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100 Things About Me


  1. I was born in Moses Lake, Washington.
  2. My father was in the Air Force.  My mother was a stay at home mom.  I was the youngest of four with a brother as the oldest and two sisters between the two of us.  But enough about them, this is about me.
  3. My family moved to Sacramento when I was just short of 1 ½ years of age.  I’ve lived in Sacramento ever since.  Forty-six long years in one place.
  4. I went to Thomas Jefferson Elementary School, Kit Carson Middle School, Sacramento High School, CSU, Sacramento, and McGeorge School of Law.  Middle school was the worst and I would never go back to that time of my life.  Teachers who teach those grades, and do it well, deserve lifetime achievement awards.
  5. I went to law school because my undergraduate degree was pretty much worthless.  I was working as an Executive Secretary and didn’t want to file for the rest of my life.  I never had, and still don’t have, a burning desire to be an attorney.
  6. Law school was the first time I was challenged academically.  I found I could withstand the challenge.  I didn’t excel at the thing, but did well enough.
  7. Since law school, I have come up with the following careers I should have pursued:  chef, social worker, stock broker/financial advisor, elementary school teacher, writer.
  8. When I was in college, I wanted to retire by the age of 30.  Kind of didn’t happen.
  9. Being a writer, at least being able to make a living at it, would be like being retired.  Get up, go for a run, spend a few hours writing.  Lunch, followed by a nap.  Edit a bit.  Dinner and to bed I go.  Fill in the gaps with gardening and baking, reading and running errands.  Take the laptop and day trips and weekend trips and weeklong trips.  Yes, I know it would actually be harder than that, but compared to the drudgery of an 8:00-5:00 existence…
  10. All of these years in one place have created such a wanderlust in me that I can’t wait until the time I can wander.  But there are things that keep me tied down.
  11. They’re called kids.  I have two boys.  As of this writing, they are seventeen and fourteen years of age.  We’ve been here long enough with them, I wouldn’t want to move away from their home, friends, and life unless the offer was too good to pass up.  There aren’t any offers these days, good or bad.
  12. The day my oldest was born was the happiest day of my life.  The day my youngest was born was the second happiest.  For years, being a father was what defined me.  But things change.
  13. They’re teenagers now and don’t need me quite so much anymore.  They no longer want a father.  So, I’m going through an adjustment.  I’m trying to let go of this role I’ve had for so long and become myself again.  Not that being a father wasn’t “myself,” but there was a me that existed before kids and I’m trying to find him again.
  14. When I think of my kids and the best memories, they are this.  Watching them play their sports and those moments that were frequent when they were young when we found something that tickled our family funny bone.  The laughing and giggling are sound memories I hope I never lose.  The sights of them at play are visual pictures locked away in a part of my head that needs to remain there forever.
  15. Other memories I hope I never lose.  My youngest’s arms around my neck.  Driving somewhere with my oldest almost ten years ago when he must have been seven or eight years old and we talked about the Iraq War.  My youngest’s imaginary friends that fit in his hand.  My oldest’s sitting on a sofa with his feet on the coffee table, reading a magazine like his old man.  Unfortunately, too many of the things my kids have done or said over the years are now lost on the scrap heap of faded memories.
  16. I have never smoked pot or done an illegal drug.  I hope my kids will be able to say the same thing.
  17. I have, however, partook in my share of the sudsy stuff – beer, ale, lager, whatever you want to call it, in all of its many forms.  Which is why I like it.  There isn’t just one beer.  There are many and I’ll never tire of beer in all of its flavors, shades, and variety.
  18. I have never committed a crime, except for traffic violations.
  19. I have never punched somebody in anger.  When I was in elementary school and the invariable fights took place, I ran in the other direction.  One day, a kid got angry with me and wanted to fight me.  I didn’t.  I no longer remember how I avoided the fight, I just know that I did.  I’m afraid of getting punched in the face.
