100 Things

100 Things

1. My name is John, and I’m just an average white guy, living with my wife, my son, and a mountain of books in Sacramento, California.

2. Yes, I am the same guy you dated/lusted after/hated/thought was a dweeb/danced with once in a stuffy cafeteria in high school. But I was thinner then.

3. I am very much a child of the 80s. But in 1988, my hair was stuck in 1978.

4. Like the congressman who shares my name, I used to have trouble getting on to airplanes.

5. Chances are I have lived in Sacramento longer than you, in non-consecutive years.

6. I collect languages. No, Klingon is not one of them. But Welsh is.

7. Je parle français et non, je ne veux pas coucher avec toi.

8. I choose to live in Sacramento.

9. I lived in Portland, Oregon for 15 years, which means I am now a “certified” armchair city planner.

10. It also means I’m a truer Oregonian than you. Right down to my California driver’s license.

11. I registered to vote on the first day I was eligible and registered for the draft on the last day I had to. Or maybe it was a day late…

12. I have a B.A. in English literature. Don’t sneer when you say “English major.” It makes you look ugly and it just makes me angry.

13. I have never had to say “do you want fries with that?”

14. I have never had to say “would you like another drink?”

15. But I sometimes dream about chucking it all and opening a pub.

16. My Master of Public Administration was my way of avoiding law school. So far it’s worked.

17. When I was 14, I read War and Peace. It took me three months.

18. Now, I read far less than any self-respecting English major should.

19. When I tell you “yes, I read Sartre in French,” I’m not doing it to show off. It’s just that I’m better than you.

20. More Mill than Kant. I’ve been accused of being a moral relativist and an exploiter of gray areas, but I’d argue that’s a bit extreme.

21. The two “sports” I am most likely to watch on television are tennis and auto racing (NASCAR, that is).

22. I am aware that NASCAR runs counter to my environmentalism.

23. I watch tennis for the game, not the hot Russian women. But they do make things interesting.

24. I am a lifelong Democrat, but I once walked a precinct for a Republican.

25. I worked for the Oregon Legislature for almost five years. Four too many.

26. In grad school I took the “Are you a Machiavellian” quiz. My professor said he’d never seen a score above 40. I scored 45.

27. As a child, I collected stamps.

28. As an adult, I collect regrets. And those statehood quarters.

29. Nostalgia, I’m convinced, is a disease, it’s contagious, and I’ve been sick for years.

30. I know who Fulke Greville is. Do you?

31. I still read poetry for fun.

32. I’m pretty happy in my job, even though there are things I’d rather be doing. Some of them are even legal.

33. Bagpipes thrill me.

34. I have never taken music lessons, but I used to play the harmonica (badly).

35. I started listening to classical when I was 13. I started listening to punk when I was 33.

36. I love to sing, am a mediocre singer, and am terrified of karaoke.

37. I still own, and wear, a bright green, paisley, tie I bought in 1987. It is fading.

38.When someone asks me “who is your hero,” no one comes to mind.

39. I’m sort of an only child. My half-siblings never lived with me.

40. I have a 1987 Peugeot Iseran bicycle. It still has all twelve gears, but these days it rests on a trainer.

41. If I could live anywhere in the world, it wouldn’t matter, because I would always find my way back here.

42. When I was 25, I left the Pacific Time Zone for the first time. I went to Paris.

43. My first airplane ride was in 1990. I was 20.

44. In the first two years I was a frequent flyer, I earned seven free flights on Southwest Airlines.

45. John Updike calls it “the in-between times of layover and suspension.” I used to love airports and flying. Now I just tolerate them.

46. If I have a favorite writer, John Updike is it. He’s the closest thing to an answer for 38, as well. RIP

47. And my favorite Updike quote is “What isn’t zen in feeling, looked at blankly?”

48. I knew all the words to every song in Camelot and My Fair Lady. I might have forgotten a few by now.

49. I also know the words to most Big Country songs. Remember them?

50. I sometimes suffer terrible insomnia.

51. The difference between going to bed at 10 p.m. and midnight is the difference between a good next day and a bad one.

52.I am far more obsessed with the idea of being organized than with being organized.

