Saturday, June 30, 2007

Seven Random Things About Me

My imaginary friend Chuck sort of tagged me for the "Seven Random Things About Me" blog meme. Don't worry if you don't know what that means. (In fact, worry if you do.)

Skip this post unless you can stomach faux-modest self-aggrandizement. These things are not random at all; even the seemingly self-effacing ones were actually carefully selected to make me seem mysterious, smart, and cool.

Seven Random Things About Me by JvA

1. My parents and I were all born on different continents.

A clipping from my mom's hometown newspaper about my baptism in Darwen, Lancashire.


2. I was on my high school's Academic Decathlon team. Even though I'd sometimes skip practice to attend Mike Dukakis events, we won the state competition and went on to the national competition. (I was the second-geekiest girl at my high school.)

As you can see, I was really excited to represent Oregon at nationals.


3. I was sitting onstage the first time Nirvana played "Smells Like Teen Spirit" at a show.

I reviewed the YouTube clips that are up now and can't positively ID myself in any of them, so you're just going to have to trust me on this. There used to be a YouTube clip of the video shown in the documentary Hype; I can be seen in that one. But it's gone now. Oh, well.

4. In college, I majored in paleoanthropology but spent all my time in the newsroom of the student paper.

Here I am at some college journalism conference in Chicago. The guy on the left was a new pal from the UC Santa Barbara student paper. My companions on the right are now reporters for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and The Seattle Times, respectively. I see them at City Council hearings, where they apologize for not being able to quote me since they know me. Oh, well, again.

chicago group

5. I dropped out of college to go work at an expat rag in Prague, and later I lived 75 miles from Chernobyl (where I avoided consuming local mushrooms, berries, fish, and dairy products, but got very familiar with the local beers).

I was pretty sad in the former Soviet bloc. In Prague, I had no money, so I lived in a village that I had to take the 12:05 a.m. train home to every night. Look, 20 minutes to go -- plenty of time to go around posing for artsy black-and-white train station photographs.


No smiles from me when I was living in the horrible Ukraine, either. Here I am on a weekend trip to Paris, taking a ridiculously lugubrious self-portrait to illustrate how I felt about having to return to corrupt, radioactive commie/mafia land. Woe is me -- no more croissants!


6. In December 1999, my urban-hipster fin-de-siecle angst / personal existential crisis was so intense that I secretly sort of hoped the Y2K problem would actually happen because I thought it would bring meaning to my life (or at least be an interesting change of pace).

Here's the bartender at the 1201 bar in downtown Portland on New Year's Eve 1999.


And here I am, pacing my drinking in case the lights really do go out and we all need to hike back to the east side in the dark. That cigarette is pure affectation, by the way.


7. I stood in the wrong place at the start of my wedding. The maid of honor literally had to push me into position.

I'm in the right place at this point. (You will not see me publishing photos of my mistake, because they're too excruciating.)


I'd like to blame this on the Scotch that the groom and I had been drinking before the ceremony, but I know that I wasn't really drunk (not yet).


So whenever I think back on my embarrassment that day, I just remind myself of these two things:

One: We let the guests drink before, during, and after the ceremony. I like to think that they were buzzed enough to be more amused than mortified by my error.


Two: Though I often brim with self-loathing about the extra pounds that are an inescapable consequence of my abiding love of the Sauvignon Blanc grape (and nachos, and chicken burritos, and cheese plates...), I can say with some confidence that I did not look overly fat on my wedding day.


And that's what really matters!


chuck b. said...

I am so glad I called you JVA in my blog post and not Jennifer which I was 99% sure was your name.

"I was pretty sad in the former Soviet bloc." That made me laugh out loud.

Altogether, you've been rather glamorous, haven't you!

chuck b. said...

And I'm not your imaginary friend (unless we're having conversations while you're driving or folding the laundry that I don't know about), I'm your virtual friend.

Wendee said...

You're the first person I've run across (except from my school) who even knows what AcaDeca is - let alone participated. Yeah, I took tests too. Little ole' Jerome High School represented Idaho at nationals in Des Moines IA in 1990. I did my speech on potatoes. I'm a dork!

JvA said...

I'm glad your takeaway was "glamorous," Chuck. Though you're still imaginary until proven real.

Hurray, someone else was in AcDec! Our national competition, the year before yours, was in Providence, Rhode Island, where we placed a respectable 14th. (I didn't remember that we placed 14th -- I just looked it up and found it in this archive from a dial-up bulletin board that a teammate of mine posted to way back then:

Until you mentioned it, I forgot that we even gave prepared speeches. But now I recall that my speech was about why the electoral college should be abolished and how our country should elect our presidents through a popular vote instead. If only they'd listened to me!

JvA said...

Oh, and Wendee, if you look carefully, you may see your friends Daphne and Seth in the crowd in that last photo (more of Seth than Daphne, though).

KristiC said...

I've already told my husband that I know someone who was on stage when Nirvana first played 'Smells Like Teen Spirit.' It makes me seem a little bit cool by association and apparently I still feel a need to prove my coolness to him, 15 years into our relationship.

Kristi (1980 Palm Beach County Academic Games champion and national non-champion!)