Wednesday, January 26, 2011

"30 Day Challenge," but not.

Except sort of. I feel the need to write something down but the creative juices aren't quite where I want them at the moment, so I'm dragging in some outside help. Don't worry, I'm not going to drag you through 30 days of internet sludge. I'm going to get it over with in one go and drag you through one long entry of sludge. Except I'm going to try and make it...not too sludgey. Here we go:

30 Day Personal Challenge

1: Name two of the most significant people in your life and explain why.
I guess my dad, and Carole.
"Dad" seems like an obvious easy go to answer; he's a parent, duh. But we've kind of always had a complicated relationship, and I spent a lot of my life trying to be just like him and a lot of my life trying to be exactly not like him. I've loved him more than anyone else, and I've hated him even more than that. His remarriage was really hard  for me to deal with, and I still don't think he went about things well but I learned a lot as I was healing from that and one of the thing I learned was that I still kind of need him around.

Carole was my coach in college. She helped me push myself without ever being harsh or cruel, and put up with me for hours of talking outside of team time. She had solid advice for every situation, and has consistently been a positive role model whom I can admire.

2: What is your stance on religion? Would you affiliate yourself with any?
I tend to dislike and shy away from most organized religions. I was raised in a Jewish household though, and I am interested in the history and the culture (and the food, of course the food,) I just don't get a lot of the...Well, religious aspects of it. I have a lot of problems with the bible + testaments, even when taken for meaningful, not literal, translation. Also the people and hierarchies of power within organized religions just scream wrongness to me. Which is not to say that every large religion doesn't mean well. In fact, I think a lot of religious people who are followers of popular sects mean damn well.
But I also think that there needs to be more room within faith for questioning faith. For asserting that some religious values may be good, and others not so much.
I don't believe in God. For a lot of reasons. A simple answer would be that I'm just not convinced. A less simple answer would be that I just think there are too many contradictions in every theory I've heard of God and at the end of the day I'll carry my own burden and my own praise. I'm okay with that.

At the same time I don't deny the existence of God. Who am I in the grand scheme of things to make that claim? And I think that even without a religious lifestyle I'm still spiritual and faithful enough in my own way, and interested enough in doing good and right, that if a God does exist...He'll shake my hand when I'm dead and tell me I did alright anyway. I'm not too concerned.

3: What band / musician is most important to you?  Explain why.
 I've never really been struck by a musical artist and thought THIS, this is my life, and this is meaning, and this is all things me. I don't have that one musician that strikes all the chords within me, or that I count as most important.

There are several that I like a lot, from my newly found and recently beloved The Weepies, to the golden adorable Laura Marling, to the revered Paul Simon. That's not even counting the Broadway artists that I love, and I would be shamed if I didn't throw out the names of Jason Robert Brown, Norbert Leo Butz, and Anthony Rapp.

For the sake of making a point I'll take a name from each and run with it for now. So Jason Robert Brown and Paul Simon both make music that I enjoy (immensely) and also I just find them pretty inspiring.

JRB writes for musicals. He's created wonderful stories that I love, from The Last 5 Years, to Parade and 13 and Songs for a New World. Each of those bearing its own captivating soundtrack. But on top of that, he's also got his own album (and hopefully another out this coming summer)...And his lyrics are very real. Very heartfelt. Without ever being too much or too little. He's quirky and funny, he's serious and mesmerizing. He's heartbreaking. He's eloquent and succinct. He's frequently all of those at once. Which is more than admirable.

Paul Simon's Graceland is at least one of my favorite albums, if not my actual top favorite. He created it after a trip to Africa and the influence of the music and culture and feeling is so there, while still retaining his own distinct Paul Simonness, and again...he's just mastered the art of lyric writing. His words are so strong, and the music is so good and so unique and still so simultaneously familiar and comforting.

