One of my goals for next year is to get more personal on my blog. I know I prefer to read blogs where I really feel like I know the author, where they appear in their pictures as often as the healthy food they eat.

Here’s a few things you probably didn’t know that I hope will serve to paint me as a real person and not an automated cooking, writing, and picture-taking machine. :)

1) My first ever paying job was for the Georgia Renaissance Festival. For 7 weekends every spring for 3 years I woke up before sunrise and laced my corset for roughly 10 hours of hard manual labor in the blazing Georgia sun under several layers of thick clothing and even thicker Kings’ English accent.  It was tough. Barely breathing in that tight bodice and melting from the heat while trying to maintain character was a real challenge but one that I enjoyed very much. I worked in Games, I think my favorite to operate was the crossbows. I still think on that job quite fondly.

2) The name Alayna is French and means “a fair maiden.” It is the feminine form of Alain (English, Alan) and should be spelled Alaina. The “y” helps to know how to pronounce it correctly as it makes it pretty phonetic. So, it’s Ah-LAY-nah, not Ah-LAH-nah. My middle name is Marie, also French, and my sister also has French first and middle names. Sweet feminine names were just really popular around the time I was born. I was almost Audrey though up until the last month of my mothers’ pregnancy but I’m really glad to be Alayna because it’s so unique!

3) I think the weirdest food I’ve ever eaten has to be either monkfish liver or duck tongue. I love trying new and wacky foods. There are only one or two things on the planet that I don’t think I could try without some sort of reward for the displeasure. I also don’t understand why people in this country don’t eat bugs. They’re delicious, a rich source of protein, and consuming some of the least desirable ones could help to decrease their overpopulation. It’s a win assuming you can get over any cultural predisposition you may have to seeing them as gross.

4) Obviously I’m not a picky eater then, but a few of the foods that I really just don’t enjoy very much are raw tomatos, dark leafy greens like collards, mayonaisse, oysters, wasabi, injera bread, mangoes, milk, gin, every kind of olive, hachiya persimmons, green bell peppers, eggplant, bitter root vegetables like turnips, and obvious things like canned asparagus and undercooked poultry skin. I am learning to enjoy cucumbers, I can handle them in a salad with other things or of course pickled. I thought I hated beer until a few years ago and we all know how I feel about it now, so I continue to try these things hoping that one day my tastes will change.

5) I’m a pretty huge Harry Potter fan. I would love to go to the theme park some day! I wish Jeff was into it too so I could discuss the books with him, but we click on other literature so it’s ok. We both were hardcore Anne Rice fans as teenagers and actually started falling in love with each other over our mutual love of the book House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski. That book is terrifying and beautiful, pick it up if you enjoy scaring yourself half to death!

6) I was the “art kid” back in high school. I have always been creative, I think that’s why cooking and blogging came relatively easy to me. My whole life I knew I was destined to have a career in fine art. I even changed schools my senior year of high school so that I could take an advanced art class that my school didn’t offer and hopefully get into the art school of my choice. That class was hard. I could have easily spent my entire school day and entire evening at home just working on material for that class. My teacher was merciless too, she expected me to churn out quality work consistently with short deadlines looming and didn’t cut me any slack. By the end of the year I knew I didn’t want a career in art anymore and had no other plans. I’m really thankful that my teacher pushed me so hard or I may not have realized that my career interests had changed until I’d spent several years and tons of money on a college education that would lead me nowhere.

7) So yeah, I never went to college and most days I’m still really happy that I didn’t. It used to bother me in years past when I would go to job interviews with that gaping hole in my resume. People just assumed that I must not have gone to college because I wasn’t smart enough or hard-working. I know I’m smart, I was always in the top of my class and I feel guilty when I don’t work hard at things, but without a college degree there were just only so many jobs I could expect to get before there was no way someone would choose me over a graduate. That’s a huge reason why I stayed in my last job so long. I had climbed the ladder as high as I could within the field and felt like I couldn’t get anything else comparable without a degree. I realized a long time ago though that I never really want to have what most people consider a “real job.” I want to work for myself on my own time doing something that I love and that I’m good at. I don’t quite know what that is yet but I’m getting closer.

8 ) I used to be so afraid of needles that I couldn’t even use a really sharp pencil without feeling like I was gonna pass out! I still to this day cry, hyperventilate, and sometimes pass out when getting a shot or having blood taken. I could never be a nurse! Even talking about blood, needles, IV’s, or anything even somewhat related gets me dizzy and nauseous. This year I got a tetanus shot and it was the first time in my whole life that I didn’t cry from it. I’m trying to get over it because I know I’m gonna have to get tons of bloodwork done all the time when we start having kids and I’m gonna be miserable if I don’t learn how to handle it like a grown up. Just typing this makes me dizzy. :(

9) I struggled with an undiagnosed sleep disorder in my teens and early twenties. I used to suffer from intense fatigue and would normally sleep around 13 hours every night, sometimes as many as 17. I had frequent recurring nightmares and lucid dreams where I would realize that I was dreaming while I was dreaming but still not be able to change my dream or wake myself up. It was terrifying to be stuck in a nightmare and have to live it as if it were actually happening. I also had sleep paralysis every once in a while which is when your mind wakes up but doesn’t wake up your body so you’re stuck lying in bed staring at the ceiling wanting to get out of bed but you can’t do more than move your eyelids. Even weirder, many times I would wake up in the middle of the night panting from a nightmare and then something would happen that didn’t seem quite right and I’d realize that I was still dreaming! I would “wake up” over and over again within my dream so many times that it was hard to tell when I was actually awake. I eventually grew out of it though, haven’t had any of these symptoms in years.

10) I am an obsessive list-maker…obviously. I have them jammed in my coat pockets, purse, all over my desk, on my computer, and now on my blog. I just think it’s fun to write them. I like seeing my handwriting, and I like the way it feels to write something by hand, so list-making gives me a practical reason to do it.

So, rereading this post, I’m now sure that I’ve convinced you all that I am really frickin’ weird. That wasn’t my intention, but I guess I can’t argue the facts.

So, come on, what’s something unusual about yourself or something you don’t share often?