June 12, 2008

63 Things About Me

I have a million things to do but I want to post today, so here's an attempt at "100 Things About Me" that I started several weeks ago and so far have only completed 63% of.

Almost every time I call my parents, they put me on speaker phone and we talk while they continue their latest game of Scrabble. I find this adorable.

On the Meyers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator, I'm an INTP. "INTPs are pensive, analytical folks. They may venture so deeply into thought as to seem detached, and often actually are oblivious to the world around them." Yep.

I can't answer all of my e-mail anymore. There are just too many. I've also decided not to feel guilty about this and regard it as a mark of success.

I have one tattoo. It's in such a place that I usually forget it's there. It's kinda dumb.

Crush on a public figure #1: journalist and author William Langewiesche.

I love being around people with brassy outsized personalities, who unabashedly love being the center of attention.

I have a favorite Russian scientist, Konstantine Tsiolkovsky. He is almost a religious figure to me.

The phrase "painfully shy" exists for a reason. When I was nine and the first one walking down the aisle for my sister's wedding, the instant all the heads in the church turned to me and watched me walk, I was actually in pain. I was scared and freaked out, and could feel myself turning red and starting to cry. I dropped my head and walked as fast as I could to the front of the church. I still feel like running away when all the attention in a room focuses on me. Social anxiety? Well, hello, you've been there so long I'd almost forgotten about you. What a brilliant choice, then, for me to do stand-up comedy. (Dumbass.)

A new friend's sister is the great writer, Alison Buckholtz, who I was aware of before because she wrote a piece in Salon about her personal experience with synesthesia. This reminded me that I still have no rational explanation for a phenomenon I've experienced all my life - I see words floating around in my field of vision. Sometimes it's a screen crawl like closed captioning, sometimes it's floating words and phrases that don't go away until I look at them and consciously acknowledge them. They are usually helpful in some way.

My first crush was the year my family lived in Arizona, on a little Mexican boy named Hector who was an older man - a second grader. I demonstrated my affection for him by totally ignoring him.

I had a band in college. I named us Rocket Summer. All the songs I wrote were science fiction themed (long-term space travel as a metaphor for loneliness, etc.). We never played a show because I was too shy to sing in front of people.

I ran a pet-sitting, house-sitting, and personal-assisting business in my hometown for almost 10 years. I cared for hundreds of dogs, cats, horses, donkeys, lizards, birds, goats, spiders, fish, gerbils, mice, rats, hamsters, turtles, snakes, sheep, and ferrets. When I first moved to Chicago and felt very displaced and alone I would see dogs on the street that would remind me of my former client/pets, and it would make me cry.

If I woke up tomorrow a man I would have no idea what to do with myself. I don't mean that in the obvious way.

I once landed a simulated Boeing 747. It was a bumpy touchdown.

The #1 celebrity people tell me I remind them of is Laura Linney. Very flattering.

When I was little, I wanted to be a saint. I'm well past that point now.

I've only been to about 6 or 7 music concerts in my whole life. Crowds and loud noise make me nervous, sort of like a German Shepherd -- but I don't hide under the bed during thunderstorms. Anymore.

I'm a natural blonde.

Some of my favorite actresses are Frances McDormand, Kate Winslet, Julianne Moore, and Cate Blanchett.

In my nicest dreams, I have great white wings and can fly through time and space. White beams of energy emanate from my hands, and wherever I direct the white energy, people are healed and order is restored.

In my worst dreams, there are plane crashes I have to prevent or clean up. (I come from an airline family.)

I wish I could paint or draw.

The people in my life who make me laugh the most are Melissa, Nellie and Teresa, and Bryan. The person I enjoy making laugh the most is my mom. It's also pretty cool to make babies laugh.

In high school, my peers voted me "most changed from freshman to senior year" (translation: "got the fattest"), most individual/unique ("you're weird and we're pretty sure you're a lesbian or something"), and "most creative." If there had been a category for "least likely to want to get on stage, with a spotlight in her face, and command the attention of a huge room of people for any period of time," I'm pretty sure I would have won that one, too.

