Friday, May 18, 2007

MEME | 8 Random Facts About You

Iliana tagged me for the 8 Random Facts/Habits About You meme. Let's see if there's any interesting facts about me that I can share:

The Rules:
1. Each player starts with eight random facts/habits about themselves.
2. People who are tagged need to write their own blog about their eight things and post these rules.
3. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names.
4. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged, and to read your blog.

1. At Work I'm Called By My Nickname, La.

I hear it more often than my actual name these days.

It started when a friend named me after one of the Teletubbies, Laa-Laa. (Laa-Laa is the yellow one with the curly antenna on her head. She plays with the orange ball). I would have preferred either Dipsy or Po ― but nicknames, once conferred, cannot be withdrawn. So, I became Laa-Laa, which was later abbreviated to La.

2. Three Books That Made Me Cry

Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. I think it was the FIRST book to make me cry.

Charlotte Bronte's Villette. Lucy Snow tried to disappear into the background, to be unnoticed, but her passion spoke with a resounding silence. A part of me is Lucy Snow.

Graham Greene's The End of the Affair. I was having insomnia one night and I just picked up the book randomly. I stayed up all night reading it, and I couldn't stop, couldn't keep the tears out of my eyes.

3. I Used To Play Chess

I learnt to play chess by watching. Then one day, I just walked into the room where the Chess Club was meeting. I played two games: lost one, won one. The teacher in charge of the Chess Club was impressed enough to want to train me. I entered my first national chess tournament that same year, and I came home with a silver medal. I was ten years old then. In college I was Vice President of the Chess Club.

I finally quit playing because I felt like a fraud being around all these chess-players who felt so passionately about the game. Most of all, I felt bad that the other members of the chess club really liked me. They told me how much more fun it was to have me around during practice. They told me I made them laugh with my ceaseless chatter and wildness. The irony is: while I liked it for a while, I could never bring myself to love chess. I just happened to be good at it, which was unfair to everyone who love the game more than I did.

It has been too many years since I've sat down to a game of chess.

4. I Almost Failed English When I Was 11 Years Old

I was 12 points from failing an English test. Back then, my grammar was terrible, and I couldn't write properly. (I still make a lot of grammatical errors when I write too fast, although if I try hard enough, I can usually catch my mistakes when I edit.)

My mother was worried then. She asked if I needed tuition. I said "No." Instead I self-studied: I read furiously, I paid more attention to grammar ― and each time I saw a word I didn't know know, I would look it up in the dictionary, copy the definition and a sentence illustrating its meaning on a piece of paper, and tape that piece of paper on my bedroom wall. I would look through the long strips of papers everyday to memorise the new words ― to expand my vocabulary.

Yes, I was an intense child.

5. I Had Wanted To Be A Writer

I pursued a double major in English Literature and Psychology in the university, because I wanted to be a writer. I soon realised I do not have the talent; I abandoned the dream. I was content just to be an eternal reader of literature.

Yet in my university days I wrote fanfictions ― because I loved what it felt like to write, to tell stories with characters I loved ― most of all it didn't matter that I could not write breathless prose. I did a few fanfictions on the X-Men, Babylon 5, and most of all on a computer game known as Gabriel Knight.

But in 1999, I started writing a story of my own. It was a story about vampire rock-gods. I stopped working on the story when I found a job in 2000. Things were going badly in my life and I just gave up on it.

In 2005, I returned to the vampire story. The files where I saved the story were long gone, so it was had to be written from scratch. As I rewrote the story, I realised the story and characters had evolved, as I was no longer the same person I was five years ago.

I am writing more these days. Just for myself.

6. No One Knows I Am Scared A Lot Of The Time

My company recently sent fifteen employees (myself included) for a supervisory management course. During the class, we had to do some character assessments, and I was surprised that most of my colleagues thought of me as confident, outspoken, cool and courageous.

As part of the course syllabus on public speaking, we had to give a 10~15 minutes presentation in front of the class. The presentation will be recorded on video and played back for evaluation. I am dead terrified of public speaking and utterly ill-prepared that day.

