Thursday, January 15, 2009

In which we play a game

It's not my birthday, or my half birthday, or my wedding, or graduation day or any of those other days on which one is traditionally the center of attention. In fact, I have no good reason to write up this post except that Bee extended the invitation, and I find it difficult to resist this sort of thing. So indulge me.

The game is blogger interviews, and much like those interminable chain emails that instruct you to answer a series of questions about yourself and forward it on to your friends (I loved those emails), this will be a series of questions to which I will provide answers. The difference here is that the interviewee becomes the interviewer, so in my case I am answering questions posed by Bee.

What would you choose for your "last meal," assuming an excellent appetite?

Whenever I think of "last meals," I think of hearty, warming fare. If I'm ever in a position to be choosing a last meal for myself, I hope it's in the wintry months when the ingredients in my chosen dishes are in season. In answering this question I assume not only an excellent appetite, but also a leisurely evening in which to enjoy my meal, the company of beloved friends, and perhaps a dolly on which to roll myself away after I've eaten all this food.

  1. Butternut squash soup with brown butter and sage.

  2. Risotto Milanese.

  3. Pan-roasted broccoli with a bit of garlic and pancetta.

  4. A perfectly seasoned, perfectly roasted chicken.

  5. Lemon pudd, also known as lemon pudding cake and lemon sponge custard. (Alternatively: carrot cake.)

Do you have a secret talent/skill?

The thing about "secret" is that two of my regular readers know me very, very well, and there's not much about me that's secret from them. So, I'll go with a skill that, as far as I know, is not well known in the Interwebs: I play the piano. I took lessons from age four to age 12 or 13, and then again for a few summers between the ages of 17 and 20. I don't play much these days--I don't have a piano in the house, and I feel silly going to my parents' house just to plink around on their piano--but I enjoy it immensely. It's great stress relief, whether you're looking to lose yourself in the metronomic regularity of Bach or pound out some frustration with Rachmaninov. At some point I would like to return to regular playing, but that will require moving into a larger house and purchasing or renting a piano, so it's at least a few years off.

What is your favorite childhood memory?

Every Christmas Eve, my three siblings and I used to drag blankets and pillows and various stuffed animals into one bedroom and sleep there for the night. We stayed up late whispering our hopes and suspicions about what might be under the tree the next morning; when we woke up, we lay around and whispered some more until the agreed-upon hour arrived and we rushed to drag our parents out of bed and into the living room. We got along well, as families go, but siblings will be siblings and we did our fair share of bickering. I love that however we'd wronged each other over the course of the year (or even as recently as that day), we unfailingly and unreservedly insisted on being together for that one night each year.

What is the most important decision you've ever made?

I don't recall ever being in a position to make a life-or-death or drastically life-altering decision for myself or someone else, except for decisions about education. And while I consider some of my education choices among the best decisions I've ever made, I'm not sure that they rise to the level of most important. I think that that label is reserved, oddly enough, for my decision to stop playing competitive volleyball. I love the sport, and I love playing it, but when I made the decision (toward the end of my first year in college) it had been years since I'd really enjoyed it in anything but theory. I had kept playing not because I wanted to, and not because of inertia, but to satisfy others' expectations.

My number one fear is and always has been disappointing people, particularly people who are important to me. Deciding to stop playing was my first significant step forward in cultivating an ability to say "no" to people's expectations, and to risk a bit of disappointment in pursuit of my own contentment. Even in taking that step, I tried to avoid disappointing people. I hid my decision behind virtuous fronts like concern about injuries and a desire to do well in school--both of which were true (I'd had shoulder surgery a year earlier and recovery was taking longer than expected), but which didn't tell the whole story. Eight years later, I'm still learning to let go of expectations, but I think I'm farther along in that process thanks to the decision to put away my stinky kneepads.

Which famous chef would you most enjoy apprenticing with?

In the interest of narrowing down the field a bit, I've limited my consideration to famous chefs whose restaurants I've visited. That includes two in Europe, but almost all American ones, and mostly Californian ones at that. I think that apprenticeship with the chef of any one of those restaurants would be an unforgettable, invaluable experience. All things considered, though, I think I have to choose the one Katie probably already knew I would choose: Thomas Keller. (It pains me to pass over Michelle Rizzolo and Philip Wojtowicz of the Big Sur Bakery, but they are my backups in case Mr. Keller is unavailable.)

Now that I've completed my interview, it's your turn. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is as follows:

  1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."

  2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).

  3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

  4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.

  5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


Bee said...

Anne - Well, you certainly exceeded MY expectations! Lovely, thoughtful answers.

Your last meal sounds delicious. I agree with you that an elevated version of comfort food is probably the best for that sort of occasion.

I was so charmed by your description of eager and anxious Christmas Eves with your siblings. Nothing beats the anticipation of Christmas!

Your decision to quit volleyball, and the lessons you drew from it, were pretty meaningful, I think. When hobbies (or other things, too) stop being a pleasure, it is definitely time to rethink them . . . even when it involves "letting someone down." (I wonder how long it TRULY takes to learn how to live our own lives for ourselves?)

And I hope you have a piano and the chance to learn in Keller's kitchen someday.

Anne said...

Thank you, Bee! I will definitely have a piano someday--my parents have promised their piano to me when they no longer have the desire or space for it--but the time in Keller's kitchen is less certain. :)

Living one's life for oneself seems a worthy life goal. I wonder how one might balance independence from others' expectations and responsibilities to others (e.g. one's children).

Brave Sir Robin said...

I'll do an interview!

My number one fear is and always has been disappointing people, particularly people who are important to me. Deciding to stop playing was my first significant step forward in cultivating an ability to say "no" to people's expectations, and to risk a bit of disappointment in pursuit of my own contentment.

Anne, that is one of the hardest things to learn, and some of us never learn to be comfortable in that position. I wished I'd have had half of your wisdom and emotional maturity when I was your age.