PQ 5.0 April 2009: Kirsten AndrewsApril 10, 2009
Admit it. You’ve read those celebrity Q&As and know you’re easily as worthy of being profiled. And way more clever. So, with nods to writer Marcel Proust’s late-1800s dabbling, to French TV host Bernard Pivot’s adaptation, to Inside the Actors Studio host James Lipton’s own take and Vanity Fair‘s elegantly spun back-page version, I submit for your entertainment and enlightenment, my own Proust Questionnaire, re-retooled for a blog age, and answered by 11th ave’s victim of the month.
Kirsten Andrews is my longtime friend and former Winnipeg Sun newspaper colleague. I knew about many of her skills — occasional hair styling, home decor, writing, editing, music promotions and management, film and other publicity and, more recently, mothering two lovely young things over in B.C., but visual artist? I thought it was home decor that she was working on when, in a Facebook update, she mentioned being able to paint without the kids. Then came another update saying she’d sold a painting, and showing a snapshot. And it got me to wondering what else I didn’t know about Kirsten. So I put her under the Proust microscope. And along the way you can see some of her art and her babes as well.
Since we are conducting this interview via Facebook message, the world is ours for the inventing. If, as I some day hope, money is no object, in what city and establishment would you like this interview to be taking place? I think sitting in an outdoor bistro on the Champs d’Elysee in Paris (it’s spring – and I am a woman at what some may say is her sexual peak – which foreshadows my next answer).
Who and what would you be wearing? A very handsome young man, draped around my neck… Beneath that, a little black dress a la Audrey Hepburn (I’m channeling her right now), great sunglasses and fabulous vintage shoes that are surprisingly comfortable.
And, most importantly, what would we be drinking? Champagne. There really is never a wrong place or time to drink champagne. Perhaps a Kir Royale with a little cassis, it is my signature drink after all.
What are the qualities you most admire in others? Generosity
What do you like most about yourself? My open-mindedness.
Least? I am my harshest critic in every way; I would like to be my own biggest cheerleader but that’s taking a lot of time to change.
What is your greatest achievement? Besides my kids, which are hands down the best thing I have ever done or produced… I think the fact that I keep challenging myself and doing things that are out of my comfort zone, like selling my house and most of my possessions and leaving my hometown (Winnipeg) for a city that seemed cold and distant to start a business. Most recently we moved to a small town of 15,000 and I found out I really love the simple life.
What is your present state of mind? Challenged. I spent the morning painting and things didn’t turn out the way I had hoped. I’m trying to be open
to what happens on the canvas, but it’s hard when I have preconceived ideas of the outcome. I’m a perfectionist and this is something I’m trying to overcome.
Where and when are/were you happiest? 5 p.m. on a hot summer day, feet in the water on the shore at Twin Lakes Beach on Lake Manitoba.
What is your first memory? As a snapshot: climbing the purple stairs in my parents’ apartment — would have been before I turned 2. Something longer: sitting in the breakfast nook when I was about 3 learning to read and write with my dad.
What, currently, do you most love doing? Giving hugs and kisses to my girls – especially when they request them!
What was your worst job? Easy. Washing dishes at Corner Boys restaurant when I was in high school. It was disgusting, back breaking and has since given me respect for everyone who is made to do menial jobs.
Your favourite colour? Crimson red is my accent colour of choice.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
No pressure dealing with the harsh realities of life (mortgage, where to send the kids to school — how to pay for it, cleaning, etc.) just being able to create and live in a calm, beautiful environment with my family.
Of misery? Losing the ones you love.
If not yourself, who would you be? Well, Albert Einstein seemed like a pretty cool guy… and it WOULD be nice to have people credit you with so many amazing thoughts. But if you mean if I wasn’t living the life I am living, I would want to travel more and do humanitarian work.
Where would you like to live? On a small Caribbean island that wasn’t prone to hurricanes.
What is your favourite or most memorable meal and when is the last time you indulged? Probably my Oma’s chicken paprikash, which is a stew-like Hungarian goulash with homemade spaetzle. I made it last week, actually, and we have it at least once a month. It’s easy and reminds me of being in my grandmother’s kitchen while she cooked Sunday lunches. I would ride my bike or take the bus to their house on the other end of the city almost every weekend when I was a kid to see her and my Opa.
Name the person who influenced you most and how. I’ve been trying to come up with some amazing character in my life, but am at a loss and I think that’s because in reality my parents – whether I like it or not – have been the ones to influence me most in life. I can’t get away from that. My drive, my thirst for knowledge, my creativity, these are things they nurtured and made me what I am today. I’ve certainly been inspired by a lot of dynamic people who have influenced me as a young adult and later in life, but only in bits a pieces.
Name the book that influenced you most and why. I think The Diary of Anne Frank impacted me on so many different levels — my German heritage and shame I felt over it, the fact that I wasn’t allowed to bring that book into my grandparents house, her journaling… that was huge. As a kid I had a voracious appetite for fiction. I read everything I could get my hands on, often over and over. I was always wanting to get into other people’s/character’s heads. I think that bred tolerance in me. It also inspired me to be a writer.
In this or any time, which real-life figure(s) do you most admire? Looking into recent history, I have to say I really admire women who lived
through harsh times as settlers with huge families (all those kids!) and such crude circumstances. I have no idea how they did it. I find raising two children NOW really, really hard. Seriously, that’s some inspiration right there.
Who is your favourite fictional hero? It’s funny, but I would have to say Karan in The Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O’Dell. It’s an incredible book that I read over and over again as a kid. She was smart, fierce, determined and strong.
What fault can you most easily forgive? Ooh, that’s a tough one. Being the perfectionist I am that poses a lot of challenge… and makes life for those I live with very difficult! Maybe laziness or insecurity. Just ’cause I can relate.
What is your motto? When things got too hard, my dad always told me: “Nothing matters and so what if it did.” I resort to that from time to time and am grateful for the peace it brings.
How would you like to die? Old, healthy and quick.