64 Bits: More Than You Ever Wanted to Know About the Blogger

1. I'll talk about most of my interests on this blog, but one thing in which I'm very interested I mostly will not talk about, and that's religion. (I appreciate it when others talk about it, though.) Partly it's that I feel it's a very personal subject and if you post something on the internet, you have to be prepared for the slings and arrows that might come your way--and I'm not willing to suffer slings and arrows on that subject. Partly it's also that I have atheist friends who will get all touchy about it.

2. My favorite quote on the subject of atheism, from this book, is attributed to Wolfgang Pauli, speaking about Paul Dirac: "Our friend Dirac, too, has a religion, and its guiding principle is 'There is no God, and Dirac is His prophet.'" I've known some Diracs in my time.

3. I've done a lot of jobs in my life. The one I feel I was the worst at was waitressing. I can handle some fairly complicated academic stuff, but remember that you wanted your milk brought out with your breakfast instead of with everyone else's coffee?--Forget it. You'll be lucky if I remember to bring you your meal at all.

4. Because I was so bad at food service, I have immense sympathy for people who do it, even if they do it badly. As long as you're trying, as long as I feel you're making some effort to provide good service to the best of your ability, however limited your ability may be, you're getting 20%. (Free drinks gets you 33%--more, if I can spare it.)

5. As a result of numbers 3 and 4 above, I tend to despise people who tip 15% and under. I won't let them know it, but secretly, I'm thinking, you cheap bastard.

6. I love to cook, but I can never figure out if I'm actually any good at it. I have one of those men who just says "Oh, it's fine" no matter what I serve. One of these days he's getting Alpo just to see what happens. And, if I make something and bring it somewhere, that'll be the time I forget an ingredient or otherwise screw something up. I figure odds are that objectively, I can't cook for beans (no pun intended), but at least I cook well enough for me to enjoy what I make, and that sure beats eating ramen.

7. I consider myself a feminist, but I also consider myself an individualist, and the latter trumps the former every time. I don't think it's society's job to pay for day care, in other words. You had the kid, you pay for it. And don't bitch about what men won't give you--make it or take it yourself if it's that important.

8. My overall political philosophy is simple: Stay out of my bedroom and out of my pocketbook, and we'll get along just fine.

9. I procrastinate, and I suspect it's going to be a lifelong problem that will never fully be overcome, mostly because I've never known any procrastinators who ever truly reformed. About the best you can hope for is gradual improvement.

10. I like creative activities, great or small, but I can't figure out why so many people in creative fields give me a pain in the ass. Writers, musicians, artists--I might enjoy what they do very much but the less I read about what they think, the happier I am.

11. Certain things I am obsessive about, and not in a healthy way. Folding towels, for example. There's only one right way and if you fold the towel the wrong way, I will refold it the right way as soon as I discover your grievous error, and then I will tell you that you folded it wrong and attempt to show you the right way, and I will brook no arguments on the subject. Your best bet is to shut up until I'm done and then thank me for leading you to enlightenment.

12. I can't be cured of #11, even though I know my brother's reading it and taking it as proof that conservatives suffer from authoritarian disorders.

13. Call it intimacy issues or whatever you like, but I'm a lousy friend if you want someone to really be there for you and send you little cards and e-mail you once a week and phone you just to see how it's going, etc. I'm no good at the regular maintenance some people really require in their friendships. The flip side is that I'll never ask you to do those things for me, either, but that doesn't console some people.

14. On the other hand, I think I'm a good friend if you're measuring by loyalty. Once you have mine, you have to work really hard to lose it. I won't defend you blindly if I think you did something stupid, but if someone else does something stupid to you, I'm your girl. And even if I do think you did something stupid, I'll still listen to you complain about it--I just won't go attack your enemy for you.

15. I'm an accent sponge. Wherever you park me, if you leave me there long enough, I'll sound like everyone else there. It's not done intentionally, but people think it is, so when I become aware of it I try to suppress it. For example, I won't call my best friend from high school because he lives in New York, yet retains the accent he's had since childhood (Michigan), and I know if I call him he's going to tell me what a poseur I am for saying "might could" and "y'all." But if I visited him for a week, I'd be ordering cawfee and telling people to get outta here within three days. Okay, two.

16. Another thing I don't talk about much on this blog is my family. If it helps any, I have one. But you know how in the beginning of Catcher in the Rye, Holden Caulfield says that if he told you anything real personal about his parents, they'd have coronaries or whatever? It's like that.

17. I hate when people tell you their IQ, because I'm a deeply cynical person and I never believe them, and I figure, if your IQ is pretty good, why do you have to tell people about it? Shouldn't I be seeing sparks flying out of your wonder brain if it's really all that anyway? Show me, don't tell me.

