Sunday, January 1, 2012

Interviewing Myself

This self-interview via "Vilges Suola" at the wonderful blog "Lathophobic Aphasia" and "Bo" at the equally rewarding "The Cantos of Mvtabilitie" inspired me to fill it out myself. I've even adapted it, with some dumbing down ("poem you know by heart" becomes "movie...") for my Speech students to use when interviewing each other week one. Maybe you'll fill it out too? Happy New Year: I figured this'd be a fine way to begin again, with the only form of small talk I can tolerate. 

What three adjectives would you use to describe yourself?
Self-directed, intellectual, introverted. (Jibes with my INTJ Jung Typology/Myers-Briggs results.)

What is your greatest achievement?
Finishing my Ph.D., with all due credit to my wife's logistic support and rapid typing assistance.

What’s your favorite smell?
Lemons remind me of now-vanished groves behind my childhood house where I played.

What is your favorite taste?
Garlic and onions on a white Fugazetta pizza from nearby Glendale's El Morfi restaurant.

What’s your favorite piece of music?
"Coinleach Glas An Fhómhair": Clannad--before they bought synthesizers and did New Age soundtracks.

What book would you like everyone to read? Why?

The Bible. With a (post-)modern commentary. Then we might discuss sensibly and calmly how to handle, and progress from, its cluttered transmission of hopes, confusions, contradictions, ideals, and failures.

What website would you like everyone to visit? Why?
Religion Dispatches. The older I get, the more I view religion as a spectator sport, or an Olympics of various competitions. I may cheer some, jeer some, and watch events or turn aside from them as I wish. Yet, as with sports, a childhood part of me wants to participate, to join in, to gain the thrill of accomplishment. And, the adult part of me knows that such contests are but attempts to capture this fleeting moment forever.

What is your favorite sound?
My family's voices, suitably muted.

If you were an animal, what animal do you think you would be?
An owl. I want to turn my head all the way around.

What do you like to do in your spare time?
Reading and listening to music.

How many languages do you speak and why?
As this came off an EFL teacher's site, it's tilted against me. Speak: Spanish and Irish in basics. Reading knowledge predominates as it's my medievalist background: Latin, Old and Middle English. Smatterings of Hebrew, Welsh, Manx, bits even of Czech, Hungarian, and NT Greek from past forays. I wish I was skilled at language learning, but I am not. A visual learner, vocabulary's easier to acquire; grammar's a challenge.

What do you like most/least about your job?
Most: being left on my own with enough trust to carry out my classroom, online, and administrative duties given my experience. (I'm in my twenty-seventh year of teaching and my sixteenth at my current institution.) Least: mandated meetings every term as required. Face-to-face can be tedious. I'm tired of PowerPoint.

What would heaven be like if you were in charge?
Comfy recliners, surrounded by my beloved cats and dogs who've preceded me, drinks to cheer you free of hangovers, food that you could enjoy untiringly and with no harm, family and friends worth talking to, noise-cancelling headphones linked to endlessly blissful playlists to shut out revellers next cloud over. Dark, not raisin-eyed houris-- women could enjoy similar companions, however refurbished to suit their recliners. 

When and where are you happiest?
Sitting by Bean Creek watching its purling, susurrant flow in the Santa Cruz Mountains under the redwoods.

Something you are never without.
My glasses, or within reach of them.

What is your most appealing habit?

Is having a bibliographical mind and nearly total recall of authors and titles a habit?

And your least appealing habit?
My inability to hide what I'm thinking or feeling: my face betrays transparency.

What is the trait you most dislike in others?
Entitlement: displayed in body-language, words, fashion, accomplishments, and/or acquisitions.

What is your most treasured possession?
I spent hours looking for my wedding ring when it slipped off.

If you could have a supernatural power, what would it be?
Immortality as long as it brought me happiness: I've always feared death.

What words or phrases do you overuse?
Domestically I have been long criticized for "I'm not a ___ kind of person." And, "I prefer___" instead of stating a dislike directly. I was brought up and beaten up to be polite. 

What single thing would improve the quality of your life?
Until it's no more wage-slavery thanks to a MacArthur grant afforded me in perpetuity for this blog's brilliance, less of a L.A. commute; I live so far from work there's no non-freeway option to take.

How would you like to be remembered?
"Sly and tender"--the way my gaze has been described by my wife. And "quietly foolish," as an acquaintance summed me up in my formative years. (Better than a grad school prof's summation: "superficially brilliant.")

