September 29th, 2008

fire walk with me

100 Things About Me

From regyt , the most energy-intensive meme ever.

1. I was born six days late, delivered by forceps. I had swallowed some of my mother's amniotic fluid and had to have my stomach pumped immediately after emerging into the world. I've always thought there was significance to this, that I almost drowned in my mother, that I was born choking on water, but I'm not sure what it is.

2. My earliest memories are of my parents wearing black a lot and going to something called "rehearsal."

3. Both my parents were directors when I was very small. They met at UCLA, where my dad was in film school. I called my mother's monologues "marmalodes."

4. I was obsessed with marmalade from an early age, not because I liked the taste, but because I liked the word.

5. My first several words all started with B.

6. I was born in Seattle, and lived on Bainbridge Island for a while as an infant. Islands in the blood.

7. I was in several commercials as a child, around age 4 to 6, for my grandfather's advertising company. Regional television ads. I remember how odd I thought it was that people were pretending to be my parents, that they were so worried about me (a commercial for a bank exhorting one to save for one's children). I wanted to comfort them. Instead I did seventeen takes of them tucking me into bed.

8. With my first money from the commercials, my dad took me to the toy store to buy anything I wanted. I solemnly bought a $10 stuffed dolphin and put the rest in savings. I was 5.

9. When I was in first grade, I fell waist deep in wet cement while walking to school on Chinese New Year. (I went to a school with a very large Asian population and it was my favorite day.) There was no sign marking it, the street just opened up under me.

10. My mother taught me to read Tarot cards and cast astrology charts when I was 10.

11. I was a professional fortune-teller in New England for almost a year.

12. I am sometimes ashamed of being as fascinated by astrology as I am. Even my fluffiest friends seem to look down their nose at it. But I'm obsessed with categorization.

13. When I was 13, I volunteered for Bill Clinton's first campaign. I wanted to go into politics. I met him at a rally. I remember how much hope I felt, and how much I hated that I couldn't vote.

14. I have three brothers and a sister. All younger. I wish I were closer to all of them.

15. I graduated from high school when I was 15.

16. I married the man I lost my virginity to. I was 16 when we started dating. Our divorce is not yet final.

17. I ran through a plate glass door when I was 10. I had hundreds of stitches and was unable to walk for a long time. I have big, shark-bite style scars on my legs. They used to bother me, but now I kind of like them. They link me to my childhood. And hey, if you have a scar fetish, I'm a good girl to know.

18. When I was in college, my friends and I used to go down to the river that flows under the walls of Folsom Prison and light newspaper on fire, throw it into the water, and watch it float downstream past the floodlights.

19. I took and passed the British Degree Exams in Ancient Greek.

20. Sometimes all I want in the world is to live in the UK again. It actually hurts to think about it. My time living in Edinburgh was one of the happiest in my life.

21. I'm allergic to lemongrass and lavender.

22. One of the best times of my life was our 9th grade trip to Yosemite. It was one of the first times we were really away from our parents and the teachers more or less left me and my friends alone to run off and have rituals in the woods and climb mountains and fall in love. Sometimes I think I'll never find again what I had with the kids I knew then.

23. The kids I knew then by and large live in New York now. I used to invite them to my readings, but they never came, so I stopped.

24. I am the most successful teenage runaway you know. I love the word runaway for some reason, though I used to say I "left" like I'd left a marriage. When I left home I took The Lord of the Rings, the Complete Works of John Keats, Medea: The Sorceress, and a change of clothes. I forgot my toothbrush.

25. I was homeless in Sacramento for about eight months in 1996. I slept on benches, I snuck onto light rails for the heat, I ate when people took pity on me and was otherwise severely malnourished.

26. There were moments, despite starving, despite despair and loneliness and sheer stubborn gall getting me through the day, when I was intensely happy.

27. Alanis Morrissette was popular that winter. I think about trying to stay awake at Denny's when I hear her, because if you fall asleep they kick you out. I wrote to stay awake, on the backs of flyers.

28. Really, despite the steely exterior, I'm intensely romantic and goofy and love the people in my life with an intensity I doubt they realize. My whole being is made of longing.

29. I'm still not over what happened to me in Japan.

30. I've lived in every geographical region of the US except the deep south and the plains.

31. When I was homeless, I was obsessed with Henry Miller and Anais Nin. I stole a copy of Tropic of Capricorn from the local library. 

32. I love to sing, more than almost everything else. But I'm shy about it.

33. I have an extremely sensitive sense of smell. I couldn't even drink the milk in Japan because it's pasteurized at a different temperature, and the smell turned my stomach.

