Interrupting your normal scheduled posts here to point out to anyone new that you can find me elsewhere online! I have two other blogs, and one of them is brand new.
First we have, of course, my popular science blog. I suspect it’ll always be biology-heavy, because I’m a biologist, but it’s partly based on what I get questions about. So feel free to make me put my research skills to work and ask me awkward questions…
This week’s Top Ten Tuesday is all about me. Well, by that I mean, the theme is ten facts about me. As in, ten facts about the blogger writing the post.
Yes, I am this awkward in person, too.
I can read in a lot more languages than I can speak (with some help from a glossary, dictionary or simultaneous translation, in some cases). I can read modern English (obviously), French, Anglo-Saxon, Middle English and Old Icelandic. I can only really speak English, though my French is starting to become usable. (I’m also learning Welsh and Dutch, but I am very, very far from being able to read in either. Though I do know how to say “I’m reading a book” in both.)
I can taste words. I’m a lexical->gustatory synaesthete. So, in fact, is my mother. I did not know this was not a thing until I read a book which included synaesthesia as a character trait. The word “torture” tastes of dark chocolate. The Hobbit as a whole tastes like Werther’s Originals. The associations do not necessarily make sense, but sometimes they really do. (Among my favourite words to say: steps, stepped, swept, slept, crept, leapt, crypt… I don’t even know what they taste of, but I like it. When I say words in French or Dutch, they do not have a flavour. Welsh does, though. Brains are fascinating!)
I still can’t pick a career, and I’m 26. Nearly 27. I mean, at this point I have an MA in English literature… but am now partway through a BSc. I read a non-fiction book and promptly want that to be my career. Microbiology, genetics, archaeology, psychology, neurology, literary theory… Can’t I do it all?
I couldn’t read until I was seven. So please stop talking about how real bookworms teach themselves to read at two, people.
If I can’t buy you books, I don’t know what to do with you. There are some great people in my life who just don’t read, and I cannot figure it out at all. What on earth do I buy you for presents???!
As a piece of geeky silliness related to #3, I once came up with a genetic cross which shows why I’m such a bookworm. It is, of course, entirely spurious and unlikely (though of course there’s probably genetic influence in me being an introvert, the synaesthesia, etc, which all contribute to making me a reader), but I had fun. TAHDAH.
I read to my house rabbit. She likes it and has been known to bite me if I stop before she’s ready.
My imagination is completely non-visual. My memory also. I remember things in text; I can’t picture things the way other people seem to. Instead, I have word-pictures, and sometimes that means I have more of a ‘feeling’ about a character than a mental image. So Faramir in the LOTR movies is wrong not because he looks wrong but because he is not as noble and capable of resisting the Ring as the real Faramir. (Even though the reasoning for changing that for the film completely made sense.)
The only thing I recall my parents banning me from reading as a kid was The Lord of the Rings. This was purely for the reason that my mother wanted me to be old enough to properly appreciate it, not because they ever policed the content of what I read.
My biggest library fine on a single book was something like four times the actual value of the book. It would have been cheaper to just pay for a replacement. And it was on my mother’s library card. Whoops. (The book was The Positronic Man, by Isaac Asimov and Robert Silverberg, and I note with distress that I cannot find my copy. Which is doubly annoying as my partner bought it for me early in our relationship, after I mentioned reading it from the library a gazillion times but never seeing another copy since then.)
Welp, I hope that was a suitably entertaining set of facts!
Nikki — obviously! This is what most people call me, these days.
Nicole — my family tend to still call me this. My real name!
Nicci — shut up, it’s totally different somehow. But only my childhood friend is allowed to call me this.
Squeak — well, actually, Dad’s stopped calling me this because I’m an adult now. But I have a very high soprano voice, and my dad has tinnitis, so, voila. It was “Croak” when I had a cold, “Squeakley” when he was being affectionate, “Princess Squeakerella” when I was being a brat…
Four jobs that I have had:
Medical secretary. This mostly involved a lot of filing, some pestering people for money, and a lot of typing.
Transcriptionist. People send me audio recordings of their meetings, interviews, etc, and I type out everything they say. Or sometimes most of what they say, only more grammatically. I’ve transcribed all sorts of stuff: David Cameron’s speeches, Nick Clegg’s excuses, conferences, financial results, NHS board meetings, court cases… It can be kind of interesting.
Copy writer. You need someone to advertise coffee they’ve never tasted? Someone who doesn’t even like coffee? Sure! I’ll do it! And various other things, like providing content for blogs, writing web pages, etc, etc.
Volunteer. Yeah, kind of cheating, but I haven’t had any other paying job. But my volunteer roles could populate this list again and then some…
Four movies that I have watched more than once:
Apollo 13. Shut up it doesn’t make me cry.
Howl’s Moving Castle. <33
Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Steve Rogers is my bb.
Sherlock Holmes. With Jude Law and Robert Downey Jr.
Four books I’d recommend:
The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison. I don’t think this needs saying, does it?
Bloodshot, by Cherie Priest. I have a craving to reread this, so here it goes in the list. I love the vampire law here, love Raylene’s OCD tendencies and how she’s kickass anyway, and the found family that grows through Bloodshot and Hellbent.
The Fifth Head of Cerberus, by Gene Wolfe. Want your brain twisted round and round? Yep. Gene Wolfe.
Strong Poison, by Dorothy L. Sayers. Because Lord Peter is the best detective. Shut up. Yes. The best.