I was the photographer of my high school paper. I loved my time in the darkroom and I obsessed over shots, doing them again and again until I thought they were the best I could do. I unintentionally misled a classmate into believing I had a crush on him because I reprinted his photo again and again and gave him copies, but I was really just trying to get the perfect photo.

Crush on a public figure #2: actor Shia LaBeouf. 21 years old, and therefore ridiculously too young for me. He's currently starring as the son of another longtime crush, Harrison Ford, in the new Indiana Jones movie.

When I was about nine, my friend Heather and I watched the Sound of Music about a million times. We both had a crush on Rolf, the cute Nazi boy. This now embarrasses me.

I don't really hold grudges, and I'm not a vengeful person, but there are people I don't want to spend any time around.

I love Paula Deen.

I'm a picky eater, and I'm someone who hates to offend (or complain about food I don't enjoy/have an allergic reaction to/hate). This is a combination of traits that makes for lots of uncomfortable dining situations.

I was 12 or 13 when the religion I was raised in made me feel like a liar, so I stopped formally observing my faith.

I kinda miss mass.

I have really sensitive skin, and I'm actually allergic to the sun. How can someone be allergic to the sun of their own solar system?

My favorite month is October, even though I know it means that winter depression is on its way.

I don't like escalators. I frequently have bad dreams about them going all Escher, and me dangling from them for dear life.

I don't have a gallbladder. I do, however, have third breast. (Okay, the second part's not true.)

Crush on a public figure #3: actor Benicio Del Toro. This one doesn't need much explaining.

I have at least ten times more friends now than I did three years ago, and my optimism about human nature has increased immeasurably.

When I was nine or ten, I was chasing my brother across the creek in our back yard (which makes things sound very Twain, doesn't it?) when I slipped on a wet rock and fell straight down on my chest on another rock, so hard it knocked the breath out of me. Unbeknownst to me, my brother just kept running, thinking I was still behind him. I lay there paralyzed, and unable to breathe. When I realized I could not breathe, I panicked. For a moment the creek water was running into my mouth and the sun was burning in of the corner of my eye but I could not even blink, and I left my mind for a moment, because I thought I was going to die. In that brief instant there were only two things I was conscious of: how much I was going to miss my dog, and how much I hated my brother, because I thought he was standing on the bank of the creek, watching me struggle and not helping me. Even in a moment of transcendence, I had what I needed to be a shitty little sister.

I can't walk in high heels, but I really wish I could.

The year I was thirteen, I had premonition dreams almost every night -- little trivial details that would unfold in the following day. I started making a habit of expressing some of these things in the morning, and people would react when indeed, Celebrity X did pass away that night, or yes, long-lost Cousin So-and-So did pop in for a totally unexpected visit in the afternoon. Then, there were some difficulties in my family, and I think I turned something off inside myself then, because the dreams stopped. Whatever that switch is that I flipped, I've been trying to turn it back on ever since.

I'm the only person in my generation with green eyes. I got the gene from my grandmother, although she had one green eye and one brown eye. A joke I need to retire: "I got my green eyes from my grandma. She also had green...eye."

I still don't know what I want to do when I grow up.

One of the reasons I do well coordinating group projects (like running Chicago Underground Comedy) is because I grew up the youngest in a large family. As the littlest, with siblings as much as sixteen years older than I was, I could not hope to be stronger or smarter than the others, so my strategy for coping with a hectic household was to observe intently, and monitor everyone's reactions to things. At the dinner table, whenever a topic would be introduced that inspired a range of reactions among my family, I would be really nervous until I had gone around the table and silently assessed each person's thoughts and emotional reactions.

My grandmother and all of her sisters lived well into their 90's, and one passed 100. These are women who were born at home rather than in hospitals, smoked, ate crummy diets, and didn't enjoy any of the modern health care that I have my whole life. If I'm going to live that long I want to be spry enough to still be sharp and sassy, maybe even a bona fide pain in the ass, so I try to take good care of myself.