4: If you could chose a time period to be born at , which one would it be and why?
That's kind of a hard question haha. I love the 80s, they were so silly. I love that upbeat music, the corny cartoons...and I was born at the tail-end of the 80s so I have just the smallest legitimate claim to being an 80s kid, but really I grew up in the 90s. I'm a 90s kid, and I love the 90s too. Again, the music, and the campy movies. I'm not sure I'd trade that era. Especially since now in the 2000s we've got so much going on with human rights and technology and advances in health and again with the music, and so much information is always available. It's really such an opportunity that I'm not sure my generation appreciates.

Which isn't to say that I don't occasionally dream of a quite life on a self sufficient farm where no one's ever heard of the internet. Because as much as the internet is a wealth of...well, stuff. It's also a giant machine for stealing my time.

5: At what age were you the happiest?
Now. But if you had asked me that last year I would have said "now" then too, and I think that's pretty good. I've had my share of bad times, but I'm a pretty optimistic person and I think that really makes the difference. For a really long time I've just always been a happy person. I think I'll be the happiest I've been in another year too.

6: Name five things from your wishlist.
A free trip to Grad school, yyayyyy!
Also, all the seasons of ever Star Trek series (except maybe Enterprise. It's not really Trek. But if it were free, I'd take it. You know.)
A lot of books.
Some free time.

I know, I want the impossible stuff. It's fine, we'll get there yet.

7: Do you read? If so, what are your three favorite books and why?
I read frequently, passionately, insatiably. 
My top favorite is Ayn Rand's The Fountainhead. I have a mad love for Howard Roark. My first time through it I almost gave up so many times, and then the end was so captivating. I reread it immediately, I loved it all the way through.  It was a bit before I read it again, and at that point in my life I was going through a lot and Roark's integrity and passion were everything I needed.

After that I have a lot of books I've loved, but nothing that hits home so much. The Bean Trees by Barbara  Kingsolver was a favorite of mine for a long time too. It's just about being yourself and following whatever path you find that seems like a good idea at the time. It's about growing from your roots without being restrained by them, but without denying them. It's a lot about people.

What else? Terry Pratchett's Discworld series. That man is a genius. His books are so fun, and also so funny. And the characters are so strange, and so unlikely in this world but they are so exactly real at the same time. Discworld is a must read for anyone.

8: If you could live anywhere, where would you live and why?
California. Though I've always wanted to spend some time in Boston, I'm not sure why haha. I've grown up in New York, and I love it and identify with it so much but I'm just also very done with the hurrying that's so inbred in New Yorkers, and I'm done with the cold and the winter and the ice and...yeah.

Give me an ocean, give me a culture, give me a big city. Southern California sounds good to me.

9: How old do you think you act? Explain.
Some days I act 5, some days I act 50. Provided they're not harmful or otherwise bad I think it's frequently best to follow your impulses, even if that means acting like a dumb goofy kid. It's good for the soul. You need to be who you are and do what you want sometimes.

But it's also important to recognize your limits, and take care of your responsibilities and as much as I'm silly and strange and goofy I think I recognize that need more than most people my age and so I frequently find myself feeling much older than I am.

10: If you could only live off of one food and one beverage for the rest of your days, what would they be?
I love food, this is a rough choice. I guess chicken and water. Chicken is versatile and water goes with everything. There you go.

11: What is your favorite quote? How does it relate to your life?
I have a few. Because I already spoke about The Fountainhead let's go with

"He walked to a window and stood looking up at the sky. His head thrown back, he felt the pull of his throat muscles and he wondered whether the peculiar solemnity of looking at the sky comes, not from what one contemplates, but from that uplift of one's head."

It's about the fact that sometimes our mood or perspective is really just about our viewpoint. Mentally, but physically too. Really. if you always look down, of course things seem much more miserable. Spend a half hour staring at the sky as you walk and things suddenly seem much more mystical and wonderful.  Even in the rain.

Outlook is so important.

12: What item of clothing do you wear the most?
 This one pair of jeans is really comfortable. I don't really have any favorite item of clothing I guess. I had a pair of red boots I loved for a long time, but it's been awhile since I ran them into the ground.

13: What can you not live without?
Chace. My horse.

14: Name things that you do every day.
Go to the barn and take care of my horse, and read. 

15: Who is someone you admire. Why?
Two people. Carole Gerrity, and Stephanie Gollobin. Both people that I know personally. Carole is the coach of the riding team at my school. She's so strong and independent and knowledgeable. She's very open minded and happy with herself and her life and she's very religious which is decidedly different than myself, but she's also very grounded and she has as much faith in herself and in those around her as she has in God which I think is really important. She's so dedicated to her work in education and English, but also to horses and a lot of that is exactly how I want to be do. Also, she kicked cancer's ass.

Steph is a friend that I've only gotten close with recently, but in many ways it seems like it's been much longer. We have a lot in common in terms of interests and goals. But she's older and has accomplished more and I think has more of a motivational drive than I do in some ways. Right out of college she moved to Germany and taught English there for 3 years before she moved back. She's done so much impressive work with horses, and has a very unique understanding with them. I really respect the drive she has to go and chase what she wants. When she decides she wants to do something she does it. When she's not sure what she wants she evaluates her choices and options and sets goals for herself. I think that's really admirable and I wish I was able to set better goals for myself. But she's also very human, and very in touch with herself and the people around her. Since we've grown close she's never once seemed out of reach or robotic in anyway. She's funny and sweet and I think one of the best people I know.

16: If the world were to end tomorrow, what would you do with your remaining time on earth?
Spend it with my horse, and with my good friends, and I'd eat a damn good meal.

17: What do you want to be when you get older? Why did you choose it?
I want to write. But I also want to draw and paint, and I want to work with horses, and sometimes (usually when I'm in the shower) and I imagine that someday I'll take vocal lessons and actually train my voice and do something with that too. I have a lot of interests and it's really hard for me to eliminate anything and say "I'll do this one."

But really I think I'll end up doing something literary. I've always wanted to write (and subsequently publish) a book. And I think there are a lot of options in the world of literature. I could write a childrens book and illustrate it too. I could teach. The idea of teaching at a college level really appeals to me, and I want to stay in school and get an MFA and hopefully a PHD (I'm pretentious) and I love to read as much as I love to write, probably even more. And I could do all that and still come home to a backyard barn with some horses.

18: If you could meet anyone, living or dead, who would it be? What would you say to them or ask them?
That's another hard one. I have no celebrities that I really worship, and there are few historical figures that mystify me that I'd want to meet. I mean, there are a lot of people in both categories that would be really cool to meet, but not any particular one I'm yearning for. I guess either Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman would be cool to meet. I really love both of their collective works of literature (including and especially their compilation Good Omens) and they both seem very down to earth and clever.

19: What is your favorite film? Why is it so important to you?
 There are many answers to this and I"m not sure really which one's right. I've always loved the Matrix and Monty Python's the Holy Grail. The Matrix sets up the viewer for a lot of questions, and also the special effects were just amazing for the time. I still find them amazing. The Holy Grail in its own subtle ways also asks a lot of questions. They're both really philosophical in their own ways. But Holy Grail is also so clever and funny and it doesn't have Keanu Reeves.

But I also like Lucky Number Sleven a lot. It's brilliant. And the Birdage is hilarious.

Of more recent movies I loved The King's Speech. I love action movies with explosions and fast paced plot, and I love comedies that have me rolling in the theater aisle. But the King's Speech proved that you don't necessarily need those things to have a damn good movie. It had several of it's own hilarious moments (SHIT BUGGER AND...tits,) but also the writing was brilliant and it kept it's pace through that and through the inter-character tension and it was just wonderful.

Also, Star Trek The Voyage Home because Leonard Nimoy swims with humpback whales.

20: Would you consider yourself an optimist or a realist? Why?
Both. I'm forever and optimist, but I think I'm also very grounded. Maybe too much sometimes. But I don't think I'm more one than the other, though maybe more one at any given time than the other. I think having a balance of both is important, and I don't think you need to forsake one to be the other.

