Questionnaire 13.

As I run up against my weekly deadline, I resort yet again to a questionnaire. The following questionnaire was adapted from this website right here, which plucked it from somewhere else on the internet, which plucked it from a series of newspaper articles… I’m not going to track down the source. Here goes:

1. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ROOM IN YOUR HOUSE AND WHY? The library. I love everything about it. I love sitting in my new recliner under a modern lamp and inhaling that fresh print smell before reading under the bright fluorescent light from my mod lamp. I love lighting up the fireplace, sitting in my ancient high-backed leather-tufted chair and flipping through a musty, gilt-edged classic while sipping fifty-year old whiskey and smoking a cigar. I love the oil paintings depicting the exploits of my distant ancestor, Vincent Tibère le Biscardi. I love gazing upon shelf after shelf of the books I’ve collected and bought and inherited, and sometimes I’ll climb up the brass-handled rolling ladder to the second level just to count all my copies of The Wealth of Nations or Crime and Punishment, or to gaze down upon the forty-foot Waldseemüller map rug– or just to stand up there and think.

2. WHAT IS SOMETHING YOU MISS FROM YOUR CHILDHOOD? I miss snow. We lived in New Hampshire ’til 1980 and Virginia ’til 1985. They have snow up there.

3. WHO WAS THE MOST IMPORTANT ADULT PERSON, OTHER THAN YOUR PARENTS, IN YOUR LIFE GROWING UP AND WHY? My grandfather. When I grew up, I wanted to be just like him except a lot younger.

4. WHAT WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD DREAM PROFESSION AND WOULD YOU STILL WANT TO DO IT? I kinda sorta wanted to be an astronaut or join the navy. That was before I understood motion sickness.

5. IF YOU WERE TO GIVE YOURSELF A NEW NAME WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY WOULD YOU CHOOSE IT? Something short and simple that I wouldn’t have to repeat and explain to people, like “Tom Jones” or “Bob Evans” or “Dave Thomas.”

6. WHAT IS YOUR FIRST MEMORY? I think I remember being bathed in the sink, but that could be a product of imagination. My earliest memory that I know for sure wasn’t fabricated was playing hide-and-seek with my big sister. I hid in her closet and looked out through the slats. When she opened the door she managed to poke me in the eye.

7. NAME AN EVERYDAY HERO IN YOUR LIFE – SOMEONE WHO SEEMS TO SAVE YOUR DAY WHEN YOU NEED IT. Whoever makes sure the microwave in the faculty lounge is still working. Without that person, I couldn’t have my tea every day. Thank you, kind stranger.

8. WHY DO YOU LIVE IN THE CITY (COUNTRY) YOU DO? AND WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE ‘HAUNTS’? I live in America because I was born here and I like it here. It’s not complicated. I don’t haunt anyplace, for I am not a ghost.

9. IF YOU COULD TRY ANY PROFESSION FOR ONE DAY, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Script editor. I’m not a very creative person, but I think I could tighten up (or drag out, if necessary) a good bit of what I see and hear in movies and TV shows.

10. WHAT IS YOUR BEST QUALITY AND WHY? I don’t like to brag, but I don’t like to brag.

11. NAME FIVE LUXURIES OF YOUR DAILY LIFE AND WHY DO YOU LIKE/USE THEM? First: My car. All but a handful of my ancestors had to walk everywhere. Second: My MacBook. Non-Macs seem to take forever to start up and shut down, and waiting for either process is not the ideal way to dither away what precious few seconds I have on this Earth. Third: My recliner. I enjoy sitting down. Fourth: Tea. It tastes good. Fifth: My contact lenses. I’ve enjoyed seeing stuff so far, and the contacts make it easier. They’re a lot more convenient than glasses, generally.

12. WHAT 5 THINGS WOULD YOU TAKE TO A DESERTED ISLAND? Assuming I’m going to be stuck there a while: a big honkin’ knife, a lot of matches, a heavy plastic sheet for protection from the rain, some sort of water filter, some sort of all-purpose pot or pan.

13A. NAME A TALENT YOU WISH YOU HAD. I wish I could breathe better.

13B. NAME ONE TALENT YOU DO HAVE. I can look bored under any circumstances.

14. WHAT WOULD YOU DO IF YOU HAD A FREE DAY TO DO ANYTHING? We’ll find out come Monday. That’s spring break.

15. WHAT QUALITIES HAVE YOU PASSED ON TO YOUR CHILDREN? Raffaele Thomas is an old soul and loves books. Roscoe Waglio is clever and enjoys pranks. Teresa Angelina is respectful to her elders and is a minimalist. Junior has a nasal voice.

16. WHEN SOMETHING HAPPENS TO YOU, HOW DO YOU DETERMINE WHETHER IT IS A GOOD THING OR A BAD THING? Does it work in my favor? Yes? Then it is good.

17. WHAT DO YOU KNOW FOR CERTAIN? Cogito, ergo sum. Cogito.

18. WHAT IS THE NO. 1 THING YOU WOULD LIKE YOUR CHILDREN TO KNOW OR UNDERSTAND? English.

19. ONE MEMORY FROM EACH OF YOUR CHILDREN’S BIRTHS. Passing out, all four times.

20. FAVORITE MOVIE GROWING UP/FAVORITE MOVIE NOW. Star Trek II for both, for reasons I have discussed ad nauseum. In short: because it’s awesome.

21. WHEN DID YOU THINK YOU WERE IN LOVE FOR THE FIRST TIME? WITH WHOM? I suppose that growing up each time is more intense than the last time, so you tend to think that the current time is the first time you were really in love. Notice I’m weaseling my way out of this one because the last time I wrote about her she tracked me down from the other side of the planet.

