Five (More) Things You Don’t Know About Me

I was tagged for this by my good friend Caz Mockett and whilst I did one of these quite a while back, there’s always more revelations to be made. I tried to think of five things that Caz wouldn’t know, but since we met when we were eleven, I had to give up on that. So instead I thought of five things that Caz knows about me that probably most other people don’t.

1. I am a terrible traveller and have barely made a scratch on the globe. I’ve been to France (naturally) and Germany, and once I made it to Los Angeles. I know it’s hopelessly unfashionable to dislike travel these days, but I do. You shouldn’t put claustrophobic people in small metal capsules of one kind or another, wedged in with other human beings, for an uncertain length of time that might be subject to unaccountable delays. It’s not good for us. In all honesty I’m not that much better when I’ve arrived; I keep thinking of all the really useful things I could be doing at home.

2. If there’s one thing I feel like I’ve missed out on in my life, it’s romance. You may have heard me mention before that I don’t think it’s a quality much apparent in the British male, and whilst I like strong, intuitive, brooding men in fiction, the ones I’ve met in reality have tended to be rather scornful of sentiment, tuned inwards rather than outwards, and a bit needy. My husband, for instance, has all the brooding ability of a Labrador puppy (I just know he is going to read this and say ‘But…. but I sent you that bunch of flowers when we had that really big argument in 1992. What d’you mean I’m not romantic?’). As I tend to be a reasonably pragmatic woman myself, I’ve always gone along with this, but I can’t help but think it would be very pleasant to be the sort that attracts romantic gestures. My experience of men who have thought they were being romantic has alway been pretty terrifying. When I lived in France, the stranger upstairs starting sending me love letters that he impaled on my door with various sharp objects. Then one evening he laid siege to me in my appartment and tried to break my door down. You know, it’s always one extreme or the other.

3. I’m unpunctual and I can’t bring myself to care too much about it. I know it’s not good, but I just can’t bear waiting around for things to start. I really like sneaking in the back of the conference hall, or arriving once the meeting has already begun. This is partly a denial of my own ability to contribute: most of these events don’t strictly require my presence, so they won’t therefore notice my absence. It’s partly disorganisation (there’s always one thing I’ve forgotten to do that I remember just as I’m leaving the house) and it’s partly uncertainty about the value of the way I’m spending my time. Also, like most unpunctual people, I discount the time of the journey; my father used to observe that I tended to leave at the time I was supposed to arrive, and this is pretty much accurate. But don’t worry, I have some finer feeling left: I would never let a dinner spoil in someone else’s oven on account of tardiness.

4. I’m far more interested in anti-heroes than heroes, find failure far more intriguing than success, and prefer real people to role models. Shiny images and mission statements are modern voodoo, and about as credible as television advertisements. I like my reality three-dimensional, honest, complex and flawed. if you show me a smooth coherent facade, I’ll just pick it off. Which reminds me I must post one of these days on Julien Sorel, the (anti)hero of Stendhal’s The Red and the Black and an object lesson in tragic, splendid, triumphant failure.

5. I have irrepressible urges to heal the world. I used to think that when I was done with academics I would retrain as a psychotherapist, but now I’m not so sure. Now I think I would rather work with children who have difficulty learning. Not children with specific learning difficulties, but those who, through illness or misfortune or unfortunate upbringing or an inability to conform to the average, find it more challenging than the rest to absorb and make sense of information. Misery, suffering, confusion, that’s the kind of territory I feel I could make a difference in. But don’t give me someone with a physical illness because then I’m useless, anxious and uncertain precisely because I don’t know what to do for the best and unable to just sit things out. But sadness or low self-esteem – ah, now, that we can have a conversation about.

14 thoughts on “Five (More) Things You Don’t Know About Me

  1. I’m with you on the traveling. I hate to travel. I love being there once I am there (unless it’s a visit to the in-laws!) but the actual travel part does a good job at keeping me at home.

    I can imagine you being very good at teaching children with learning difficulties.

  2. I used to love traveling, but now hate it. But like Stefanie, I like being wherever I am once I go. But then I don’t like to be gone too long. I agree with your summation of males–there are plenty like that here, too. I guess that is why I am a sucker for some of the books I read. Not out and out romance (they tend to go too far), but a little taste is nice now and then. Great answers–I love reading these sorts of posts.

  3. Oooh, some lovely insights into the lovely Litlove. Thanks for sharing them. While I like travel (I’m a little restless), I also love an anti-hero. Flaws are just so much more interesting than perfection.

    On punctuality, being late stresses me out horrendously. I try hard to be punctual, but with my entourage and all their requirements, it doesn’t always work. When I’m straining to be on time, I’m at my worst, and then when I get there I wonder why I let it stress me so. It’s such a waste of energy.

  4. I’m so pleased you admitted not liking travel. I have been many places in the world but not since I was old enough to refuse to be dragged around by my parents because I just don’t really like travelling & I don’t travel well. Some of my colleagues get very excited about going to Europe for conferences but, say you manage to get a week off, you will from New Zealand spend at a minimum four days of that travelling and then have three days of staggering around with jet lag, confused and disoriented, having to find all/many of your meals which is not always easy since I’m a vegetarian and a caffeine addict who does not like bad coffee. And then there is all the non productive recovery time afterwards. So no thanks, I’ll stay here.

    In fairness I think my husband is slightly more romantic than me. He does suprise me with presents sometimes even though they are usually things that he would want- like a World of Warcraft expansion pack. But at least he tries. It seldom occurs to me to buy him things. If I want to be nice I do things like clean the bathroom which is generally his job. Not really very romantic at all!

  5. Stefanie – I do find comfort in solidarity with other travel-challenged individuals! And thank you for the kind encouragement. Danielle – coming home is so often one of the best things about going away. And I do like a little touch of romance in my reading (the Stegner was wonderful for that). Charlotte – how any woman manages to get herself anywhere with three young children is a mystery to me. You have my deepest respect that you can do it AT ALL! Ms Make Tea – we are of the same mind. My husband has been for a two-day trip to the US before now and found something to like about it. That sounds like the seventh circle of hell to me. Oh and you know, to the pragmatic side of my mind, a clean bathroom could be a pretty nice gift to receive!

  6. How fun — I do like these glimpses into people’s lives and personalities! I so agree with you about #4. A former work colleague was a role model type — I didn’t see a crack in the facade of perfection anywhere — and she drove me nuts. If I’d had a chance to know her longer, I would have figured out what was wrong, because surely something was 🙂

  7. This reminds me, I STILL have to expand on my 5th thing, which I abandoned last fall. Oh well, just too much to write about. I hate being cooped up on crowded airplanes, as well, but I love trains, and I absolutely love to travel just about anywhere. I also love to people watch in airports. Business travel I could live without, because it usually just means being in hotels and conference rooms all day long, so when you’re somewhere really cool like San Francisco, you spend the whole day with this feeling of “so close, and yet so far!” (Of course, it’s always nice to have someone else cleaning up after you and to have a little down time all to yourself in the evenings, if you can get it).

  8. I’m Baaack – – – Just don’t feed me after midnight 🙂

    I love travel. What I hate is the being there. Whether “there” is home or away. Except on aircraft – I am the one who holds the plane up by its armrests. I also need a view of the wing so that I can make sure it doesn’t fall off.
    As for Romance (capitalised), it is not a question of where are the romantic men. They are still here, maybe in short supply but there are some around. The question is, where are the ladies swooning at a meaningful glance, blushing at the accidental brushing of sleeves and accepting outrageous compliments with wildly beating hearts? Whew, I got through that lot without once mentioning heaving bosoms.
    Punctuality is my downfall. I am so concerned with being on time, I am invariably early! Embarrassing when the hostess is still cleaning up after a day of living.

  9. I can’t resist commenting here. I am laughing at the comment about you turning up late because I have strong memories of you slipping late into the back of lecture theatres and conference rooms. I always associated it with the fact that you had a child to drop off/pick up and with your hair – it’s very hard for people with long hair to arrive on time. I think that your husband is more romantic than you give him credit for: he may have been brought up as the strong emotionally silent British male but he has gone beyond that now (although the Labrador analogy works too). Finally, you would be great with children with learning difficulties.

    As for me, I am punctual (never early), not particularly keen on travel (above all I like to sit at home and read) and my husband is more romantic than me, which wouldn’t be hard, to be honest.

  10. Kathryn, you’ve just provided me with the most marvellous excuse for any lateness – it’s my long hair of course! How can anyone with long hair ever be on time?

    (Sorry to hijack Litlove’s comments, but I just had to gush …)

  11. Every time I read you, Litlove, you come up with another perfect phrase–a “little poem” as Tom Robbins calls it–and this time it’s “the brooding ability of a Labrador puppy.” Part of the reason I love this phrase is, of coure, my tendency to melt completely at the combination of “Labrador” and “puppy,” and part is that it so perfectly illustrates your point. Great writing.

  12. The thing I find most comforting about this is the number of non-travellers there are about. I had thought this was a sin beyond confessing. I’ve never been a ‘good’ traveller. I couldn’t even make the six miles journey into town on the bus as a child without violently ‘upchucking’ and now when I’m stressed travelling of any sort becomes impossible. And the thing is that this really doesn’t bother me that much as long as I can get as far as the shops, library, concert hall and a couple of decent tea-rooms; I’m simply not a traveller. But it does seem to bother everyone else, so I’ve learnt to keep quiet about it. No more! I shall trumpet my dislike from the tree-tops – if there are any left! Three trees down in the local park this morning.

  13. LOL Dorothy! But you were surely right – I have a theory that the more perfect the facade, the more ghastly the beast that lurks behind it. Courtney – I wish I were that punctual, travel-friendly person! Please feel free to imagine me with qualities I don’t possess!! Emily, I know what you mean – if I could have room service at home, it is doubtful whether I would ever leave. Archie – it’s wonderful to have you back. How anyone could have thought you were a spammer is a mystery to me. I loved the image of you holding the plane up by the armrests. Perhaps I would feel better if I did that? Or alternatively I would be very prepared to swoon onto the strong shoulder of some brooding fellow passenger. Actually you know, I’m lying; I’d never do that. I am English, after all! Oh Kathryn, you do make me laugh. I’m sure the rot set in when my son was little and it was just simply hard to get myself anywhere at all. And my husband will be absolutely thrilled with the faith you have in him; I’ll let you know his progress in this matter! Charlotte – you are very welcome. I was pretty delighted with the excuse myself. Aw Bikeprof – consider that subclause dedicated to you. Ann – we should form a little association of virtual travellers, shouldn’t we? I’ve always said I’ll go anywhere in my mind, just don’t make me leave home. As for the trees – yikes. The problem here seemed to be mostly on the roads with lots of lorries and buses blown over.

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