Almost a year to the day after I shared part one of my ‘5o things about me’ post, I return with the remaining facts, in all their randomness… though some are in direct response to questions I have been asked via Instagram.
Again, I was initially tagged to participate in this blogging “challenge” by Cassie (aka superfitbabe) when I read her ’50 things’ post. So I’ll follow suit by tagging any interested parties who happen to be reading this post. And thank you to Mon of monsflavors for tagging me in a far shorter 10 facts about me post, which I’ll respond to tonight (for anyone who hasn’t had their fill of randomness here! 😛 ).
If you feel so inclined, you’re welcome to join in and share your ’50 things’ (or 10!) via a blog/social media post too!
As a child I was a sugar fiend. My brother and I would receive pocket-money, he’d save his and mine would be immediately spent on candy (or as we knew it back in the day in Australia, ‘mixed lollies’).
In 2006 I was working in Salzburg. The house where I stayed (which belonged to an Austrian artist) was gorgeous, overlooked a massive field and had a backdrop of mountains. But the highlight for me was that it was located five minutes away from the von Trapp family mansion of The Sound of Music fame.
Staying in Salzburg took me back to a time in 1996, when I forced a couch-surfing Swiss punk boy who stayed in my post-apocalyptic rental abode in Collingwood to sit through the 3 hours + of The Sound of Music on the promise that, upon recognising all the landmarks, he would feel less homesick . Throughout the viewing (which he found painfully tiresome) I kept asking, “Do you know that fountain?… What about that church?…”
He appeared genuinely confused, repeating exasperatedly, “No, I don’t know any of these places!”. As the movie continued he became increasingly more resentful and agitated. Unfortunately, it was only at the very end that I realised the characters had been in Austria all along and would cross the border into my friend’s motherland during the last 10 seconds of the film. He may or may not have used the “b word” at that point, believing me to have maliciously tricked him, when really my pitiful geographical knowledge of Europe was to blame for the innocent incident.
Regardless, I have always felt a special connection to Austria. 😛
What was once a rather painful memory has now become a pleasant one, on account of my brother. Always the sporty and helpful type, he took me to his gym in order to help me straighten my life out (in some small way) back in 1999. I still remember the smell of Deep Heat, the fact that I was the only girl there (with bright pink hair, no less), feeling weak and light-headed, feeling like a bit of a failure… and giving up to go outside for a smoke! My brother actually came out to check on me and, rather than being judgemental, was very kind and even a little proud of me for taking a tiny, tentative step in a healthy direction. It wasn’t the most successful of work outs 😛 , but many years + several (well-used) gym memberships on, I can safely say that physical activity is one of the greatest joys I know. So, Robin, sorry if I embarrassed/worried/frustrated you all those years ago. And thanks for the #fitspo!
Many years ago, my then-boyfriend/now-husband and I were island hopping in Fiji. For some reason I developed a wildly adventurous (for me) approach to exploring. I had never been sea kayaking in my life, but upon spotting some kayaks that were free to use, a young Californian girl and myself decided that an island we’d seen didn’t look too far away (and we’d heard tales of a spooky deserted resort that had once been owned by a Mafia boss). Minutes later, we were off on our adventure. We were all energy and giggles at first. Then suddenly, as the sea started to get choppy, it hit me that I had no idea what I was doing- NO idea. And that we were out in the sea in little pieces of floating plastic. And that there were things swimming around below us. And that we were nowhere near land. And that the island was a LOT further away than it had seemed to be. And that my upper body strength was not as good as I had imagined. My companion was apparently hit with the same notions/sense of panic at the same time as me. Miraculously we both made it to the island without capsizing.
My folly was repeated when, on the same trip, I signed up for a rainforest trek which involved jumping off a waterfall at some point. I am terrified of heights. Terrified. Number 1 worst fear. Did I mention I am terrified of heights?
Me. Waterfall. Jumping. Not a good combination.
But, guess what? I did it*! And it was exhilarating!
And I will never do it again. 😛
*Because I had to. It was the only way to get to the boat!