  20. I lived a childhood defined by fear.  Fear of the witch outside my window, the monster in my closet, and the ogre (or snakes if I had just seen a movie with snakes in it) under my bed.  Fear of our house burning down in the middle of the night.  Fear of intruders.  Fear of roller coasters.  Fear of flying.  Fear of challenges.  Fear of failing.  Fear.  Fear.  Fear.  Part of my adult life has been about overcoming those fears.  I will never overcome my fear of roller coasters, so don’t try to talk me on to one.  I have overcome my fear of flying out of necessity, but I will never, ever be a comfortable flier.
  21. Last year, I overcame my fear of snakes and held one.  I did it again a few weeks later.  I don’t need to again.
  22. I have read forever.  When I was a kid, I read voraciously.  That’s what our family did.  We played outside, we played games inside, we watched a limited amount of television, and we read.  All six of us.  I remember reading a book called Man O’ War over and over as a child.  It was the true story about a race horse that was basically forced into early retirement because he was too good.  Think Secretariat on steroids.  He raced 21 times in 1919 and 1920 and lost only once.  Think about that, he won (not placed or showed), but won 20 out of 21 races.  That’s like a Major League baseball team winning 155 games, while losing only 7.  Or Tiger Woods winning 20 out of 21 consecutive majors.  Here’s the Wikipedia entry about Man O’ War …’_War … the details about his one loss make clear, under fair circumstances, he would have won that race as well.  I think I want to read the book again.
  23. I read continuously to this day.  I can’t sit quietly unless I have a book or newspaper or magazine in my hands.  People who wait for doctor’s appointments or at the auto repair shop and just sit there without anything to occupy their minds amaze me.  How do they do it?  I would go crazy.
  24. Speaking of minds, mine never stops.  There are compartments in there and in each one, there is a gremlin furiously working away, keeping things moving.  My writing brain is always thinking about my last project, my current project, my next project, and many things in between.  My parenting brain, constantly pondering how to do things better.  My work brain, at least for nine hours or so per day, is at the forefront.  But the other parts are still there in the background, a little grayer, the colors muted.  There’s the emotional part of my brain, the intellectual part, the … well, there are many parts.  They never stop.  That may be why reading is so important.  Usually, when I’m reading, I’m able to quiet those compartments down a bit.
  25. I should try yoga or meditation, but never have the time, which is probably the reason I should try one of those things.
  26. I wish I could take an hour or two every day for myself.  Where I could be where I want to be with who I want to be with.  It would need to be quiet, by which I mean no traffic or sounds of humankind, except for the laughter of children or the subtle hum of conversation.  There would need to be trees rustling quietly in a soft breeze.  An ocean nearby, with waves crashing.  Sand in my toes.  Cotton ball clouds racing across a blue, blue sky.
  27. I just went to Amazon and purchased a book about Man O’ War and another book.  I could have ordered them for my Kindle and saved almost $10, but didn’t do it.  I think this is telling me I’m done with my Kindle.
  28. For years, I thought the greatest invention in the history of inventions was the IPod.  All of my music on one device that I could take anywhere with me.  I’ve changed my mind.  I still love it, but I now see how it is damaging the course of human interaction.  People who have their ear buds in don’t need to interact with the people and environment around them.  There are far too many people who use their technology to divide themselves from the rest of the world.  I used to do it – have my IPod when I went to the grocery store or run similar errands.  I try not to do that anymore.  I don’t necessarily interact more with people as a result, but at least I’m reachable.
  29. I love Jackson Browne’s acoustic work.  His studio stuff, not as much.   Neil Young can be a genius and horrible within the span of a song or two.  I’m enthralled with singer-songwriters these days.
  30. In high school my favorites were:  Rush, Boston, Queen, Styx, the Eagles.
  31. I’ve been to the following concerts:  Rush, Allman Brothers, Billy Joel, U2, Melissa Etheridge, Jewel (an acoustic set), Jackson Browne (acoustic as well), Trans-Siberian Orchestra (twice).  It’s not a lot and I may be missing one or two.
