Tell Me A Little About Yourself…

Canoeing on the Pettawawa River in Algonquin P...
Canoeing the Petawawa in Algonquin, a satisfyingly Canadian thing to do! Image via Wikipedia

Since I’m the hostess — and Broadside now has (yay!!) 462 subscribers, from British Columbia to England to New Zealand — I’m increasingly curious to know more about you, oh lovely and faithful readers.

So, to start,

Here are ten random things about me…

— I was born in Vancouver to a Canadian Dad and American Mom who met in the south of France, and I moved to London ages 2-5, then lived to the age of 30 in Toronto.

— I’m passionate about antiques and am happiest around objects with serious history and patina to them: I use coin silver teaspoons,  painted, rush-seated chairs about 200 years old and often wear vintage shawls and scarves.

— I’m most excited when I have a bunch of trips lined up: next week, Toronto; July; upstate NY; August, I’m speaking at a retail conference in Minneapolis.

— I’ve developed a bit of “white coat syndrome” when I have to see a doctor, after having to see five specialists in a few months in 2010 for my arthritic left hip, which needs replacing.

— I usually have fresh flowers in our apartment; this week, peony and stock and three yellow spider mums. My favorites include parrot tulips, lilac, hyacinth, delphinium and anemones.

— I have three half-siblings, 5, 10 and 23 years younger. We all have different mothers and I’ve never met the woman who is my half-sister. Yes, it’s complicated!

— I love to play competitive sports. I was a nati0nally ranked saber fencer in my 30s, with a two-time Olympian as my coach, and have been playing co-ed softball for eight years.

— I live to travel. Some of my favorite places (so far) include Corsica, Thailand, Paris, Algonquin Park, Ireland, Maine.

— My favorite cocktails are Tanqueray gin and tonic, a spicy bloody Mary, a gin martini with olives or Lillet on the rocks.

— I attend an Episcopal church while my sweetie is a devout Tibetan Buddhist — a man of Mexican heritage whose own Dad was a Baptist minister. He’s taking me (shriek!) on a 10-day silent Buddhist retreat this July.

Please tell me some things about you!

I’m curious to know about y’all, and have you “meet” one another as well.

For example….I’d love to know what sort of work you do, or where you live and why you chose that place, or what sort of music you love.

Do you play an instrument? Have a hobby or passion?

Have you lived in different places? Which did you like best (and/or least) and why?

44 thoughts on “Tell Me A Little About Yourself…

  1. Deborah the Closet Monster

    Love this, although I’m not sure I’d love a 10-day silent retreat! That’s probably all the better reason to keep an open mind to trying it, eh? I’ll be curious what you have to say when you return.

    I’m the eldest of four kids raised by a single mom who seemed “colorful” but actually ended up being diagnosed schizophrenic. My childhood didn’t feel too stable, with an exception that the public library felt sturdy and reliable, which led to me not worrying a lot about little (or even big!) stuff in later years. I took crazy last-minute trips and made lots of bizarre but fun choices, spending time in British Columbia, Korea and Japan. Having a little one’s kept me a lot closer to home base than I’ve traditionally enjoyed being, but there are travel plans in the works nevertheless! Next weekend, actually, I’ll be taking Li’l D to Colorado. Perhaps next summer we’ll see a little of Europe! *cross fingers*

  2. That makes for a tough childhood…my mother is bi-polar, so I can somewhat relate…I am dying to go to Japan; did you like it? Where did you go?

    And Colorado is a place I have long wanted to visit; enjoy!

    Thanks for going first! 🙂

  3. A 10-day silent Buddhist retreat – ohmy! That sort of thing is right up my alley. I hope you post about it at length.

    I’m a professor. I teach classes in phonology, diagnostics, research methods, and language/literacy disorders. I live in two states in the South and my commute between them is 170 miles. This past semester I thought it might be a good idea to teach in both states. It wasn’t; it nearly drove me mad.

    I’m a belly dancer. I love to dress up and shimmie, sparkle, and glimmer. I’ve danced with the same troupe for the past 6 years. The women I dance with are amazing, strong, beautiful and talented and range in age from 30 to 82!

    I don’t play instruments but my husband is a guitarist.

    I’ve lived in Wisconsin, California, Tennesee, Oklahoma, Texas, Mississippi, and Arkansas. California was my favorite for its scenic beauty, climate, and avocados.

