35 Random Facts About Me

1. I’ve had three marriage proposals. Two I said No to (and one of those “Nos” was in the middle of a so-called romantic vacation, and we had been dating for three years, and I still don’t know how I had the guts to realize that “No” was the only answer). One I said Yes to. And yet I have never been married. The world is a mysterious place.

2. During my test to get my driver’s license, I got a bit frazzled, put the car into reverse, hit the gas, and crashed into the car behind me, which was filled with people waiting to take the test after me. Needless to say, I did not pass.

3. I have never broken a bone.

4. For “Show and Tell” in kindergarten, other kids brought in their gerbils, their Barbies, their GI Joes. I, however, sang the entirety of Don McLean’s “American Pie”.

5. My boyfriend and I spent months driving across the country. We slept in our van. We took the North-West route, before careening down South through Montana, Wyoming, and then continuing West through the desert states. I mountain-biked on slick red rock in Moab. I got up at dawn and watched a male elk try to corral his harem, all of them screaming their unmistakable mating cry. I saw a coyote stalking a wounded deer. We witnessed a mid-air battle between an eagle and an osprey. We did not take the Interstates. We took Route 66. We broke up messily along the way.

6. My friend Beth and I used to dance so wildly at high school dances we would be drenched in sweat, and we would run over to the side of the gym and press our hot sweaty Irish heads up against the cool tiles before running back into the fray. And then we honestly wondered why we did not have boyfriends.

7. If I could swing it financially, I would live in hotel rooms.

8. I performed for 3,000 people at Milwaukee Summer Fest wearing a bowler hat, bustier, biker shorts, and combat boots. One of the funnest experiences of my entire life. As well as one of the strangest.

9. When I was a child I was upset to the point of being sick at the lyrics to three songs: “Puff the Magic Dragon,” “John Henry” and “The Bonnie Banks o’ Loch Lomond.” I argued with the lyrics. Why can’t they BOTH take the high road? Why is life so unfair? Listen, I may have been 7 years old but I was no dummy. Those are some sad sad songs.

10. At all times, my book collection is reaching a point of critical mass. But there is nothing I love better than to have my own functioning library. Yes, there is the Internet to provide information but I find it so satisfying to look up Washington’s farewell address in my own copy of his writings, and stuff like that. I am my father’s daughter. In those moments, flipping through a book looking for what I want, I feel close to him.

11. The first record I bought with my own money was ELO’s Time.

12. I don’t think I could live happily in a land-locked state.

13. I can recite What’s Up, Doc from beginning to end. “Do you have a pencil, darling?”

14. I was made fun of in middle school. Prank calls to my house, cafeteria catcalls, a group of girls targeting me for abuse that went on for an entire year. Nobody saved me. One of those bitches requested my friendship on FB recently. Yeah, middle school was a long time ago, and I’m sure you were in pain back then too, but I was in pain and I didn’t torment another person. So screw you, sister. I deny your request for friendship because you were no friend to me back then either.

15. My first concert was Huey Lewis and the News. Years later, I was an extra in a Huey TV special, with an American Bandstand theme. I sat up on a scaffold right above him, with my hair in a beehive, wearing pedal pushers, and had the best time.

16. I have lived in Rhode Island, Boston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Chicago, New York, and New Jersey. I am probably missing a few pit-stops.

17. When I first got glasses at the age of 10, during the ride home from the optometrist, I stared up at the trees from the window of our car, in awe that I could actually see the leaves, and not just a green blur. I had no idea that individual leaves could even be seen.