  32. I desperately want to see Neil Young some day when he’s doing a solo acoustic performance.
  33. Neil Young’s music inspired me to try to learn how to play the harmonica.  I then got inspired to try to learn the classical guitar by watching and hearing an acquaintance play Romance … … wait until about the 1:05 mark.  I then got inspired to try the violin.  That lasted for about three weeks before I switched to the saxophone.  The problem with all of these efforts … no lessons and without lessons, there’s a point at which development just stops, particularly for somebody like me for whom the playing of music doesn’t come naturally.  Add to the list of things I will do one day – long term lessons for one of these instruments.
  34. By the way, I can play a beginner’s version of Romance on the guitar.
  35. I want to live a healthy, active life until the day I turn 80 and then drop dead the very next day.  In looking at my parent’s generation, it seems that 80 is the magic number.  Of course, by the time I reach 80, 90 may be the new 80.
  36. To get there, I’ve tried to exercise regularly but have not been as successful at it as I want, until I started running a few years ago.  Before that, my exercise of choice was cycling, but it’s just not an uncomplicated thing to do.  Then, I discovered running about four years ago and have run ever since.  Well, until my groin injury put a kink in my running program.  Staying fit and active (both mentally and physically) can do a lot to compensate for other things.  Like my diet.
  37. I dread the day when I have to watch what I have to eat and drink.  Unfortunately, I think that day has arrived.  Without the ability to run, I’ve added another ten pounds.  For the first time in my life, my clothes aren’t fitting.  So, it’s time.  I’m saying it publicly now.  Beginning today, my eating habits are changing.
  38. Pizza is the perfect food.  My changing eating habits will not involve eliminating pizza from my diet.  Fine, it will also be very difficult for me to give up Mexican food.  And pasta.  And bread.  And … oh, hell, who am I kidding?  Most of my habits aren’t going to change, just a few around the edges.
  39. The best meals I’ve ever had were at Chinese restaurants with large groups of people.  Two stick out in my memory.  One at O’Mei’s in Santa Cruz, with a group of about 10-12 friends together on a Saturday night.  Everybody ordered a dish and then passed it around.  The Tsingtao flowed freely.  The food was incredible.  The conversation and friendship were great.  The second time was at a Chinese restaurant somewhere in the Berkeley/El Cerrito area – kind of a spur of the moment decision for about eight friends to stop for dinner.
  40. When I think about the perfect meal, I end up focusing on something beyond just the food, which does matter.  Just as important, though, are the company and the environment.  Good food without good conversation is just dinner.  Good food with great friends is a meal to be savored and remembered 25 years later.
  41. Two summers ago, we went on a vacation back East.  My favorite meal there was at a place in Little Italy in NYC.  It was on a street corner.  We sat outside and watched all of the street activity and had the best pizza I had while we were there.
  42. While on that vacation, we went to Gettysburg.  We spent a few hours touring the battlefields and that was it as we had only scheduled one day there.  I want to go back and have three or four days there.  Most likely by myself or if I have company, it needs to be somebody who can take pleasure in the little things and quiet reflection.  Walking through the monuments, reading the plaques, stopping for moments or hours and imagining what the fields must have been like during those horrible days 150 years ago.
  43. Beyond the battlefields, there is also so much other history there that I wanted to experience.  The old buildings.  There’s something about old historical buildings that fascinates me.
  44. When the Bosnians and Serbians and Croatians were doing everything they could to kill each other back in the 1990s I was horrified at the slaughter.  I was also disturbed by the history and culture and architecture that were destroyed as well.  Churches that had withstood the centuries of war that have crossed Europe couldn’t withstand the ethnic hatred of that period of time.  That loss haunts me still.
  45. I don’t believe in God.  Yes, regular readers of this blog already know that.  As long as things like the Bosnian-Serbian-Croatian massacres, the Sudan ethnic cleansings, and other inhumane slaughters of innocents happen, I see no reason to believe in a god.
  46. I’m tired of clutter.
  47. I want to spend a week on a beach in Mexico.  I would do nothing more than sit on a chair beneath a tree.  I might walk along the water’s edge.  Maybe even up to my knees.  But not much further.
  48. I’m afraid of water.  There’s something about what lurks out there that scares me, so I never go too far.
  49. I never dove into a pool until a few years ago.  It’s that fear thing again.
  50. On that Mexican beach, I would enjoy a few cervezas.  I’d enjoy real Mexican food and in the evenings, I’d watch the sunset across the thousands of miles of the ocean and ponder my existence and the meaning of life.
