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Updated on November 25, 2016
Paul Jarvis answers this week’s 20 Questions instalment. 20Q profiles bloggers, creators, artists, inspiring people, innovators, philanthropists, and entrepreneurs. Don’t miss these past features.
20 Questions with Paul Jarvis
Years ago, I’d heard whisperings about a man named Paul Jarvis. “Try his cupcakes,” they said. “He and Lisa make amazing cupcakes,” they said. So all I really knew was that there was this guy named Paul and that he and his wife made incredible cupcakes – vegan ones, no less. I also knew that they fronted an acoustic folk band known as Mojave. The band’s name makes sense, know that I know much more of Paul, being that he’s rather fond of California’s Mojave Desert. In fact, when I contacted him about participating in 20 Questions, the desert is where he was.
In recent years, Paul and Lisa packed up their lives in Vancouver and traded the city for the west coast of Vancouver Island. Paul now spends his days writing, podcasting, creating, growing his garden, and living a lifestyle that reflects his fierce love of the environment. Lucky for us, Paul has found the time to answer 20 Questions and his (sometimes surprising) answers are, in a word, rad. Read for yourself…
1. What are you really excited about these days?
Growing stuff This year I built a fairly large greenhouse as well as expanded my garden. I’d like to get to 50/50 in summers as far as food I buy versus food I grow. I think it’s totally doable on the island with a mix of greenhouses and beds. I’m lucky to have a few acres to play with, but it is slow work.
2.What was the last thing you created?
I created a podcast episode this morning for my show The Freelancer. I can’t think of a day that doesn’t go by when I’m not making something: mostly articles, podcasts, courses, software, and workshops. It’s been part of my life for a few decades now, so I’m fairly addicted to creating, ha.
3. Making yourself accessible through social media opens the door to admiration but also criticism. How do you handle criticism?
I get everything from hate mail to death threats… fairly regularly. My words and voice show up a lot in certain circles and I think that really bugs some people. I’m pretty good at brushing it off because: a) it happens a lot; and b) pretty much every single time it has more to do with the other person and bad shit in their life than anything I’ve said or done. It also matters a lot for the type of criticism – I get criticized by people who don’t buy things from me, so their opinions of me don’t really matter. If I was getting constantly criticized from my students or customers, then I’d probably pay attention to it (thankfully that doesn’t happen).
I’m human, so sometimes criticism can sting. But most of the time, after the initial shock, I forget about it pretty quickly. I’d rather focus on helping the people that support me than the opinions of people who don’t care.
4. When I first heard the name “Paul Jarvis,” I associated it with music. Your life seems to have taken off into a different trajectory, so what was the catalyst for the shift?
So I’ve always been both a maker of things online and a touring musician. It just depends what circles you run in for what you think of if you hear my name. Music has taken a serious back seat lately, because my focus has been pulled away from it – which I’m cool with. I’m sure I’ll circle back on it at some point and be happy that I took a break.
5. What’s something you aspire to that might surprise people?
I really want to distill my own spirits. Which is a little funny since I don’t drink. But still (a little distillation humour), it seems like the right mix of science, art, and wackiness for me. Plus, I grow barely, rye, and corn so it’d be interesting to take those from seed to finished alcohol. I have no elaborate plans to operate some Vancouver Island moonshine business. I just want to see if I can learn it and do it.
6. The Breakfast Club featured a rebel, a princess, a brainiac, an outcast, and a jock. Who were you in high school?
The geek. Was there a nerd in that movie? I never saw it because I was watching Star Wars on repeat.
7. If I gave you $50,000 to expand the scope of something you’re currently doing, what would it be?
I’d give it back. I hate owing people money, ha.
8. If I dropped you off at the airport with a ticket to anywhere, where are you headed?
Palm Springs. Luckily there’s a direct flight from Victoria. I love the desert, it’s such a nice juxtaposition to living in a rainforest. Especially come February when I haven’t seen the sun for weeks.
9. You’ve seemingly accomplished a lot in the very short time span of the last few years. Where do you see yourself in 2021?
My hope is that I’ve got a jetpack. Or a teleporter. Failing that, I just hope I’m happy. I suck at planning long-term or setting goals. I’d rather just go with the flow and see where it takes me. Hopefully… to a jetpack.
10. If I was a highly skilled bartender, what drink would you ask me to make for you right now?
I’m allergic to alcohol. So I’d probably just ask for your strongest ginger ale.
11. It’s now 2:00 a.m. and I’ve served you half a dozen ginger ales. Where are you going for your greasy food fix?
Oh geez, that’s a LOT OF SUGAR, KEIRA. I also don’t think anything South Island is open that late. But if it was a little earlier, I’d cut through that sugar rush with spicy curry from my favourite restaurant, Turmeric.
12. On southern Vancouver Island, what’s the one restaurant that no one has heard of but everyone should eat at?
Turmeric in langford. I’m vegan and gluten-free and they have a ton of options. Even if you’re not, they have a ton of options. I could eat there every day. The owners are some of the nicest people you’ll ever meet too.
13. What’s the biggest misconception people have about you in real life?
That I’m extroverted. I’m absolutely comfortable writing or doing my podcast, but get me in a group of people in real life and I have a really hard time. I’d also rather stay home than go out (unless it’s to Turmeric since they don’t deliver to my area).
14. If you could star as any character in the remake of any movie, which famous role would you reprise?
Darth Vader. He was a badass, but also, I could do the role without speaking (James Earl Jones does that) and without anyone seeing my face.
15. If you could learn a new skill, language, or hobby, what would it be?
Definitely woodworking. I can cobble together rough things with wood (like raised beds), but every time I try to build something that looks finished or polished, it’s awful.
16. What are you most proud of?
That I’ve earned a living doing creative stuff for 20 years.
17. Who is (or was) the single most influential person in your life?
I can’t honestly thing of any one person. I’ve never been one look to others, I like to figure things out for myself (e.g. the hard way).
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?
Awesome! One, my wife Lisa; two, Andy Weir (the guy who wrote The Martian); and three, my internet boyfriend Jason Zook (because he’s fun to hang out with).
19. What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you?
Want two tickets to Palm Springs?
20. I should have known! So do you want two tickets to Palm Springs?
HECK YA I DO!
Meet Paul Jarvis:
All photos are provided courtesy of Paul Jarvis.