Posted on July 15, 2016
20 Questions with Steffani Cameron
20 Questions with Steffani Cameron
Confession time: I’ve never actually met Steffani Cameron in real life (or “IRL” as the kids say these days). She and I first crossed online paths by way of an intense conversation over the art of making guacamole with our mutual friend, Duane Storey. Years ago, Steffani shuttered her life in Vancouver, opting instead for Victoria. While island life certainly seemed to suit her, in 2015 Steffani decided to step out in an epic way and live life as a “slow traveller.” It’s sometimes hard to keep track of Steffani these days; one week she may be in Mexico, and the next in Croatia or Portugal. Her blog, Full Nomad, chronicles her global travels. And while Steffani’s story is undoubtedly inspiring, she is more than what she does: Steffani is a writer, cookbook author, niece, freelancer, photographer, and she’s got a wickedly good sense of humour. This week Steffani is answering 20 Questions for you.
1. What are you really excited about these days?
Everything, I guess. My life changes nearly constantly. As someone who no longer has a home, whose life is completely up in the air, the greatest experience of my life could be right around the corner and I don’t even know where it will be. I couldn’t have imagined last November when I pulled up to the Roman Arena in Pula, Croatia, that there would be NO ONE visiting that day and I’d have a 2,050-year-old coliseum to myself. Like, what? I couldn’t have planned everyone cancelling in the rest of the rooms in a Portuguese beach house in December so that I had a $5,500 two-week five-bedroom rental to myself for $650.
Sometimes I get unpleasant surprises, but other times I can’t believe that I get to live this life of mine. It ain’t glamorous. It’s a lot of budget-crunching, penny-pinching, and stress, but it’s also pretty incredible. So right now it’s about figuring out what’s after Mexico. Spain? Morocco? The Balkans? The Outer Hebrides? Prague? Those are some of the places I’m thinking about in the next year and, yeah, it’s pretty exciting to do.
2. What was the last picture you took on your phone?
It was a video I was trying to do of a storm that had broken out here in the high desert of Mexico’s Guanajuato. Turns out 10,000-foot mountains can make it tricky to see all the lightning, but it also turns out that timelapse video doesn’t capture lightning since it happens between the frames. Oops. Cool storm, though.
The last photo on my phone was this funny poster I saw on a telephone pole walking home from my not-very-good meal in the hotel next door. It was for computer skills teaching and included “graphic design [diseno grafico]” and “Photoshop” but it had all the visual prowess of something I coulda laid out in the early ’90s with clipart. Oh, Mexico.
3. Making yourself accessible through social media and blogging opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?
It helps to realize the world has petty, angry, jealous people and nothing’s ever gonna sort that out. They have their damages, I have mine, and I really don’t care if they don’t like what I’m doing. That wasn’t always the case. I used to get hurt and be offended, but eventually I toughened up and can ignore it after I take some time. Haters gonna hate.
That said, I’ve had terrific feedback and critiques. It’s all about looking at the source and their language, and deciding if they’re coming from a place where they’re genuinely interested in helping me grow. If so, I’m likely going to not only listen to that feedback but probably also look at whether maybe they’re onto something about where I can improve. At times it’s been incredibly helpful.
4. What is your bottom line, number one, golden rule when it comes to blogging?
Never, ever phone it in. Every word on my blog today is a reflection of who I am as a creator, writer, and person, and if I can’t do it authentically and to a level that it’d be something I myself would read, then I’d rather not post at all. (But sometimes I am weak or overspent. It happens.) Still, write well, write what’s true, and edit minimum 4 or 5 times.
5. Everyone has a spirit animal. What’s yours and why?
Honestly, I don’t know. I’ve never given it thought. I think “Chewbacca Mom” is my spirit animal, maybe. Can I say that? Not because I’m like her but because I’d like to be more like her. She didn’t care what we thought. She bought a mask for herself, not for her kids, and proceeded to enjoy the hell out of it and laugh her ass off. If it needs to have real fur, then likely a Westie or Yorkie just because they plod through life without a care in the world, looking at everything, enjoying themselves, in no rush at all.
6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?
Outcast/Brainiac, in that order, because I wasn’t as smart as I could be back then, but I had a lot of potential. I was that kid in grade 10 who’d go read a book in the stairwell for lunch. I had friends, too, but I always felt like I was on the outside looking in. There’s a Jesus & The Mary Chain song called “In With the Out Crowd” which posthumously feels like the anthem for my grade 11/12 years.
7. If I gave you $50,000 to start a business, what would you start?
I’d probably just keep doing what I’m doing but hire people to expedite it. Finish the book I’m writing, put my photography on my blog to sell, put myself in some situations that could further my career — conferences, hire people to help edit the countless hours of videos I’ve shot between Europe and Mexico, that sort of thing. I’m doing what I want to be doing… I just need money, time, and help to do it better and more profitably.
8. What’s your all-time favourite jam from the ‘80s or ‘90s?
Hard question. I think two songs that really resonate for me right now are Gomez’ “Get Miles” and Wilco/Bragg’s “California Stars” because they both evoke travel for me today and the feeling that comes with it — sometimes a world of isolation, sometimes a world of beauty-filled bliss.
