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25 things, belatedly

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In early 2009, there was a meme going around: post 25 random things about yourself.

I thought about posting a Deprivation list (things I've never done), or a list entirely in haiku, or 25 tweets. But eventually decided to just focus on stuff most people don't know about me. (Though a couple of items are things I've probably mentioned here in my blog at some point.)

I wrote it up, and then I got tense about it. There were some things on it that I wasn't really comfortable saying publicly. I figured I should get over that, so I set the list aside, but each time I came back to it I was still hesitant. And then a couple of items became less true than they had been, and I wasn't sure how to address that.

But I think it's time to finally post. So I've removed a couple of things I was uncomfortable about, and I've left things as they were early last year even if a couple of items are arguably not entirely true any more.

Without further ado:

25+ things about me that most people other than close friends may not know, in no particular order

  1. My ancestry: Half Russian Jewish, one quarter Norwegian, one quarter general mixed British Isles. Including some Manx, which, as someone once said about their own Manx ancestry, explains my lack of a tail.
  2. Once I ran the end of a session of a roleplaying game in an airport, while waiting for my plane. The game featured terrorist attacks. We tried to talk very quietly. This was before Sept. 11, though; I wouldn't do that now.
  3. I enjoy, but am only advanced-beginner-level good at, bowling, pool, air hockey, miniature golf, ice skating, roller skating, skiing, poker, and some arcade video games. I don't much enjoy table tennis or darts, though I don't especially dislike them. I have no interest in foosball.
  4. As far as I'm concerned, there's pretty much no such thing as TMI. I'm fascinated by people and by what makes them tick.
  5. When I was a kid, my parents ran a foster home for mentally and emotionally disturbed teenagers.
  6. I am very rules-oriented. I like making rules, and I try to follow rules, and I don't like it when people break rules. But I try (usually successfully) to quash that reaction, because keeping friends is more important to me than following rules, and a lot of my friends are adamantly opposed to rules.
  7. I wouldn't have been able to graduate from college at the same time as the rest of my class if a friend's parents hadn't loaned me some money.
  8. I've never slept with anyone at a convention other than Mary Anne. Not for lack of interest on my part, mind you.
  9. I care a great deal what other people think of me, even strangers, even the few people I actively dislike. But I usually try not to let that keep me from doing what I believe is right.
  10. My first paid jobs (outside of home) were working on a newspaper sales crew (those obnoxious kids who show up at your door and try to guilt you into subscribing) and teaching secretaries programming at the computer company where my father worked.
  11. I've never been to the Southern hemisphere. The countries I've been to, in chronological order: US, USSR, Finland (stopover on way home from USSR), UK, Canada, Mexico.
  12. In the immortal words of Christine Lavin: "You thought I didn't have a temper; ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha, surprise!" (I don't show it often, but it exists.)
  13. I've never been drunk. I don't think I've ever even been particularly tipsy, though there was an incident with a rum cake in college when I allegedly started acting even sillier than usual. (I didn't feel any different.) I do sometimes get pretty punchy late at night, though.
  14. When I was a kid, we belonged to a Japanese religion. Only semi-relatedly, I took Japanese language classes for five years in high school. Sadly, I don't remember much beyond the basics.
  15. In high school, a new friend asked me to name my three favorite musicians. I came up with the Beatles and Gilbert & Sullivan, and then got stuck—listening to music just wasn't a big part of my life. (Though if I'd thought about it more, I could've added Pete Seeger.) Later that year, that same new friend (and others) introduced me to Simon & Garfunkel, and I started listening to more music. The first CD I owned came years later, during college: Juluka's Scatterlings. ("Digging for Some Words" is still one of my favorite songs.) I had no CD player to play it on. These days, I own hundreds of albums—about 6500 songs in iTunes (not counting the Rise Up Singing teaching discs), all legitimate copies.
  16. I can forgive almost any wrong that I feel someone's done to me if it's followed by a sincere apology. But I often have a hard time forgiving things that the other person doesn't apologize for. Which can sometimes be tricky when I'm interacting with people who hate to apologize, and/or who don't feel that they've done anything wrong.
  17. I love to waltz, but am only so-so at it, and haven't waltzed in years. (Added later: Except for once in August of 2008. Apologies to that waltzer for failing to include that.) I've enjoyed English dancing for extremely beginnery beginners. Other than that, I don't dance. (Added later: Unless you count Dance Dance Revolution.)
  18. I grew up in white suburbia. As far as I can remember, my parents had no friends of color, except for people from church (and I don't think they were especially close to any of the Japanese or Japanese-American people there). I think they had few close friends who spoke with any kind of accent, or were from any other country. (Other than the Hungarian family who rented a room in our house.) One of the foster kids was black, and my best friend at church was of Japanese descent, but mostly it was a very white American world I lived in. (Added later for clarification: all that was especially true before age ten or so. I did have several Asian-American friends and a couple of black friends after we moved to Palo Alto when I was going into 5th grade, though even then most of my friends were white.) (Aside: My parents also had no openly gay friends, as far as I know.)
  19. In the past ten years, I haven't slept with anyone I've known for less than three years. (And mostly not with anyone I've known for less than five years.) Again not intentionally, and not for lack of interest on my part; it's just turned out that way.
  20. I can sight-read treble clef well enough to pick out a melody on the piano. Played violin in school from 5th grade through 8th grade, iIrc. Was in All-City Honor Orchestra (along with most of my school's other violin players) at one point, but after 6th grade all the other orchestra participants started taking private lessons, and I lost interest. But I still think of the D at the bottom of the treble clef as being the open D string, and the F just above it as two fingers on the D string, and so on.
  21. My father tried to teach me to play go (one of his favorite pastimes) when I was a kid. His teaching method mainly involved showing me what my best move was, then making a better one for himself. I got frustrated and bored and annoyed, and never developed an interest in the game. I also never got much into chess, though I played in a couple of tournaments as a kid before discovering just how much better at it some of my friends were. In general, if I'm not at least reasonably good at a given game from the start (which usually means reasonably lucky), I have a hard time maintaining interest long enough to learn to play well.
  22. We never had any money when I was a kid, but we had (what I now think of as) middle-class quasi-academic values. Education was important, and there was never any doubt that my brother and I would go to college. My father worked at various blue-collar jobs (mostly before I can remember), and was a card-carrying Wobbly, but our family's paradigm was California hippie rather than working-class. We would never cross a picket line, we learned "Solidarity Forever" early on, but I wasn't raised to think in terms of class at all.
  23. I type somewhere around 80 wpm (faster if I don't correct mistakes); learned to do that in a six-week summer-school class during high school, the most practically useful class I ever took.
  24. My favorite paid job so far has been writing documentation for Dreamweaver. It was a popular product that I thought very highly of, working with colleagues who I liked and thought well of me, writing documentation for technically skilled end-users (rather than for software developers). And I was pretty good at it. (Several of these things have also been true at other jobs, including my current one; this isn't a complaint. But the DW job was something special.)
  25. Once when I was small, my mother, hurrying to cross a street with me, dropped me on my head; I spent the night in the hospital. When friends in elementary school asked me how come I was so smart, I told them about being dropped on my head.
  26. (Bonus meta-item: 4% interest for being a year late.) I find it easier to give the illusion of sharing intimate details in a public space than to actually do it.

