Friday, January 19, 2007

I've Been Tagged -- Five Fun Facts

My friend and college roommate Hal Stern has "tagged" me in a blog meme game, where he has revealed five little-known facts about himself, and has tagged five others to do the same. So I'm supposed to reveal five things here, and then tag five others, and so it goes. This was a bit of a struggle for me, as I am a very open person, and there's little about me that I haven't published in some form. (Just Google me and you can assemble a fairly comprehensive picture of my interests, hobbies, views, and professional career.) Heck, I was blogging on the Internet since before the word was coined, and my old personal website (created before I met my husband) included a fairly complete chronology of my lovelife and other adventures. But taking all that off the table, here are five fun tidbits that might actually surprise some people who know me.

  1. I played intramural hockey in college. To those who knew me before college, when I was completely athletically inept, and to those who knew me later, when my chosen athletic outlets were more typical yuppie sports like bicycling and skiing, hockey may seem an unexpected choice. But this is a hat tip to Hal, who was responsible for encouraging me onto the rink, where I actually had a lot of fun, at a time in my life when I was just discovering that I wasn't so athletically inept after all. I actually played for a year on an amateur league here in LA in the 1980s, and even once attended a coaching session with Luc Robitaille and Rob Blake. But didn't have the exclusive passion for it that would motivate me to go to weeknight games and practices at the absurd late-night hours that were the only time we could get ice time. Now, alas, with bicycling and snowboarding as well as hockey, I'm a "former great" (as my friend Ann Marie would say). My primary athletic achievement these days is walking three-quarters of a mile each way to Starbucks in the afternoons.

  2. I proposed marriage to a woman, but was turned down. Back in the 1980s, I grew very close to a woman who might well have been the "right one" if I weren't gay. She is Chinese, and a national of Malaysia, and it troubled me to see the outrageous bureaucratic obstacles our government throws in the way of persons who are honest, hard-working, productive and in every respect the sort of immigrant we ought to be encouraging. Not to mention employers who sponsor immigrant employees on a temporary work visa and then take advantage of them because they know they have them over a barrel. So I proposed a marriage of convenience as a path to citizenship for her. I cared for her very much, and was willing to live in a "real enough" marriage for enough years to get her citizenship. But she had more integrity than that, and turned me down. (I'm glad to report that she's now happily married, has two great kids, and works for the World Bank where national status isn't an issue.)

  3. I've rapelled down a waterfall. To those who know me well enough to know that I'm afraid of heights, this will be impressive. This came toward the end of hiking and splashing our way down a deep river gorge in the Blue Mountains of Australia, where we had to grab a rope and step backwards off the top of a 150-foot waterfall. I'm afraid of heights, but am also thrilled by them (like a moth to a flame, one might say). I've also jumped out of an airplane from 13,000 feet, but more people know about that one.

  4. I almost had a bar mitzvah. My (a)religious upbringing was a mostly-secular hodge-podge. Our family had no religion at all (we celebrated Christmas and Easter, but it was about Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny). I sang in a Methodist church choir as a boy, because our neighbors (one of whom was my piano teacher) attended there. I also inherited a bit of Jewish identity from my mother, even though she was never religious, and was herself was the product of an unreligious mixed marriage. But Judaism is more than just a religion, it's an ethnic identity. It's about a way of talking, a way of thinking, a way of eating, and much more. My inherited Jewish identity came from Mom hand-in-hand with my sense of being a second-hand New Yorker. So when I went off to college, I fell in with a Jewish circle of friends, started attending Friday night Sabbath services regularly, studied Hebrew, and nearly went through with a bar mitzvah at age 18. (College turned out to be harder than high school, and I didn't have the extra time I'd have needed to fully prepare to go through with it.)

  5. I've eaten whale meat. Friends are well aware that I'm adventurous in my eating. I eat pretty much anything I'm served, and generally enjoy it. And if there's something strange or unusual on a menu that I've never tried before, I'm all over it. (Much to my husband's horror, who is inclined to stick with tried and true.) When people ask me the strangest thing I've eaten, the bee larvae that I ate when trekking thru the jungles of northern Thailand is usually the first thing that comes to mind, so a lot of people have heard that story. I also ate iguana on the same trek. But I seldom think to mention the whale meat that I ate when visiting Norway. That one should score points not only for the ewww-factor, but also the un-PC factor. Whale meat, in case you're curious, tastes nothing like chicken. It's much more like beef liver.

So hopefully you learned something interesting about me. Now, I hereby tag: good friends Chris and Thommy because they're both thoughtful bloggers who should have some interesting things to reveal; Dave and Robert who are also good writers but whose blogs are a bit stale and need prodding; and Kip, who always has lots of interesting things to say about politics, and only recently has been revealing a bit more "inside the vault".

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