    1. What an interesting choice to teach! I so take for granted my ability to communicate (clearly or not!) It must be fascinating to know all the obstacles to this.

      Belly dancing! I knew I had the coolest readers!

      The one other state I would love to live in for a while is also California, even LA.

      1. I have lived in Michigan, Miami Fl, Ireland, Georgia, Napa CA for 5 months, and Georgia. I have found the place which is HOME to me and I dream of moving there one of these days to live the rest of my life in Greenville, SC. Of course I do love to travel as well, and grateful for the many places I have been: England, Germany, Austria, Italy, Spain, France. In my Bucket List would be to take a trip on the Orient Express.

  4. Lisa Wields Words

    Congrats on your readership. Good luck on your silence. Sometimes I think I would like to do that, but I don’t know how successful I would be. I look forward to hearing about it.

    I currently live in Kansas, but more through circumstances than choice. I grew up in Massachusetts and have lived in 9 states and two countries (I spent three years in Japan). I love to travel, but haven’t done as much of that lately as I would like. As for work, I do a variety of things: teach as adjunct faculty for both theater and writing programs; direct productions when I can get gigs; teach youth theater classes; lead workshops for special needs adults; and any other interesting projects that come my way.

    I took tap a few years ago, and loved every minute of it. Every year I try to do some activity that is a little outside my comfort zone. Belly-dancing is on my list (thanks for reminding me Lunar Eupohoria). This past year I started piano lessons. Next I think will be some kind of art class, but I’m trying to take things one day at a time and follow inspiration.

    That’s me I guess. I seem to live an ever changing life–and I think I like it that way.

    1. I’m seeing a Japanese theme here…I hope you’ve read The Ten Thousand Autums of Jacob deZoet, a new book by David Mitchell about 18th century Japan. LOVED it.

      Tap is also something I would love to try; I studied ballet and jazz for years and still, even with my lousy hip, take a jazz dance class.

      Your life sounds really interesting and creatively satisfying.

  5. Hi Caitlin,
    I’m Conor – obviously – I’m from Ireland and am as Irish as they come, especially when it comes to my drinks although I do prefer to drink my Guinness as close to Saint James’s Gate as possible. I live in Korea with my wife who is Korean. There was a time in our relationship when I considered Korea more my home and she considered Ireland more her home but these days we’re not sure whether we’re coming or going, which wouldn’t surprise most of the people who know me well. I’m a teacher in a university here but I also write a lot about culture, travel, music and whatever else. I also organise and promote a normal of (in)famous underdround-ish expat events here. Going back to Ireland for two months this summer where I plan to write and regain my Irish accent. Not really sure what else I can say … when I’m not doing any of the above I’m spending time with herself, writing, or experimenting with the local gastronomy with little care for the size of my waist. I aspire to win the Nobel Prize but I’m fairly sure I’ve got a lot of catching up to do over the nest few years!

    1. Where in Ireland are you from? My great grandfather was from Rathmullan, Co. Donegal and my Dad and I went and visited his house and his one-room schoolhouse. Love Ireland!

      “herself” …yes….definitely Irish! 🙂

      1. County Meath – just outside Dublin. Yes, I try to maintain my Irishisms so as to distinguish myself from the competition.

  6. Ha! I’ve been putting together a random facts post for a while, and now I’ve read this. Good stuff.

    We must be on the same wave-length.

      1. I did, but it isn’t on my blog, as the boy and I are surprising some people who read it! 🙂 While we’re on the subject, what to meet for coffee sometime between the 20-23 June in NYC? We’re in Brooklyn Heights that week! 🙂

  7. My name is Lenore, and I am envious of your 10-day silent Buddhist retreat. Risking the asking of a stupid question, “Where is the retreat located?” Silence is golden.

    I am the youngest of six. I was born in Ft. Lauderdale, FL, though we moved to Georgia when I was 5yrs old. My parents were raised outside of Boston, MA, and I credit their history for my lack of southern accent. My parents remained married. My Dad died in 1994 of cancer. He was diagnosed with cancer less than a week before he died. I was living in Washington DC at the time.

    For better or worse, I write more than I read. I’m afraid of flying; rather, I’m afraid of crashing. My first Guinness was enjoyed under Saint James’ Gate, after touring the brewery. The weekend Princess Diana died, I was visiting my friend and her family in Albuquerque, NM. The following Monday, I drove – by myself – to Flagstaff, AZ, and spent a week exploring the Grand Canyon, Red Rocks and Sedona.

