Friday, March 18, 2016

Should I Try to Do the 25 Surprising Facts About Me Meme?

How about 9 to start? I don't think I can come with twenty-five things that will qualify as new, let alone interesting or insightful, at least not in so short a space as a week.

1. I was really born to live a more urban lifestyle. Even at my age, I still like to go places, and I would like to be able to interact more regularly and familiarly with educated people, though I rarely do either of these things, and haven't really in almost twenty years. On the other hand, things like home improvements and maintenance do not seem to interest me at all. There are shelves and lamps and doorknobs and electrical outlets in my house that have been broken for years, and it doesn't even occur to me to ever do anything about them.

2. I never imagined I would have the number of child I have. I should worry about them more. I don't really worry about them that much. I'm sure I don't make enough demands on them. They do read some, and they have taken part in a number of activities and followed various seasonal rituals over a period of years. Their lives have a rhythm to them. Sometimes I think I need to start to talk to the older ones about more complex and advanced things, try to give them some clearer picture of how life develops than I had, and which accomplished smart people seem to have from a young age. 

3. I very rarely drink coffee. Sometimes if I am in a certain kind of restaurant where I order dessert (which I almost never am) I like to linger at the table and sip on a cup with two creams and two sugars. But that is about it.

4. From age 7 to 15 I lived in a townhouse/rowhouse in a lower middle class multiracial neighborhood (before that I lived in an apartment complex), which may or may not be obvious from reading my posts. I am clearly fixated on (comparatively) wealthy, attractive, and well-educated white people, and have never felt really comfortable around this demographic, and certainly was never part of it, other than at the farthest fringe.

5. I finally got a mobile phone (a cheap smart phone) about 4 months ago. I find it frustrating most of the time. The screen and the keypad are way too small for me to comfortably ramp up my various social media participation. I can't remember how to get on the internet if I am not at home. My success rate at actually answering telephone calls stands at around 30%, because in the act of extracting the thing from my pocket I invariably touch something that cuts off the ringing. The one positive is that when I come home from a vacation, I don't have to deal with the possibility of some ominous message, or several of them, awaiting on the answering machine, which I used to dread, more than I realized, since I was still visited by these forebodings as I neared home after my recent trip to, even though there was no possibility of any unforeseen disaster from this quarter.

6. My 10 favorite cities (I haven't been to many): 1 (tie) Prague and Paris. I can't bring myself to slight either one, today anyway. Paris seems like it might be becoming unaffordable for people like me to do much there anymore compared to how it was before, but we will see on that. 3. London. 4. New York. 5. Montreal. 6. Florence. 7. Rome. 8. Dublin. 9. Quebec City. 10. Venice. Philadelphia/Boston/Washington would be next. I wanted to fit them in the top ten somewhere, but in all of these other places I did something that felt very exciting to me in some way, and the three non-New York cities are more like places where I have lived something like my normal life, and they do not feel as special as these other places.

7. I am so out to lunch with regard to everything related to the culture of the workplace, and I have no instinct for things like professional etiquette. I recently found out (via someone else's experience) that exploring other job options without informing your current employer that you are doing so is considered to be a serious transgression, even if you are a comparatively low-level employee. I had no idea about this. It was also news to me that when meeting people in a professional setting, that it is expected you will have done a certain amount of in-depth research on them, or their organization, provided any is available. This had not occurred to me either. For many years of my working life, until the last few really, I had largely been left alone, without a lot of interaction with higher-ups, which I appreciated at the time since as a younger person especially I was quite averse to dealing with older people in superior positions, however I see now that it has really left me on an island as far as relating to most professional-class people now.