18. The most frustrating thing I ever go through is not being able to explain adequately why I don't like something, and I do feel compelled always to explain it. I secretly admire the people who, when you ask them why they don't like something, look you smack in the eye and say, "because I just don't."

19. On the other hand, I don't mind being unable to explain why I like something, and I'm past caring whether I'm the only one who likes it, or whether there are 50 million other people who like it, too.

20. If I like something enough, the way you can tell is that I won't talk about it at all, because if I did, you might make fun of it, and then my feelings would be hurt. The things I love the best I keep so private that there are some of them no one on earth knows about, which I figure means I'm unlikely to enjoy viewing my own funeral, if there's an afterlife, because since no one will know what I liked best they'll all choose their own stuff and I'll probably hate most of it. The first person to play "Amazing Grace" is the first person I'm going to haunt, and not in a good way.

21. When I've complained about the above to my mother, she's always quick to point out that funerals are for the living. I know she's right, but somehow I always feel very disappointed to realize that.

22. I was sort of the teenager from hell. No one who meets me offline believes this, so I have to introduce them to my parents to prove it, because they're only too happy to tell everyone all about it. I have a diploma from the high school I originally attended, but I spent the last year or so at a reform school, and I wasn't even using drugs or anything. I just quit going to regular school, and after I accumulated 30-odd absences in the first six weeks of my senior year, the school administrators let me know that they really didn't think this relationship was working out, which is something I could have told them back in my freshman year, had they bothered to ask.

23. I used to do this back then, too. It wasn't called that at the time. So far as I know, it wasn't called anything besides "way fucking bizarre." I picked the habit up from a guy, which is odd, because it seems to be mostly a girl thing. I disagree with most of the theories about why kids do it, but it would be getting into a long story to explain why that is--and guaranteed, someone who's never done it, never known anyone who did it, and has no idea what he or she is talking about, will argue with me. I stuck to the arms, and I don't have any really serious scars or anything, so most of the time anymore I've forgotten I ever did it.

24. Even though I didn't use drugs in high school, my parents always thought I did, because I went from being a very docile child to telling them to fuck off a lot, so you can kind of understand why they'd think drugs might have had something to do with that. And drugs maybe did have something to do with that, if by "drugs" you mean "adolescent hormones." Anyway, the irony of the whole thing was that once I got to reform school, and was around kids who were using drugs, I became something of a pothead, and all my parents could do was exclaim repeatedly what a much nicer person I'd become all of a sudden--because I was completely fucking high all the time.

25. I don't smoke pot anymore and haven't for over a decade, because it started giving me severe headaches, and you know, that's kind of a buzz killer right there. But I still think marijuana is much safer than alcohol, and I'm still peeved at the government for pretending that isn't so, and I still argue with my father about it. Even though he's never tried it, he still thinks it should be illegal and that it's more dangerous than alcohol. Then, in practically the same breath, he'll tell me about the time he and his friends drove from Utah to New York pitching cases and cases of empty beer cans out the window the entire time. Safety first, Dad.

26. I'll lie to save a friend's feelings from time to time, but I don't even do much of that. It's not because I'm a believer in honesty, although I am. It's because I hate trying to remember which lie I told to which person, and every time I've tried to keep track, I've screwed up. Then, everything's worse than it was before I opened my big mouth; so my best policy is not to lie. The other problem is, when I do tell a lie, I'm very good at it, and that sort of scares me off from wanting to make it a regular habit.

27. I also can't keep secrets very well, so I don't recommend you tell me too many. Unless it's the sort of thing where me telling it could get you killed (and I really don't want anyone telling me that sort of secret in the first place), I'll forget it's supposed to be a secret and I'll tell someone. It's not that I don't want to honor my promises or that I don't respect you. It's that I'm forgetful.

28. I don't think I'm very funny, but I revere people who are, and I've dated some men who were frankly edging towards hideous because they made me laugh enough that after awhile, they sort of started to look attractive to me.

29. I would rather date someone whose face I found interesting than someone whose face I found classically handsome. There's something about people who are too perfect that turns me right off. I like to see a little humanity in a face, even if it's just that your nose is crooked or one eye's a little smaller than the other or you can't grow a beard to save your life. Give me something distinctive.

30. I get very frustrated when some of my guy friends complain that women are all about looks and money. It's not that women are all about looks and money, it's that the kind of goddesses these guys wish they could get are all about looks and money. The rest of us are easily seduced by laughter. These guys never listen to me or believe me, though, which is very stupid. It would be like if I complained that I can't get Brad Pitt. Of course I can't get Brad Pitt--he's a shallow twerp who is all about looks and money. But there are millions and millions of other guys who aren't, and even better, they're almost certainly funnier.