    My Mom was born in Amherst, Nova Scotia, while her parents spent the summer at the shore (near Northport). My Mom’s family has gathered at Amherst Shore ever Summer since before she was born. It is a tradition that continues to this day.

  8. The retreat is through the Kripalu Institute, I believe, in Garrison, NY; you might still be able to sign up. I am nervous as hell about all of it but am probably way overdue for a spiritual tune-up.

    I live to travel, but am not happy when a plane hits turbulence…I did the same AZ trip as you, alone! It was June of 1994 (right before the ex-husband walked out) and I drove from Phoenix to Flagstaff, and did all these gorgeous sites (plus Canyon de Chelly.) I remember being quite nervous of being alone on some of those very deserted, dry roads and fearful of running out of gas.)

    I am sorry about your Dad….I still have mine, now 81, in terrific health. My Mom is not in good shape, at all, in a BC nursing home.

    This is so fun…thanks for sharing some of who you are!

  9. Farin

    Wow! Good luck! I don’t know if I’d make it for ten days without saying a word.

    Five randoms about me:

    1) I am a New Yorker, born and raised, and I’m extremely proud to say so.

    2) I’m the eldest of three girls. Contrary to what people might believe, sisters will gladly kick the crap out of each other with as much gusto as brothers. Both of my younger sisters are married, and one lives in Florida with my nieces and nephew, which is slightly unfair.

    3) I studied history and drama in college and spent five years auditioning for professional theatre. I had a lot of great experiences in the audition room, but never actually booked a job. It was only over the last year that I decided that I’d had enough and wanted to pursue other opportunities. I still love to act and sing for fun, though!

    3) My favorite place in the world is Florence, Italy. The second I set foot in the city, I fell in love, and every time I return, I love it more. I’d love to own an apartment in Florence or Siena one day. London, Dublin, Killarney and Lucca round out the top five. For now.

    5) I love my kitchen! Nothing makes me happier than a batch of cookies baking away in the oven and a pot of pasta boiling away on the stove.

    1. Florence. swoon.

      Thanks! I love all these details.

      I still remember every detail of my room on the Via del Presto there from my brief visit in 1980! It is such an elegant city, isn’t it?

      Lucca is now on my list, if it’s on yours.

      I am not at all sure I will make it through 10 days. I did one morning of a silent retreat and I will say…it is profoundly relaxing to NOT talk or listen. When it starts again, you feel very overwhelmed and soon realize how often we fill up the airtime because….we are afraid of silence. As much as I fear it, I also look forward to it.

      1. Farin

        Lucca is incredible. I love that the original walls are still intact, that the architecture is so unusual, and that you can walk the entire town in about half an hour. The locals are lovely, and they have some of the best pizza I ate in Italy. I highly recommend using Lucca as a decompression point; just go, take it easy, visit a church if you’d like, and eat!

        All of that about fear of silence is true! I feel such anxiety when things suddenly get quiet and I frantically search my brain for something to talk about. That’s definitely a better way of looking at a silent retreat.

      2. Lucca sounds great, and I like the way you describe it. I feel that way about Key West, a town you can settle into quickly, walk easily or rent a bike.

        When you don’t talk, even for a few hours, you realize how much energy it takes to talk and to iisten.

  10. Randoms,

    Its great to see these on here. Its a big world out there.

    I was born in the UK.

    Love cities but wouldn’t want to live in one, London where I went to school and Paris being my favourites.

    I started writing late as a catharsis for some junk and have carried on since, poetry being my main output though I write short stories sometimes.

    I love to travel, and have visited Miami, lots of France, UK (unsurprisingly) The Falkland Islands, Tenerife, Spain. I hope to see more as time goes on.

    I love mountains and walk in them as often as possible.

    I live between France and England at the moment, though I think we will settle back in England in the next year.

    Luckily my wife likes travelling too and we are finding a balance between my mountains and her lust for the sea.

    Have Fun


    1. The Falklands! I think you might win the “most exotic locale” award. Is Tenerifre as gorgeous as they say?

      The sweetie and I have to deal with my rampant Francophilia…and he speak pas un mot de francais. He lives to golf. Hm. Somehow, I’m determined to spend much more time in France; we’ll figure it out.