18. I was a lingerie model for one night only at a private event when I was in college. An all-male audience. Husbands shopping for lingerie for their wives. I look back on it like I was momentarily in a cult or something. Was I roofied? Was that me, strutting around in front of a bunch of khaki-clad guys wearing a push-up bra and silky shorts? Or, worse, a nightie with an empire waist? Empire waists and I do not mix due to the fact that I am freakin’ stacked. There was a small revolt in the backstage area when the organizer handed the empire nightie to me. I took one look at it and said, “I’m not wearing that.” “Yes you are,” she said. “I will look horrible in that.” “Well, you have to wear it,” she said. So I put the damn thing on, went back in front of the audience, and made a joke out of the whole thing, vamping it up like I was Mae West or Blaze Starr. I got some laughs, which – considering the circumstances – is frankly amazing, but it was out of sheer desperation and I felt a mix of white-hot shame and fiery rage while I was doing it. Let me make one thing clear: I didn’t feel shame because I was strutting around barely clothed in front of men. I chose to be there. I needed the money. Big whup. I was also kind of an exhibitionist. (See #8.) I did feel shame about the empire waist but that was only because it was an empire waist and I do not DO those. What DID make me feel shame was the silent “respectful” environment, the mood of “Oh, we’re just good husbands shopping for our wives, therefore we will set here quietly and respectfully, pretending we aren’t doing what we’re doing” … it was this that turned the universe into a howling abyss. I would have far preferred rowdy shouts of “TAKE IT OFF”. Make some NOISE, boys. Otherwise I’m up here all alone. In between catwalk strolls, I sat on the back steps of the house, in some naughty nightie, drinking Budweiser out of a can and wondering what the hell had happened to my life. AND. AND!! To cap this horrible story off: The lingerie company stiffed me on my payment, too! So I did all that jank for FREE.

19. I am usually about 6 years behind the times when it comes to technology.

20. I worked in a factory on an assembly line after college. My shift started at 5 a.m. My friend/co-worker would pull into the driveway at 4:30 a.m. to pick me up. We referred to ourselves as Lynette and Paula, after Officer and a Gentlemen.

21. My first real celebrity crush was Ralph Macchio. He saved my life in middle school, while I was going through #14.

22. I don’t enjoy going to zoos. I love animals, and so I keep thinking zoos will be okay, and so I keep going and then end up having to leave early.

23. I learned to read by the time I was three. My parents didn’t even realize it had happened until one day they were driving out to the Cape and they drove past a big A-frame liquor store (still there by the way), with a big sign on the roof that says “LIQUOR” and I stated calmly, from my car seat in the back: “Lick-war.”

24. I was shamed by my 4th grade teacher because I couldn’t grasp fractions. She sent me out into the hall by myself to work over the problems. Which makes me think: I can’t be remembering this right, can I? And yet it is a vivid memory. I sat out there, drenched in sweat because I did not understand anything and nobody was helping me. I gave up in that moment and to this day I still count on my fingers. So thanks a lot, Miss Rogers.

25. The best job I think I’ve ever had was a summer gig as a waitress in a pizza joint on the beach. It was fast, furious, non-stop, every shift like a military operation. Time RACED and also felt like it stood still. It was NEVER slow there. It was always inSANE. You would literally never stop working, not a moment to breathe, over an entire eight hour shift. The staff got so tight working in those conditions. We would finally kick everyone out at the end of the night, pour a couple of pitchers of beer, sit around talking and laughing, and then walk down to the beach and go skinny dipping. Only to get up again and do it the next day. I worked there for four summers.

27. I changed the flat tire of my Westfalia camper van in the breakdown lane of the 405 in Los Angeles. I had gone to an interview that day, and was wearing a tight black skirt, a white shirt, heels. I still cannot believe I changed that tire. This was pre-cell phone, and I suppose I could have waited for a tow truck to see me, or limped off an exit ramp to find help, but screw that. I knew I had to get it done myself, and I fucking did, and I am still proud. (Not as proud as the time I actually parallel-parked that sonofabitch on a vertical hill in San Francisco.)

28. I need a lot of down-time. This has been true since I was a kid. I am horrible at quick segues. I build in down time. I arrive early to things so I can have 20 minutes to just chill, or read.

29. When I was 13 years old, I wrote a novel about Andrea McArdle’s rise to fame. It is 300 pages long. I still have it.

30. The first and only time I ventured into a mosh pit I immediately got punched in the face. I had a black eye. I was very proud of it.

31. I shaved my head once. It’s the best haircut I ever had. The guy I was seeing at the time said the shape of my head was “fetching”. He did not normally talk like that, to put it mildly. He was a cranky Tough Guy. He looked at my shaved head and went silent. And then he said, deadpan, “You’re breaking up with me, aren’t you.” “Wait? What? No!” “You are. You’re breaking up with me.” “Why are you saying that? I am not.” “Every time a girl breaks up with me, she gets some radical haircut right before.” I started laughing so hard. “Oh my God, no, come on –” He shrugged. “It’s fine. I get it. You’re through with me. You show up with a shaved head and I get it. My days are numbered.” (He was wrong.) Then he said, “I think it looks fetching.” It’s still one of my favorite compliments.