34. I dropped out of grad school to get married. To date, it's the only thing I've ever done that I'm ashamed of. I still feel intense guilt that I haven't gone back.

35. I secretly dream of writing a graphic novel.

36. I've been looking for a family my whole life.

37. I develop crushes easily, though I almost never act on them, even when I was single. I'm like a teenaged boy--I get paralyzed with fear and desire and just stand there kicking the sand.

38. Sometimes I feel like I'll burn up with the strength of all the things I want.

39. Sometimes it terrifies me how many of them I have.

40. I have had two truly religious experiences in my life, visitations in the true sense. One in the Hase-Dera Temple in Kamakura, the other in the mountains of Pennsylvania.

41. I wish I were still taking glassblowing classes. I wish I had more skills--I spent all my time and passion becoming a writer, and anything else I did just fed that. Sometimes I feel like I'm not a balanced person because of that. Sometimes I don't care. Sometimes I wish I could knit, something useful like that, but there aren't many things I would like to have that I could knit and I have political misgivings about the popularity of knitting.

42. I love to cook, and I see it as a direct expression of love. I'm good at it, and creative, and I feel like a mother when I feed people, or, alternatively, like I felt when my brother and I were kids and teaching each other how to cook. My brother is a chef now. But if asked to cook for regyt , I'd be terrified.

43. After coming home from Japan, it's very hard for me to be alone. I don't like this about myself, but I'm alone on a fairly regular basis, so I guess I'll get over it sooner or later.

44. Sometimes I think I'm the least interesting person in the world.

45. When I was 14 I read Hermann Hesse's complete works while I was grounded. In Beneath the Wheel my mother had written possible names for me when she was pregnant. I would have prefered all of them to the name she settled on.

46. I once made money as a nude model. No, you can't see.

47. I'm doing the 100 push up challenge. To my surprise, the day I did the initial test, I dropped and did 20 push ups without breaking a sweat. That would have once been impossible. I guess the weight-lifting is working.

48. I'm an insomniac. I've had a particularly vicious cycle of it lately.

49. Until I met justbeast  I found it impossible to sleep in a bed that contained another human.

50. I was intensely involved with theatre from age 4 to age 19. I even made money at it. I miss it.

51. When I lived in Sacramento, round about that 19th year, I used to show up at my friends' houses at 10 at  night with my little '73 Bug named Emily and a cooler full of Guinness and meatloaf sandwiches. We would drive to the ocean--not the easy SF bay, but Fort Bragg, 6 hours away, and watch the sunrise on the beach.

52. When I was at Delphi, I cut into my hand watched myself bleed into the dirt, not to honor Apollo or Dionysius, but the poor lost girls who were oracles there.

53. My mom was in grad school throughout my adolescence and teenage years. One of her fellow students used to babysit us a lot, a woman who had fled China due to her radical feminism and political loudmouthedness. Her name was Xing-Xing (I'm not sure I'm spelling that right, I only remember how it sounded.) I used to eat dinner with her family; she taught me to make pot stickers. Along with the entymologist babysitters (yay graduate student housing!) I had these strange pockets of insects and Chinese in my youth.

54. I love the color of really red roses, even though they're so typical. I stare at them on the occasions I get them. I also love chrysanthemums, but it might well just be for the word.

55. I haven't changed since I was two. I've seen video of my child-self making gestures I made yesterday. And babbling constantly and telling stories. It's bizarre to me how quickly those things set in, and how little different I feel from my younger version. I've just read more books, is all.

56. The Neverending Story was the first book without pictures I ever read. I was 5. No one believed I read it. I had to give a book report; I remember being so indignant.

57. Prince Caspian was the last book read to me, before I just read on my own. Until I met justbeast .

58. My first boyfriend was a nice Jewish boy with braces who broke up with me because I talked about politics too much.

59. I didn't have an email address until I was 20. I didn't touch computers in high school--I did all my papers on a typewriter. I was a little Luddite, and being a classicist means never having to apologize for that.

60. I got my first blog, on Diaryland, in April 2001. caudelac  made me do it. My username was Ghanima. Before that I had a geocities page, but I don't even remember the name of that now.

61. I wrestle with my dogs. A lot. Occasionally I flip them over and put my teeth on their throat, to maintain pack order. My German Shepherd is 110 pounds before breakfast, and dislikes this intensely.

62. I also sing to them, goofy song mostly revolving around their name and nonsense. I make techno beats to go with them. The Golden Retriever will occasionally dance.

62. I didn't have an orgasm till I was 20.

63. There was this painfully shy, quiet boy in a cafe once, and over a summer I made a project of him. Every day I'd come in and take out a Sharpie and write poetry in Greek up and down his arms. He liked it. I wish more people would let me write on them.

