25 Random Things About Me

Oh my goodness, my to-do list is long these days. I soooo didn't have time to write this. Oh well, I wrote it anyway. I guess it was the journal-keeper in me. It was fun. But I did stay up wayyyy too late doing it.

I keep getting tagged on Facebook to write 25 random things about me.
So I finally did it. Only I put my 25 things here instead.

1. My father died in a tractor accident when I was 3 years old and my sister was 11 months old (we lived in rural Minnesota). After a few years of grieving, my mom managed to pick herself up, dust herself off and start anew. She went to graduate school (taking us with her), she got a good job out west (taking us with her) and she raised my sister and I solo through it all.

2. Watching my mom I learned these things to be true: there is life after death, anything really is possible through hard work, and deep love fosters endurance.

3. I met my husband while traveling solo in Europe after I graduated from college. I was there to spend three months solid looking at art (really – I spent 8-10 hours a day in museums for almost the entire trip, it was amazing). He was there to watch a series of different professional bike races. We met in Rome. We had our first date in Venice. We had our first kiss in front of Claes Oldenburg’s buried bicycle sculpture in Paris. We were married 2 years later. (The photo was from a trip we took a few years later when we returned to the bike sculpture).

4. My husband and I got engaged on a tiny island in the middle of Lake Titicaca in Peru. The island had no phones or Internet. We were excited to tell our family about our engagement but on our journey back to the mainland, the engine on our small boat exploded and started the boat on fire (a pretty big fire for such a small boat). It was terrifying. The lake is enormous and we were at least a mile from shore. People were screaming that they couldn’t swim. There was a baby and lots of old people. The boat tipped back and forth as the boat operators filled an enormous plastic barrel and doused the fire. One man had severe burns. Another boat rescued us before anybody had to swim. I wrote an email to everyone I knew that night telling about the fire. Then I said, “By the way, Bryce and I are engaged.”

5. I have been working at becoming a writer and illustrator of children’s picture books for 12 years and working hard at it for about 6 years. It is my heart’s passion. I love it.

6. I’m a paper artist. I make handmade paper and I make cool stuff out of handmade paper like journals and photo albums and illustrations. I’ve sold my work online and at big craft shows. My favorite craft shows I’ve participated in were the Park City Kimball Arts Festival and the Bellevue Arts and Crafts Fair. I did these two shows two weekends in a row. Despite being in the throw-up phase of pregnancy, I kicked butt and it felt good.

7. I heart all things crafty. I like making stuff and I like having stuff other people have made. Handmade is my favorite. I share this passion with a lot of my dad's family.

8. I had a teacher for my 2nd, 3rd and 4th grade years who took our entire class on grand imaginary journeys every year. The whole year’s worth of study revolved around our pretend trips. In the math center we might do exchange rates or pretend we needed to figure out our bill at a restaurant. In the science center we would learn about animals from that country or study scientists who had come from there. One year we turned the classroom into a time machine and traveled back in time. I met dinosaurs, cruised around the world with Magellan and became a patriot during the revolutionary war. Other things I did in her class: I participated in the changing of the guard in the UK, took part in a Japanese Tea Ceremony and built a castle. We made elaborate journals and scrap books from our travels.

9. I went back to visit that teacher in 2006. I was a paper-maker in her colonial village. All the kids had artisan trades they had studied and were “practicing.” It was a blast. I showed the kids how to make paper. They showed me how to make shoes, barrels, wagon wheels, bread, medicine, horseshoes and many other items. My shop went out of business due to unfair taxes set by the British government. That’s how I left to fly home again.

10. I am also an adventurer caught in a worrywart’s brain. I tend to have anxiety issues. But as a result I find it deeply satisfying to spit in the face of my worry monsters and do brave things.

11. During college I fulfilled a long-time dream by training and earning my paraglider pilot’s license. Unfortunately towards the end of my training I became deathly afraid of flying, even on airplanes. Most upsetting was that I also lost my beloved ability to fly at will during my dreams while sleeping (a cherished super-power) and it’s taken me years to get that back. That’s the way adventures work though. Most of the time they are awesome and sometimes they scare the crap out of you. I admit that even though flying ended up scaring the crap out of me, it was also extremely awesome. I’m glad I can do it again while I sleep.