What music do you enjoy listening to/playing most?
My family years ago mocked my midlife struggle to teach myself the tin-whistle. I wish I'd learned music as a child. I have a good ear for tunes, and I like droning folk and rock best, often repetitive or psych-tinged.

What did you dream of being when you were younger?
An astronomer until I found out about my lack of math skills. A composer although I could neither play nor read music. An architect (math again--INTJ's are stereotypical scientists, damn it). A priest until I contemplated my disdain for groupthink. A baseball player until I hit a ball once in two years of Little League.

What were you like as a student at school?
More autodidact than model boy. Teachers disliked my lack of cheery cooperation. I muttered, smirked, lost patience. I chose to work on my own and to overcome challenges without assistance. I wasn't a team player who wished to wait for others to catch up. I'd finish my assignments early and then read what beckoned. I kept to myself and as we moved so often, I had difficulty making friends. I found solace in books and music.

How do you cheer yourself up when you are feeling down?
Listening to music, often what I loved growing up; I suppose this is normal no matter how critically sorry the bands or the decade. We associate beauty and comfort with tunes and sounds from our formative years.

If I hadn’t been a teacher, I would probably have been a...
If I had taken that INTJ test as a teen, a form of research less people-oriented would have enticed me. A librarian or archivist holed up in an office far from an importuning undergrad-- unless she was attractive.

Who has been the best teacher you have ever had?

No particular person stands out, but overall those who encouraged me to find my own way. A philosophy professor the day I finished college advised me when he found out I was headed for grad school never to make myself a slave to any one theory, and that's suited my eclectic and interdisciplinary direction well.

Something that few people know about you.

I found out a few years ago my great-grandfather was found "drowned in mysterious circumstances" in the Thames after having gone in 1898 from Co. Roscommon to London as part of a Land League delegation.

If you could travel back in time where would you go and why?
Certainly that event mentioned inspires me to travel back to find out why. It's that "grandfather paradox" of science fiction and time-travel, isn't it? You can't stop your own grandfather from being born. His younger brother, who became a minor politician, was conceived already when their Fenian father was found drowned.

What’s your best learning memory from school?
Finding out in third grade that before a vowel, we (usually) use "an." This excited me: I'd learned a rule without knowing one, and such patterns of language inculcated before being taught in class fascinated me.

Are you a tidy desk or a messy desk person?
Tidy. I clear off my desk at work. I share an office, soon to be demoted to an open cubicle, so this is wise.

What’s your favorite thing to do when it rains?
Go back to sleep.

A poem you know by heart.
Sonnet 55 by Shakespeare; I had to memorize a poem for Beginning Acting class freshman year of college.

What would you like to learn to do next?
I'd like to figure out Welsh: its look has always enchanted me, inspiring Lloyd Alexander's "Chronicles of Prydain" discovered by me around ten, which led me into Tolkien's Middle Earth and "eurocatastrophe." 

What question would you have liked me to ask you?
Is there life after death?

What would have been your answer?
When I find out, I'll get back to you.


Vilges Suola said...

Your answer to 'What were you like as a student at school?' could have been mine except for the bit about 'overcoming challenges'. Stuff I didn't like was just stuff I didn't like, and I ignored it. That's why I was never any kind of academic. I reckon I will have to devote my penurious old age to catching up.

Bo said...

Lovely! Revealing and fascinating.
Welsh is SO MUCH easier than Irish...enjoy!

Fionnchú said...

Thanks, dear friends VS & Bo, for your inspiration. I wonder how my Public Speaking students will handle this in their first class meeting, as they're paired up to find out about a partner in preparation for their "Classmate Intro" speech. I had to toss the "poem by heart" question and insert a "movie by heart," one more sign of the Coming End Times Dec. 23rd. Cheers to you both; Ave Sol Invictus & Happy Hogmanay.

harry said...

Sweet reflections, thanks John. I observe that your analogy of religion to sports is apt, though I'd argue that getting out and getting some exercise has different rewards than sitting and watching an interesting sports competition, and that both are possible.

Fionnchú said...

You're right, Harry--that analogy betrays my couch-potato p-o-v. At least I had a response relating to the Great Outdoors as to where my favorite place is--despite the ever-present hum of traffic above. Happy New Year to all in your Hollow.