getting to know me and then some

Nabbed this from Christine at Coffees and Commutes and really loved delving into facts about myself, some I realized and some I didn't but perhaps you, readers, might not know them at all.

What experience has most shaped you, and why?

It's difficult for me to narrow this to one. I think I've been significantly shaped by many experiences, some painful and traumatic, and others, like graduate school, fulfilling. So much of who I am comes from being raised in the South and from my family. I do not think, however, I would have been able to grow into this self, and love and flourish with this self if I had not moved to Illinois for my Ph.D. Leaving home, a home I love and feel so connected to was such a huge step for me and it has paid off in ways I never imagined. It has supported this fantastic life. And in a way, so much of what I study and write about is connected to that leaving, I'm not sure I can even imagine how different I would be had I not moved.

If you had a whole day with no commitments, what would you do?

Have a nice long breakfast with M. Take photographs of something beautiful and inspiring. Go to the movies by myself. Read. Maybe take a drive.

What food or drink could you never give up?

Dr. Pepper, for sure.

If you could travel anywhere, where would that be and why?

I'm desperate to go to Ireland. I feel like a part of me, some other version of myself is rooted there. I don't know how to explain it. I just feel I'm meant to go.

Give me one easy savoury recipe that doesn’t include cheese.

We call it "Poor Man's Chicken Marsala"
You need about 4-6 chicken breasts and 1 package of egg noodles, your favorite white or marsala wine (I prefer white).
1 cup of fresh sliced mushrooms (saute in garlic & butter)
1 can condensed golden mushroom soup
I like to cut up the chicken so it cooks quickly and is easier to eat the noodles. Saute the chicken breasts in a skillet and once browned, add the soup and 1 1/4 cups of wine. Cover and simmer about 20 mins.
In the meantime you can cook egg noodles. I pour the chicken and sauce over the noodles and serve.

What did you think you were going to be when you grew up?

a racecar driver and then, a writer

Which woman writer – living or dead – do you most admire and why?

I admire Kate Chopin because she pushed the boundaries of what was acceptable to write about and how. There's a deceptive simplicity to her work, in my opinion, and it's always more than it seems. After reading a short story or novel of hers, I'll find myself, days later, thinking about a scene or piece of dialogue and suddenly I say, "oh!" and am struck by something altogether different than I expected.

What character trait inspires you the most?

Passion. There's nothing more fantastic or attractive than someone who is passionate about what they are doing in their lives whether it be work, family, a hobby. I love creative people and having conversations where afterwards I feel inspired just be being in someone's presence. I find that truly passionate people are honest about what they want, and given themselves permission to have it. I know I can learn a great deal from these folks, which is why so many of them are on my blogroll and in my life.

What is your favorite kind of music?

I cannot live without music. I love all kinds of music, which I realized recently as I imported some cds I found while moving. My favorite kind of music is singer/songwriter stuff where the lyrics speak to me in some way. I love a good, heartfelt lyric more than a great guitar or drum solo. It's the poet in me. Some of my favorites include Ryan Adams, Jack Johnson, John Mayer (I know, but he's a great songwriter), Jason Mraz, Regina Spektor, Pink, Brandi Carlile, Catie Curtis, A Fine Frenzy and Ingrid Michaelson.

Which book or books have inspired or touched you the most?

I love to read and so do my parents so books have always been a huge part of my life. You can read about the books that changed my life as a girl, adolescent, undergraduate and master's student. The ones that have inspired me lately have been books like Dani Shapiro's Devotion, and Rick Bragg's Prince of Frogtown because of their storytelling abilities, their command of language and the way they seem to cut through the difficult stuff we don't often deal with. I just finished Laura Munson's This Is Not the Story You Think It Is which was amazing and though there are no similarities between our lives, reading it felt like meeting a kindred spirit. I like books that ask me to think about my own resistance and conflicted feelings, that resonate and challenge me all at the same time.

What is the ideal wake-up time?
I used to say 10 a.m. because you'd still be able to get things done but you could sleep in a bit, too. But now, sleeping in for me is like waking up at 7:30 or 8.

Name a cd that would have to be, hands down, your desert island cd. (Let’s ignore the lack of electricity on desert islands.)

I was just talking to someone about this recently. It would have to be Foo Fighters' Greatest Hits. I like the range of their music, which also brings back memories for me. I love Dave Grohl's voice and think he's a really talented songwriter.

What are three things you hope to accomplish within the next decade?

Professionally, I'd like to have a book published, get tenure and do some administrative work. Personally, I'd like to start a family, travel to Ireland and learn to grow a garden.

If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?

I'm going to be honest here; I would like to be more compassionate and less wrapped into myself and my thoughts/feelings. I think I would be much less stressed out about the little things, which, of course, are what trip me up, if I were focusing on others instead of how I feel in any given situation. There should be some give and take between yourself and others and I have a tendency to do a lot of taking.

How has blogging changed who you are or how you see yourself?

This question resonates with me deeply because blogging has given me a space to look closely at how I live my life. It has helped me examine my habits, create new ones and open myself to possibility. Blogging has given me a community of women, a community of writers and I am continuously and humbly grateful for it.

I'm supposed to tag others to answer and to add a question to keep the meme going. I usually resist doing so because I hate putting people on the spot. However, I'm interested in hearing others' answers, if they feel like sharing. (I won't take it personally if you don't, by the way.)
Oh, my question is this:

Do you have a good luck charm, something you carry with you or a mantra you say or necklace or outfit you wear when you need that little something extra?

I do. I have a necklace with a clover, horseshoe and wishbone on it. You know, to cover my bases.

I'd LOVE to hear what
Lindsey, A Design So Vast
Dian, Authentic Realities
and Justine, Here Where I Have Landed
have to say.