(This is a “meme” floating around Facebook, but by god I’m not going to author web content that can’t be repurposed. Apologies if you’ve seen this on FB. Links to responses – on FB or elsewhere – are welcome.)
1. I grew up in two snowy ex-mining towns in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan – Ironwood (2008-2009 snowfall to date: 123 inches/10.25 feet) and Hancock (2008-2009 snowfall to date: 189 inches/15.75 feet). I don’t think I’ve ever met anyone else from my hometowns whom I didn’t already know, and I rarely meet anyone who grew up in the U.P.
2. I love winter, especially sunny, cold days with a few flurries. I would vote in favor of six- or nine-month winters.
3. While I was growing up, my family slid out of the middle class, then climbed back into the bottom of the bottom. Experiencing this shaped my worldview and politics more than anything else.
4. My junior year at Macalester, I withdrew from an off-campus studies program to Vietnam at the last minute because the trip abroad would have coincided exactly with the last two terms on campus of someone I’d just fallen in love with. I’ve been married to her now for almost 14 years, so that worked out okay.
5. My wife has been far more important in shaping my personality than my parents.
6. Except for two brief trips to Toronto and Winnipeg, I have never been out of the United States, and I haven’t been to many places within the U.S., either.
7. Though I have been a lifelong fan of the Green Bay Packers, the only sport I really follow anymore is the cross-country skiing World Cup, which is finally accessible in North America thanks to the internet.
8. I’ve blogged at least once a day since 2005. Thanks to blogging, Twitter, FaceBook, and the like, I have a wider and deeper set of friends and acquaintances now than I have ever had before.
9. When I think about places I’ve lived, I often think about the pizza I ate there: Fontecchio’s Bell Chalet in Ironwood (okay, Hurley, next door), Jim’s and Ambassador in Hancock (okay, Ambassador is in Houghton, next door), Risimini’s and Checkerboard in St. Paul (college), Giordano’s and Gino’s East and Uno in Chicago (grad school), Ginelli’s and Punch in Minneapolis (working life), and, uh, B&L in Northfield (ditto).
10. I have had a teenage boy’s appetite since I was actually a teenage boy. There is basically no time in any day when I’m not pretty hungry, except maybe right after Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve been the same height and weight since I was about 16, and have had size 12 feet since then, too. If I had a dollar for every time a salesperson has looked at me doubtfully when I asked for a size 12 shoe, I’d have enough cash for some hand-cobbled wingtips or for the next two years’ running shoes.
11. The strangest thing that has ever happened to me involved my big feet. While I was walking home late one night to my apartment in Chicago – which was in “Boy’s Town,” a gay neighborhood near Wrigley Field – a man about my age stopped me to ask for directions to a nearby bar. I gave him the information, and he asked if I’d walk there with him. When I passed on that offer, he made a different one: paying me to go back to his apartment to let him look at my feet, which he claimed to like very much. I passed on this offer, too, and used my size twelves to get the hell home.
12. My 20s were all about my brain (being married, going grad school), while my 30s are turning out to be all about my body (various more-or-less minor ailments, training seriously as a runner and skier, serving as a pack animal for my kids).
13. Seeing my two girls happily playing together is as near to perfect happiness as I can probably get, and the culmination of every bit of parenting I’ve done.
14. I always feel a sharp sense of missing my girls about 15 minutes after they fall asleep, no matter how easy or difficult it was to get them to that point and despite the fact that they’re just a few steps away.
15. I get more extroverted every year, mostly because doing my job and raising my kids would be painfully difficult if I were as introverted now as I was ten years ago.
16. Talking with my kids reminds me how little I *really* see, remember, or know. They’re not sponges, soaking everything up, so much as incredibly powerful computers. A little buggy, though.
17. I am a huge fan of Apple, currently owning two Mac laptops and three iPods, and Google, daily using at least seven distinct Google services (not including search).
18. I started going deaf sometime in my 30s. I’d gladly trade worse eyesight for normal hearing, since there’s no LASIK for ears and wearing two hearing aids is a big pain. On the other hand, being hard of hearing can be an advantage as a parent.
19. I am daily amazed that I have a PhD. Earning it is a distant memory, and its benefits are at best oblique.
20. I’m fascinated by my heritage – roughly half Finnish and half Belgian – in spite, or because, of the fact that neither set of grandparents were very “ethnic.” Someday, I want to visit the places in Finland and Belgium where my ancestors came from.
21. Based on my survey of male relatives, it’s equally unlikely that I’ll ever be either bald or bearded. Which seems right.
22. I could, and sometimes do, happily spend all day talking to people about the work they do. People’s jobs are endlessly fascinating to me. My worst-ever job required me to clean out the meat locker and the incinerator at a local grocery store.
23. I had never written a grant proposal before getting my current job, but I somehow wasn’t surprised to find grantwriting to be so engrossing and enjoyable. Every proposal is like an elaborate verbal puzzle, with a direct, measurable outcome. Money, I mean.
24. As much as I enjoy – and practice – writing, I want to acquire some sort of visual skill in the next few years, such as drawing or graphic design. If only I worked somewhere that provided free classes…
25. Cross-country skiing feels as natural to me as walking, even though I only started skiing since high school, didn’t do it for ten years, and am not very fast. My “life list” includes racing in two big ski marathons: the Marcialonga in northern Italy (70km/43 miles) and the Vasaloppet in Sweden (90 kilometers/56 miles). Hopefully I can do this sometime in the next decade.