21: Do you want children? Why or why not?
No, and this is a long answer. For unselfish reasons, I can say that there have been histories of mental illnesses in my family, and I have no desire to pass anything like that on. Also, I did say I want to be a writer. That kind of lifestyle is not necessarily conducive to making money off the bat and it's not ideal for raising kids. But it's really mostly selfish reasons. I want to do what I want. I want to spend my money on what I want. I want to travel. I want to work with and have horses.

I have recently been forced to admit that I probably do generally like kids despite having always claimed the opposite, but I really have no desire to have one of my own.
22: What subject did / do you exceed in / at school?
In highschool I really did well in everything. My favorites were Art and History and English and Science. I was actually really close to being a History Major in college. It's weird to think that seeing how much the English Department has been a part of my college experience.  But I even did pretty well in Math too (I actually liked math a lot too until I had a horrible teach and she just ruined it haha.)

I've still done really well in all of my classes in college, but it's harder to say since my subjects of study have been less diverse. I think I'd be worse at science now, having not kept up with it. Same with History. But I'd like to take some history classes before I graduate, American history and World history. I was looking for this semester but there were no classes that fit my schedule.

23: Are you a fan of art? If so, who is your favorite artist? What artistic movement do you prefer?
I'm a fan of art, but admittedly more of the act of doing art than of following art history or movements. I like a lot of things from a lot of different periods and genres and styles, but I don't really have a singular favorite of style or artists. I also like looking at a lot of art on the internet of people I've never heard of. I see a lot of things I love. But art is about enjoyment for me, not study.

24: How attractive do you consider yourself?
More attractive some days than other days. Don't we all have days like that? Some days I wake up and everything's great and I'm the most attractive girl on earth. Some days things suck and I don't even want to show myself in public I'm so hideous. But I really and happy with myself either way, I think I'm lucky that I don't have any self image issues but part of having that viewpoint is that I also see most other people as being attractive in their own way so I don't usually compare myself as being more or less good looking than someone else. I don't think that way. I see people and I think they're beautiful, and maybe that person more so than that person, but the other person is still good too and I don't wonder whether or not I'm better or worse than them. People are more attractive to me when I know that their personalities are also beautiful.

25: Would you rather date someone plain with an amazing personality or someone beautiful with a plain personality?
If you couldn't deduce it from the last sentence of my previous answer, I'll always take personality first.Good looks never hurt but they shouldn't be the priority.

26: Choose two: mentally stable, intelligent, attractive. Explain why you chose those two.
 Ideally I think most people would say mentally stable and intelligent. But I'm not sure I'm all that mentally stable so I'll say intelligent and attractive. Those traits in another person will keep them on my level ahahaha.

27: Which do you prefer: films or television? Why?
 I like both. Unfortunately I don't see as much of either as I'd like. I think films are easier because when you have the time you go and then you're done. TV you have to keep up with and I'm really bad at that, but there are a lot of shows I like a lot. There are just also a lot that I wish I had time to watch. I'll never have enough time for that.

28: If you could choose to live forever, would you? Why or why not?
It's tempting. I think I would still just never have enough time though haha. I'd enjoy it for a long time, but I'd probably eventually get bored. Probably. I'd miss people though. How could you ever get close to someone knowing they just won't keep up with you?

29: Do you wish for anything at 11:11? If so, what do you wish for? Has anything ever come true?
I'm bad at those wish things though. I never know what to wish for. I'm pretty content. I saw a shooting star once and I thought 'that's awesome I have to make a wish' but I didn't know what to wish for. I made a wish for a friend.

30: What do you imagine your life like at age fifty?
Wow. Uhm. More grey hair. More or less free time. I'm not sure. I'll let myself know when I get there.


  1. Hi Ericka! I was reading a few of your posts and just had a question about your blog. I was wondering if you could please email me back when you get the chance, thanks so much!

    - Emily

  2. Hey! That was a nice article. Where did you find all those questions? Oh, and number 24 was good. :D