  51. When my week is up in Mexico, I’ll go to a beach in Oregon and sit there for a week.  Huddled in the cold, watching the waves crash and feeling the cold air and mist off the ocean in my face.
  52. I believe in the power of doing nothing, but find so few opportunities to exercise that power.  Part of the reason is that the neverending whir of my brain prevents me from stopping.
  53. I have almost no interest in traveling the world.  There is a part of me that wouldn’t mind traveling the back roads of some European countries.  I’d like to see some of the historical places of Europe.  There are other parts of the world I wouldn’t mind seeing … the frozen tundra of Siberia, the vast unpopulated reaches of Alaska.  Machu Picchu.  The Australian Outback.  The dwindling rainforests.
  54. Notice something about all of those places?  Yes, there aren’t a lot of people there.  I have no interest in cities.  I never need to go back to NYC.  I don’t need London or Paris.  Give me quiet, less-traveled, and sparsely populated and I’m there.
  55. I slept through about 30 minutes of the last Star Wars movie.  I don’t think I missed anything.
  56. When I went to see the Hunger Games I cried when Rue died.  I don’t remember crying when it happened in the book.
  57. I cried when I read Everything Matters by Ron Currie, Jr.  This is the only book I ever read once and then immediately read again.  I cried again.  I would recommend it to anybody and everybody.
  58. After I read Everything Matters, I read The Art of Racing in the Rain.  I cried.
  59. Then I read The Book Thief.  I cried.
  60. Then I read Sarah’s Key.  I cried.
  61. It’s been almost two years since I read those books.  I want to read another book that makes me cry, but I have yet to find it.  Got any suggestions?
  62. I believe it is just as important to be able to cry as it is to be able to laugh.  Feeling pain is part of the human existence and is good for the soul.
  63. Into the Wild may just be my favorite movie of all time.  Or maybe Saving Private Ryan.  Or is it Monty Python’s Holy Grail?  The opening sequence in Up is the best, most incredible 15 minutes or so of any movie out there.
  64. Ask me tomorrow and I’ll have a different list of favorite movies.  For instance, I forgot to include Once Upon a Time in America.
  65. And Raiders of the Lost Ark.
  66. And Dead Poets’ Society.
  67. I support gay marriage more fervently than almost any issue other than opposing the death penalty.  If you had told me this six or seven years ago, I would have thought you mad.  I now think, however, that the simple act of two adults being able to call their relationship a marriage is the marker of whether we are a civilized, fair, and just society.  Or not.
  68. I detest the consumer society we have become over the past forty years.  It’s pushing us over a cliff.
  69. I love the smell of fresh garlic frying in a little bit of fat.
  70. If I never eat another bit of asparagus, that’s okay by me.
  71. I think of trying a vegetarian diet every once in a while and then think about cheeseburgers and don’t get that far.
  72. Some day, I’m going to make this burger for myself:  double cheese burger, bacon, onion, mustard, catsup, guacamole, and a fried egg.  It’s the egg that will be the topper.
  73. I’m actually not a big eater.  I like food.  Or at least certain types of food, but I generally don’t gorge or eat massive amounts of food at one time.
  74. I cannot stand buffets.  Watching people with their plates piled high with food as they waddle back to their tables.  Ugh.
  75. When I was a kid, our diet was pretty limited to the standard white middle class menu of the time.  White trash tacos.  Spaghetti.  Chicken cooked the same way for years.  One starch and one vegetable with each meal.  We didn’t serve ourselves from food placed on the table.  Instead, my mother served us from the kitchen.  She was the master of making food for six, without usually having leftovers.  Serving ourselves would have screwed that up.
  76. That may be why I hate leftovers.
  77. Growing up, Chinese food to me was Chun King.  I think I got the name right … it’s that horrible Chinese food in a can.
  78. When I see the moon, I want to reach out and touch it.  It’s right there.  So close, taunting me.  Yet so far.
  79. When I look out my window at work, I see two trees swaying in a light breeze.  They frame … an entrance to a parking garage.  <sigh>  I hear the sounds of traffic all day long on the road just outside my window.
