There is no one word, no one thing, that defines a person. Interviewers often ask nervous interviewees to "describe themselves in three words." When faced with that challenge, what does one focus on? Personality? Work ethic? Abilities? Do you say you're "upbeat, creative, and detail-oriented"? Or do you say you're "determined, passionate, and curious"? And if someone were to ask you to list a few of your skills, would you say, "I'm a fast learner, I always complete projects ahead of schedule, and I can run in heels"? There is an infinite combination of words to characterize oneself.

When I used to work in the newspaper industry, it was often my duty to construct the obituary page. I'd be sent a photo, some words, some dates. I'd arrange and rearrange the information, playing Tetris with short biographies. It truly saddens me, now that I think about it, to have one's life summarized in just a few paragraphs. Obituaries share birth and marriage dates, the names of children and grandchildren. They list clubs a person was a part of, organizations they participated in. Hardly any of the paragraphs truly display what each person was like--what sort of jokes did they laugh at? Did they prefer the rebirth of spring over falling leaves and the close of summer? How did they like their eggs cooked? Did they follow a sports team? Did they hum as they went about their busywork? Were they witty? Adventurous? Open-hearted? Intellectual? Forgiving?

There is so much more to a person than a name and some dates printed in a newspaper ... or on a headstone, for that matter.

My interest in intimate details is omnipresent when shopping an antique store. Was this necklace an anniversary present? What was the name of the woman who used this vanity? From what state did this dresser originate? What did it take for all of these things to get here?

Photos, of course, are what I stare at the longest. There is one antique store--a two-level shop in Omaha's Old Market--that offers to its customers several bins of black and white photographs. Each time I visit, I purchase one, two, a stack. The faces. The ever-preserved moments of laughter and picnics and the unwrapping of presents. Who were these individuals?

I write stories in my head; their names, the color of their matching sunglasses, the size and shape of the present nestled within the tissue paper. The little details.

It's the little things that make a person who they are. My mom is protective and generous. But she is also quirky, like me. She follows the Red Sox, makes the most delicious cream puffs, and hates accepting charity. She used to collect geese, and her favorite story from the Bible is that of Noah and the Promise.

My Hans is forgiving and goofy. He's addicted to computers. He has a scar on his hand from fighting over a "gun-shaped stick" when he was young. His fingernails are perfect and even, and one of his favorite foods is eggplant. He sleeps with his arms folded, however uncomfortable it may look. And he is curious. Always curious.

And me?

Well, perhaps I'd better answer the questions that Rhianne asked me. And Nikole asked me, once, so long ago.

If you could play any instrument, what would it be?
A piano, to be exact. An abandoned piano, to be exacter. To stand in the open wild and play a tune to the sky.

If you could beam yourself, where would you go in exactly this moment?
The home of my mother, of my childhood. It will always, always, always be home, especially while she is there.

What is the thing you never forget to take with you?
ChapStick, or some reincarnation thereof.

What is your favourite kind of cake?
Chocolate with vanilla frosting.

Is there a film you could watch over and over again? Which one?
The Birdcage.

What word describes you best?

How many pairs of shoes do you have?
Twenty-one, including four pairs of boots that come in the following varieties: black, brown, maroon suede, hooker.

What is your favourite Pixar film?
Toy Story 3.

If an alien asked you which place to visit on earth what would you recommend?
Glass Beach. Where ocean meets land, and where, in the rarest of circumstances, nature has turned trash into beauty.

What’s your favourite quote?
An inside joke.

What really makes you laugh?
The company of others.

Is there any significance of your name?
Not particularly. I'm not really sure how I ended up with my name, as it was given to me just an hour before my mother and I were discharged from the hospital. At the time of my birth, I was called "Clyde," which you can read about here.

Describe yourself in three words.
Far too verbose.

Who is the closest person to you?
Hans is the person closest to me, and I, him.

Would you rather live in the city or country? Why?
City, undoubtedly and unhesitatingly. There is always something to do, always someplace to be. There are niches and inner circles and tight-knit communities within a city. Truly, a city can be a "small world," too. But, mainly, I love cities for their varying cultures. Their varying heartbeats.

Are you happy within yourself? Explain.
No. And, really, I will never be fully happy with myself, because I know there is always something on which to improve. It's my chronic illnesses--never being fully satisfied.

Coffee or tea?
Neither. Tea is too bland for my liking, and I refuse to drink coffee; I am prejudiced against hot beverages.

Do you have a sense of humor?
Debatable. I am ever-sarcastic, occasionally snarky, very quirky. Hans and my family accept it, are used to it, laugh with or at it. My friends know it, too. There are a few, though, who do not understand. It is unrecognizable to them.

Favorite authors?
John Irving, Ernest Hemingway, J.K. Rowling, Annie Proulx, Sarah Dessen, William Faulkner.

Favorite candy?
"Candy, candy canes, candy corns, and syrup."

Is there a purpose you blog?
To remember.

How long do you plan on blogging?
Until I have nothing left to share.

Of course, that isn't everything. I haven't told you that I can't whistle. That I can snap only with my left hand. That I use made-up words like "Iowegian" and "congree" and "guh" ("hug" backwards). That I was once quoted in an Omaha World Herald article about automatic hand dryers. That I have an irrational fear of finding a spider in the microwave. That I'm afraid of the dark. That Pixar practically made me believe inanimate objects have feelings, including my beat-up and beloved car. That I despise home movies and cheap wine, but adore leather-bound journals. That I watched The Pirates of the Caribbean seven times while it was in the theaters. That I once built an entire city out of cardboard boxes for my Beanie Babies. That I read both Pulitzers and YA, and that I watch both Disney and Hitchcock.

And that I always wonder if I'm good enough.

If I'm bona fide.

Because, when I'm gone, how are others going to summarize me?


  1. Dawn, you always have a way to put words together that renders me speechless. This post is no exception. I feel like I completely agree with you, and yet I would never be able to articulate it that way.

  2. Was writing obituaries strangely stressful? I know that they are fairly formulaic but writing some of the last words about someone has so much pressure.

  3. Toy Story 3 is one of my favourites too.

    I loved your answers, apart from the being happy with yourself one. I think that your reasoning is actually a great reason TO BE happy with yourself, you are ambitious, you strive to be your best, you always aim higher, those things aren't a curse, they're a great thing. Your answer say that you'll never be happy with yourself, however this means you'll never fully be your best, because how can a sad person be their very best to everyone around them? Happiness isn't about being perfect or fully satisfied, because no one is ever that :)

  4. I enjoyed reading these. :-)

  5. Ha! I love that you know exactly how many pairs of shoes you have! Also, I love Ernest Hemingway too. I went to his house in Key West last month. Beyond words, seriously.
    Your answers are perfect :)

  6. I like this list. I was tagged earlier this week in a question thing, but I like these better...maybe I'll borrow a few. I can't whistle either, and I only properly snap with my right hand (I make the motion with my left but no sound really comes out-hah).

  7. I always think obituaries are strange because they never sum up who that person actually was. They also don't tell you how they died. They're vague and somewhat meaningless. I would hate to have to write them though. I enjoyed reading more about you and your answers to these questions. You're a very interesting person.

    I loved the purpose you blog. "To remember".


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