22. WHEN /HOW DID YOU HAVE YOUR FIRST BROKEN HEART? Forget it– it’s still too painful.

23. WHAT ARE YOU MOST PASSIONATE ABOUT? Life— every day, dawn heralds a new journey, and dusk means it’s time to rest up for the next day’s venture. Life, and Portillo’s.

24. NAME A TIME WHEN YOU SACRIFICED SOMETHING FOR SOMEONE ELSE. I can’t afford to make idle people merry. I help to support the establishments… they cost enough; and those who are badly off must go there.

25. HAVE YOU HAD JOY IN YOUR LIFE? Certainly.

26. HAVE YOU BROUGHT JOY TO OTHERS IN YOUR LIFE? If not, tough noogie.

27. WHO WAS/WERE YOUR BEST FRIEND(S) GROWING UP? My best friends were, and are, the ones I made in college. It’s nearly 20 years since I met the first of them, and I’m grateful that they still speak to me.

28. WHERE DID YOU GO TO DAYDREAM WHEN YOU WERE YOUNG? WHERE DO YOU GO AS AN ADULT? In both cases: wherever I happened/happen to be.

29. WHAT DID YOU PLAN TO DO WITH WITH YOUR LIFE? I had no concrete plans until I was nearly killed in an industrial accident in 1999. After the stars cleared, a very specific plan was formulated within seconds.

30. HAVE YOU ACCOMPLISHED ALL YOUR PLANS? HOW? OR WHY NOT? Not yet, but as the time draws near, you puny mortals shall– I mean, no.

31. HOW DO YOU INTERPRET THE WORD ADMONITION? To admonish is to warn and advise someone. I don’t like being admonished. Just give me advice.

32. HOW DO YOU FEEL WHEN YOU ‘COLOR OUTSIDE THE LINES’? Pretty dumb, actually. It’s not a difficult skill, just hold the crayon careful and don’t rush– the drawing isn’t going anywhere. This is not a metaphor.

33. WHAT MUSICAL STYLE BEST REPRESENTS YOUR LIFE? Blues. Plodding but amusing.

34. DESCRIBE YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEAL. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It’s pretty self-explanatory.

35. LOOK OUT YOUR WINDOW TODAY AND DESCRIBE WHAT YOU FEEL. It’s dark, and I need to finish getting this typed ASAP. I need sleep.

36. RECALL AND DESCRIBE YOUR FAVORITE GRADE SCHOOL TEACHER. I guess it would be my kindergarten teacher, because she’s the only one I don’t remember getting mad at.

37. WHAT DID YOU LIKE BEST ABOUT YOURSELF DURING YOUR TEEN YEARS? Being in college.

38. DESCRIBE THE CONTENTS OF THE FRONT SEAT OF YOUR CAR (VEHICLE). There is nothing on the front seat of my car. It is clean. That’s a point of pride.

39. WHAT IS THE ODDEST THING YOU CARRY IN YOUR PURSE AND WHY DO YOU CARRY IT WITH YOU? I… I don’t have a purse.

40. NAME AN OBJECT THAT YOU HAVE INHERITED (OR HOPE TO INHERIT) AND WHY IT IS SPECIAL TO YOU. I have my grandfather’s last wallet. It’s a black compact vertical billfold. He gave it to me a few months before he died, and his name is still burned into the plastic, which is nifty because it’s two-thirds of my name.

41. DESCRIBE ONE OF YOUR FAVORITE PETS – PAST OR PRESENT. My family’s first dog was a Siberian husky named Devil. He was black and white and furry. We had him until a year or two after we moved to Florida. He was old by that time, and the old guy and that thick coat of fur just weren’t made for Florida. He was a good boy.

42. DESCRIBE A PLACE YOU VISITED THAT TOUCHED A PART OF YOU, WHETHER YOU EVER WANTED TO LIVE THERE, OR JUST VISIT. WHAT AWAKENED IN YOU WHEN YOU VISITED? Some time ago, I’d visit “Ingrid Bergman” in Flat Rock, North Carolina. She lived in an older development, in a very hilly, very wooded area. Going to see her was like going back in time, partly because she was from a very old-fashioned family and partly because of her house, which had an interior that dated from the late 1970s. The wallpaper, the walls, the furnishings, and the appliances reminded me of the homes I lived in when I was very young. Driving up Route 25 to get there, I’d go over a particular hump in the road, see the low mountains rise over the horizon, hit a certain elevation and feel my ears pop– and honest to God, I actually looked forward to that moment, because it meant I was getting closer to Ingrid and to that very homey place. Driving back to Clemson was like waking up from a pleasant dream, realizing that it wasn’t real, and despairing at having to get ready for work.

43. WHAT QUESTION DO YOU DREAD IN SMALL TALK – AND WHY? I don’t really dread any bit of small talk. It’s small talk— the whole point of it is that it’s innocuous.

44. WHAT WERE YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD GAMES, PLAYGROUND EQUIPMENT, ETC? I liked a few video games, but my favorite piece of playground equipment was the cylindrical jungle gym. It was a perfect make-believe spaceship. It was probably torn down years ago for having sharp edges, or asbestos or lead paint or something.

45. WHAT WOULD YOUR 16YR OF SELF BE MOST SHOCKED ABOUT YOU NOW? That I was as tall as I was ever going to get.

46. WHAT KIND OF ART INSPIRES YOU? …Good art?

47. WHAT IS YOUR CELEBRATION FOOD OF CHOICE? I don’t have a go-to celebration food. I view every meal I eat as a reward for a job well-done.

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