Ask @Elisemccool:

Do you prefer to have dinner at home or out?

I don’t have a strong preference. I don’t like to cook, so I have no particular attachment to eating at home. Maybe if my husband cooked or I enjoyed cooking, I would rather stay home. Eating out can be fun, but I don’t think I could do it all the time.

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What will you do in your old age?

Anything but work in an office. Haha! Old age is relative these days. If I have reasonable health and money, I will travel. I will probably also volunteer my time somehow. If I am unable to do those things, I will read a lot, do puzzles, and learn new things.

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Do you know how to learn on your own? Or you need someone who will teach you?

I lack good self-discipline regarding learning things on my own that require repetition, such as language or music. I always learn better in a class or tutoring situation at a set time. I am happy to supplement my learning with practice on the side though. I kick myself when I realize that I have been interested in Korean for four years now and could have been so much better if I had been consistent.

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Do you like to go to the zoo? What animals do you want to see?

Zoos make me sad, so I usually do not like to go. San Diego Zoo and their wild animal park are the only two zoos I generally feel OK going to because they try to give the animals a larger space designed thoughtfully and specifically for them. They are well cared for there.
I usually try to see as many animals as possible, so I can’t name any one animal I really want to see. I love to find something I have never seen before, too. Nature is awesome.

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What attracts you in Japanese culture?

I needed to reflect a while on this question. I have been attracted to aspects of many cultures, but parts of Japanese culture have appealed to a quiet place in me since I was a child. I am not Japanese and try not to romanticize or appropriate the culture, but I do appreciate it very much. Also, please note that I grew up before internet, so I did not have access to things most young people take for granted.
The earliest recollection I have is of the anime Star Blazers, an American TV adaptation of the Japanese 宇宙戦艦ヤマト Uchū Senkan Yamato, when I was around 8 or 9? I absolutely loved the animation style, which was unlike anything we had ever seen on American TV at that time. Had anime been more easily accessible when I was younger, I would have definitely watched a lot more.
When I was around 10 or 11, I visited the Japanese House (actual house from Kyoto reassembled as an exhibit) at the Boston Children's Museum. I was incredibly fascinated by it and loved everything about the aesthetic even then - the architecture, clothing, paintings, gardens, bonsai, and more. I wanted to live in that house. Even now, if I could build a house, it would definitely incorporate some traditional Japanese design.
I do not recall the first time I folded my first paper crane, but I recall enjoying origami so much that I bought a book when I was around 12. I ended up teaching it to young kids at an arts camp when I was a teenager, too. Decades later, I still fold washi to relax and have a special box filled with beautiful paper. I also looked into learning bonsai (I have a fascination with miniature worlds) as a teenager, but it was a very expensive hobby I could not afford!
In my 20s, I used to take art classes for fun, which included a sumi-e class, though I was not very good at it. Haha! I have also been drinking sencha since before it became popular in the US; I still have not developed a taste for matcha though.
In my late 20s, after studying and practicing acupressure in my own office, I went back to school to complete prerequisite science classes to pursue a Master’s in Acupuncture at the New England School of Acupuncture with a focus on pain management and Japanese style. However, I got very sick and ended up having to move to California to live with family for a while, which became a more permanent situation. I have not been able to relocate to an area with an acupuncture school, so I had to pursue another path.
Visiting Japan in 2016 and 2017 was definitely a childhood dream come true – the country was just as beautiful as I expected. I don’t know if and when I will be back, but I hope I will someday.

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