Later we had to vote for the best speaker, and I came in second. My colleagues told me I was "so confident" ― that I "really made them think."

I am not confident. No one seems to realise just how afraid I am a lot of the time.

7. I Am Vegetarian

I've never been forthcoming with the reason I chose to be vegetarian. I guess I thought people are not going to understand, or perhaps I was unprepared to answer questions.

When I first practiced yoga and the dharma, my life began to change for the better. I regret the violence in my life, and I was starting to rediscover gratitude in my life. Soon I began to consider vegetarianism as a practice of non-violence. But back then I was a big meat-eater and I LOVE beef. I wasn't ready to be a veggie. Just seems too much to give up.

But three years ago, things changed. I woke up one morning on my birthday and sat in meditation.

I asked myself, silently, if I was ready to be vegetarian.

The answer was a clear "yes". Two months later I stopped eating meat.

I knew that my life was no longer what it used to be, and I was grateful. I had inflicted much suffering in my time, and have suffered the consequences of my actions. But through grace, things began to heal; an offering has to be made in return.

So that day on my birthday, I offered up my meat-eating ― a choice of non-violence in return for a violent past. But I wanted it to be a mindful decision. I promised myself to watch my diet and my health carefully ― because to damage my body through a thoughtless diet is also a violation of the principle of non-violence.

8. I Used to Eat A Lot of Things People Wouldn't Eat

Sometimes, when they find out I am a Veggie, people actually gloat and declare they eat "anything" - as though they are somehow braver than me. A lot of people assume I'm afraid of meat and I don't enjoy food. They have no idea.

A few years ago, before my current "salad days", I wanted to go to Bangkok to eat the deep-fried crickets. But that year SARS hit the region, and so I never got to eat my crickets.

Truth is, if I wasn't vegetarian, I'll probably try any food at least once. Among the "exotic" food I've tried: fried scorpion (I left out the sting however. Decided not to tempt fate too much), fried bamboo worms (they put too much MSG in worms then) and I've drank snake wine.

But my favourite exotic food experience was when I was 17, during the Backwoodsman camp. We killed a snake, and divided the flesh out to each team. It was an interesting experience cutting snake meat with your jack-knife, and then preparing skewered snake-meat kebabs over the campfire.

And how does snake-meat kebabs taste like?

Like chicken. Really.

If you are reading this and you feel like doing this meme, you're tagged.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing! I loved reading on how you became a vegetarian. How long have you been one now? Do you ever miss eating meat? I try to eat healthy but I don't think I could ever make the transition to vegetarian only.

darkorpheus said...

Hi Iliana. I think we're online around the same time.

Starts on my "salad days" in May 2004, so I passed the 3 years mark (I sound like an alcoholic, don't I?)

I still love the aroma of BBQ beef, with good teriyaki sauce - and sometimes I miss salmon sashimi with grilled octopus. But the craving goes away.

I think it's more important to eat healthy than to be vegetarian. I told myself if I ever fall sick from the diet, or suffer from malnourishment - I'll go back to meat. Health is more important.

The Dalai Lama himself is not vegetarian though. What I read is, he tried a vegetarian diet, but he soon fell sick. His doctor advised him to continue supplementing his diet with some meat.

Now vegans - it takes real discipline and effort to sustain a vegan diet and stay healthy. I admire them. I don't think I am ready for a vegan diet, although I'm trying to cut down on the diary and eggs these days, and looking at the ingredients more carefully. I'll see how it goes.

Carl V. Anderson said...

Great, candid answers. Thanks for sharing.

I'm not sure being confident and being fearful are mutually exclusive states of being. Having some fear keeps confidence from becoming arrogance and pride. I certainly feel and act confident in my job and in many other situations while also having some real deep fears.

Imani said...

How odd that people would assume you're a vegetarian because you're "afraid" of meat. Who on earth is afraid of meat? Really now...

I loved your meme responses, they had substance. Three cheers for continuing to write, especially as it's just for you.

Anonymous said...

I ate alligator meat once in Florida--and it tasts like chicken, too! I also ate cow testicles--but it was so gross I don't remember what it tastes like!!

Anonymous said...