Those of you who happen to be familiar with the cult television series Thunderbirds, may also be familiar with Tin-Tin Kyrano; the fictional character introduced the mid-1960s. What you definitely do not know is that the hands of Tin-Tin belong to my mum. Newly arrived in London, she’d found herself working in the same office as a puppet creator named John Brown (who was also responsible for sculpting Cliff Richard). If I recall the tale correctly, he was passing my mum’s desk and noticed her hands, immediately offering her the opportunity to be a hand model for a character on a television show starring puppets.
As a teenager I frequented art house cinemas to watch cult classics on the big screen. Thunderbirds Are GO was one such film. And my friends at the time were amazed not only that my mum (or rather, her hands) appeared in the film, but remarked that Tin-Tin’s overall appearance bore a striking similarity to my mum’s. I still believe strongly that she inspired the look of the character in more ways than one (I would post a photo of her to back this claim, but I don’t think she’d appreciate it!).
When questioned about this, her memories of being a model for John and the show in general, my mum simply said that it was all “silly”.
I still think it’s cool!
My first job was in a hotel/pub. My duties involved setting up tables, the odd spot of housekeeping and some kitchen hand work of the most basic kind. I will never forget the chef nor how he interacted with those around him. It’s safe to say, he was not the most gentlemanly of gentlemen, nor sharpest tool in the shed. A co-worker gave me tips on how to “get on his good side” (in short, “praise him, do as he says, laugh at his jokes and don’t share your opinions”), but I couldn’t bring myself to play the game. As strange as it seems, I think he actually liked me in his own way. Which, I suppose, was lucky as he was known to have quite a temper and to hold grudges.
In order to ingratiate me into his world, he said he had to come up with a nickname for me. At the time I had long, straight dark hair, with two white streaks and was rather pale and slim. Ok, you got me. I had goth leanings.
“You look like that chick”, he informed me. “You know, the one… with the hair… from the Addams Family? Sounds a bit like your name…?”
“Morticia…”, I mumbled half-heartedly.
“Morticia? Ha, ha. Yeah, that’s what I am gunna call you…”
And so, I began the first shift of many as Morticia Addams, waitress and kitchen hand.
Years after I had left that job, I found myself on a weekend break in the town of Bruthen in country Victoria, sitting by a campfire next to a member of the local football team who had been hitting the booze a bit too hard.
“You look like that chick”, he informed me. “You know, the one… with the hair… from the Addams Family? Porticia…?”
“Um… I think you mean Morticia…”, I tried to interject, utterly unimpressed.
Not hearing me, he continued, “Yeah… that’s it! Porticia. Your name is Marisa and it rhymes with Porticia, so that’s what I’m gunna call you. Porticia.”
I am quite possibly the worst skier living in the Scandinavian region (the kid below is seriously far better than me, if that’s any indication of my skill), yet I love going on ski trips*.
*As long as I don’t have to ski.
My oldest and best friend and I used to create imaginary worlds to inhabit when we were young. One such place was known as Metropolis Water City. In my mind it was something a little like this…
In reality it was a pool in my parent’s garden.
One of the times I felt the healthiest and had the most energy was on holiday in Crete in 2007. The way that I ate (local “real food”, mostly), the sunshine, the sea, the daily physical activity (running, swimming, hiking) and the joy of being somewhere beautiful doing things I liked with someone I love all played a part, I am sure! I still love the Greek Islands. Interestingly, I was there as an unborn baby in my mum’s belly. No wonder I love Greek food, hot weather and island life.
Speaking of the Greek Islands, if you happen to watch a retro Greek musical and spot a guy in the background pretending to talk and eating carrot sticks, it may well be my dad. This story deserves its own post, so I’ll reserve the rest of the tale for a later date!
I really used to wish I could play it cool socially. Now I realise I am just far too enthusiastic about life and connecting with people with common interests (Game of Thrones, anyone?! 😀 ).
I have also come to terms with the fact that I should never, ever play poker.