      1. Tenerife is great if you stay away from the tourist beaches. I climbed Teide and stood looking out across all the islands and the sea of clouds. Amazing. We live in the Auvergne, south of Clermont Ferrand, near Puy de Sancy. Fantastic scenery.

  11. Fun post! I was born in Camden New Jersey and like to think of myself as a life-long learner. I love reading, tennis, cocktail, movies, and my new love — the piano. (I’d never read music before a few years ago).

    Chemist by training, I’m trying to make my way in San Diego by starting a new biotech company — not an easy thing in this economy.

    I’ve been hit by cars three times.

    1. I just drove past your hometown on Tuesday.

      Piano is impressive…do you have a favorite composer you hope to be able to play?
      Biotech, wow. I have SMART readers. Gulp! 🙂

      Three times….I hope you are OK.

      1. I think my favorite composer is Beethoven, which I know is dreadfully cliche’ — though these days I’ve been listening to a lot of Chopin — even playing some! 🙂

    1. Thanks.

      I have a few more more revealing-of-me posts lined up for later. Not sure how much of an appetite people have for that, although I find myself very curious about the bloggers I read.

  12. I love the idea of this post! Thanks for starting the discussion. I’ve always been of the belief that everyone has an interesting story to tell, and it’s obvious from your post and the comments that the world (or at least the blogosphere) is full of interesting, diverse people.

    As for myself, I’m a Los Angeles native, but I love travel. I’m an unabashed francophile. I’ve studied French, Chinese, Spanish, and Russian, and I love playing with languages.

    As a child, I played piano and flute. I have also sang in various choirs throughout my life. I love music and physical arts, but I know my talents lie elsewhere. Maybe that’s why I enjoy singing and painting so much–no pressure!

    I actually am not a fan of fresh cut flowers. I prefer them on the bush or tree.

    My favorite cocktail is a Sweet Manhattan but I also like sipping good whiskey, or tequila with a squeeze of fresh lime.

    A Buddhist meditation retreat sounds exciting. I bet you’re going to have a great experience dealing with silence and self-reflection, especially as someone who works with words. Keep us posted!

    1. Lucky you….LA. Love LA. One of my weirdest trips ever was reporting a sailing story in about 1997 for The New Yorker (which they killed), staying at the youth hostel in San Pedro ($16 night). Who even knew there was a youth hostel in LA?
      When you’re paying your own way…

      Glad you liked the post. I’m loving what a cool, smart, well-traveled group of people have arrived here, willing to hang out for a bit. When I blogged at True/Slant, I quickly learned that there are so many interesting people, and it’s fun to get to know them/you a bit better.

  13. Oooh i can’t resist things like this. A 10 day silent retreat sounds more or less like the boy and I on holiday, haha. It’s a massive relief not to have to talk unless necessary, or desired, when one has to endure talking mostly for etiquette’s sake in working life/the city (and we both enjoy our own company plenty).

    Here are my lot:

    – I’m a Chinese-Indian who was born and bred in Singapore. And I know very little about being Chinese or Indian, and it doesn’t bother me as much as I am told it should. I also got the hell out of Singapore at the first available opportunity. It wasn’t home.

    – I came to live in Australia when I was 18, and have been here over a decade now. It isn’t home either, but it’s a much better life.

    – I’m possibly one of the least-travelled people around. This doesn’t bother me in itself. It’s the idea of of being stuck in one place forever that does. Eek!

    – I am planning semi-permanent nomadic stint.

    – I married a guy who doesn’t object to any of this. Yet 😉 And he deals with all my other nonsense too.

    – I’m terribly introverted, although you’d never guess if you knew me. I am animated and expressive in person, and not shy. This doesn’t mean I’m in your face, just that I do step up when faced with the option, and commit to it. I dislike the limelight though, which goes with not dealing well with people in droves, though I like them well enough in ones and threes.

    – I work in an office, but my soul is usually out in the bush or the sea.

    – This could be a ‘grass greener’ phenomenon, as I was born, bred and brought up in cities. But perhaps living so close to the bush and beach here has stained by blood irrevocably with the salt water and red dirt.

    – I wish I was even a tad musical, but there are some things you simply cannot force!

    1. I’m entranced by your description of being stained by the salt water and red dirt. You’re a writer!! 🙂

      I feel that way about pine trees, granite and deep, cold, green-ish black water, the kind I canoed over when I was younger in northern Ontario.

