Spotlight: Brenda Essig (Zanymuse)

By Nancy Polanski (nap) on July 12, 2010

When I first asked Zany to be in our Spotlight, she was reluctant. She thought she wouldn't have enough to say and people wouldn't be interested. This interview proves she was wrong on both counts.

We've a lot of ground to cover, so let's just get this conversation started, shall we? 

Q. I'll begin by asking you how you define yourself. You've told me “We are the culmination of our genetic characteristics and our life experiences.” So tell us what made you “Zany.”

Brenda: Over the years I have heard people say they would love to be able to explore inside my head. It never fails to amuse me. What would they expect to discover in there? Would they be disappointed? I certainly do not have a way to describe my mental processes. I myself am fascinated with the human brain and the personalities of the people I come in contact with. Every individual seems to be a composite of multiple personalities. No one I know can be pigeon-holed into a single "type."

As one of five chil2010-07-10/nap/5e1d22dren I grew up knowing my parents loved me, that we would be cared for and that even when money was tight, we would be fed and clothed. We were taught that "The Lord would supply our needs, but not necessarily our wants." As an adult, I still try to make sure I am happy with having my needs cared for and not to let my lack of wants cause me to be unhappy.

I spent much of my childhood wandering through the woods with friends, both real and imaginary. I have lived in California all my life. I was born in Fresno, started school in Richmond, spent most of my youth in Stafford and other communities in Humboldt County, lived in Southern California for over 25 years. I lived in San Jose for six years and returned to Humboldt county and my beloved redwoods in 1994. Having experienced life in both metropolitan and rural settings I discovered that both offer a wide variety of people to enjoy. The people in the cities are not really different from those in the country. They simply live life at a different pace. Living rural suits my need for solitude, but it has its dr2010-07-10/nap/9406a4awbacks….

There are more second hand stores to explore in the city. I really miss all the different shops I used to rummage through every week. There is a sense of accomplishment and excitement found in reusing or re-purposing cast-off items that cannot be achieved by going out and buying something new.

Q. Are you still close to family? Are your parents still living?

Brenda: My Father passed away a couple of years ago. My Mother is still living. I try to spend as much time with her as possible. She is a truly amazing woman. When I grow up I want to be as strong as she is in facing life head on.

Q. You are invaluable to us here on Cubits. I'm sure 2010-07-10/nap/6866bewe have all used your computer expertise at one time or another. How did you become so interested in it, and is your family aware of your computer skills?

Brenda: I became interested in personal web space as a chance to express myself through my writings. Those early efforts were fun and I learned a bit as I explored different options. My first website grew to contain the sum of over a thousand poems and several short stories I wrote.....No one else ever saw them. I didn't tell anyone they existed. A severe case of an “extroverted introvert.” No wonder people tend to think me a bit odd.....

When my father became unable to carry on as a preacher, he mentioned that he would like to have a web page to use. I volunteered to set it up for him and was delighted to be able to give him a viable way to continue. That site developed a loyal following that grew beyond our expectations and he spent much of his last years enjoying the feedback it generated and gave his life a sense of purpose again.

Dad's experience made me realize that the internet is a tool that can make the lives of those who use it better. It opens windows into the world for those who would otherwise feel shut off from society.

Does my family know what I do? Not really, I guess they are aware of my passion for the computer but they do not generally check it out to see what I am up to. They all know about my efforts on behalf of my father but other than a few things I have written specifically for the grand children, they have not read nor are even aware of much else I have written. Imagine what they will find in my files when I am gone! I did ask my daughter to use her skill with the camera and add some images to the Playpen of Graphics database. She has said she will do that but her life is so full with her children right now, it may be a while before she finds the time.

I am currently employed as a Security Guard/Weighmaster for the Town of Scotia's Biomass Power Plant. Prior to this I spent over 30 years in the custom window coverings industry working for several manufacturers in customer service and sales positions and then in retail sales. I expect to continue working for as long as possible....another ten years probably.

