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Be. Me. For Reals.

November 5, 2015

 

A few years ago Liz answered a series of questions for a local paper feature called “Be. You.” I sort of mockingly answered the same questions and made a blog out of it. The “author” of the feature asked me to answer the question for real, this time. Here are my answers:

 

Marie Rachal, aka Kitten is a writer, designer, photographer and a control freak. I was in another meeting when I was set to meet her for a photo. By the time I caught up with her, she’d directed Thomas Peters (from The Lab) to take her photo and sent it to me edited. Nicole was simply being herself and that made me smile — what else would I want for this interview?

Nicole is a compelling combination of talent, bravery, doubt and sarcasm. She has the best travel stories ever, and I have a feeling there are more to come.

What was your first job?

1988. Three Days. Taco Bell.

Describe a typical day in your life.

I snooze the alarm repeatedly; reluctant to leave the parallel universe my neural networks have created. I go to work, design some things, organize some logos, yell at the printer, doodle in meetings, release just enough sarcasm and weird humor into the office milieu to be amusing without getting fired and smile when I see clients come and go as I remember that my work is helping people. After 5 p.m., I get to go to my beloved Girard Park and walk for a while. Then it’s either Netflix and popcorn, some writing or a glass of wine at Pamplona with friends. By midnight, I’m back in the latest construct my brain has created for me.

What advice would you give the younger you?

Major in history. You actually can take care of yourself. Follow your gut. When something feels wrong, it is wrong. Be brave. You’re stronger than you think. Exercise! Stop eating junk! And for God’s sake, do something with that hair!

What event in your life most shaped who you are now?

The birth of my daughter and the death of my mother. The first and last long-term relationships I had. They both gave me unregrettable, immeasurable joy but I lost myself both times and when each ended dramatically, I had to fight my way back to who I knew I was.

What values do you live by?

Do your best. Try to be better tomorrow. Stay away from mean, angry people. Hang around happy, kind, funny people. Give love, honesty and friendship openly without condition. Try not to screw up today. The only things that matter are: people, life and love. Everything else is bullsh*t.

What do you most appreciate?

Integrity. A nice smile. A sense of humor. A beautiful day. A good kiss. Large crawfish.

What is your favorite journey?

The bike ride from No. 5 to Girard Park, though I’m pretty sure I’m going to die on the corner of University Avenue and Johnston Street one day. The loop on the walking path — especially when the moss is glowing — the grass is neon green and someone smiles at me as we cross paths.

Where is your favorite place to be alone?

Girard Park, my little haven No. 5, and sometimes the bar at Pamplona. Reading, writing and people watching.

What living figure most inspires you?

Malala Yousafzai

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

“I don’t know what to tell you, babe.” This was the standard line my mother gave me after a long tirade of complaints and confessions. Her real message was, “I don’t have it figured out. Nobody has it figured out. Go do your best.”

What book would you tell everyone to read?

The Bible. It’s an important influence on American and world cultures. It’s good to know what it actually says, especially when so many try to use its words to promote unjust public policy and legitimize hate. Also, “The Four Agreements,” “A Fine Balance” and “Pride & Prejudice.”

What is the best thing about where you live?

Live music. Cajun dancing. The culture of fun and happiness. The climate, even in summer. Crawfish.

How do you “let the good times roll?”

Wine with friends. Engaging conversation or silliness, preferably both. Laughing, dancing, flirting, kissing.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

An artist and a nun who taught kindergarten.

What is your motto?

Have fun. Do more. Be better. Keep trying. Love isn’t complicated. It’s simple. You’re either in or you’re out.

How would you like to be remembered?

Hey, remember that chic, Nicole?

Yeah, she was weird but kind a cool. Yeah, I liked her. She was funny. What happened to her?

She ran off with some guy from God knows where. No one ever heard from her again.

What do you say to yourself when you doubt yourself?

I talk to people who like me and think I’m talented and smart. I tell them how I feel and they remind me of what I’ve done and what I can do. I try to believe them, cut myself some slack, and try again.

What three things are vital to BEing YOU?

People. Music. Sunlight.

Which words or phrases do you most overuse?

Shut it down. Little Bit. Gross.

What is your favorite word?

Plethora.

What do you collect?

Stamps.

What food could you live on for a month?

Crawfish.

What would you change about yourself?

My teeth and brain chemistry.

What literary, movie or cartoon character do you most identify with?

Liz Lemon and Elaine Benes.

Describe yourself in five words.

Weird. Creative. Goofy. Liberal. Messy.

What is your idea of happiness?

Freedom. (Sorry, Lisa I stole that one.)

<cliché answer> What I’m doing and who I am now and the continuing attempt to do and be more. And the understanding and acceptance thereof. </cliché answer>

What is your favorite movie?

“A Room with a View,” “Pride & Prejudice,” “The Paper” and “Recount.”

What music defines who you are?

I have no idea. There’s a song, “In a Manner of Speaking,” by Nouvelle Vague. I wish I was that song.

What do you most regret?

Dropping my passport on the tarmac in Munich.

What 4 questions do you wish I’d asked and what would your answer be?

1. How many archenemies do you have?

Two. You know who you are.

2. What nickname do you like to give others?

Pumpkin Patch.

3. What are you most proud of?

My daughter Lauren is the coolest, badass-ey-est woman and artist I’ve ever known. Her work continues to astound me with its beauty and craft. Her ethics and discipline are inspiring. She is my wise-woman and true friend. She holds me up with brutal compassion and a shared sense of humor. If I had anything to do with the person she has become, my work here is done.

My son is the only person is the world I can be completely myself around and nobody makes me laugh like Christopher. He is sensitive and brave and irreverently energetic. He taught me one of life’s most important lessons, to be yourself because he’s never been able to be anything else. I’m proud of the man he is becoming and I hope that I had some impact on the loyal, funny, kind adventurer he is.

4. What are your contradictions?

I’m an atheist with a collection of Virgin Mary’s on my windowsill. I’m an outspoken feminist who thinks taking out the trash is man’s work and women should wear bras. I thrive on validation yet question authority and struggle with routine. I’m a mean, serious looking woman who laughs and cries easily and has a sensitive and ridiculously romantic heart.

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