I'm not gonna tag anyone to do a 25-things list. But I did enjoy reading people's lists last year; anyone who hasn't done one and would enjoy it, consider putting one together.

6 Comments

I love this list, especially the Christine Lavin quote.


Oh, you were serious about the Manx! (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Manx_language) Wacky -- I hadn't heard of it before.


Yes, that sound you just heard was everyone on the internet asking Jed to waltz. Public disclosure is a dangerous thing. :>)


Thanks, Debby!

Re Mary Anne's comment: In case anyone else hadn't heard this before, I should explain the joke: the tailless Manx cats are called that because they come from the Isle of Man; people from there are also called Manx.

Chaos: Heh—I suspect that I'm unlikely to have any more opportunities to waltz this year than last year. But if it happens, I will be pleased.


I am astounded that I have known you for over 20 years and yet I still didn't know everything on this list. ;) Cool!!


Five eighths Jewish, (Alsace, Lodz, Leeds) half Danish, British born and bred but I think a lot older than you. Randomly on your journal as you appeared on google with my favourite UK Le Guin quotes which I have found and finished the looking for the bit I wanted in my old puffin copy. My Tai Chi teacher just died and I am trying to remind myself what I think about death

These are comforting words in their own harsh and truthful way. Look after yourself and your loved ones Jed.

This is. And we are. There is no safety. There is no end. The word must be heard in silence. There must be darkness to see the stars. The dance is always danced above the hollow place, above the terrible abyss.
[...]
You have strength enough. What you love, you will love. What you undertake, you will do. You are to be relied on. But consider, Lebannen. To refuse death is to refuse life.

I know [...] that I will die, that you will die and I prize that knowledge. It is a great gift. It is the gift of selfhood. For only that is ours which we are willing to lose. That selfhood, our torment and glory, our humanity, does not endure. It changes and it goes, a wave on the sea.

U K Le Guin The Farthest Shore.


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