Q. I heard you call yourself an “extroverted introvert.” What does that mean to you?

Brenda: I enjoy being arou2010-07-10/nap/202133nd people and crowds. In a work environment I have enjoyed sales and training assignments. That is the extrovert in me. The introvert part? I require a lot of alone time to feel happy and to find expression for my creative impulses.

My favorite people are imaginative. They create from an inner vision and share their creations through words and art. This is why I am fascinated by people like many of our members. Janet and her sister create marvelous sculptures, Sharon uses words and has a way of bringing those words to life that enthralls me. Kimberly shares her enthusiasm for life through her use of the camera and words. Arlene shares her love of cooking and KatG's pictures of her container gardens is nothing short of inspiring. There are no boring people here! There are lots of different interests and skills depicted in the universe of Cubits already and I expect to see even more established as time goes on. That is exciting! I can't even imagine what new ideas and interests we will be given as new people arrive.

Q. How would you describe your life today?

Brenda: I live with my darling husband who has always seen more ability in me than I could see in myself. I met Bob 37 years ago in Bakersfield at a gas station while helping a friend move. The van we were driving overheated and he came to our rescue. Now I have three children and ten grandchildren. They are all currently in Arizona so we do not get to see each other nearly as often as we would like but we talk on the phone frequently and of course, we use the internet to communicate also.

Bob has always been very supportive of anything I wanted to try. When I wanted to return to school at 24 he put me in the car and drove me to the admissions office. When I wanted to try making something artistic, he said. “ I can't see it in my'll have to show me.” When I received a box of silk scr2010-07-10/nap/5b0fc4aps in the mail and told him I wanted to use them to make pictures...he asked what else I needed...I said I had paints and other useful things but I was going to need a lot of glue. Ten minutes later he came back from town with a full gallon of white glue. When I finished the first piece, I put it in the back of the closet. Two days later he asked what I needed to hang it....Hang it? That never occurred to me. Bu2010-07-10/nap/cea592t there were some fence boards under the house and I began to sand them down to make a frame. He went out and bought me an electric sander ...Once it was framed I stuck it back in the closet.... he drug it back out and hung it in the living-room while I was at work. He now points it out to anyone that comes to the door and insisted I make one for the opposite wall. So we now have Oscar the confused turtle (note he has half the characteristics of a common red eared slider, and part sea tortoise)... and a huge dragonfly facing each other in the living room and I have finally quit blushing when he tells people I made them. In fact, I have actually decided that I am proud of them...and have learned to enjoy the knowledge that they are my creations and have quit trying to return them to the closet.

Q. And you SHOULD be proud of them! They are gorgeous and I would hang them on my wall in a second! How exactly are they made?

Brenda: The pictures are scraps of fabric glued onto a backboard. Think of it as a fabric decoupage project. I accented it with acrylic paints. It was a very fun and very messy project.

Q. Rapid Fire questions now...........Any other hobbies? Do you like to read? Watch Movies? TV?

Brenda: I enjoy dabbling with art supplies. Given time and opportunity I would like to have a kiln and be able to sculpt in clay. If I could spend the rest of my life doing what I want...I would be in a studio making a mess with clay and learning how to make stained glass windows. Movies? I like sentimental movies like those put out by Hallmark. TV? I enjoy shows like Drop Dead Diva, and House. Cooking? I have never enjoyed cooking or any other domestic activity. But I can make a nice piece of toast and boil water. Reading? I read almost anything. Historical novels, science fiction, fantasy, biographies, self help books. I collect music. I have an extensive collection of music files that is playing in the background almost all the time. I guess, if I had to name a favorite type of music it would be the big band era, or New Age sounds of classical music mixed with the sounds of nature.

Q. You also have a talent for writing short stories and poems. You mentioned writing over a thousand of them on your first website. No wonder you are so active on Sharon's Writers Cubit. How do you suppose the ideas come to you? Have you ever published any of them?

Brenda: The stories come from the introvert side of my personality. I seem to have a lot of characters hanging out inside my mind and they push their way out through words. I suppose they are the reason I am rarely bored. They are all representative of people I have known in some time or place in my life. Some of those characters are representative of me and others represent an alternative version of me. I enjoyed English in school because of a special English teacher in the 6th grade. She made it fun and challenged me to understand the plots and sub plots in the books and poems we studied.......And no, I never felt that my writings were good enough to merit publication.2010-07-10/nap/9dbe54

Q. Who else in your life has influenced you?

Brenda: My father.... Why? He was a very outgoing man with a love of people that made everyone feel special. He remained firm in his Faith throughout his life and when the end came, his Faith sustained us all.

Q. Who, past or present, would you like to meet, and why?

Brenda: Hellen Keller. She was not content to accept her physical limitations and let them define her. Such strength and courage is admirable.

Q. The work you do here on Cubits, as was mentioned before, is invaluable. Please talk about your own Cubits, Zany's Playpen and Playpen of Graphics.

Brenda: When I first heard about I realized that this was a tool that could make it easier for many people to find an outlet for their hobbies and interests. I have been delighted to see so many others take advantage of this opportunity. This is why I have tried to help others learn here. By helping others learn I continue to learn myself. I am repaid many times over by the friendships I have been able to forge. It is truly the highpoint of my day when I can help someone else learn to use the tools we have here and see them take that and make it work for them. I love reading the threads and seeing the light go on every time someone “gets it.”

Zany's Playpen shows 177 unique user names for this month. Only 80 of those have signed on as members. The Playpen of Graphics shows 101 unique user names but only 19 actual members. Both sites are open to everyone without membership requirement.

One thing I noticed was that people were struggling to find pictures for their various needs. I tried to help a little bit by taking requests for photo manipulation. But there seemed to be a real need for pictures and graphics that could be freely accessed and used to create banners and logos. That's why I started Playpen of Graphics. Having lost over 90 percent of my own graphic collection I am hoping to make it easier for everyone to find what they need. Every addition to the database is important. This project will only be successful if others are willing to contribute. It is a gift, and it is not easy to give up all control over your images to make them available for anyone to use. You never know exactly which image will be needed or how it may be altered to fill that need.

I hope that some of our very talented photographers and creative members will generously share their work with us and I invite anyone to step up and write a review of the editing software they use. Simple tutorials on those programs would also be helpful. This site will grow as more people step in and contribute to the experience.

Q. I have donated a number of my own images to the Database, and now maybe others will do the same. Brenda, you've been very patient with me, and graciously generous with your answers to my questions. Is there anything else you'd like to add before we close?

Brenda: I have experienced personal growth here at Cubits. For the first time, I am not afraid to let others read my stories and am discovering that I enjoy writing with the expectation of it being seen. Sharing knowledge and fantasy with others is more fun than anything I have ever known! My world has expanded beyond all my expectations. Each participant here is responsible for that. Thanks to each and everyone of you, and to Dave and Trish for providing us a place and the tools necessary to enrich our lives.


I've thoroughly enjoyed my time with Brenda.  I've learned so much from our conversations, and my respect for her has grown as a result.  She is multi-faceted and humble, imaginative and old fashioned, a gentle woman with a good sense of humor.  Please feel free to leave your comments below.

Related articles:
biography, computers, graphics, interview, short stories, spotlight, writing

About Nancy Polanski
I live in Western New York. I'm retired, after working for 30 years in the Microbiology Labs at our county hospital. My time now is spent mostly with the Karen refugee population in Buffalo, advocating for them, teaching, helping and enjoying them. I've twice traveled to their camps in Thailand and experienced their culture. It seems they have taught me more about life than I have taught them.

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Comments and discussion:
Subject Thread Starter Last Reply Replies
Our Zany! Trish Mar 27, 2011 9:47 AM 12
Great! gordo Jul 16, 2010 10:25 AM 0
Hello Zany kareoke Jul 14, 2010 10:14 AM 0
This is great! Katg Jul 14, 2010 7:12 AM 1
Oh WOW! vic Jul 13, 2010 8:31 PM 6
Ahhhhh Sharon Jul 13, 2010 12:24 PM 12
Wonderful wren Jul 12, 2010 11:12 AM 15
Brilliant! NEILMUIR1 Jul 12, 2010 8:13 AM 4
(((zany)) TwinLakesChef Jul 12, 2010 12:35 AM 1

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