  80. I am done with the urban and suburban life I live.  Hours spent in a car every week driving on concrete paths to and from work.  Working in one of the concrete monoliths that fill downtown.  The only good thing about my concrete monolith is that it is a historic building.  It was built ninety years ago and isn’t an impersonal box like most office buildings that have been built in the last few decades.
  81. I live in a house that looks just like every other in our subdivision.  Well, except for the yellow paint on the exterior.  I refer to our house as the lemon sorbet house.  That should give you an idea.  The color wasn’t my choice.
  82. The suburb I live in is in the middle of a sea of over 2,000,000 people.  About 1,991,000 more than I’d like to be in the midst of.
  83. Yes, I actually don’t want to leave all of humanity behind.  Just most of it.  Why?
  84. Because I hate lines.
  85. Our neighborhood is aging and sagging.  Too many foreclosures over the last few years.  Too many people who no longer interact with their neighbors.  It’s not a community.  It’s just where people live.
  86. Although I vote in every election and follow politics extensively, the first time I ever donated money to a political campaign was in 2008.  I gave to Barack Obama’s campaign several times.  I believed then and still believe today that he was, and is, the right man for an incredibly difficult job.  As far as I’m concerned, to the extent the last three years have exacerbated the problems that continue to plague our country, the fault lies almost entirely with the Republican Party and their “defeat Obama at all costs” approach.
  87. I have friends who are Republican.  They’re reasonable.  I don’t understand how they remain Republicans.
  88. I crave alone time.  When I get it, I begin to miss company and conversation.  The reality is that what I crave is time away from the people who frustrate me and drive me to the brink.  What I miss are the people I enjoy who I get so little of.
  89. I have now published two collections of short stories.  For most of my regular readers, this is old news.  Two novels will be coming out soon.  I also have to return to a script I am working on.
  90. One of the biggest things that held me back from writing for the longest time was, you guessed it, fear.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of criticism.  Fear of the unknown path this all might lead me down.
  91. I no longer let that fear get in the way of my writing.  Or of putting my work out there for the world to see.
  92. I will never claim to be a master story-teller or a great writer.  What I do is write stories that exist within me.  Many of which I don’t even know are there until I open a new Word document or set pen to a clean piece of paper.
  93. My storytelling ability, regardless of its quality now, is significantly better than when I first started this journey eight or nine years ago.  I’m learning that as I try to edit One Night in Bridgeport, a novel that was the first piece of fiction I wrote and which I’m now trying to get cleaned up for publication.
  94. I am convinced that there is a poison lurking inside of me that will cut my life far short of my desired 80 years of age. It’s called fear.  The poison probably comes from the Chun King.
  95. I am convinced that I am nowhere near good enough at my job.  It’s that fear thing again.
  96. Fear motivates me to always try harder.  To never rest on my laurels, of which there aren’t many.
  97. Fear keeps me on a certain track because … well, I’m afraid to step to the side and follow that other path.  The one where people take chances, try different things.  Maybe do something a little crazy.  A former co-worker, younger, childless, unmarried, up and quit her job and moved to the Big Apple, where she now makes a living running people’s dogs during the day and babysitting at night.  She has no insurance, no car, and not a care in the world and seems incredibly happy.  It’s the type of thing I could never do.  Fear, baby, fear.
  98. I’m taking baby steps in that direction though.  The steps I’ve taken to date have led me to where I am with responsibilities to fulfill.  Once those tasks are complete, watch out.  I’m not headed to the Big Apple, I won’t be running other people’s dogs.  Instead, I’ll be living a life that is mine.  It will be as minimal as possible.  I would be happy with a one-room shack in the middle of nowhere – as long as it it’s the right “nowhere.”  Paths of crushed dirt instead of concrete lanes.  A community where people are neighbors and friends.  Walking instead of driving.  Talking instead of not.
  99. Henry Thornton (see The Irrepairable Past tab) is me, but he isn’t.  His past is not mine, his present is where I may be headed.
  100. Only I hope I like people a little more than he does.


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