What wonderful and interesting answers! I've been vegan for 14 years and it isn't as hard as you might think except of course when you are eating away from home. That's hard. A lot of people seem to get defensive when they find out I'm vegan and the first thing they say is, "well, I don't eat read meat." I rarely talk about my choice to be vegan and I never talk about it in an accusing way, I don't care if other people are vegan or not, but reactions are so interesting. I've read To Kill a Mockingbird twice and it made me cry both times, even more the second time because I was older and understood what was going on better.

LK said...

Funny, I love it. Scorpion, really?

I just started getting the delivered organic vegetables from local farms -- now I can see people are vegetarians. Yummy.

darkorpheus said...

Carl: I guess people often mistake that confidence = fearlessness. I'm not quite sure why people would think I'm fearless though. It's amazing how people see us differently from how we see ourself sometimes.

Imani: There's a lot of misconceptions and assumptions involved with our relationship to our food. At least, lots more than I expected.

I guess they think vegetarianism is an avoidance of meat. Therefore, avoidance = fear. Some friends stop inviting me to BBQ - out of consideration for my gentle sensibilities. In case I faint at the blood or something ;p

Danielle: I would like to try alligator meat! It's supposed to be good for blood circulation, I heard. Cow testicles - I would want to try that too - if I'm not veggie that is. I'm really curious about chewing testicles. Is it a rubbery sort of texture?

I had the misfortune once of tasting a duck's backside. GROSS! I had to brush my teeth and my tongue! The foul taste wouldn't go away!

Stefanie: I'm still in awe you can stick to a vegan diet for 14 years. But like you said, it's the eating out that's difficult. I sometimes have to do business lunches, so there's some inconvenience there.

The initial transition to veggie tested my social life, because some of my closest friends are foodies. Eating out is a big part of our shared experience, and it changed things.

The reactions - yes, I wasn't prepared for the reactions at first. Some are nice, some are amusing, but some can be quite rude. I was at a friend's wedding last year and a stranger at the table reprimanded me for being "religious" about being a vegetarian. WTF?

I re-read To Kill A Mockingbird last year, and I cried again, and at some parts that I didn't get the first time. It felt good, to still feel so deeply about the book. Maybe the child in me hasn't left yet.

LK: Yup, it was a small scorpion - about the size of the palm. It's marinated in something that smells medicinal and I think they baked it. But it's gone cold when I ate it. It felt like I was chewing a soft-shelled crab. Might taste better if it was still hot. They tell me it's good for asthma.

Delivered organic veggies? I've heard of this - they deliver to your home? I would like that - would save me a lot of grocery shopping and the veggies are fresher.

I added some organic cherry tomatoes with my pasta and other veggie recently. I brought it to work and shared the cherry tomatoes with my colleagues. They were surprised at how sweet the organic cherry tomatoes tasted. They asked what I did to the tomatoes, and were surprised that all I did was roast them with a bit of olive oil and pepper. Nothing more. The flavour was all natural.

I love the look and taste of fresh veggies. When I see wilting vegetables, it literally depresses me.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting answers! Like Iliana, I don't think I could ever go fully vegetarian, although I am very conscious about the meat that I eat and it's origins, both in terms of my health and the impact on environment/animals.

MissMiller said...

A fantastic post. It's interesting that you appear confident and skilled to others despite your anxiety. I once read something to the effect that the shakiness that we perceive in our own voice is not half as bad from the listener's point of view - they often don't pick it up. I wouldn't give up on the dream of being a writer yet - you are obviously talented.

darkorpheus said...

Quixotic: I think you're doing your part for the environment just by paying attention and eating healthy.

If what they say is true, Hitler was a vegetarian - so being vegetarian don't mean a thing unless we try to pay non-violence in other aspects of our lives.

Acquisitionist: Thanks, but I realise I enjoy how things are right now, writing for myself. Even though we know we're not going to be the next Kevin Federline, it doesn't mean we can't enjoy playing tennis. Or doing yoga. :)

Miss Bangkok Hotels said...

I am thing the vegetarian has good health and strong immunization. Thank you for your story...