The first day I experienced snow in Sweden, I was walking back to my in-laws’ place in Sollentuna, and it felt like I was strolling through the pages of a childhood storybook. I held my hands up to catch it in wonderment. I basked in the stillness of the street I was on and relished the quietness as the magical flakes of glittery whiteness floated down.
The following day it continued to snow. “Oh”, I thought, “still snowing…”.
It continued to snow the next day… and the next.
After a week, the “magic” of snow was wearing thin. It’s been wearing thinner ever since.
When my first son was born, we marvelled at the roundness of his head and the fullness of his cheeks. Then my daughter was born and it was clear that the roundness of Louie’s head had been superseded. Little did we know that Oliver would arrive with the roundest head of them all. It’s safe to say however that there’s a red thread of round-headedness running through the family (and I am pretty sure it comes from my side of the clan)!
To this day it amazes me that the precursor to my career path (which in turn led to my marriage, my life in Europe, my children…) started with a visualisation meditation I was introduced to while sitting on a plastic chair in a community hall in an Adelaide suburb, during which I envisaged myself wearing a painting smock, standing in front of an easel with a paint palette in my hand.
I love challenges. L.O.V.E. Be they structured and “led” by someone else (Oprah’s Vegan Challenge, 31 Days to get Organised, I Quit Sugar, the Chopra Center 21-Day Meditation Challenge™, etc., etc.) or of my own volition and design (e.g., running the Stockholm half marathon), I adore experimenting with all things lifestyle related if I suspect they might improve my quality of life short or long-term. In fact, that’s how this blog began; as a series of posts (really just for myself at first) about my own little domestic projects and undertakings. Some of the things I have tried such as juicing and oil pulling I did not end up incorporating into my life longterm, but I truly believe I have benefited from everything I have tried in some way. Even if the main benefit was discovering that something wasn’t for me.
I used to have a huge passion for belly dance, attending classes, workshops and events in Australia, Europe, Turkey and Egypt. On New Year’s Eve 2005/6, during a river cruise on the Nile, I was asked to accompany the belly dancer hired to entertain us during dinner in a little performance. A similar incident occurred the year before when we were at a dinner show in Istanbul.
The last time I practiced belly dance was during my first pregnancy when I took prenatal belly dancing classes. I never aspired to be a professional dancer myself (and I don’t really miss it, to be honest), but it was something I really enjoyed when I was doing it and it was a favourite form of physical activity for a few years (along with Pilates).
The book that inspired me most when I was a girl was my mum’s copy of The Complete Book of Herbs- A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs by Lesley Bremness. I read and reread it, each time finding myself transported by the recipes, images, illustrations and all the possibilities. And I planned my future dream herb garden. To this day, when I think about that book, I feel moved. And although my very urban life in Stockholm is far from the life I once imagined as I turned its pages, I somehow feel a step closer to realising the dream of a quieter, slower-paced, lavender-scented life with my family. On our recent visit to Australia, I asked my mum if I could have the book and she agreed.
It is now the only book on display in my bedroom. It sparks joy, as Marie Kondo would say.
And on inspiration and gardens, if you read part 1 of this post you know that I’m no natural green thumb by any means. In fact, as I sit here and type this, I am a little too proud of myself for managing to take care of the three gorgeous indoor plants (which I cannot name) my parents entrusted me with. But there was a time when the acquisition of knowledge of all things botanical was incredibly appealing to me (and I believe it is still in me, only quieted by the passing on of too many indoor plants and many years of living an urban life!).
One thing that has remained a constant is my love of botanical gardens. My favourite in Stockholm, for example, is Bergianska and I usually buy an annual pass. My children love it there too. Once, whilst on a visit to the US with my parents, we purchased Sarah Ponsonby’s The Garden Game, which is probably my favourite board game of all time. In fact, on our next visit to Adelaide I will be sure to see if my parents still have it and ask whether it can join The Complete Book of Herbs- A Practical Guide to Growing and Using Herbs in finding a new home with us in Stockholm.