  14. There’s such a lovely sentiment behind this post and I think it says a lot about you, that you want to learn about your readers. I love a good story and I love to gain insight into people’s lives, so this was a fun read!

    As for me, I am a northern California native–just a little north of San Francisco. (You say you might like to live in CA–have you been here?) I went to college in Los Angeles and last week was the one year anniversary of my graduation, which triggered all kinds of generic angst. I am on my second (unpaid) editorial internship and my workdays involve a lot of punctuation debates and “jazzing up” online articles. I love writing, but don’t know what I want to do about it. (I hate not having a plan, though I realize that’s the trend nowadays.)

    My last internship was with a travel book company and I had the best time reading about places I would love to go to. I have been lucky enough to travel quite a bit, but that experience definitely whet my appetite for more. Corsica is on my list!

    I played piano when I was younger, but (unfortunately) quit when I got to high school. I’ve been told I have a good ear for music, but I can’t read it well. I used to memorize the movements of my piano pieces and it was years before my teacher noticed! My next goal is to learn the ukulele. I took hula for two years, so it seems appropriate. Plus, ukes are portable and it seems to me that portable instruments open up a lot of possibilities for random musical moments. 🙂

    I love antique furniture too, and often want to “save” things I see at Goodwill or garage sales. I also love crafting (decoupage and beading are my favorites) and would gladly spend hours making something beautiful.

    Good luck at the silent retreat! I imagine it would be good for the creative juices. I’ve been to a Quaker silent service, which was interesting but probably a mere silent sprint compared to your retreat marathon.

    I didn’t think I would write this much! I recently posted a bunch of random facts about myself on my blog, but I guess there’s always room for more!

    I love reading your blog! Thanks for writing!

    1. I have been to CA….Santa Barbara, LA and San Francisco, and Palo Alto. I’ve always dreamed of a long trip driving from one end to the other, with plenty of time for the coastline and Big Sur. My late great-aunt lived in Carpinteria and had a house whose bathroom window faced mountains and my bedroom across the hall faced the sea, and she had lemon groves. Seemed like heaven to me. The only other American city I’d really like to try living in (where I might make a living) is LA, which is anathema to say here in NY!

      I hear you about not knowing what to do with writing…I feel that way right now. I love it, but making a living slinging words? It’s become a little crazy, with the slashing in payments thanks to the Web.

      Corsica is one of the most astonishing places I’ve ever been to: gorgeous landscape, kind people, great food, timeless. I rented a mo-ped and traveled alone for a week on it (there’s a WSJ piece on my website,, about it) and I wept when the plane took off for Nice. I never cry and felt bereft to leave.

      Uke? Very cool. I don’t know how to read music but wish I could get it together to learn. I’d love to be able to play mandolin or violin. (I’m seeing a Broadside Symphony Orchestra in the making.)

      So glad you’re enjoying the blog!

  15. crgardenjoe

    Fun post and comments! I’m in the “Conor minority,” being both male and a bit Irish (only half, mother was Irish-American, father Hungarian). I feel a bit mundane–I’m a communications professor in Iowa. I garden, read and bicycle at lot–doing the annual RAGBRAI, a week-long bike journey across Iowa sponsored by the Des Moines Register, for the first time because my son is coming out from Seattle to do it with me. I play in a handbell choir, and it’s the sum total of all of my musical training. I can read music as long as it’s only G and only A and only at the top of the bass clef.

    1. I wouldn’t even know a bass clef if it bit me!

      Your life sounds lovely, a mix of sport and art and a fun job. I’ve never been to Iowa.

      When you teach communications, do you have favorite writers or theorists? It’s interesting to me how we all take “communicating” for granted, when some of us do it poorly, and some of us are spun in circles…

      1. crgardenjoe

        Although “communication” is in my title, I teach mostly journalism writing and editing classes. I like many writers–Bill Bryson does interesting, book-length and often first-person journalism. Best current writer among American journalists, in my limited opinion, is Leonard Pitts Jr. of the Miami Herald. And I just finished Erik Larson’s “The Devil in the White City,” and plan to read anything else of his that I can find! Iowa has a reputation as a dull place, but also has among the highest literacy rates in the country, and is a pretty, but not beautiful (no mountains or oceans) place. Not a lot to visit, to be honest, but, if you can stand a Midwest winter, it’s a great place to live!

  16. ladyberrington

    hi everyone

    does anyone know if we can change out user names?
    I need to be a bit more incognito….


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