1) Is there a singular experience that encapsulates, sums up or otherwise epitomizes your childhood? What was it and why is it so meaningful?
No, there's not. :)
I had a pretty varied youth; we did a lot of different things, from outdoor stuff like skiing in the winter and swimming, climbing and camping in the summer to road trips to staying home and making glitter collages to reading trashy paperbacks... Well, okay, the trashy paperbacks was all me -- I don't think anyone else in the family got into those.
If I had to sum up my childhood, I think I'd say it was a mix of appreciating family, community, people and nature, and a general leaning toward making do with what was available rather than spending resources (time, money, materials) on things we didn't really need.
2) How do you unwind after a difficult day? (It's not cheating to repeat if I'm genuinely interested.)
I cook, sit down with my computer, a book, and/or the TV. Cooking is one of my favorite creative activities, and it feels good to be productive, and after a difficult day, it can be extra nice to have a treat for dinner. On the other hand, sometimes I'm so wiped out by the day that I can't be bothered, and that's when I curl up with a distraction: chat with friends online, read whatever the book of the day is, or watch some classy TV like Law & Order or CSI.
3) What do you enjoy most about international travel?
Most?? Man, that's a tough one. I like the newness and the unknown. Although, now that I've been to Guatemala a few times, it's not so much the newness that draws me back as the familiarity. Funny, eh? :) But at the same time, it's familiar, but still unfamiliar compared to the US. I can still go into the market and find some food I've never had before.
4) From what I can gather, you've got some fluency in Spanish. Do you speak any other languages well? If not, what languages would you like to learn?
No, English and Spanish is it for me right now. I took a stab at French before going to France last year, and I did okay, but it was hard to feel like I was making progress with 2 hours a week in class. After 25 hours of one-on-one teaching in Guate, that seemed a little pointless, you know?
I'm good with languages, though, so I would like to have reason and opportunity to learn more. If I had all the time and motivation in the world, I'd go with: French, Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Italian, Hebrew, Yiddish, German, Quiche, Mam, and Russian, in that order. :)
5) You can have any animal companion you want, mythical or real. What do you choose and why?
Ooooh, my goodness. I think I'd go with a dragon, a la Pern: a combination of mental connection, physical majesty, and transportational convenience!
On the other hand, my grocery bill would go up.
Y'all know how this works. Ask me for five, or ask me as many questions as you'd like me to ask you. Either way works :)