12. I was an intensely nerdy and hard-working academic in high school. I graduated in the top 10 of my high school class of 600ish with a perfect grade-point average. Peers in my classes tended to be the sort who planned on being doctors, lawyers, scientists and engineers “when they grew up.” I felt like I harbored a sick and ugly secret: I wanted to be an artist. I dropped out of Honors physics half way through my senior year to take pottery for the 3rd time as a T.A. A few friends and teachers seriously acted as if I had jumped off of a cliff into doom. As silly as it sounds and as silly as it was, it was the most liberating thing I did in high school.

13. Even more liberating than dying my hair purple or night-swimming in cold Lake Washington during seasons other than summer. Both of which I also did in high school (I only dyed my hair purple once, but I’ve gone night-swimming in Lake Washington oodles of times, and a few times as a grown-up).

14. I love reading to my son, Oscar. He loves books and so do I and it makes me so freaking incredibly happy that we have that in common. He is the cutest and most joyful thing in my entire life.

15. I’m passionately in love with my husband and I love going on adventures with him, eating good food with him and just being near him.

16. These are the ways I practice my spirituality: going on walks, taking time to notice beauty in the world, exercising, practicing yoga, listening, walking the labyrinth at my church, sharing a relaxed meal with loved ones, playing with my son, attempting to stand up to injustice in the world, being near water or mountains, writing in my journals, counting my blessings, and making stuff with my hands.

17. My mother’s family has a reputation of being honest almost to a fault. My Great Grandfather emigrated to the U.S. from Sweden through Ellis Island. He was missing all but one finger and a stumpy thumb on one of his hands when he immigrated. Lucky for him he was carrying his hat with his mangled hand when he went through immigration and no one noticed his lameness. After making it through, he was sitting outside resting when another Swede commented that my Grandfather had been lucky to make it through with such a mangled hand. My Grandfather was extremely concerned that he had somehow made it through dishonestly so he went back in. Luckily they treated him as a nuisance waved him away. This is something I probably would have done too.

18. I led a high school mime group for five years (as an adult). It was one of the most fun and rewarding things I’ve ever done.

19. I secretly love being a salesperson (as long as I’m selling crafty or arty things). It's fun to help people bring arty/crafty stuff into their lives. The kind of stuff that's treasured and loved for a long time. I love selling things at craft shows so much that for a while I got a job at a pottery store in town just so I could experience more of the sweet success of selling stuff you love. The job at the pottery store helped me to weather the long road I’m traveling towards getting my picture books sold -- where the tastes of success are bitten off in more distant intervals.

20. The walls in my house are all different colors. We believe in color courage around here and I don’t know if I could ever go back to living somewhere with plain white walls without feeling restless.

21. My studio has white walls. But the ceiling is blue.

22. I have no self-control when it comes to puzzles (logic ones NOT trivia ones, I'm horrible at trivia). I have a tendency to get addicted when I take them on. I used to subscribe to Games magazine and it was a worse time-sucker than the internet. The only thing that can keep me distracted from my horrid fear of flying on airplanes are Sudoku puzzles. I'm the same way with strategy-type board games. Once my husband suggested we take up chess together. After I wasted several full days playing chess against the computer in some kind of stupid hypnotic trance, I banned chess from my brain. This is what I have to do with most puzzles or I would have no life. Seriously. But please, anyone please, play Clue with me? Or Settlers of Catan? BEWARE I am viciously competitive and take myself way too seriously when I play them. But please?

23. I have a pair of beloved shoes that fit my feet perfectly that I’ve worn, repaired, worn again, repaired again (etc) and cherished for over 15 years. I only wish they were cuter.

24. My mother’s extended family has a tradition of taking big adventures together. When I was 10, 7 of us traveled to Europe, rented a van, toured the places my Grandpa fought in WWII and met relatives in Sweden. When I was in my twenties 9 of us went to China together. Two weeks from now, 6 of us are going to Spain. My 85-year-old grandma will go with us.

25. What I live for most? Creativity and adventure. All the more when they are put together.

Okay, Tag you're it.