May 24, 2010


Do you remember that stupid facebook meme that went around about a year ago? 25 things about yourself? I steadfastly refused to participate; it felt ridiculously narcissistic.

But hey -- that's what a blog is for.

It's literally taken me a year to compile this, and I'm posting it mostly because it's almost my birthday and I have a bunch of backlogged, half-written posts that I'm trying to find homes for so I can start fresh. So, uh, happy birthday?

1. Amelie is my comfort movie. I saw it for the first time when I was in graduate school, on the cusp of an excruciating breakup. When I finally moved out of the apartment I had shared with my boyfriend, I took to watching this movie nearly every night, cup of tea in hand. I can't explain exactly what I found so soothing: maybe the narrator's voice, maybe the color palette; maybe just the French. Most likely it was seeing Amelie's quiet, sweet little life that comforted me; I found it inspiring and was calmed by the hope that I could make something like that for myself. I haven't watched it in a long time but it continues to hold a soft spot in my heart.

2. I've paid over $200 in library fines in the past five years. It's not because I'm terrible about returning books -- it's because you can check out as many books as your heart desires, and I'm greedy. Then, if I miss the due date by just a day or two, KAPOW!

3. Things I have been paid to do: shovel horse poop, lifeguard, make frozen coffee drinks, sell toys, sell band instruments, manage a college orchestra, housesit four cats, mark scores at a professional symphony orchestra library, move chairs for a baroque orchestra, be a hypnotist's assistant at the state fair, play the thunder sheet. Also, I sold one painted rock to my next-door neighbor when I was 6.

4. I have a dreadful habit of eating in the middle of the night. I wake up anywhere from midnight to 3 AM and plod out to the kitchen. I'm awake when I do it but not enough to have much willpower. My food of choice is typically cereal, though if the kitchen's lacking in that department I've been known to eat cookies, pretzels, or bread with jam. I can't keep Pop Tarts in the house, ever. I also don't like to be caught eating, which has made Cristina joke about concocting wild schemes to catch me, like rigging alarms and setting sticky mouse traps.

5. After playing for over 15 years -- and despite picking mine up only five times since moving to Portland -- every time I hear a clarinet, it's like hearing the sound of my own voice.

6. I met one of my previous boyfriends online.

7. When they handed me to my mother just after I was born, I had the hiccups. They wouldn't go away. My mother asked if something was wrong with me. As a child I got the hiccups every time I laughed.

8. The first place I drove when I got my driver's license was the barn.

9. I had the same clarinet professor through undergrad and graduate work -- relatively unheard of, at least in our program. We knew each other very well, which could work for us or against us; we each knew how to 'work' the other. But we got along very well, and, I think, loved each other very much. For my final graduate recital, I was searching for an unaccompanied clarinet piece to play, and finding the available repertoire sorely lacking. My teacher offered to scour his library for me, and brought to one of my lessons a stack of six or seven pieces to choose from. All titles and composers had been whited out. "Choose the one you like," he said, "and I'll tell you what it is." I took them away to practice, and in my next week's lesson I gave him the winner. He asked me to tell him why I liked it over the others; I can't remember what I said. As it turned out, it was a piece he had composed for me; he had presented it in the way he did so that I didn't feel obligated to like or perform it. I was stunned, flattered, and profoundly relieved to have chosen it. "What if I had hated it, or if I hadn't chosen it?" I asked. "Then I never would have told you," he said. Today you can buy a copy of it; the epigraph at the top of the music dedicates the work to me.

10. I dropped out of library school.

11. I own two NES consoles, a Super Nintendo, a Nintendo 64, a Playstation, a Playstation 2, an Xbox, an Xbox 360, and a Wii. At my mom's house, I also have an Atari 2600 and a Commodore 64. And I can beat you in Tetris.

12. In the eighth grade, I faked the science fair project which was a big part of our science class grade. We were supposed to do an experiment and document the results on poster board -- you know, the whole schtick. I hated my teacher and I hated the class, and I was smart but lazy. My project was "the effects of acid rain on trees." I don't remember now if I always meant to just fake it or if I merely procrastinated so badly that I HAD to fake it. I told my teacher that the saplings (I supposedly had a number of pine saplings to experiment on) were at home; I told my mom they were at school. My experiment was supposedly to water half the trees with water and half with orange juice and track the results. I came to the obvious conclusion that those watered with "acid" would not fare so well, and I drew appropriate pictures to correspond with my conclusion. I got a decent grade on it and no one was the wiser.

