Somehow this March 2007 selfie feels relevant…
I’m turning 31 today and here you have 31 things you didn’t ever necessarily wanted to know about me:
1. I’m an only child. That does explain a lot.
2. Although several millions of people share this experience, it still tickles me: the state that issued my birth certificate does not exist.
3. I have found a missing piece of family history online. The family legend was that my grandpa’s sister’s second husband had been incarcerated for anti-Soviet activities in the 1950s, but later in life he never talked about it, so there was no additional narrative about that. Doing a more general family history project a few years ago, Google revealed that he – Mikhail Krasilnikov (1933-1996) – was a vanguard poet and student experimenting with performances in 1950s Leningrad. The Russian internets have his prision-time photos, his poetry, memories of his friends and photos of my great-aunt too. I was high on this new piece of the family puzzle for days.
4. Quoting Hamilton, an ongoing issue in my life is “why do you assume you’re the smartest in the room?” with the answer being “because it’s obviously the case”. Since kindergarten I’ve had enough “no, Luīze, not you, maybe somebody else knows” situations to be prepared for this scenario, much more than the opposite one. This is one of the reasons why PhD has been so hard – you get a room full of people whose basic experience is to be the smartest on in the room. That ought to lead to trauma and friction.
5. The story about professional ambitions that I like to tell myself is that I’ve actually given a try to every idea that made sense. An alternative view would be that I’ve been quitting stuff when it stop making sense from a very early age…. At three I wanted to become a ballerina. My mom dutifully enrolled me and after a year or even less I had it clear that the tutu was the best part and that the classes with a strict teacher wasn’t. The next idea that persisted for a long time and, in a way, never really went away was becoming a fashion designer. So I drew, I read, I learnt classical drawing, and at the end, just before the entrance exams for the arts high school at 16, I stayed at the comprehensive programme. The next fantasy was to become a journalist. I did a gig for few small publications and realized that I didn’t have guts to do serious (read: dangerous) reporting from conflict areas while most local stuff was so boring and half-assed that I didn’t want to be part of that. By that time I was deep in volunteering for NGOs, so working for an international NGO suddenly seemed the perfect combination of politics and impact. Yeah, it took some more volunteering and a six-month internship to learn that that’s not the case. After that one dissipated, I started my undergrad, fell in love with the scientific method, vowed to become a sociologist and even got a tattoo honoring Descartes. Nine years later I am a few months from having a PhD in social and political sciences and no illusions about this industry.
6. Yeah, there are two tattoos. 2011 question mark honoring Descartes’ ‘methodological skepticism‘ and 2013 ‘el cuerpo de Osiris, cuerpo brotado, se alzó y caminó’ from Eduardo Galeano‘s microcuentos reinterpreting the myth of Osiris and Isis. No regrets and they are keeping up great (a n00b advice: mine are gray and not black), my grandpa still pretends he cannot see them, and I still haven’t been able to come up with a reasonable addition. The only nuisance are all the people who think that it is a fine icebreaker to ask about the meaning of my tattoos, no, not cool, stop that sh*t.
Planning my first tattoo the obsessive-compulsive way.
7. I’ve had several piercings that were done in the following order: a ring in the helix of my left ear at 12, nose stud in the left nostril at 13, belly button at 15, earlobes at 19. The upper ear and belly button never healed, so they disappeared quickly. The nose stud lasted until a few years ago. The earlobes are still here but very sensitive nowadays, hence I’ve let go of my extensive stupid earring collection and wear pharmacy earrings.
8. Until some German pop-feminst books set me free at around 14, I avidly read and believed women’s magazines. That’s an incredible amount of false beliefs about life, sex, beauty, femininity among other topics. Ugh.
9. An issue that was too big for pop feminism was body issues, fantasies about fatness, and linking bodies to acceptance and self-worth. The most reasonable way of describing it is a low-key body dysmorphia. And knowing that
so many all of us suffer from this doesn’t help. Body positivity, the average user’s guide is the blog post I’m most proud of.
10. At 16 I realized that life with short fingernails was much easier. It took a bit more time to arrive to the same conclusions about life without nail polish and make-up in general, but I don’t think I’m ever going back to that.
11. I’ll never know if I didn’t learn to walk in heels or is the whole thing just that painful (long way beyond my boundaries of acceptable discomfort). Anyways, no heels for me.
12. I started drifting towards vegetarianism at 14, went serious ovo-lacto at 18 and started flirting with veganism at 23. A list of my favorite Ⓥ resources can be found here.
13. Yoga is the physical activity that I’ve practiced most. I started with a very fitness-oriented version sometime around 15 or so and – with differing intensity – it has stuck around ever since. The second most practiced is tennis that I (having until then only played with the clay and watching my mom play) started learning at 8 and abandoned at 14, I guess. I did take it up again during my first year of undergrad but didn’t continue. Posterior trials with ping-pong confirm that the neuronal pathways forged for this are solid and would happily come back. I hope it will make sense some day to go back to the clay and the amazing sound of a correct hit. Other sports I’ve given a committed amateur’s try at some point include floorball, volleyball and swimming. After 1.5 years of actively learning it, swimming must be the third most practiced by now.
14. I have an advantage in yoga, though. My joints are very mobile, not enough for Cirque du Soleil, but still enough to see difference very quickly and get a lot of satisfaction out of it. Only recently I learnt that also my recently cranky ankle (after a sprain) and lower back pain if I don’t move enough are due to the same random genetic gift.
