1-4. I have big eyes, big ears, a big smile and a big laugh.
5. But I’m short.
6. I spent two summers working as a professional tie-dyer.
7. I can talk backwards. (Ask me for a demo.)
8-10. This makes me very good at Scrabble (or Words with Friends), amazing at Anagrams and basically unbeatable at Boggle.
11. But I’d really enjoy it if you’d like to try.
12-13. I’ve traveled to Belgium for research and to Canada for ketchup (it tastes better!).
14-16. I have ridden a unicycle and walked across the Golden Gate Bridge and climbed to the top of the Acropolis.
17. I’m left-handed.
18. But my right foot is bigger than my left foot.
19. And my second toes are both longer than their next-door neighbor ‘big’ toes.
20. I think I have cute feet.
21. I have a birthmark on the webbing between the third and fourth fingers of my right hand that you can’t see unless I spread my fingers.
22. I’ve always thought that that’s the perfect kind of identifying mark for if I was abducted and found unconscious, or someone had to identify my dead body, or similar. But it doesn’t help if nobody knows about it. So now you know!
23-24. I've had glasses since I was five and contact lenses since I was eleven.
25. My husband and I got married in Niagara Falls not because we were trying to re-enact some outdated romantic motif but because that’s my childhood hometown.
26. Japanese tourists videotaped our outdoor ceremony overlooking the river.
27. Underneath my bouquet I waved to their cameras.
28. Which means, I might be famous on YouTube Asia if there is such a thing, and there must surely be such a thing.
29. Afterwards, our wedding guests were so exuberant in their dancing that the parquet squares of the dance floor separated from each other. The catering hall owner ran over to the two of us as we stood on the side for a moment, watching the bedlam and laughing and catching our breaths. We thought he was going to be angry. Instead he gave us the goat and said, “You guys rock! You broke the dance floor!”
30. Now we say to each other in any circumstance meriting congratulations, “You rock! You broke the dance floor!”
31. I really grew up four blocks from the Niagara River.
32. Which means I grew up four blocks from the Canadian border.
33. Which also means I grew up about four miles from Love Canal.
34. There is this spot along a tributary that flows into the Upper Niagara River on the Canadian side where the current flows strongly because of how much water is being sucked out of the river by the hydroelectric plant. There is a bridge that crosses over the tributary and a few hundred yards down there is a beachy area with a broad sand bar. I’m not saying we used to cross the border on hot days to jump off that bridge and float by power of the current downstream to the sand bar and walk back up onto land and repeat, but if it ever happened, it happened dozens of times.
35. I am saying that when I was in high school, crossing into Canada was as easy as flashing my high school ID, popping a quarter in the turnstile and walking across the border. I don’t know if that was legally true, but I can attest in practice it was very much 100% true.
36. The Niagara Gorge is my favorite outdoor space in the world. New York City is my favorite city. Inside my own house is my very favorite place of all.
37. But I really, really love to travel.
38. I have been in 35 states (plus DC (obviously, since it's just down the street) and Puerto Rico) and on four continents.
39-40. If I could travel anywhere, the two places I’m most itching to visit are Iceland and South Africa.
41-43. I’ve never lost my passport or my driver’s license or my government ID badge for work.
44. I still have my public library card with my 3rd grade signature - from when the system went from paper cards to the first plastic cards with barcodes.
45. I highly value ‘flexibility’ as a personality trait in others.
46. Sadly, being flexible does not at all come naturally to me.
47. The summer before Jerry died I saw a live Grateful Dead show. It was on the field of an 80,000-seat football stadium so to see better, we climbed up on the roof of a sturdy vantage point – the row of Port-a-Potties lining the field wall. If there was a bad smell we never noticed it amongst the smells of that crowd, and from up there we had a clear perspective on what was a really amazing show.
48. Once when I was bargaining in the spice market in Kushadasi, Turkey I bought a bag of saffron bigger than my hand for $2 American.
49-50. I also bought a bunch of those large blue glass eye ornaments for $1 each to give as gifts. Now there’s a kiosk in one of our local malls that sells them for $10 and everyone who sees the one I kept that’s now hanging in our basement asks if I bought it at the mall.
51-52. I once worked on a museum exhibit that included an immigration story of a man who became a famous spice grinder in Baltimore. (His family went on to blend and manufacture Old Bay Seasoning.) The grandson we were working with, who is still in the family business, wanted the exhibit to have a degree of olfactory realism so he donated several 100-pound bags of whole peppercorns to pile on the floor of the display. (They happen to be a natural pest deterrent.) When the exhibit came down all the staff went home with pounds of the highest quality, fresh (except for the duration of the exhibit)-from-India peppercorns. I still have some in my freezer, seven years later.
