It was the bane of my educational existence, this freakishly intense curiosity (teachers assigned research papers, 99.9 percent of the class swore, I got goosebumps of anticipation just thinking about my dexterity with the Dewey decimal system), coupled with an inexplicable inability to Understand the Assignment.
I'm better now. Because, really, my livelihood depends on my understanding the assignment. On occasion, though, I do slip. Like yesterday, when Doris Rose asked me to write seven things about my story, I thought she meant my crap ass novel, not my real life.
Luckily, she gave me a do over.
So, without futher ado, here are Seven Things You May Not Know About Moi:
1. I gave up smoking exactly seven years, five days, eight hours and fifty seconds ago. I mourn it every day. I used to dream I was having sex with Johnny Depp. Now, I dream I'm smoking Johnny Depp's cigarettes.
2. My first movie star crush was Sidney Poitier, circa To Sir With Love. I slept with his photo, clipped from a magazine, under my pillow. I must have been, what, five years old? And here's something else: I thought African American people were that color because they laid out in the sun all the time. I was devastated when I found out, au contraire, they were born that way and I myself could never be black.
3. I hate most romance novels and romantic movies (with the exception of the The Way We Were, at the end of which I always cry like a smacked toddler in line at Wal-Mart.) What bothers me is that the underlying supposition of most romances is that we're not complete without a soul mate. I do not believe I am incomplete without any kind of mate, soul or otherwise (although my life is infinitely richer and more fun with the one I have). Here is my theory: Whereas lust comes upon us unexpectedly (it's Mother Nature tapping her toes for us to just get it on and propagate the species already so she can take the afternoon off and go shoe shopping), I believe love is something altogether and entirely different (although, of course, it goes much better with lust!), a decision you make, something you work at and practice like a vocation or craft. I also believe the heart is a muscle and gets stronger the more you work it, but only after you learn to love – or at the very least grudgingly tolerate – yourself.
4. Like most people, I have a series of dream jobs. I also have a series of "practical" jobs (i.e., those which I could actually achieve without a whole hell of a lot of extra schooling and dumb ass luck). My bestest practical job is this: urban planner.
5. Whenever I get stumped on something in life, I think, "What would my mother, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Helen Keller, Hunter S. Thompson, Lewis and Clark, Ayn Rand, Chief Sitting Bull, Miss Piggy, Courtney Love, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Tiger Woods, S.B. do?" We all need heroes to guide us. I have a troop full and am adding to the roster all the time.
6. I grew up on various middle-of-nowhere places in northern New Mexico. This childhood was marked by a tremendous amount of personal freedom, a bracing awareness of the wide open spaces of the American West and it's potential for opportunity as well as brutality, and the ever-present working relationship between man, animals, and the environment. One of my most formative experiences was this: I was out walking the mesa behind our house one day with my father when suddenly, not a half dozen yards in front of us, a hawk swooped down and snatched up a rabbit. I was horrified and immediately began to cry. My father made no attempt to soothe or shield me. "That's how nature works," he said. "The hawk has to eat, right? So do coyotes, bears, and mountain lions. So do we."
7. I have always been fascinated by the history of the Plains Indians (the Sioux were the most gorgeous, glorious, and baddest ass of all) and the discovery, opening, and expansion of the American West. So two years ago, in honor of the bicentennial of the Lewis and Clark expedition, S.B. and I few up to Great Falls, Montana to paddle the Missouri through the famed White Cliffs. Three days. On the river. Paddling AGAINST a 20 mph wind. Our first night at camp, filthy and exhausted, we disembarked among the most lonesome, haunting, stark landscape I've ever experienced. It was hands down the scariest feeling of my entire life. I wish everyone could experience it.