I was a competitive swimmer from the time I was seven. I got a little crazy about it and over-trained myself into cortisone shots and physical therapy by the time I was eleven. I burned out and quit when I was fourteen. I still feel like I missed my chance to achieve something I could really be proud of, and whenever I feel myself about to excel in something, I back away a little bit.

I am terribly nearsighted and I almost never wear glasses or contact lenses. I'm not comfortable viewing life in all its detail. This also means there have been lots of occasions where people have seen me from across a room, made eye contact and waved, only to have me not react at all.

Reason #1 I am still getting comfortable with myself as a person: at age ten I was already my current height, with boobs and muscles and all. My quietness was sometimes misinterpreted as maturity, and I was frequently mistaken for an adult. Several times I was mistaken for a teacher at my school, which was really embarrassing.

My oldest brother skipped two grades during elementary school. I made the cutoff for school just barely, and so was one of the youngest in my class. Then I graduated high school early, making me a 17 year old college freshman. I made up for that head start by spending the next decade or so grossly underachieving. Someday soon I hope to make up for the lag.

Languages spoken by people in my immediate family: Chinese, French, Spanish, Portuguese, English, and American Sign Language. Languages I have studied and remember almost nothing about: German, French, and Spanish.

The smell of most shellfish makes my stomach lurch.

I would rather read than do almost anything else.

I am descended from the earliest Amish settlers in Indiana. It blows my mind to think that a few generations away on the family tree, I'd be riding in a buggy with probably 6 or 7 kids by now.

My grandmother's cousin, Eugene Joseff, was Hollywood's most prolific jewelry designer, creating pieces that starred in movies ranging from Gone With The Wind to Cleopatra. Name a major movie star of the 1930's - 1950's and I can find you a picture of them wearing his designs.

I am my own worst enemy.

I wish I could see myself through the eyes of the people who care about me most.

For 20 years I was obsessed with the idea of doing stand-up comedy. When I finally did it, I had some success, which led to other much-appreciated comedy opportunities, but my desire to continue performing live has dwindled. I really thought it would be a life-changing thing, and a transformative thing. I'm still troubled by this.

I changed my name in college.

At one time I was obsessed with becoming a space psychologist, until I realized the only place you could get a degree in the subject was at the University of Paris.

I went to Europe right after 9/11 and found myself the representative American everywhere I went. People would ask me "what does America think about...?" It was an awkward but thought-provoking situation.

When I'm nervous the roof of my mouth tickles.

I LOVE PICKLES. I love pickle and cream cheese sandwiches, grilled pickle and cream cheese sandwiches, pickles with cream cheese on a toasted bagel with sprouts and tons of hot mustard, pickles with fried chicken, pickles with burgers, and pickles right out of the jar.

If I could play any musical instrument, it would be the violin. I think it's the most beautiful, evocative sound aside from the human voice.

Success embarrasses me.


Melissa said...

University of Paris?
I'm in.

Elizabeth McQuern said...

Holy cow! Did you actually read that before I put it online?

Chancelucky said...

Great post Bella,

a) It doesn't seem like an INTP would ever do stand up comedy.

b) I was shocked to learn that you're a natural blonde after all that red hair talk.

Elizabeth McQuern said...

I agree, Chance. With the kind of INTP I am, it's amazing I ever leave the house.

And yes...Lady Clairol is my friend.

cc said...

See if you can match these up! A fun game. Okay, fun-ish.

It would be a compliment for her too.

Start taking lots of vitamin D.

Don't back away.

You're perfectly fine the way you are.

My daughter is taking violin and we are having a love-hate relationship with it. In fact, I have to go to VIOLIN CAMP this weekend and am dreading it. I bet I'm going to love it. If I hate it, at least maybe I can write about it.

Get used to it. When you get old there's no time for embarrassment.

Bubs said...

Wow. that was a great post, and a fascinating list. Only 37 more to go, huh?