8. My 7 favorite highway rest areas. 1. I-95/Maine Turnpike near Lewiston. It's a lonely rest area. Especially in the winter you might have the place all to yourself. Despite that it is surprisingly cheerful. 2. PA Turnpike Northeast Extension, near Allentown/Poconos. The air outside of it always seems especially clean. I like how the chairs in the food court have the little keystone symbol cut out of their backs. This section of highway connecting the western suburbs of Philadelphia with Allentown and Scranton is not a major corridor for east coast intra-city traffic, and most of the people in the rest area seem to be not in a great hurry and probably out doing Pennsylvania-ish things, which I should probably devote a separate post to explaining, because they are the same things people do everywhere, but there is a specific flavor to the way they are done in Pennsylvania that will elude the data crunchers and their ilk. 3. Vermont Welcome Center, I-91 near Brattleboro. Sometimes I come back this way from one of my forays into the rest of America. By the time I get here it is usually after 10pm or so at the end of a long drive, the last hour of which has been on an empty road in pitch dark. any staff they have working there has left, and I'm usually the only person there if I stop, but the displays are very cheerful (the outer design of the building is intended to look like an old barn) and make Vermont seem like an appealing and even exciting place. Plus I feel now that, back in one of the three northern states, with all of which I have some connection, I have arrived at home, which I am inclined to think of fondly despite all of the objections which might be made about it. 4. Florida Welcome Center. I-95. We always stop in here for the free orange and grapefruit juice. This place is always a mob scene, but I like the atmosphere. People are excited to be there. 5. Molly Pitcher Rest Area, New Jersey Turnpike. If I leave home with a full gas tank, this seems to be where I run out. All of the Northern New Jersey rest areas, while containing a great human panorama, are not really restful. This is the last one before the Pennsylvania Turnpike, which is usually near the end of my trip since I generally am going to or staying in Philadelphia, and you can breathe in it a little bit. 6. Canadian highway 10 near Montreal. Only because the Dunkin' Donuts there serves the coffee and donuts in real porcelain cups and plates with the company logo on it, which I thought was amazing. We can't have this in the U.S.? 7. I used to like the Maryland House on I-95 back in the 70s and 80s when they had an actual sit-down restaurant in the neo-colonial house they have there (I went there several times with my grandparents, who were extremely leisurely travelers. Going from Philadelphia to Williamsburg, which is about a six-hour drive, was a two day trip for them). However the last time I went there the single restaurant had been replaced by a bunch of chains and a food court in a new building. So much of the thrill is gone from this one. Honorable mention. The low-key gas stations with their little attached stores, often made of stone, along the old parkways in New York and Connecticut are very cute and inspiring of nostalgia for somewhat old times, but I not attached to any in particular. Likewise for several places on the New York State Thruway, but I haven't gone on that road enough to remember any particular favorites. Of course New Hampshire is notorious for our liquor store rest areas, but as these are only about ten miles from my house I never really stop at them.

9. I was somewhat good at running in high school. I have, or used to have, since I don't know what happened to them, a gold medal and a silver medal from Maine state championship track meets. The gold medal was for the mile relay, which obviously I ran with 3 other people, and the silver was in the indoor 600 yard run, which race I was supposed to win, and indeed the guy who did win had never beaten me before that day. I guess I have to say that I choked. I've choked at a lot of important moments of my life, especially when I was younger and being successful might have made a big difference in some way. So I lost this championship race by about 4/10s of a second and I wasn't even winded in the end. I had forgotten to exert myself, probably being overcautious about going out too fast, I let the other guy get too far ahead, and I couldn't catch him at the end. Of course I had not trained seriously, nor was I coached especially seriously, certainly compared to the way people go about things now. The coach would send us out on what was supposed to be a 5 mile run and we would run to McDonald's. But that's how I always went about things, I wanted to coast by on my natural abilities and achieve victories and other successes easily, with a modicum of work, and thus be enabled to pursue my real desires of devoting the bulk of my time to partying and getting women. And perhaps if I weren't so prone to choking, I could have bluffed my way to some more modest level of success before I ran into the ferociously driven and talented people who are not to be contended with. But I am not going to confess all of my major choking stories at one time. 

No comments: