Sunday, December 12, 2004

100 Things About Me

I'm feeling narcissistic today, and have been reading too much Proust, since it is way too hot to weed the garden. So, to up the banality of this blog, 100 random facts about yours truly, virtually none of them genuinely proustian or of any great interest.

1. I am exactly 6' tall, and share a birthday (60 years apart) with Julia Child, who was also 6' tall. This means nothing, but pleases me.

2. I did not immediately feel overwhelming love for my children when they were born. More like interest, and a certain degree of abstract concern. Love came later, but hard.

3. I will eat pretty much anything except aspic. That has included many things not classed as "food" in this country.

4. I grew up in a family where people made things and did things themselves. I remember helping my father smelt bullets for his target shooting in our home furnace, and watching my grandmother's hands as she knit, thinking that if only I could learn to mimic her movements, I could do that too. My step-mother pretty much singlehandedly turned our house when I was growing up, from a wrecked stable with no heat into a gorgeous period home.

5. I was given at birth, by my grandmother and great aunt, lifetime memberships in the DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) and Eastern Star (women freemasons). For some strange reason, I have never pursued them, although my friend Steve and I have considered starting a Jewish chapter of the DAR for the fun of annoying them.

6. The Jewish thing isn't even the worst thing about me for the DAR - I'm part Cherokee, and my Mom was raised in a trailer park. I think I get my taste for country music from there. Oh, and Native American may not be the worst shadow on my racial purity, as Grandma took pains to deny strenuously. Terrible, ain't it?

7. I cannot follow any kind of diagram, no matter how obvious. I was 25 before I could read a map. Visual imagery in general doesn't make a lot of sense to me, and I don't think in images.

8. My family has a Groucho Marx thing, and I grew up watching his movies obsessively. Simon's middle name is "Julius" for Groucho.

9. I have been truly, deeply in love three times. Only one of them requited. Fortunately, the requited one I'm married to.

10. I am a real pain in the ass to live with - I have this on excellent authority and with plenty of external corroboration by multiple sources.

11. I never really liked Middlemarch all that much, despite the name of this blog. I prefer _Daniel Deronda_ or even _Silas Marner_. Although, really, I'd just rather read Fielding.

12. I always claimed to hate Melville, but during my last pregnancy was seized with a sudden, desperate desire to read about whales. I didn't hate it, although I haven't changed my dissertation topic or anything.

13. I am a mean Mommy - I have a "only two repetitions of any story in one day" rule. And only one reading per day of _Green Eggs and Ham_.

14. I like cats better than dogs, but only slightly. Cats are less needy, and I already have children if I want needy things.

15. I remember my father heckling Ronald Reagan at a rally in 1980. He called him "Turkey," I think because he knew we were watching and did not want to curse. I was very impressed by this.

16. I really liked LSD the couple of times I tried it. I was fond of pot, too. I have not yet prepared my anti-drug speech for my children, although it will probably have to be a variation of, "Well, I did drugs. Your grandparents did drugs. Great-Grandma smoked pot a couple of times. Maybe you should think of a more original way to rebel, no?"

17. Despite the fact that I have 30+ hours labors, I love being in labor - it gets me the hell out of pregnancy. Pain, schmain, as long as I'm not pregnant any more.

18. I could eat sushi 3 meals a day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. This would probably not be good for me, nor for my budget.

19. When in doubt, I cook twice as much food as anyone could realistically need. I am nearly always in doubt. It is a compulsion, passed down through several generations, from at least my great grandmother. No one ever runs out of food at my house, although I am perpetually anxious that they will.

20. I am oddly flexible for someone not thin or athletic. I can still do a split and come up without using my hands. Given that I have had three children and am in my 30s, I am proud of this.

21. I made Eric promise to stay married to me at least 75 years. After that (he'll be 103, I'll be 101) we can date whoever we like.

22. I am bisexual. Since I am also monogamous, this is mostly irrelevant, but it makes it fun to go out girl watching with my husband.

23. My mother and step-mother (better known as Susie) got legally married last May in their hometown, Beverly, the first lesbian couple to do so in their community. I am so proud of them, and so pleased that I'm from the state of Massachusetts.

24. In all my years, it would never have occurred (until I read about it recently) to me that there was such a thing as a support group for children of gay parents. A support group for children of narcissistic baby boomers might have been a good thing, however.

25. My father thinks I'm his clone. There is some truth there, enough to be scary, but not quite as much as he imagines. Still, it is always sobering to know that your career choice is pretty much what your father would have picked for you.

26. I like red wine more than white. Last time we went to France, Eric picked Alsace for our wine tour. He owes me a week in Burgundy, maybe for our tenth anniversary.

27. I have had cats named: Gustave Mahler, Entropy, Turnip, Mr. Myxyzptlk, Mnemosyne, Alas Poor Yorick, Tycho Brahe and Angus Og. The dog is named Rufus T. Firefly (points to the first person who gets the reference.)

28. Although I despise virtually everything about pregnancy, I really like babies. This surprised me, because I expected to prefer older children who I could talk to. I like kids a lot too, but there's something about really little babies that I adore.

29. I have four different books in progress, and the worst case of publishing anxiety you could imagine. Expect them in print in 2092.

30. The smell of cabbage makes my happy and nostalgic for my Paternal great-grandmother. I suspect it is a genetic affection, on the polish side.

31. The smell of pipe smoke is pretty much an aphrodisiac for me, but I consider it unethical to press Eric to affect a pipe.

32. I have a fairly impressive vocal range, but a totally mediocre voice. But I can sing tenor, which makes up for a lot, since tenors are always in short supply. In my dreams, I can really sing, and sound a lot like Etta James.

33. The only things I miss about Christianity since becoming a Jew are the smell of pine trees in my house at Christmas (although not the pinetree dog barf on the rug ;-), not having to edit the words to "Chicken Soup with Rice" when reading to my sons, and the concept of poverty as a positive aesthetic virtue.

34. Even though it no longer bears any resemblance to the place I spent my adolescence wandering 15 years ago, I have a certain nostalgia for Harvard Square.

35. The older I get the less I like to read James Joyce (who I once loved) and the less impressed I am by Molly Bloom.

36. I like to organize things. As opposed to cleaning them. I especially like to organize books and yarn.

37. I own enough yarn to open my own shop. I'm gonna have warm socks at the apocalypse, dammit.

38. I like winding skeins into balls as much as knitting - I find it very soothing.

39. I have never read the ending of some of my favorite novels - I just couldn't stand to have them be finished. I still don't know what happens at the end of Nabokov's _Pale Fire_ although I can guess. And I won't tell you (lest someone who might hire me reads this) which one, but there's a Shakespeare play I've never read - I'm saving it as something to look forward to on my 100th birthday.

40. I have never read the end of Fanny Burney's _Cecelia_, but not because I liked it. I'm sure this matters to none of you, but it is a book I'm supposed to have read.

41. I mostly think American Literature before 1900 was a waste of time, with three exceptions -Twain, Dickinson and Whitman. They are the obvious and trite choices, but the only ones. Ok, I've softened a little on Melville, but he still wrote too much, too often.

42. I have two sisters. Rachael and I are 1 year and six days apart. We hated each other for most of our childhoods, but are finally mostly over it. I used to call her "Wurm" - with an odd degree of affection.

43. My other sister, Vicki, is very cool, and to top off her coolness, produced my perfect niece, Abigail. I like this aunt thing very much.

44. My husband's childhood has made me realize that I would not rather have been an only child, although it took quite a while to get there.

45. I was so terrified of motherhood (of the possibility that I might not love my child) that I almost didn't care that I was two weeks past due when Eli was born.

46. I had my third baby at the exact stroke of midnight on December 16. I did not realize, until I did so, that midnight between 12/16 and 12/17 is still 12/16 - it isn't the next day until 12:01. Had I thought about it, I might have been able to figure it out.

47. I am very good at taking other people's ideas to their logical conclusion. I'm not so good at coming up with new ones on my own. But people find the former impressive at times.

48. I don't really care that much for chocolate - except mixed with peanut butter or fruit. The more adulterated, the better.

49. I am not at all afraid of heights, and love to hang off the edge of high things. This scares the heck out of my husband, so I (mostly) try not to do it in front of him.

50. I had cooler taste in music (Punk vs. the ubiquitous boy music, Led Zepplin) that Eric in high school. It is quite a remarkable thing that I was cooler than anyone about anything - ever.

51. I am freaked out by horror movies, fake blood and guts, gross jokes on tv. I am totally unsqueamish about all those things in real life, and have had ample contact with them back when I was doing EMS. I don't understand this about myself at all.

52. I wrote forty pages this past week - and deleted 24 of them.

53. I hate driving - I will do almost anything to get someone else to drive instead of me. I would be delighted never to have to get in a car again.

54. I like to win. This can be very annoying, whether I win or not.

55. If you are sick, I am the nicest person in the world, even if I am sick myself.

56. I believe that the right kind of tea fixes any problem or illness. I own nearly every kind on earth.

57. My husband has been known to refer to me as his "beloved vagina dentata." This is more appropriate than I like.

58. I talk to myself, particularly when I am working out ideas. I particularly like to walk and talk to myself. I cannot chew gum at the same time, and do not try.

59. I have an extremely poor memory for fiction - I can read most mysteries at least twice before the ending isn't a surprise. I read extremely quickly, but I have to read twice to really retain things.

60. I wanted to be Joan Jett when I was 12. Secretly, I'd still like to be her.

61. I actually like doing Latin declensions and complex math problems.

62. If I had my way, we'd live much further from civilization than we do. I like quiet, space and no one remotely in sight.

63. I am wildly shy, and mostly hide it by being kind of obnoxious and talking too much. I hate meeting new people. Mostly, people do not like me that much when we first meet. I am an acquired taste.

64. My first memory is of my parents bringing my sister home from the hospital. We lived on the fourth floor of an apartment with very long, low windows, and I recall looking down with someone (my grandmother, maybe?) as my father helped my mother and the new baby out of the car.

65. I have a "save the world" complex. I used to run off and try and actually do it, now I write about it. This is, perhaps, why one shouldn't trust anyone over 30.

66. I have been pregnant or nursing for almost six consecutive years now. I anticipate at least another few months of nursing Isaiah (Simon stopped at 2, Eli at 3).

67. I have been sleep deprived for five out of the last six years. There is a connection between this statement and the previous one.

68. I am a semi-skeptic, in that I tend to doubt things but do them anyway. I am presently taking homeopathy for carpal tunnel syndrome, and, psychosomatically or not, I think it helps. That does not mean I believe in homeopathy.

69. I am torn between admiration for Romanticism and the wish that there would be a great movement of adult, rather than adolescent ardor. I mostly love Percy Shelley, have come to terms with parts of Wordsworth, and like Coleridge and Byron very much. _Wuthering Heights_, is, however, the most overrated book of all time, and Wordsworth the most overrated poet save Jory Graham.

70. I don't like most contemporary fiction I read, for much the same reason I don't like a lot of movies. You have to surprise me to get me paying attention.

71. I don't like to own first editions of books - I like books I can write in, turn down a page on, etc... The sole exception is the first editiion of US Grant's Memoirs my Dad sent me for my birthday. It was my great-great-great uncle's, I believe.

72. I probably should have gone into advertising. I'd be really, really good at it. Of course, I'd miss my soul. Eric particularly admires my campaign for "FauxFu" a meat-based tofu substitute for lapsed vegetarians.

73. In part, I homestead because no one seems to really believe it is possible to reduce one's consumption to a fair share of the earth's resources. I have not yet fully succeeded, but I believe it is possible, and that someone has to do it.

74. I hate it when people say "yuck" about food, or call something disgusting that they don't like. My children already know better. I've seen enough hungry people to find only that disgusting.

75. I love to teach. I can never believe they pay me for something that's so enjoyable. And I love to teach writing particularly. Lit people are supposed to hate it, to think it isn't very important. But ultimately, teaching people to write well is teaching them to think clearly, and there's nothing that matters more.

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