with all the North Oxford parents in faux hippy threads) and going on nature walks. Yes, I do love a hobby. That said, I always feel a bit self-conscious about including my hobbies on a CV. I think writing 'reading', for example, sounds a bit silly or self-important. I tend to only include official hobbies.

Fact 4: I am a very good teacher. I love to share knowledge and ideas (not least because it also helps me learn). I enjoy helping other people learn and reflecting on how to better make this happen. I also take the pastoral care element of teaching quite seriously. The teacher-learner interaction makes me feel far more grounded and calm. I have taught various subjects to loads of people from each level of schooling since I was 15 and I can't wait to get back to it. I hope that didn't sound like a self-statement in a CV!?

Fact 5: I am a middle child and possess many of the traits associated (again see the Ponds Institute research archive) with a middle child, such as an acute sense of drama, a need for attention and assurance (sometimes a terrible combination), an informal tone, a good (thoughtful, reliable and regular) communicator and family messenger, emotional maturity and a desire to support and care for others in a quiet way, and a striking respect for authority (which does not always work well with the informal tone).

Fact 6: I have this enduring desire to learn more about Astronomy (not to be confused with Astrology, in which I am already an expert*). I have managed to buy myself Astronomy for Dummies, but I think I need some structured learning. I can't seem to get past the first few pages. I am not sure what that says about me.

Fact 7: I do not like symmetrical things.

Now in complete breach of the rules ('what about that respect for authority?' you might ask), I am not going to keep the tag going, if only because I have very few people to tag in blogland and I fear they have barely caught up with my last prod (the blog award!). But if anyone on blogland reads this - Alana for instance - please do join me on this wonderful identity-affirming slippery dip! It's fun!

Here are the rules:

1. Link to your tagger and list these rules on your blog.
2. Share 7 facts about yourself, some random, some weird.
3.Tag 7 people at the end of your post by leaving their names as well as links to their blog.
4. Let them know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

*I lie.


Kate said...

EEEe! Welcome home, lovely! I loved your seven things - (except I love symmetry - uh-oh) and I think you're doing fabulously. More, pelase!

Alice said...

Fact #2 is hilarious, and totally spot on! Mum would be very proud!

Looking forward to some Astronomy posts soon. xx

John Flood said...

I make banana smoothies with very ripe bananas and yoghourt. Don't know if that does it in your book, but sure tastes good...