31. I got to a point where I quit reading fiction, even though I used to read tons of it, and I can't decide whether or not I should feel bad about that. I kind of do, because fiction can get ideas across in an instant that would take forever to explain in nonfiction, but even just reading myself write that, I'm thinking how embarrassing it is that I'm praising fiction for its efficiency as an idea-delivery system, which I know most people would say is so not the point of fiction at all. The real problem is that at some point it seemed like all the books critics and lit professors thought I should be reading were also the ones I could count on to suck ass, and so it was easier to conclude that I have no taste in fiction, and quit buying it.

32. I took three tries to pass English 101. The first time, I couldn't write the five-paragraph essay that half our grade depended on in the time allotted for the final exam (50 minutes), and failed out. I'm not a speedy writer and I just didn't manage my time well. The second time, I dropped the class because the teacher threw an essay I'd written onto the projector, but she'd just photocopied it onto the projection sheet, so there it was, obviously my handwriting and all my seatmates looking at me, while she spent half the class period telling everyone why it was no good. I'm easily humiliated--or I was at that age. These days, I'd probably go up to her after class and tell her that was a shitty thing to do.

33. I finally passed freshman English on the third try, but victory was bittersweet because in the middle of the semester I had to go to the dean when the teacher accused me of plagiarism. She couldn't and didn't cite the source I ostensibly plagiarized, because there wasn't one. It turned out she just didn't believe a freshman English student could use this word correctly; therefore, I must have borrowed my material from elsewhere. She backed off when I went to the dean, and I finally passed Freshman English, but I thought I saw her the other day, and I was surprised by how much I still wanted to choke the life out of her--slowly. Not just because I didn't like being called a cheater, but because she was pretentious in other ways, like the time she said teaching freshman English was beneath her because, as a Literature major, she aspired to Higher Things. Whatever, you twat.

34. My boyfriend is an English major. I can't decide which is harder to forgive him for--being a Cowboys fan, or that. I realize that's only peripherally about me. I'm sorry.

35. I like Texas, but I don't love it, because it has no mountains. I can live inland, but it's hard living without mountains.

36. The best thing about Texas is the people. The worst thing about Texas is the people. What I find is that I like the natives, but I hate the people who move here from everywhere else, and especially the ones who come from the so-called "blue states" and set about trying to make things in Texas "more progressive," because the whole reason they came to Texas in the first place is because they could (1) find a job and (2) buy a house more easily, and the whole reason they couldn't do that where they came from is because they made everything there too progressive.

37. If I were condemned and needed a last meal, it would come from here, especially since everything there is cooked in lard and I wouldn't be needing my arteries much longer at that point anyway.

38. I'd much rather tell someone what I think than what I feel, which is why I get so touchy when someone says women are more emotional than men, because I'm not, unless tequila is involved, and then--look out.

39. I have this fascination with the former Eastern bloc, because when I was little, all those places were a great mystery to me. I'd like to learn Russian and Polish just because I like the way the languages sound.

40. I get very defensive when people who haven't spent much time in New York criticize it, but I'm also starting to get very defensive when people who haven't spent much time in Texas criticize it, too. The short version is that one of the things I love about the U.S. is that if you don't like a place, you can go somewhere else you like better--but in the meantime, keep your mouth shut if you don't really know what you're talking about.

41.I spent my childhood in California. California in the 1970s was a nice place for a kid, but I wouldn't want to live there now, and in any event, I couldn't afford to.

42.I'm terrible with money. My check card quit working and the bank couldn't explain why, so rather than asking them to send me a new one, I just quit using it, and for someone like me, it's better, even though sometimes it's a pain in the ass, because I've never been able to get it through my skull that using check cards is still spending "real" money.

43.Ditto for credit cards. Kids, don't get one. Credit cards are the devil, period end. I had a friend tell me that when the government is doing security clearances, one of their red flags is high debt, because they figure you could be bribed to spy for the other team more easily if you're carrying a lot of debt, so I guess I'm never getting a security clearance, even though I really don't think I'm very corruptible.

44.I try to keep a clean kitchen and a clean bathroom, but I don't dust except when there's a dire need for it, like when I'm moving, or . . . no, I think that's it. I say that this is because when I was little, my chore used to be dusting the house and I hated it, but when I say that my mother says I shouldn't blame everything on my parents, even though my dad blames his refusal to eat any vegetables whatsoever on his parents and no one's ever questioned that one for a minute.

45.My favorite season is winter, but I think that might be because I've spent most of my life in the sunbelt. I'm pretty sure that after a few years in Minnesota, I'd be telling you my favorite season was summer. The grass is always greener.

46.I can't stand people who are polite to the point of refusing to say what they really mean. I'm talking about the kind of people who spend 45 minutes deciding to where to go for dinner because they're all going, "Oh, no, really, I can eat anything--you pick." [Update: I still can't believe I got an entire post out of this one.]

