About Me

Here’s a bullet point list with random facts about me for you busy, information-byte-inclined people with precious little time to read about how neat I am:

• My full name is Leif Even Pettersen. ‘Leif’ sounds like the word ‘life’. ‘Even’ sounds like the name ‘Evan’. ‘Pettersen’ is with the ‘pet’ sound, not the ‘peet’ sound. It should go without saying that no one has ever spelled or pronounced my name correctly on the first try.

• Even though my family came over from Norway like six generations ago, I’ve been blessed with a just-off-the-boat, Norwegian name. Every time I meet someone new, I have to explain that ‘Leif’ is a traditional name that means ‘beloved son’ and that, no, my parents were not hippies. Well, actually they were big-time hippies, but that’s not why I’m named ‘Leif’. This speech is very well rehearsed now, with exquisitely timed throw-away jokes and pauses for the laughter to die down. During this speech, so that it doesn’t run too long (like this explanation), I have a tendency to just say ‘I’m Norwegian’, much to the exasperation of people actually born in Norway.

• I’m 42 years old.

• I look 30-32 depending on how hungover I am.

• I am originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota.

• I have been a struggling travel writer since June 2003.

•  My sixth and seventh assignments for Lonely Planet were updating the next editions of Europe on a Shoestring and Eastern Europe. My Lonely Planet work also appears in Tuscany & Umbria, Romania and Italy (uncredited for reasons too tedious to go into).

• In late 2007 I re-settled in my native Minneapolis after over four years of homelessness, during which time I lived in temporary residences in Cadiz, Spain; Iasi, Romania; Torregrande (Oristano), Italy and Torricella, Italy (between extended periods of traveling like a bastard).

• I retired from the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis at age 33, after nine years of semi-dedicated, fickle service in a variety of positions, eventually focusing on electronic payments systems.

• I have been a juggler of varying degrees of dedication since age 12, making me the most coordinated and dexterous person you’ll ever meet (unless you meet a better juggler).

• Though I was born right-handed, after 30 years of juggling I am now effectively ambidextrous. The only thing I can’t do just as well with my left hand as with my right is shoot a basketball.

• I have what I refer to as a Selective Photographic Memory. Examples:
o I can’t remember the name of my hostel, but I can repeat, verbatim, a conversation I had 15 years ago.
o I am terrible with names, but I never forget a face.
o I can’t remember the brand names of wines that I drink three times a week, but I can memorize lists of foreign words and phrases with very little effort.

• I like chocolate.

• I type with exactly four fingers: thumb, index and middle on the right hand, middle on the left.

I can escape from a straitjacket in less than two minutes.

• Yes, really.

• Don’t ask why I can escape from a straitjacket in less than two minutes.

• On a related note, I can never go back to Singapore.

• I am a bit of a language nut. I have studied German, Norwegian, sign language, Romanian, Italian and Spanish, only the latter three of which I can utilize with any effectiveness. Next on my list is French. Or possibly grammatically correct English, but I doubt it.

• I have never taken a writing class.

• I’m long-winded and I don’t care. Just between you and me, when this threatens my word count limit, I employ-creative-hyphenation to confuse editors.

• I smell really good. My sweat has aphrodisiac properties so strong that it could make giant pandas mate.

• I’ve worked as a juggler, actor, college radio DJ, wedding DJ, switchboard operator (twice), home office sales guy at a lamentable electronics store that rhymes with ‘Test Tie’, ESL teacher, administrative assistant, electronic payments helpdesk agent, electronic payments application specialist, electronic payments business analyst, electronic payments high speed network analyst and bumbling, yet adorable travel writer.

• Still reading? Well, it only gets more obscure from here.

• I am the best parallel parker I have ever seen.

• I was born with a tracheal-esophageal fistula (my esophagus was damaged and I couldn’t eat). It was repaired that same day and now I have a gnarly scar on my back that I tell people is from a machete injury.

• One time, I spent two uninterrupted weeks confined to the Minneapolis Skyway system as a livability test (stunt) for an article I was writing. I also blogged about the experience.

• Innie

• Will rap for food.

• An informal poll taken in Malaysia and Thailand revealed that nine out of 10 people think I look like David Beckham, which is good enough for me.

• If you’re still reading, you may be searching for my email address, so here you go:

Emails from groupies and people offering (paying!) work are given all due priority.