Who are you? In real life, I mean?
I am a nineteen-year-old woman. I’m originally from America, grew up in the Middle East, and now am a computer science student at a university in Indiana.
WHERE in the Middle East?
You’ll have to meet me in real life to find out.
What are your names?
Alison – my real first name (my last name shall remain a secret)
sheesania – the handle I generally use on the Internet
Alison of Sheesania – the obvious combination of the above
What do you do for school?
I’m now a sophomore at a Christian liberal arts school in Indiana, majoring in Computer Science. For most of my life, I was homeschooled with Sonlight, with small spots of public school in various countries. I really enjoyed homeschooling, and now I’m thoroughly enjoying college.
What do you want to do in the future?
Obviously as a college sophomore I know exactly what I’m going to do with my life, but I would love to do work at an intersection of computers and linguistics – maybe developing software to aid in linguistic research and analysis. I’d also love to write fiction on the side, perhaps even pursue publishing someday if I’m feeling cocky. That’s probably the only way I’ll ever get to make a job out of creating imaginary worlds.
What’s your religion?
I like to describe myself as a follower of Jesus, since I think that’s more important than my affiliation with particular traditions or institutions. That being said, I have grown up in the evangelical Protestant Christian tradition with a side of charismatic and Calvinist, and so that’s my main framework for thinking about spiritual things.
How many countries have you been to?
About 17, not counting countries where I’ve only been to the airport. Most of these countries are in the Middle East or Europe, though. In fact, I’ve never been south of the Equator. But I’ve never spent a whole year in one country, either.
What languages do you speak?
English, a bit of Arabic and some Seakitty Language (a language my sister and I made up that really is not complex enough to be called a language). I don’t speak any of my made-up languages, since I don’t want to bother doing all the work to learn a language if I can’t use it to communicate with anyone. But I do know how to say “hello”, “goodbye” and “where’s the bathroom?” in Pig Latin and Openglopish.
What’s your favorite website? (Besides this one, of course.)
Probably Tor.com for its enthusiastic analysis of science fiction, fantasy, and society in general and its similarly enthusiastic and thoughtful commenters. The fact that I often disagree with perspectives there just makes it more interesting. I also love the whole Stack Exchange network (for fascinating random bits of knowledge, especially from the giant time sucks RPG.SE and Worldbuilding.SE), TVTropes (for analysis of books, movies, and fandom), WALS (for piles of information about the world’s linguistic diversity), Ravelry (for finding knitting patterns), and Wikipedia (for finding everything).
What makes you happy?
Figuring out interesting people and getting to be part of their lives. Joyfully obsessing over flawed but delightful things, like a cheesy video game or a book with awkward writing. Finally fixing that computer problem you’ve been banging your head against for hours. Having your mind blown by a great piece of art. Getting into another person’s head and understanding their perspective. Anything to do with Super Paper Mario or Rogue One.
What makes you mad?
A bad argument for something I think is true.
What are those pictures in your header?
I have the header in the left sidebar set to randomly pick and show one of these pictures that have to do with me and my interests:
From the video game Journey, which is one of my favorite examples of subtle storytelling and worldbuilding that leaves lots of room for interpretation.
The one and only Alcatraz Smedry, from Brandon Sanderson’s Alcatraz books. One of my favorite characters ever, full stop, for his sense of humor, earnestness, and darkness.
My sister and I’s beautiful whiteboard approximation of the chart of Heralds and Radiant orders from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. We may not have art skills, but we have passion.
Small me assisting in international travel.
Jyn Erso from Rogue One. Another one of my favorite characters, for her fire, her complexity, and the way she finds purpose and identity through reconciliation. (It’s in the movie, guys, if you just read between the lines enough…)
Me having fun at my university in the mistcloak I knit (based off the mistcloaks of Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series).
My sister having fun in the same mistcloak.
My handmade approximation of Jyn’s kyber crystal necklace from Rogue One, which yeah, sure, I only wear on a regular basis because it’s a pretty necklace.
Me attempting to talk to the one and only Brandon Sanderson.
My mother at the ziggarut at Ur that I visited, wearing hijab and abaya. Our family is Christian, but us women sometimes wear the hijab to show respect for the Muslim culture around us.
This is an image that’s sent to your Wii Message Board once you’ve 100% completed Super Mario Galaxy 2, showing all 242 Power Stars that you’ve gotten. My sister and I are proud recipients of this message and wish we were better photo editors so we could make this picture good enough quality to put on a T-shirt.
Nastasia, my favorite character from my favorite video game, Super Paper Mario. I love her so much that I came up with an awesome theory about Nastasia that really should be canon.
Me with a selection of my favorite books as of September 2014. (It’s a bit outdated now.) From top to bottom: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, Nothing but the Truth by Avi, The Slippery Slope by Lemony Snicket, The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, Super Paper Mario (fine, not a book, but a favorite creative work of mine), Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, The Language Construction Kit by Mark Rosenfelder, Describing morphosyntax by Thomas Payne, The Fallacy Detective by Nathaniel and Hans Bluedorn, The Writing Revolution by Amalia Gnanadesikan, The Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri, The Complete Alcatraz by (wait for it) Brandon Sanderson, Head First Java by Kathy Sierra and Bert Bates, Vogue Knitting (which is just a book about knitting technique, not about vogue knitting per se), and finally the ESV Study Bible.
My favorite shot from a scene in Playmobil of Lemony Snicket running away from an angry mob (another incident mentioned in A Series of Unfortunate Events). Yes, he is showing his face, but don’t you love that pitchfork in the background?
A combination of the symbols of the Windrunners and Lightweavers, two types of magic users from Brandon Sanderson’s Stormlight Archive. I put them together because, much to my embarrassment, I really ship the main Windrunner and Lightweaver together. Curse you, Brandon Sanderson, I never ship couples like that.
What on earth is this “&c” that you keep using?
It means “etc.” The ampersand originally meant “et” (Latin for “and”) and so instead of bothering to write three whole letters for “etc” you’d abbreviate the “et” and just write “&c.” For some reason people nowadays write the three whole letters instead, but I, for one, think ampersands look cool and are fun to write, and prefer to transcribe it as “&c.”
How can I contact you?
You can use my email, which is a secret, so I wish you luck with that, or you can comment, or you can contact me here.
Where else can I find you on the Internet?
I don’t really have a public social media presence, but I am in a few places under the handle “sheesania”:
- GitHub: Personal coding projects as well as some work I’ve done at internships.
- Goodreads: Reviews of (or at least responses to) books I had strong feelings about, and records of what I’ve read.
- Tor.com: Very long discussions about Brandon Sanderson books, and occasional comments on other fandom things of interest.
- Holy Worlds: I’m not active there anymore, but when I was I found it to be an intelligent, friendly place to discuss writing, worldbuilding, and Christianity.