Yes, I’m on Facebook. Yes, I’ve been tagged.
I started one of these “25 Random Things About Me” lists last week and in trying to think of things to share, ran about twenty-five things short.
Then I decided to be a witty prick about it, and make a list of things like this:
1. I am a biped.
2. I can count on my fingers and toes, but only so high.
3. I’m carbon-based, biologically speaking.
4. I absorb sustenance from food I take in at the mouth…
Then, for those who’d suffered through, I’d throw in a zinger:
25. I’m hung like a horse.
But sometimes the effort to be a witty prick is more than it’s worth. And I found myself enjoying some of my friends’ lists, those who made an effort and actually shared some interesting things.
Then, in re-connecting with someone I’d lost long ago, I discovered I remembered far more of what we’d gone through together, and meant to each other, than she did. And she, with the logical precision of one who has spent most of her adult life in the financial sector, actually tallied up the things she “felt she really knew” about me, a list of three things, and decided that we were acquaintances, not friends.
It was all very silly, and I realized immediately I don’t really need friends in my life who track relationships on a spreadsheet. But I did have the witty prick thought that, “Maybe if I’d done one of those lists, and you knew twenty-five things about me, then I could be your friend.”
But sometimes the effort to befriend someone is more than it’s worth. All the same, I decided to make another sincere attempt at my list of 25 things, because I do have friends out there I know will appreciate the effort. So here goes:
1. I have what they call in comics a “mutant healing factor.” It’s pretty low-grade compared to Wolverine’s, but has served me well over the years. I rarely bruise (I had two ribs busted once in a kickboxing match, and the skin over the broken bones took on a slight yellow hue), I recover quickly from injury, and I don’t scar permanently (I’ve thought I had scars only to watch them fade away as a couple of years pass). When I was a toddler, my great-grandmother accidentally knocked a pot of boiling water down my left arm, which was bad enough, but then tried to wipe it off with a towel and took most of the skin off my arm. It was a terrible injury, and the doctors said I’d have that “raisin-skin” burn-scarring for the rest of my life. By the time I started school, there wasn’t even a bit of discoloration to show it had ever happened.
2. I also seem to have a high resistance to toxins. I’m completely immune to poison ivy and oak. I was bitten on the shin by a brown recluse and only got a “ring” around the bite, with none of the funtastic necrosis. There’s a downside to this: medicines I take tend to wear off a lot more quickly than they’re supposed to (when I was on antidepressants, my shrink ultimately had to up the doses all the way to the max allowed), including anesthesia when I’m having dental surgery.
3. I have scoliosis, which tends to bother me most when I’m out of shape (like now). When my back muscles are strong, I usually don’t have problems with it.
4. A few years ago, I suffered a sudden excruciating headache that dropped me straight to the floor, where I writhed and called my then-wife on my cell phone. Wound up in the emergency room, got heavy drugs, did an MRI, and a bunch of other neurological tests in the days thereafter. Doctors figured it was an aneurysm, but then all the tests came back showing nothing. They said it seemed to have been a stroke of some sort, but they had no clue what caused it, or what its effects might have been.
5. My mother was killed in a car crash when I was about a year and a half old. She was sixteen. It was Christmas Eve. I have no conscious memories of her.
6. I went into the U.S. Army a long time ago because I was patriotic and I felt the Army could teach me discipline. The Army, in turn, taught me my efforts weren’t appreciated, broke the contract they’d agreed to to recruit me, and after I was out ultimately screwed me out of most of the College Fund I’d earned. For my part, I did what I was expected to do, very well, and left with my Honorable Discharge and most of my sanity.
7. I’ve always been spiritually inclined, and not the slightest bit religious. As I put it to someone not long ago, I am a strong believer in the numinous, but I don’t think anyone who has ever lived is remotely qualified to explain it to me.
8. Many years ago, in one of my phases of spiritual seeking, I did an exercise from a book on shamanism to find my totem animal. In this guided visualization, I went to an ancient forest in my soul and sat down and waited to see what creature came to me. It was a white wolf. Cool, I thought, and went on with my life. A few years later, I was at a bookstore with a woman who I nearly married, and as we were browsing the magazines she pointed to a magazine called White Wolf and asked what it was. I knew the magazine and told her it was about roleplaying games. Oh, she said, I just wondered because when I write about you in my journal, I refer to you as the White Wolf. Maybe she was picking up on something spiritually, or maybe it was just because of my natural pallor and rakish nature. Or maybe she was prescient, because a few years later I went to work at White Wolf Game Studio, the company that grew out of White Wolf Magazine, and it was the best job I’ve ever had.