Game image: acultivatednest.com
I have 3 tattoos. One is something I doodled on paper as a teenager for some time before I realised that I wanted it on my arm for the rest of my life. Turns out it’s a Nordic rune. And, more interestingly, that its meaning is ‘fertility’ and/or ‘new beginnings’; two of the great “themes” of my life. Another is my mum’s name written in Chinese characters (it essentially reads “you are beautiful”). The last is an amalgamation of the Celtic tree of life and the ancient symbol Ægishjálmur, also something I doodled on paper, which again references my family (but on my father’s and husband’s sides).
Thanks for the question rainbownourishments!
On Instagram thehealthyfoodheaven asked me what the funniest thing that has ever happened to me is. That is truly hard to say! But one occasion featuring a government office, a queue and paperwork (traditionally “unfunny” things) springs to mind.
On the day I went to register myself as a Swedish resident, I waited impatiently for two and a half hours in a queue. It was a warm day and the stuffy office was due to close at 3 pm. I resented the back of the head of the man in front of me as every minute dragged painfully on and the shuffling of papers and asking of questions continued. I made it to the front of the line at 2:58 pm. While I was filling out my forms I noticed a crowd congregating behind the person assisting me and, weirdly, reading my responses over his shoulder. Some of them had cameras. As soon as the paper work had been processed, a woman stepped forward and enthusiastically exclaimed, “Welcome to Sweden!”. Someone else called out “Congratulations!”, and a photographer pulled out a camera to capture my baffled expression.
I thought to myself, “Sweden is known for its generous migration policies, but this is all a bit much!”. Then a woman introduced herself as a Swedish radio reporter and requested an interview. Why? Because statisticians had calculated at 3pm on the 12th of August 2004 the 9 millionth Swedish resident would come into existence (either by birth or through the process of migration).
In commemoration of this fine occasion I gave the lamest radio interview in Swedish radio history. When asked “So, do you feel Swedish?”, I responded “Well, I’ve only been here for a few days… I think I feel more confused than anything.”
My newspaper interview with Aftonbladet (the evening news) was no better.
The headline was “Marisa helped us cross the line”, but the subheading was “She sings in Swedish!” (this on account of me getting nervous and mentioning that I knew how to sing the advertising jingle of a famous Swedish headache tablet brand).
According to Aftonbladet, I came in as Swedish resident number 9,000,001 (a baby was born in Stockholm 3 minutes before my paper work was processed).
I have thusly remained here ever since, playing my part in averting population decline!
Rani of You Totally Got This asked me what I wanted to be when I was little. The first thing that I can remember being truly passionate about was design. From the time my memories start (around the age of two) I loved to draw. As a school-aged child, I’d make my own books, design clothes, make collages, etc. I told people I’d be a designer when I grew up. After many diversions, side street career moves and periods of lost and angsty unproductivity, I ended up applying for art school, eventually graduating with a Bachelor of Visual Communication before going on to work as a designer and then, for the past decade, as an art director.
My veins are notoriously “tricky” and even the best nurses and medical professionals struggle to find them. As a result of many painful experiences, bruises and apologies, I hate, hate, hate needles.
So, why “Miss Marzipan”?
This is one of the questions I am asked most.
In primary school, when I was around 10 years old, I had a friend who liked the idea of the girls in our group having funny nicknames. She referred to herself as Julie Jellybean and to me as Marisa Mars Bar. Later, as a teenager, the nickname Mars/Marz was resurrected and has stuck in some variation since then.
When I started blogging in 2011, I intended to do so 100% anonymously. I told neither my friends nor family members about this blog and I used the name Miss Marzipan in lieu of my real name. As a bit of a sweet tooth and a lover of baking I also thought it was fitting.
I actually hated marzipan as a child. But 13 years of living in Scandinavia eating semlor and princess tårta has cured me of that!
If you’ve made it this far, kudos! You’re a reading champion! 😀
But seriously, thank you!
Have a wonderful new week… and if there’s a question you’ve wanted to ask me that you’ve not had answered by my two rambling posts of random facts, ask away.
❤ MM xx