My answers to abbacat's difficult questions:
- I know you've kind of talked about marriage before, but you seem reticent about the concept. Does it feel archaic to you, or what is the big impetus that makes it feel like an unattractive option?
I have all sorts of practical reasons for being against marriage, such as its religious connotations, the lack of accessibility for those who are not in a male-female partnership (in my home country), the outrageous expense, the ostentation, the social pressure to get married, etc. I feel pulled towards it by the same social pressures, of course, which only adds to my urge to put both middle fingers up towards the whole idea. My biggest personal reason, though, is the standard fear of commitment. I have a certain horrendously selfish and impetuous streak in me which has driven me to make certain decisions without consulting other people, such as moving thousands of miles away, and thereby hurting them very badly. It’s been a while since I did anything of the sort, but I’m terribly afraid of getting myself into a situation where doing that would involve trying to extricate myself and my partner from a legally binding entanglement.
No one's ever proposed to me (and I've never proposed to anyone), so who knows whether or not any of this would influence my decision at that moment. See: impetuous.
- If being a smart extra-terrestrial-gazing-globe-trotting scientist were not your job, what else would you have chosen for yourself, if you had to go back and do it again?
I would be an artist (painter-photographer), if I could go back and do it again. However, I’m afraid my lack of self-confidence probably would have sunk me far earlier than it did in science.
- Is there anything the new presidential administration could do that would make you say, "Fuck it, I'm moving back to the USA!"?
I really don’t think so. In fact, the only things that could make me return at this point would be a change in personal circumstances – either my parents becoming very ill or a sudden insatiable desire to become an astronaut – or the administration of this country becoming autocratic or fascistic.
- Have you ever actively hated a person so much that the passion of disliking them changed you in some way?
I can’t think of a singular instance, but there have been a few people who’ve made me so upset or angry or hurt that the act of breaking ties with them changed me. Most of them are former close female friends. This is the primary reason I restrict the confidences I share to either my (written) diary or my partner, and why a lot of things never get written down or shared at all.
- Tim Powers is going to model one of the characters in a new novel after you. What do you want the setting to be, and how would you like to be described?
I want to be on another planet or one of our solar system’s moons, helping to terraform it and making meticulous drawings of the changing landscape. I want short blonde hair, to be about seven feet tall, to have symbiotic/telepathic links with my romantic partners, and I want us to save the world. In other words, I want to be everything I’m not, and accomplish what I could never manage in reality. Hey, it’s fantasy, right?