Friday, February 27, 2004

100 Things

En media rays

1. I played hoops in college, and although I've never been much above 6-5, I was always listed as 6-6 and 210. It really was the shoes. That false inch of added height never was much help in the post, where I wrestled for position most of the time.
2. I find that Levis fit better than Lees, Wranglers, Old Navy--to say nothing of sweat pants, jogging suites, etc.
3. Berbere sauce on spaghetti pasta--best meal. Chicken or beef doesn't matter. My good friend E. is responsible for this.
4. First car was a four-door 85 Ford Tempo--royal blue. Its transmission crapped out.
5. Born and raised on a parcel of the sold-off Chippewa Indian Reservation in rural middle Michigan. The reservation was much larger before it was sold into pieces of land, bit by bit by bit.
6. College literacy caught fire on Kurt Vonnegut Jr. Read 'em all. Started with Breakfast of Champions and loved the image-doodles.
7. In 1991, my senior year of high school, I set a Beal City High School record for blocked shots in a season with 91. It's been broken since.
8. All-time favorite basketball teams: 88-89 Pistons. Hands down. More recently, Stampede--both of them. But I'd rather watch the college game when it's all said and done.
9. My parents met in college at Central Michigan U.--my big brother's alma mater, too. I attended for one year before transferring to Park.
10. During the spring of my first year of college, I worked nights stocking shelves at Kroger. My aisles were pet food and soap. I spent long hours, late at night, "facing" the small cans of cat food, building up resentment toward cat spoilers who bought the expensive stuff and mussed my shelves each day.
11. I think I developed a kind of allergic sensitivity during those hours in the soap and chemical aisle. Now, when I shop (every other week, D. and I trade off), I avoid those aisles, only venturing in if I absolutely must.
12. Class president all four years of high school. And a year younger than my peers. So what if nobody ran against me after that first election, freshman year.
13. Childhood don't go without: Green Lantern Underoos. Crazy for the Hulk, too.
14. Had three surgeries in 1995: one on my right ankle (bone spurs) and two on my right shoulder (scope and reconstruction). Too many sprains and dislocations. And then there was a full week of medical I-don't-know when I sliced a four-incher in the top of my scalp--accidentally...long story, that.
15. Kept a regular opinion column in my college newspaper, The Stylus. Learned the perils of biting commentary there.
16. Hablo espanol bastamente, pero lo escribo mejor. Shouldn't that be the other way around?
17. I was never in the second grade. Went straight to third from first, like a disoriented base-runner in kickball.
18. Wasn't any good at baseball, either. Sat on the bench for most of one season with the Fireballs--the third place team in a four-team league.
19. My best dog was Tony. Got him at the Isabella County pound for five bucks. Had to have him put to sleep on the Sunday after the C's in Minnesota--the only C's I presented at. Tony was a Cairn Terrier mix (part animal, part human).
20. In 1984, on the long bus ride home, bullies took my Detroit Tigers baseball cap and threw it out the window. My mom drove me to find it alongside Winn Road, in front of a horrid-smelling farm.
21. Childhood homes were heated mostly by wood. J. and I had to pitch the wood into the basement every Sunday, one wheelbarrow load at a time. One would pitch; the other would stand in the basement and stack. Many Sundays devolved into wood-pitching fights, where we would throw the blocks of wood with the intent of hitting each other. Brutal.
22. Favorite fishing spot: off the dolomite pier at Nates' Marina, Drummond Island, Mich. Lots of rock bass hiding in the shadows under boats. We could see them in the water.
23. Spent Saturday mornings bowling as a kid. Rolled the rock for Orange Crush at Chippewa Lanes.
24. Dad is a land surveyor. I have an affinity for mechanical pencils because of it.
25. My son's birth certificate lists my age as 16 and my partner D.'s age as 18 when Ph. was born in Missouri. We were both in Michigan at the time he was delivered--an Aries.
26. Prefer hardwood floors and linoleum to carpet. Unless I'm traveling. Then I like to emulate Bruce Willis in Die Hard: "Nothing better than taking your shoes off and feeling the carpet after a day on airplanes."
27. I can't find the source, but I like the mantra from Steven Segal, "Superior effort, superior mental attitude." Yet I've never watched an entire Segal movie. He's a tough-guy actor, right?
28. First video game addiction? Serpentine--a C64 cartridge and a Slik Stick. Hours upon hours. Once we had a disk drive (Christmas, 1985), it was Lance Haffner Final Four--all text basketball. Not long after that, I figured out how to hack the files to make my own teams.
29. Along Winn Road, the ditches often filled with water during the winter months. At the bus stop, we'd take turns daring each other to test the ice. It was only waist deep. Would it hold? I was the youngest, so it was common for me to get on the bus with a soaked pant leg. But it happened to Billy N. almost as often; he was older than me, but he would always take the dare.