15. I don’t have a driver’s license. This is the only thing I regret not doing when the rest of my cohort did it. It’s a skill I find useful and a good idea but I had other priorities when all my classmates were getting theirs at 17. And it has been like that ever since.
16. I have very few teeth, 27 of the 32 there should be. All my wisdom teeth were extracted (I lived in pain and on drugs for a year or so meanwhile) and on the bottom row where most people have four incisors I have three. Funnily enough, the space is so well filled that nobody, including dentists, had noticed that until I was 18.
17. On a related dental hygiene note, dental floss for me is a basic necessity and a happy little indulgence at the same time. Meanwhile, I only brush once a day.
18. I’m between ENTJ and INTJ on the Myers-Briggs matrix. Knowing that gives me a perverse permission to be even more ruthless… “Anyone who worries they are an unfeeling, manipulative lunatic is probably quite cuddly“
19. Right before running into C, I was very excited about the idea of polyamory (thanks to Dossie Easton and Catherine A. Liszt, of course). So at that point monogamy was a radical choice for me (wording of that notion: Tristan Taormino), and much hilarity ensued when I announced I was settling down for an exclusive coupledom to the same friends to whom I had waxed enthusiastically about polyamory just months before. 6.5 years since then and going strong.
20. The food that never fails to make me happy is basic avocado maki. Even the pre-prepared ones in the airports. Most potato-based dishes come in as close seconds. Yes, I am a case of the stereotypical Eastern European potato lover, and will never get bored of them.
21. The drink that never fails to make me happy is natural rooibos or any of the subtly bitter herbal teas: nettle, raspberry leaves, lemongrass. Like one of the characters in a Nora Ikstena novel, I get way too sentimental when drinking camomile, but in the great debate of fresh vs. dried mint for herbal teas I’m firmly on the side of dried.
22. Flavor I’m really NOT into: anise! Be it in licorice, liquor or fennel – probably the only vegetable I don’t know how to make palatable for myself) – I just don’t like it.
23. My drug of choice: alcohol. By now I have an extensive knowledge, both personal and cultural, on how it works and what to look out for (as opposed to many other substances), and it’s pretty clear that I’ll never be able to drink like I could (and did) when I was 17. Current favorites for an occasional indulgence include fruity session IPAs, easy chilled white wines and – if need be – quality distillate straight up.
24. Best smells are freshly mowed grass, lavender, roses and sunny pine forest. I don’t wear perfume, though.
25. The bulk of my taste in music was summed-up by C in the phrase “dead black ladies”. Eartha Kitt and Ella Fitzgerald, in particular.
26. Yet my 2017 and 2018 have been heavily tainted by everything Hamilton, including the Mixtape and #hamildrops. Musicals do attract me in general, although the only one I’ve seen live is The Book of Mormon. As for hamildrops, this: “Rise Up Wise Up Eyes Up” by Ibeyi.
27. I consider South Park to be among the best series ever. Yeah, it might be early childhood trauma, but that satire is wow. For me, much better than Simpsons or Family Guy. Some of my best early adolescence memories is me watching South Park VHS tapes I had made from the TV and playing with matches (and candles) for hours. True story.
26. My favorite escape is to be drawing while listening to something. I guess there are many people whom I’ve offended because of my doodling during their classes or presentations, but I just can’t help (and it feels so good and so right). Also, I typically remember what I’ve been listening to while drawing that exact piece. I am very present while doing that.
27. I find chairs very uncomfortable. That position just does not feel comfortable. I wiggle, sit on my leg, try to sit cross-legged on the chair, etc. And wish that long distance travel – or work – could be routinely done with legs at the same level as bum. The Fifth Element-style travel drawers (with or without the drugs) seem very attractive for me. And not for nothing you get a similar thing when flying business class.
28. I’m a walker. True to basic human advantage in resilience to outwalk anybody, walking is my favorite way of getting to places in the city. A pretty typical day-off for us with C is walking some 3km to get dinner or lunch and then walking back. Fun. This goes back to the point about comfy shoes. Unwalkable footwear is useless.
29. I have a certain talent for languages, as far as I really have to use them. However, my two major pitfalls come from Latvian. In Latvian all words have fixed stress – always the first syllable – so I have to learn it the hard way in languages that have variable stresses, which is all others I speak: English, Spanish, Russian. Russian is currently the hardest for me when it comes to accents. The other Latvian quirk is not having articles… so I have no intuitive understanding of where it’s supposed to be a definite, an indefinite one or nothing. I manage somehow, but it’s a continuous struggle and startle people editing my texts. Well, at least I don’t have the typically harsh Latvian accents when speaking other languages… and some claim that my current Latvian prosody (and volume) are Spanish-influenced.
30. I’ve been more of a night owl since the kindergarten but can be trained to follow a reasonable schedule (but never get one of those 5am rise-and-shine inspirations). Additionally, I sleep a lot with up to 10h of natural everyday sleep. Although there is a lot of fetish around little sleep and early rising, I find solace in the internet knowledge that Einstein slept 10-12h too.
31. My mom’s inspiration for the name, however, was The Human League’s Louise. It was innovative at the time, according to contacts at Latvian Bureau of Statistics, I’m the 22nd Luīze registered in Latvia. Some years after it became more popular and now there’s a lot of Luīzītes. I just let people reinvent my name as they please, because nobody that doesn’t speak Latvian is able to get it right. Well, at least exactly as my mother intended. And people are creative alright! I’ve gotten Luis, Elise, Lluice, Luitze, Lizzie, Alice, Lucille… Luisa is not in use in our household, but Luise and Luisita is.
Too much information? Anything left unanswered? This is the opportunity…