32. I sometimes get anxious when I realize that I will never live long enough to Read All the Books and See All the Movies.

33. Transcript, as best as I can recreate it:
Me: “So, lemme ask you. Who are you.”
Him:”What do you mean?”
Me: “I have an idea of who you are and some ideas of what you might do.”
Him: “Like what?”
Me: “I think you are in the employ of the US government, in probably an off the books kind of way. I think you have the highest of security clearance. I’m not saying you’re a spy or anything like that, but I think that you operate in that intelligence secret arena.”
Long pause.
Me: “Am I right?”
He grinned at me.
Me: “Okay, so tell me everything you know.”
I’m proud that I have lived the sort of life where a conversation like this is somewhat plausible. I’m also proud I guessed right, based on VERY little information, one or two comments which made my “This is a spy” spidey-sense tingle. (My nickname isn’t “Special Ops” for nothing.) And yes, he did tell me stuff. Not everything. But STUFF. And then we listened to Elvis.

34. I was an extra in a TV miniseries about the Kennedy dynasty. I played a convent girl at school with the young Rose Kennedy. We all had to wear grey wool jumpers, heavy white shirts, thick tights. It was filmed on the hottest day of July. We were DYING of the heat in all that wool. We were filming a scene in a church and one of the ADs kept calling out, “MAKEUP. THE CONVENT GIRLS ARE SWEATY.” In between takes, we would lie on the grass, hitching up our skirts over our waists to air ourselves out. We looked like the aftermath of a sex crime. The actresses playing nuns had it worse because they were in full habits. I remember glancing over at the Mother Superior in between takes. She had lifted her habit up and bunched it over her shoulders like a cape, with her bra, underwear on full display, she didn’t give a fuck, nobody gave a fuck, it was too damn hot, gaffers and huge burly sound guys strolling by not even looking at her – and best of all, she had taken two ice-cold soda cans from craft services and was rolling them around in her armpits. I cannot even explain how funny that image remains. Her wimple, her underwear, the soda cans … Show business, encapsulated. Oh, and proud moment: everyone was genuflecting wrong and people were doing the Sign of the Cross wrong, not the Catholic way. I mentioned it to one of the ADs and they had me demonstrate it for the cast so we all looked like Catholics, because dammit Catholic audiences – of which there would be MANY for this miniseries – would notice. You touch the right shoulder first? I know you’re not one of us.

35. For YEARS, I kept a filing system going where I would write out different facts about different countries on index cards and then file them under the country name. There’d be some news item about Angola, or Indonesia, and I’d add whatever I learned to the “Angola” card. Coups, wars, elections, scandals, ancient history, famous figures etc. I had boxes and boxes of these index cards. I experienced some confusion when Yugoslavia ceased to exist. Not about the state of world affairs but about how I should “handle it” in my index cards. I made a note of it at the top of the first index card: RIP YUGOSLAVIA (date/year), and then created new cards for each of the different countries. That the CIA or the diplomat service didn’t come a-knockin’ at my door (although maybe they did? See #33) is one of my greatest regrets. This was a total habit (compulsion?). I didn’t have to remind myself to “keep the cards active.” It was part of my everyday life. For no real reason except I found it all very interesting, and because I kept up with the cards obsessively, I have the facts of, say, Bulgaria’s history locked in my brain forever. I finally realized it was time to let the cards go. They were symbolic of a lot of pain and loneliness and I was starting to feel oppressed by all the filing card boxes in my closet. I threw it all out. But I’ve got a mind like a steel trap and it’s all still in there. I can tell you the ins and outs of the Battle of Kosovo in the Field of Blackbirds in 1389 if you’re interested.

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3 Responses to 35 Random Facts About Me

  1. sheila says:

    Oh my GOD.

    // right would take us into Roger Williams Park //


  2. sheila says:

    // It became less people talking about themselves, and more unburdening themselves and loading it up on me. Exhausting. //

    I definitely hear you on that!

  3. Big Fan says:

    I understand it was for good reason but I find it extremely upsetting that you threw all the country index cards out. I just… Argh.

    Lots of love,
    Big Fan.

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