Wait, there isn’t room for Seaward? The Dark is Rising? Among Others?
Four places I have lived:
Yorkshire. I grew up there.
Gordon Hall, Cardiff. I was in a hall of residence in my first year of university, naturally; this was my first home away from my parents.
Flat 3, Cardiff. Second year of university. There were mice. Let’s not go there.
Hardy Place, Cardiff. Maybe my favourite of my homes so far, lived here with some of my university friends.
Four places I have been:
Brittany, France. I’ve blanked out most of it because it was awful — it was a school trip, and my classmates wanted me to be unhappy. I was.
Various parts of Belgium. My partner lives in Belgium!
Rome, Italy. Went to Rome with my mother after finishing my degree. Favourite place: Pompeii. Definitely.
Cornwall, UK. We went for the total solar eclipse. It turned out to be cloudy there; there was a better view back home. But Dad did teach us to swim.
Four places I’d rather be right now:
Belgium. I want my bunnyyyyy.
Yorkshire. I love Wales, but right now I’d rather not be here.
Venice. I’ll settle for turning my PS3 on and running around Rome on Assassin’s Creed, though.
Four things I don’t eat:
Spaghetti bolognese. My mother once forcefed me some because she didn’t believe I felt sick. There was projectile vomiting.
Turkish delight. Ughughugh.
Christmas pudding. Gaaah.
Four of my favourite foods:
The sausage thing with onions that my partner gets from the chip shop down the road. Oh god I could eat it right now.
Cauliflower cheese. I like cheese. Nommy cheese.
Crispy duck in pancakes. Mmmmm.
Dad’s chilli. Or other chilli, if necessary, but Dad does it best.
Four TV shows that I’ve watched:
Firefly. I’ve watched this far too many times, really. I can quote most of it. “I swear by my pretty floral bonnet, I will end you.”
Pushing Daisies. I need to rewatch this! So cute.
Due South. I’m not kidding you when I say Fraser was my first squish.
NCIS. Okay, so I can’t watch it without crying still because I used to watch it with my grandad and I can still ‘hear’ his commentary on it. But I do love it.
Four things I’m looking forward to this year:
Going to Canada!
Visits to Belgium.
The Wales vs England game on Friday.
Visit from my ex-housemate.
Four things I’m always saying:
“Daaaaaaadddyyyyyyy…” Yes, 25 and I still call him ‘Daddy’. Especially when I want something.
“How much is my library fine now?” Wince.
“Books books books!” The hunting cry of the wild Nikki.
“I hate math…” This science course involves far too much math and not enough DNA.
Runners up: “ugh David Cameron, you [expletive]!”; “Muuuuuuuuuuuuum”; “EZIO STOP FALLING OFF BUILDINGS YOU’RE MEANT TO BE AN ASSASSIN”.
I’m Welsh. It actively pains me when people go “oh cool, you’re English!” when they find out I live in the UK. No.
I have a sister. She’s a brat.
I have five library cards. Two from the same library. I’m sneaky, me.
I’m on a library committee. I’m in charge of book acquisitions!
I haven’t read all the Harry Potter books. Sorry?
My favourite animals are hedgehogs, hippos and giraffes. Don’t make me choose.
I barely speak any of my partner’s native language. I can say thank you in a shop. That’s about it.
I didn’t learn to read until I was nearly seven. Everyone assumes otherwise, but nope. I just wasn’t interested.
I love King Arthur. See also #1. I wrote three of four of my MA essays on Arthurian texts, plus my dissertation.
I have a BA and MA in English Literature… And I did very well in them, thank you.
…But now I’m doing a course in Natural Sciences to prepare for medschool. Neurology, maybe? Genetics?
I can sleep on a motorbike. Not as the rider, obviously; as the pillion passenger. I have a rally medal, and all I did was hold onto my dad and snooze for 36 hours.
I’m a transcriptionist and copy writer. Neither of these things pay very well.
I’m a volunteer at an eye clinic, a library, a forum, Lightspeed’s slush pile, and an occasional volunteer for Cancer Research UK and Tenovus. None of these things pay at all.
I like chicken on my pizza. My partner thinks this makes me practically heathen.
I like cold pizza the next morning. My sister is positive this makes me a heathen.
I read in the bath. And I’ve only ever dropped one book in.
I don’t get the ereaders vs. dead tree books debate. Both! Why not both?
I know the stock at my local bookshops better than they do. And yet they won’t employ me. Sigh.
When I really love a character, it sometimes means I can never consume more of their canon because I get too anxious. Castiel, bb. Why. And I worry this is going to happen with Steve Rogers/Captain America, because his next film is Civil War. Gaaah.
I have no gallbladder. Had it out two years ago because it was full of stones.
I once read The Lord of the Rings in 24 hours. That included sleep.
I averaged buying more than a book a day in 2013. And I wasn’t far off in 2014. Oops.
I had to pry open the back of my ereader to swap in a bigger SD card. I wrote a guide about it. Then they promptly stopped selling that type of ereader. Huff.
I can’t back down from a dare. Like, my dad dared me to read War and Peace in a week. So I did it in five days. Or my sister said I wouldn’t dare suck spilt vodka out of the carpet. So I did. But I blame that on the previously imbibed vodka, too. Regardless, no one ever lets me forget it, so I’m trying to be proud of it. Or something.
You probably know most of these things about me, actually.