9. Blogging can ebb and flow for a lot of people. Where do you see your blog in 2021?
Blogging’s dead, long live blogging. I had my brush with blogging fame in 2005/2006 and my flame burned out when life got tough, catapulting me from 5,000+ visits a day down to 50 basically overnight. For a long time now blogging has been solely about me having a voice for anything I’ve got worth saying. I don’t see that changing. It’s a soapbox and a way of casting my voice into the winds of time. Whatever other people blog for, I dunno, man, but just having a voice is the means to the end for me.
10. If I was a highly-skilled bartender, what drink would you ask me to make for you right now?
I was just in Oaxaca for a few weeks and the last four days I was there, I discovered this drink called Señor Pepino. It’s (expensive single-village) mezcal, cucumber, spearmint, and lime. It is the single-most refreshing drink I’ve had in my life. I had a few Vancouver people together in what, in itself, is a weird long story, but we all went there on my second-last night in town and I introduced them to it. All four of them sipped at the same time and literally said simultaneously “WOW!” It’s that bafflingly good.
11. It’s now 2:00 a.m. and I’ve served you half a dozen of those. Where are you going for your greasy food fix?
Good lord, I couldn’t even tell you. In my youth, it’d be eggs and bacon at Hamburger Mary’s on Davie Street [in Vancouver]. Poutine would be a good fit too, but I don’t know who makes it great these days. But, honestly, who has standards at 2am? That’s “easy” hour. Gimme a Mickey D’s cheeseburger and I’d be thrilled. I can slum it like that.
12. In your city, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?
The last place that was “my city” was Victoria, BC, and there I fell in love with Chorizo and Co. After about 3+ months in Mexico, Spain, and Portugal, they still make the best chorizo of my life. It’s a little tapas bar. They make churros & chocolate fresh to order, also better than any I had in Spain, and they have this breakfast sandwich to die for — the “bocata,” on a Portuguese bun with red pepper aioli, an egg, Manchego cheese, and this thin salami-style chorizo called “chorizon” they crisp up on the grill top. I’d stab a granny for one right now. YOUR granny. No, not yours, you seem nice.
13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?
I go by “Snarkysteff” on Twitter and I think people suspect I’m gonna be really in-your-face or obnoxious, but I actually am the kind of person who says please/thank you, holds doors open for strangers, and the like. The other thing I get is that I’m “so erudite” in my writing that I’m going to be intimidating to talk to because I’m a smarty-pants but then they discover I’m really low-key and quite the opposite, except when I wanna be eloquent and there’s enough coffee in me to make it happen.
14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?
Oh, geez. Hmm. I had to Google for lists because there’s no stand-out for me. I’m a work in progress and flawed to beat all hell, but I like working on this work-in-progress, you know what I mean? If I had to pick someone, though, I guess it’d be Meryl Streep as Karen Blixen in Out of Africa because she was a fearless adventurer who moved to Africa, didn’t put up with shit from her man, struck out on her own, fell for Robert Redford, and wrote an incredible book. It’s a true story. Plus, Africa.
15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?
Spanish. I feel like I’m banging my head against the wall right now in Mexico. If I had more money and time, I would take classes, but I’m strapped and it’s not an option right now. I’ll figure it out over time, I’m sure, but it’d be real swell to speed that progress up. It’s a struggle to even order meals. I keep shrugging and saying “Yo soy guero!” which means “I’m so white!” and they laugh and forgive me for butchering their tongue.
16. Who are you most proud of?
I can’t name one person. My brother overcame his brain injury to be the first person to ever graduate with distinction from his phlebotomy courses. My friend Mark already had the job and career he wanted but went back to get his GED and graduate high school at age 40 for no other reason than to do it for himself. My nephew, because he’s just a really principled young man. On it goes.
17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?
Probably my mom, who died when I was 26, because she decided in her late-40s that her life wasn’t doing it for her and she started learning to sail, became a skipper, raced yachts in the Mediterranean, climbed mountains in China, all before she died at 57. I think it was the fact that she decided it wasn’t too late to chase her dreams that helped me eventually have the courage at 39 to say I, too, could still chase my dreams. And here I am.
18. I’m throwing a dinner party next weekend. You’re invited and can bring three others with you (dead or alive). Who should I set the table for?
I probably would’ve said Hunter Thompson in my youth but he’d be an obnoxious drug-addled guest that I wouldn’t have patience for now. So, likely someone like Mata Hari because of the stories she could tell. Paul Theroux because he’s spent 50 years travelling the world and is one of the most prolific writers of our time (and a huge influence on my own writing). And likely my mom because she’s been dead for 16 years and it’d be nice to check in with her. Or my grandmother.
19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?
“I have too much money. Can you take a million dollars off my hands?”
20. I have too much money. Can you take a million dollars off my hands?
Can you refer me to a good accountant?
All photos are provided courtesy of Steffani Cameron.