A year later, in ninth grade biology class, we were given the option to write a report or to enter a project in the science fair. Well! I was in a new school district and a new school. I think I must have been drunk on the power of relative anonymity. I decided to simply dust off my eighth grade science fair project and enter it into the science fair. So I did.

Imagine my surprise several weeks later, when, sitting in gym class listening to the morning announcements, it was revealed that I had won the school science fair. I remember my best friend laughing her ASS off at the announcement. Of course we couldn't believe it. I won a ribbon and the opportunity to enter the project at the Maryland Science Fair, which -- why not? I did.

At the state science fair I fared very badly; of course at that point I was competing against people who had, ahem, completed actual science projects that were WAY cooler than mine would have been even if I had actually done it.

13. Relatedly, in the seventh grade -- or was it eighth? -- I changed a grade on my own report card because I was too terrified to show my mother that I'd earned a D. It was a secret that, at that tender age, I knew I could never, ever tell another soul. Now I can't even remember: was the D in science class?

14. My favorite pieces of classical music to listen to, in no particular order: John Adams' Nixon in China; Samuel Barber's Knoxville: Summer of 1915; Brahms' Clarinet Quintet; Aaron Copland's Appalachian Spring (the original 13-piece chamber version); Chopin's Piano Concerto in f minor; Saint-Saens' Symphony No. 3 (Organ Symphony).

15. My dream job is currently held by's Emily Yoffe: human guinea pig.

16. I eat Skittles in the following order: yellow, orange, purple, green, red. Yuckiest to yummiest, of course.

17. I hate air conditioning. I haven't lived in a place with air conditioning since I was 13. I like warm climates in general and am naturally prone to being cold; plus, in my experience most people crank the air conditioning way too cold. In the summer, I have to wear a sweater at the office every day because otherwise, I freeze. There's no reason for it.

18. I truly believe you'll never meet anyone as good at finding stuff on the internet as I am. Seriously. Challenge me.

19. I'm a gum swallower. WHATEVER.

20. I almost always prefer exciting music to pretty music. In standard four-movement works, the movements I like in order of preference: 1, 4, 3, 2. One exception to this is Beethoven 5; I like the second movement because it has one singular clarinet note which is, in my opinion, one of the best to play in the literature.

21. I can type 110 WPM.

22. I participated in nanowrimo for five non-consecutive years. I completed the project twice. That's two 50,000 word novels. They're both terrible, but that's not the point.

23. I might be the single most annoying person to listen to classical music with, although I try very hard to keep myself in check when I'm not listening alone. From years and years of playing in an orchestra, I can't sit still when listening to something I know. I have to conduct, move, sing, make wild faces. For this reason it can be very difficult to attend performances of works I know very well. It makes me want to wring my hands and pull at my hair. I so desperately miss sitting in the middle of that sound. Audience members who have never played an instrument don't know what they're missing. If given a choice, I would choose to listen to a concert while lying on the floor in the very center of the stage.

24. I had something like a blog back before people had blogs; in fact, I've been blogging online for more than ten years, partially on journal sites that don't exist anymore. All that lost writing!

p.s. I find that old webpage a little cringe-worthy.

25. I regret that I've lost the habit of journaling consistently. I have kept a diary since I was 8 years old; I wrote furiously throughout college, but the skill has petered out somewhat in the years since then, in part because the things I would write about seem so mundane as I write them. It's a stupid reason. Every time I reread my old journals, I'm struck by how wonderful it is to have these tiny details committed to paper. The notebooks I kept in college are very dear to me; the sheer volume of writing alone breaks my heart. There are 19 notebooks, many of them 3- or even 5-subject spiral notebooks, hundreds of pages deep.


  1. I take back everything I said about my google fu. Who wants to find me the 1901 St. Petersburg version of Werther, with the title role written as a baritone?

  2. this was the funnest facebook task. you're so funny. x x x