53. I like to think I’m like House. But I’m really like Wilson.

54. There is no shame in renting. I grew up in an apartment and was a renter until I was 40. I still find my mortgage a little intimidating.

55. I live just inside the city limits, but I grew up in “midtown.” We called it “downtown” then.

56. I am an environmentalist and a pragmatist. “Environmentalism” is not about saving the Earth. It is about saving ourselves.

57. The best country-western song ever written is “Wichita Lineman.” Period.

58. I practice yoga, but I certainly don’t have the body for it. Yoga with a beer belly is hard.

59. Guinness is my default beer choice, but I’m something of a beer snob. Probably because I lived in Portland.

60. If you ask me to “say something in French,” I will either stare at you blankly or say “quelque chose.”

61. If you ask me to say something in Welsh, I will tell you that it is cold in the park in winter.

62. I make enchiladas with pepper jack cheese. And they are damned good.

63. “Cooking vegan” is a personal challenge, but I am not vegan, or any shade of vegetarian.

64. Peanut butter cookies: peanut butter, sugar, egg. Anything else is just filler.

65. I know what a “saving throw” is.

66. If you ask me what my highest priority in life is, I will say “my health,” as I dig in to my fourth slice of pizza.

67. I ping-pong between avoiding caffeine and embracing it.

68. People think I’m eight to ten years younger than I am. Unless I’m drunk, then I’m at least five years older.

69. I can’t stand it when people spell “definitely” with an “a.”

70. I am one of the most risk-averse people I know. But I’m getting better.

71. I also suffer permanent buyer’s remorse.

72. My first car, in 1988, was a 1979 Chevy Luv pickup I inherited from my grandfather. I paid the insurance on two cars for almost five months before I could bring myself to sell it. In 1995.

73. I have a beard. Since September of 1996. I keep it very short.

74. My idea of “walking distance” is probably three times yours.

75. I still want to be in a band.

76. I enjoy public speaking in the same way that some people enjoy horror movies.

77. But I’m such an introvert that even talking with my son exhausts me.

78. I never got in to “Seinfeld.”

79. I scored higher on the math than the verbal portion of the SATs.

80. I got into, attended, and graduated from, my first-choice college, but went to graduate school at the last place I would have expected.

82. Fall is my favorite season, but I am happiest in the summer.

83. If I could, I would play tennis every day.

84. I wrote copious amounts of really bad, self-referential, poetry in high school. Some of it probably still exists.

85. INTJ. Firmly.

86. My cholesterol level responds very well to diet and exercise. I should probably put down that fifth piece of pizza.

87. 1979 Chevy Luv; 1985 Honda Accord; 2002 Saturn SL; 1997 Jetta; 2003 Volvo XC70; 2016 Subaru Forester. Crap, I am suburban.

88. Commodore 64. Apple Performa 460. Hitachi Visionbook Plus 4350. Dell Dimension 2200. Dell Inspiron B120. Acer 5733Z. Personal Build i5.

89. I’ve owned more computers than cars.

90. I never wore braces but should have.

91. My son will not suffer the same fate.

92. Most dogs love me. I love most dogs. I have never had a dog.

93. I have owned a black trench coat continuously since I was 16. I’m on the third version. I have owned more computers than trench coats.

94. I still want to get a PhD.

95. I’m a faithful friend but a terrible correspondent.

96. I’ve come to terms with my atheism. I don’t begrudge people their beliefs and have no desire to belittle anyone. However, I do believe there are limits to the extent of human understanding.

97. Poker is my favorite card game and my favorite poker game is seven card stud, nothing wild.

98. I have been to France twice and Canada three times. This is the extent of my foreign travel.

99. You know how dogs will eat until the food is gone? That’s how I am with pizza.

100. Hiraeth.

2 thoughts on “100 Things

  1. I LOVE this list and found it quite serendipitously. I was taking a break from writing a conference presentation (it’s killing me) and decided to Google “Why do I fear the Pacific Time Zone?” or something like that. Your page popped up. By the way, I started #94 at the ripe old age of 42. I am now 47 and will defend my dissertation this May. It’s never too late 🙂

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