64. When I was little, I used to eat my food in order all the way around the plate, clockwise. I ate all the chicken, then all the corn, then all the bread, etc. I did this because I had decided that if I jumped around, the food-bits that weren't getting attention would feel bad.

65. I think this mindset prepared me fairly well for geek social interactions.

66. I was sent home from preschool because I made "my kids" play funeral (with pall bearers) and bury one of their teddy bears.

67. I struggle to take joy in what I am, rather than the usual intense guilt over what I am not. I don't regularly win this battle.

68. I worked in a movie theatre for two years. I have seen every film domestically released between 1996 and 1998. 

69. When I first saw and later read Doctor Zhivago around age 12, I identified with Lara. When I saw/read it again around age 22, I identified with Yuri. The last time I watched it, about a year ago, I thought they were all a bunch of insufferable idiots and should go stick their heads in buckets. The only character I still like is Yevgraf.

70. I taught myself to make jam last autumn. I was terribly pleased with myself. I felt like a grown-up.

71. I have pretty fearsome graphic design skills, but I almost never put them to any use. 

72. I fall in love with people, places, and things very fast. I keep it secret, usually, because I know I'm not supposed to be like that, and people don't understand, places don't care, and things, well, things don't reciprocate.

73. I drive myself into panic attacks over existential issues.

74. I am warmer and fuzzier than I seem. I have a core of molten gooeyness.

75. I'm fascinated with the history of objects. If I had a superpower, I would want to be able to know the exact history of any object, both ways, from creation to eventual destruction.

76. I can never, ever be trusted to put clothes away after washing them. I'll wash them all day long, but something in me just can't stand putting them away.

77. I want everything. Nothing to do with material things. But my mental and physical and psychic appetites are enormous.

78. When I was 3, I couldn't read the McDonald's sign. So I insisted on learning to read. Once I could read, I cried and cried. "But Mom," I sobbed. "they're lying. There are only 5 billion people on the planet, and they say they've served 80 billion!"

79. When I read Moonwise, what I felt most keenly was not awe at the language or love of the world, but that I really wanted to have a friend like that.

80. I love genealogy. I think knowing where you came from can save you.

81. I remember the colors of the sky in every place I've lived. It's one of the things I collect.

82. I take my dreams very seriously, and occasionally make life decisions based on them.

83. I was on the sailing team in college. Fencing team, too, for a little while.

84. I used to dance in shows several times a year. I was terrified of dancing as a child for various reasons, and when I was 13 I decided that was a stupid thing to be afraid of, so I learned classical ballet and was part of the dancing corps of a local theatre company.

85. Unfortunately, due to too much time alone in Japan, I'm back to being afraid of dancing in front of others.

86. My 15 year old self would be absolutely delighted with how my life turned out.

87. I love my generation. I see us all, embracing the world, wrangling technology, creating amazing things, becoming our own unique, fabulous selves. Discovering new ways of living with intent. I secretly think we're the Greatest Generation. And I think we know it, which is why we all love the "I Love the Whole World" song.

88. I used to wear vanilla extract on my wrists because I couldn't afford perfume.

89. I still have all my notebooks and poetry journals from when I was a kid. Reading them is almost painful--I was such a passionate girl, and everything I wrote seems so naked. 

90. I am deeply attracted to people with large and unusual noses.

91. I had this friend in junior high, and when it rained, we would run out onto the quad and waltz together. I think about it literally every time it rains.

92. Indian food is capable of making me deeply at peace with the universe at any time.

93. justbeast  once asked me what my favorite ice cream flavor is. I thought for a minute and said: "The one I haven't tried yet." That goes for most sensual experience for me.

94. That said, I'm a big fan of comfort food, comfort reading and viewing, and comfort sex.

95. I can fit my whole fist in my mouth.

96. I was raised Christian Scientist. 

97. I have a weird sort of synaethesia where my brain interprets and experiences all kinds of things, from people to concepts to places, as colors, sort of like auras.

98. I hate the heat, adore the cold, and wish autumn and winter lasted all year long. Except I don't, because I can appreciate it more when it returns. But I really have no use for summer and spring. Except for sailing.

99. I actually get a strange manic high when I am just slightly below comfortable temperature.

100. Though I identify as pagan, I'm not sure that's entirely fair. I'm not sure gods of any sort exist, and I can't bring myself to make any metaphysical statement with certainty. But I have lately come to realize that I do steadfastly believe in story. That life is a story, with foreshadowing, comic relief, meta-fictional jokes, and footnotes. I don't necessarily believe everything happens for a reason, but I believe it all fits into a story. The trick is knowing what your Aarne-Thompson type is.
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