9. I suffer from chronic depression. This doesn’t mean I’m glum and mopey, because most of the time I’m actually fairly cheerful, and I’m always able to laugh at myself (a trait I’m certain has, along with fatherhood, kept me alive all these years). It does mean I have problems with motivation and energy, problems that hindered my ability to work on things that mattered to me most of my adult life before I ever even had a notion I was depressed. These things are tough to gauge, but the condition seems to be biochemical in nature, but enhanced greatly by a childhood that was somewhat more hellish than the norm, though in mostly mundane ways.
10. I wish I was bi. It seems such a shame to cut off half the human race in the search for love, or at least sex. But, alas, I’m just not wired that way. I envy those who are, but still find myself wondering why anyone, male or female, chooses to be with a man (unless it’s me, of course, which I totally understand).
11. In high school, I was buddies with Keith Burns of Trick Pony, and we used to write songs together. He went a bit farther with that than me.
12. Growing up, my family doctor was Ferrol Sams, the well-respected novelist. He was the guy who diagnosed my scoliosis.
13. I made most of a movie, once. Spent two years putting it together, wrote the script, went through three huge rounds of casting, an extensive rehearsal process with my actors, directed, did the camera work, then had an actress (who was by that time well-woven into the footage) move to Texas before we could finish the shoot, ruining not only all my effort but screwing over her fellow actors who’d traveled and taken off time from their jobs as well. It was about 80% done. All the same, it was one of the most satisfying things I’ve ever done, though its failure broke my spirit for quite a while.
14. During adolescence, Olivia Newton-John was my muse of desire. I adored that woman. The first concert I ever went to was actually one of hers, while she was still all-country and performing in evening gowns, long before the sexy years of Grease, Xanadu, and Physical. I still pretty much dig her.
15. When I read a book, it usually looks all but untouched when I’m done. I used to be neurotically protective of my books, because they are after all sacred, and while I’m nowhere near as obsessive about it as I once was, I still handle books the same tender way.
16. I am a Democrat by default. The Republicans have in the past few decades devolved to a rabble made up of the corrupt and the fanatical and the fascistic, and the way the party system is set up, I couldn’t bring myself to vote for a Republican even if he were by far the best man for the job, because if he won it would just make the party itself more powerful. (This of course is thus far a hypothetical, as I have yet to see a Republican candidate who was the best man for the job). The Democrats largely stand for the sorts of things I stand for, but I’m often disgusted by their lack of leadership and inability at effective triage in picking their battles.
17. I’m a way-out-of-practice student of Togakure Ryu ninjutsu. In other words, a sedentary ninja.
18. Writer Steve Antczak and I once wrote a screenplay (“Blood of Eden”) that, for a short time, got some industry “buzz” because they were considering it as a possible Die Hard movie. Then they decided, nah. There’s that fine line between wealth and poverty.
19. Once upon a time, I was a semi-professional storyteller and a fledgling member of the Southern Order of Storytellers.
20. During my brief storytelling days, Neil Gaiman gave me permission to adapt and tell his Sandman story in which the Lord of Dreams engages one of the lords of Hell in a game of wits to win back his mystic helmet. I told it a few times to very good response (which I credit to Neil, because it’s a great story).
21. I have way too much retail experience, mostly in selling backpacking gear, especially hiking boots. It’s not my calling, but I’m great with customers, I think mainly because I learn the things I need to know, and I genuinely try to help people find what they need. In my years at REI, I set a store record for the number of positive comments written about me by customers.
22. In my days at White Wolf, I worked on a collectible card game called Rage, which was based on the roleplaying game Werewolf: The Apocalypse (which was about lycanthropic warriors for nature pitted against demonic corporate powers set on destroying the wilds). It was (and is) a helluva game, and I appeared on two cards. The first, “Granola Pete,” has me flashing peace signs and photoshopped all hippy-like. The second, “Tracker-By-Moonlight,” was a Barbara Armata painting of me, long-haired, with my actual bow, in jeans, as an Appalachian werewolf in his human form tracking his prey (the flip side shows Tracker in werewolf form, once he finds them). The latter captures my personality much better than the former.
23. I was in an improv comedy troupe in high school, and even did some solo stand-up comedy without preparation (and did pretty darn well).
24. I am an ethical sensualist, which means I’m all for enjoying the physical realm in whatever ways make you happy, as long as you’re not victimizing someone else. I’m also a spiritual sensualist, because I find sensory pleasure to be the finest gateway to contact with the divine. And yeah, I’m talking about sex here, but also a lot more than that.
25. There is nothing, no how, no where, no way, that is more important to me than my son. I love this planet, and all its denizens, but everyone better hope it never comes down to me having to decide whether he goes or it goes, because he’ll win. No contest.