53-54. I don’t even really like ground pepper, but I always pour fistsful of the whole peppercorns into the bottom of the pot when I’m making chicken stock.
55-56. I’m a pretty adventurous eater and I’ll try any food once. But if there’s ricotta in it that’s a deal breaker. It’s my #1 food enemy.
57. #2 is cabbage.
58-59. #3 is water chestnuts and I don’t really think there is a #4.
60. Though I don’t love oregano and I know that’s practically admitting to heresy.
61. For a long time I thought I hated tomato sauce but it turns out I just hate commercial tomato sauce. That might have to do with the oregano (and the corn syrup) but I make all my own sauce now and that I really like.
62. I'm pretty talented in the kitchen.
63-65. When I was in graduate school in the late ‘90s and beginning of this century I lived in an apartment complex that was managed by a corporation that owned hundreds of properties around the city. For whatever reason that corporation decided that our complex was the one they would use to execute a huge tax write-off and they negotiated an agreement with the American Red Cross wherein most of the units in our complex were subsidized heavily to provide housing for Bosnian refugees. The Bosnian community set up makeshift barbecue pits out of old metal drums on the periphery of the parking lot and roasted whole goats and deer. I lived on the first floor and lived with whole-animal roasting smells.
66. I also lived in the unit directly above the building’s boiler room. In a city that routinely gets 200” of snow a year, I kept all of my windows all the way open all winter long.
67-68. My one neighbor in the building who also spoke English was also a graduate student at the university, and a flamboyant transvestite. He used to cook me dinner and pluck my eyebrows. (But not at the same time.)
69-70. I've also lived on a carrot farm in the middle of nowhere and in a cockroach-infested walk-up on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
71. I've spent the night under the stars in a remote desert canyon.
72. And two years before Hurricane Katrina, the lovely husband and I had simultaneous work-related conferences in New Orleans. We stayed at the majestic Hotel Monteleone and slept on a bed so scrumptious that later, when we needed to replace our mattress, we ordered it from that hotel.
73. I’m almost fluent in two languages (including English) and could-find-the-bathroom-or-defend-myself competent in a third.
74. I cannot watch horror films because I will replay them in my dreams for the rest of my life.
75-78. I won a contest when I was about 8 or so and named the new dolphin at the aquarium, back when Niagara Falls had dolphins in its aquarium. I named him “Splash” and thought myself very clever. He died when I was 18 and living abroad. My mom mailed me the obituary and I still have it.
79-81. I'm one of "those people." I name my cars. In my driving career I've been proud to commandeer Izzy, Iggy, Della and my current tanker, Midge. In my time of having custody rights to the naming of M's fleet, he's driven Horace Jasper, George, my beloved Della and now Gunther.
82. My favorite quotation is from The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. The protagonist Jerry reads a T.S. Eliot line off of a poster and then muses on it: "'Do I dare disturb the universe?' Yes, I do. I do...I think."
83-84. I've never seen an episode of Beverly Hills, 90210 or Melrose Place (originals or remakes), and I don't think I missed anything.
85. My husband owns the entire run of Hogan's Heroes, though.
86. On VHS.
87. I believe in little treats. My favorites are new lip glosses and Skor bars.
88. When someone surprises me with a kind gesture (like, say, a dentist-terrifying chocolate bar treat) I get a tingly feeling in the back of my neck.
89. I have a decades-long contextless but enduring fascination with sumo wrestling.
90. A long time ago when my now-husband was my then-boyfriend he made a casual comment about “when we have kids.” I was really hurt by his comment and I yelled at him. “Why can’t I be free to contemplate a life without children? Why does everyone assume every woman wants children?”
91. I don’t respond well to feeling constrained.
92. Nor to having assumptions put upon me.
93. Now he and I, we have three children.
94-96. You know them by E, L and G. They have whole names, and they have nicknames, too. The eldest I call Booshker. The youngest I call Griz. The middle I try to call Twinkle, or Twink, but she always laughs and says No, Mommy!
97-98. I also have a college degree and two graduate degrees and four internships’ worth of experience that I pursued with great focus to prepare for a very specific career. I now have a very rewarding career – in an entirely different field.
99. My point being: I’m a lifelong planner, incorrigible, not easily able to stop to smell any nearby roses. Almost none of my biggest plans have come to fruition. And yet, look? Who would have thought-- I’m happier than I ever dreamed.
100. Incorrigible is one of my very favorite words.