30. I worked as an insurance claims adjuster for thirteen months in Saginaw and Detroit.
31. Shh. Lions fan.
32. I don't have favorite beer. More of a sampler, especially of local brews. Cheap domestic pilsners don't bother me; lite beers don't bother me. Wine? Shiraz over anything else.
33. Had an Adam computer for a few years, mainly because Dragon's Lair was a blast.
34. Most humbling work experience: United Cerebral Palsy weekend caregiver. Worked 32 hours on weekends for several months as an undergrad.
35. One movie I could watch over and over: The Truman Show. Soundtrack is appealing, too. In fact, I'm listening to it now.
36. I lived in Hazel Park, three blocks from Eight Mile, while I worked in Detroit. Marveled at the old racetrack when I drove by.
37. More than anything about home-owning, plumbing troubles me. I've cobbled through a few hellacious plumbing projects; supply lines are worse than drains. And I come from a family with simple solutions to conundrums that present me with big challenges.
38. We once had a dog named Jake who ate through quarter-inch cables. He was a wild, writhing, horribly out-of-control Rhodesian Ridgeback. I don't know what happened to him, which makes me think one of my uncles took him "hunting." That's what they said when they, you know, left and never came home.
39. When my mom died in the summer of 1997, I quit my job in Detroit and moved to KC. Still not sure why she died. Just didn't wake up that Wednesday morning from the age of 48.
40. Bill Laimbeer and me. I took this number in high school and college. Have a fondness for 40 still.
41. I was a performative minimalist in sports: one touchdown in high school football, one dunk in a h.s. basketball game, one dunk in a college basketball game, one double-double in college. This is important, considering I was never the best player on any of those teams.
42. For lunch lately, I've been having one Diet Coke, a Campbell's Soup At Hand, and a bag of microwave popcorn. Every workday of the week. And I've cut ten pounds since the holidays, without nary an instance of exercise, unless teaching counts as exercise.
43. I like cutting the grass, but I'm not into the pristine, homogenous suburban lawnscape.
44. Purple lilac bushes are my yard decor of choice. There were huge ones in the front when I was a kid--big enough to hide inside, like a plush-cover fort with bees swirling.
45. I spent a bunch of recesses inside writing, "I will not..." in elementary school.
46. I don't have a full scale family tree nor an abiding interest in my personal genealogy, but I learned more last fall about my great great great grandmother, Cora Matilda (Hamilton) Roe (2/13/1870-11/4/1926). She was married at age 13 to Ephriam Roe. Rather young, since he was thirtysomething. It's disputed whether Ephraim was from an Ojibwa Tribe. I have papers that say he was and papers that say he wasn't. What's the paper worth? Or the information on it? He died near Edmonton in 1929.
47. I wish I made more time for playing euchre. And for reading.
48. I sleep on my back and side mostly. Log position. Almost never remember dreams.
49. My wallet has an imprinted buck head on it, like it was designed for a hunter. I never even went through hunter's safety, although most of my friends did. My take on hunter's safety: stay the hell out of the woods when there are guns blazing.
50. I've cut my own hair since 1992. Even the crooked ones were free (or about 15 cents per cut if you figure the cost of the clippers).
51. If I was stranded with one television channel: Food Network. I don't have much time to cook, but I'm endlessly wowed by the combinations, the ways of making.
52. In tenth grade, I came up with the winning homecoming float idea for our class: Ollie North says, "Shred the Red Raiders."
53. I thought I could do this in one sitting, but it's late. More tomorrow.
54. I've endured a broken left wrist, four shoulder dislocations, a separated shoulder, a half-dozen ankle sprains and numerous stitches from gashes, mostly from basketball.
55. I was at the last Grateful Dead concert--Soldier Field, summer of 1995. Drove straight back to KC in time for Lollapalooza at Sandstone Amphitheater, which included Sinead O'Connor and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones.
56. I am--like my mom was--ultra-sensitive to poison ivy. I can pick it up from pollen just by walking through the woods. Had the poison ivy every summer that I've lived in Missouri.
57. I like walking. Unless it's inside a shopping mall. Then I suffer from full-body lethargy. Malls exhaust me.
58. Clothing taste: comfort over style. And a weak sense of style, too.
59. D. and I have more synthetic houseplants than real ones. We can't work out a watering schedule for the real ones. Authentic plants either drown or dry up.
60. In the German tradition, we opened gifts on Christmas Eve most of my childhood. Although we didn't have the candles on the tree (which is my understanding of the cause for unwrapping on the Eve rather than the next morning), it had the practical effect of allowing the adults to sleep in. And they did. Didn't matter if the kids were up at five.
61. First CD: Tom Petty, Full Moon Fever. Still have it, but I don't listen to it much.
62. I never learned to dive. My dad is a terrific swimmer, but I had too active an imagination to go head first into a lake. What's below the murky surface? Rocks, stumps, lake sturgeon.... Terrifying.