47.I have a short attention span for most things, but if I'm into something, I'm really, really, really into it, and you have to get quite mean with me to get me to stop doing whatever it is I'm really into.

48.You also have to not care when I yell at you for making me stop doing whatever it was I was doing.

49.I can't stress this enough: I hate the telephone. The way you can be my best friend is never to call me on the telephone. I lost a programming job because they wanted me to code up a "soft phone," and I just hated it too much to want to work on it, so I didn't. The ringer on my phone was once turned off for a week because one Saturday, while trying to take a nap, people kept calling me and waking me up, and even though I knew eventually I would have to turn it back on before someone got hostile about not being able to reach me, every time I reached for the ringer switch I thought, "Nah, let 'em wait awhile yet." I tell people that if I had invented the phone, it would only dial out, and it would only dial one number: 911. They think I'm kidding, but I'm not.

50.You can probably infer from the above that I don't have a cell phone. It's my goal to check out of this world without one, too.

51.A large part of the reason I'm against fascism in all its forms, under all its labels, is because I know no one's ever going to let me have my kind of fascism, under which the first thing I do is, I confiscate YOUR cell phone. Don't give me that look. Up against the wall!

52.I don't understand people who can't be quiet. Some people have to talk all the time, no matter where they are, no matter what they're doing. Once, while shopping, I actually started to hyperventilate in the dressing room stall because in the stall next to me were a young woman from Oklahoma and her mother--and they simply would not say anything remotely interesting, but neither would they shut up, and oh, p.s., they were LOUD. Try as I might, I could not tune them out. It's the closest I've ever come to having an anxiety attack. With all due respect to the fine citizens of Oklahoma: Do you people have any idea at all what you sound like?

53.That said, I can talk your ear off if the mood strikes, and I send out some very burdensome e-mails. I've actually had people write me back saying, essentially, "um, I can't possibly address all this, but I thought I'd tell you I got a new job last week. Hope everything's going well with you. Don't ever e-mail me again."

54.I think if you mess something up or do something awful, you ought to be aggressive and prompt in trying to correct it, but I hate trying to practice that myself. I pretty much have to spend a few hours wallowing in shame first.

55.I don't think the logical solution to personal problems is always the solution most likely to work, because I think human beings definitely have some very irrational attributes, and sometimes you're better off working with those attributes, rather than just trying to reason out the most logical solution. However elegant a solution is, first someone has to be motivated to try it, or it's no good. And I'm really sorry that sounds so much like something Anthony Robbins would say, because man, do I hate that guy.

56.My favorite color is purple, but you won't catch me wearing it, because every time I see a purple article of clothing I'm reminded of Donny Osmond's socks. I wear a lot of black. It goes with anything and it shows off the cat fur spectacularly.

57.I have four cats. None of them were purchased. They just all came and found me. I'm really trying to keep it to four, because four is about three cats too many, and I don't want to turn into one of those people who up and dies and suddenly it's in the paper that there were like 104 cats found gnawing the body to bones. Besides, cats are territorial and they don't do the small group thing well, and they do the large group thing even worse.

58.If we were under my kind of fascism, you really wouldn't like it, because cruelty to animals would be punishable by death. That includes leaving your cat out overnight when it's 40 degrees out. I have a neighbor downstairs who does that and I've been trying to lure his cat away to come live with me, where we can plot the death of that sonofabitch in warmth and comfort.

59.Even though I'm against cruelty to animals, I still eat meat. My thing is, it's okay to kill things that are tasty, but you don't have to be cruel about it. When I had more money, I used to give some to these guys, because that's essentially their position too.

60.I used to give money to PETA, but those people are just insane.

61.One reason why I get upset when some conservatives start going overboard blasting liberals is because in the back of my mind I'm thinking, "Hey, now, I used to be like that." And I did. I remember listening to some socialist tool on NPR explain how everything was really just grand in Nicaragua and anyone who said otherwise was just an American propagandist, and I remember believing every word. Fervently.

62.I will never write a celebrity a fan letter, because I used to always sort of want to write one to Joe Strummer, but I didn't because I think there's something cringeing and pathetic about fan letters. And now he's dead. I figure if I couldn't be bothered to write him one, no one else should ever get one from me either.

63.I've always wanted to be old. Whatever age I've been, I've always wanted to be older than that. Right now I'd give anything to be 60, because I figure at 60 you really don't have to take any shit from anyone, and plus you can retire in about 10 more years. Not five--forget five. Not unless you want to live on cat food, anyway.

64.I'm never updating this, and I'm never doing anything remotely like it again, and I'm betting you're grateful that's the case, too.