63. A combination of teachers whose good advice I followed persistently kept my interest and compelled me to study English, composition, rhetoric, and everything under the Sun that converges within this sprawling, rich field.
64. Places I've spent six weeks studying or training without ever taking up residence: Denver, Colorado and Xalapa, Veracruzana.
65. I prefer cheap shampoo.
66. I like Blue Moon ice cream better than any other flavor. What flavor is it? Can't be sure. Maybe that's why I like it.
67. In the summer of 1992, my brother and I moved the entire Chemistry Department at Central Michigan University, cart by precious cart, into its new facility. Ultraviolet spectrometers, centrifuge equipment and so on.
68. Days until my 30th birthday.
69. I tend to keep a messy office and a clean desk.
70. Reese's Peanut Butter Cups. Nerd Ropes. Black licorice. In that order.
71. Most interesting place during my study-stay in Mexico: La Plaza de Los Tres Culturas in D.F. where protesters were killed and forcefully dispersed just before the '68 Olympics. After that, Xico. Then Huatulco.
72. I've been in my current full-time job--athletics administration--for almost seven years.
73. I don't care if it's grilled over charcoal or gas-heated lava rocks, as long as it tastes good.
74. Year I was born. On Cinco de Mayo: Taurus.
75. No tattoos or piercings.
76. I was once my son's brother. No joke.
77. Coca-Cola over Pepsi-Cola. Had Pibb in my great-grandparents' Sheboygan, Wisc., basement before it made its popular comeback.
78. Took freshman comp with Dr. Phil Dillman at CMU. Scored a B, he became a friend, gave me lots of books in exchange for yard work. When I visited Michigan in the summer of 1993, I drove him to Ann Arbor where he was diagnosed with the cancer that took his life a two years later.
79. Never cared for pet rodents, but we kept rabbits and a guinea pig (who was blind from chewing through an electrical cord).
80. I have started a lot of books I haven't finished yet. Lots.
81. Wore size 14 shoes at the age of 13. Still do. Well, no, not the same pair of shoes.
82. Early in high school, I refused to write an essay declaring my religious values on the grounds that it wasn't anybody's business. After a parent-teacher conference (thick with teacher-talk centered on my transgression), we agreed that I would write it for my mom, who was an early childhood teacher. She gave me a B, noting that I didn't spend sufficient time on it.
83. I don't care for golf.
84. I've never been to the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls.
85. Two vivid oral reading memories: A Summer in the South with my mom, and Where the Red Fern Grows with my uncle G.
86. My first time on an airplane was when I was in kindergarten. My brother and I flew with two of our grandmothers to Seattle shortly after Mt. St. Helens erupted. Ashy.
87. I keep a mileage log, noting how much gas and how many miles every time I fill up. It's ridiculous, according to D., since I never use the data for anything. It's just spinning into a data-list, vehicular narrative. What could be more productive while the fuel flows? Windshield washing?
88. I have a difficult time telling people no when they approach me for favors. As a result, I get buried in odds and ends.
89. On the first "official" night of the Gulf War, I went by myself to watch Edward Scissorhands for a review speech I had to deliver in a high school class.
90. My older brother was a wiz with Legos. We had a small, white suitcase filled most of the way with them. One time he built a grand ship--far better than anything I could have done. I carried it to the top bunk and released it into the air. It flew straight to the wooden chair where, when it landed, it smashed into bits.
91. Payback for the time he busted a rotten squash on my face, giving me my first bloody nose.
92. Car radio auto-set on 1. R&B and hip-hop, 2. Adult Urban, 3.Kansas NPR, 4. UMKC NPR, 5. Suburban Pop, 6. Hip-hop.
93. My elbows and pinkies are double-jointed.
94. I shoot pool left handed, except when I play on Yahoo! Then I use the mouse with my right hand, which explains why I'm woeful in both settings.
95. I rooted for the Cleveland Browns passionately during the Bernie Kosar era--Ozzie Newsome, Kevin Mack, Webster Slaughter, and on and on. I was ridiculed for wearing a Browns jacket during most of junior high. Now Ph. wears it when he wants to sport a "vintage" look.
96. I played the trombone for a few weeks. Beyond that, I'm musically inept.
97. D. and I knew each other for 17 years before we got married last summer.
98. My first professional conference was the C's in Atlanta. V.V. delivered the keynote, "On the Rhetoric and Precedents of Racism." I remember it vividly.
99. My dad sent D. an email the other day to wish her well with student teaching. He reminded her that my mom was an early childhood teacher, and he had this to say: "For her, teaching was play." I could elaborate a lengthy, complicated teaching philosophy, but I won't do that here, since I'm at the end of the list. I really like that nugget, not just for the ways it reflects my mom's approach to teaching or D.'s, but my own, too.
100. In case I don't see you, good afternoon, good evening and goodnight.

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