50 things about me
1. I was born in Santa Monica.
2. My first job was as a panty hose presser, graveyard shift, at a Hanes Hosiery factory. I made $1.90 per hour. I was still in high school at the time.
3. I have an English degree from the University of Washington, in Seattle, where I lived for about 13 years. It was a twelve year degree; I was frequently diverted as a young adult.
4. Ten years after that, I completed a master’s degree at the University of New Mexico. That one cured me of pursuing an academic career.
5. I was just legally married in Canada to my partner of 12 years, the brilliant and devoted Laurie. We are exceedingly good together.
6. I have a lovely old adobe house and many animals. I don’t have biological children, but have a very kid-rich extended family.
7. I have had surgery 17 times, roughly (it’s hard to keep track after ten). The most recent one was about a year ago. I have a lot of anger and fatigue around this. Oh well.
8. In my day job as a therapist, I give (ok, try to give) focused attention and compassion to my clients, all day long. After hours, I am sometimes unable to listen well or care enough. I think this is an occupational hazard.
9. When I write, things are easy and joyous, even when I am writing about sorrow, which I know a lot about.
10. I have three brothers. Two in Seattle, one in Texas.
11. I am half Mexican, half Irish. I apparently look more Irish than anything. I am generally not recognized as “hispanic” here in New Mexico where almost everyone is a little anglo, a little spanish.
12. Lots of people who look like my brothers do not look like me. I am like an invisible cousin.
13. I prefer the term “Mexican American”, which is more accurate for me, but utterly out of vogue.
14. I’m a bit obsessive about my beloved birds. Bonding with geese has been an unexpectedly powerful thing. My little flock makes me sing every morning and every evening.
15. My grandfather was a mean old Republican with a beautiful voice and a taste for doggerel. I still miss him, but I’m somewhat relieved that he died before we invaded Iraq.
16. My grandfather loved Laurie on sight, and we spent several happy years making up for years of disagreement. He stopped calling me “you people”, finally.
17. I was co-founder and literary director of a small performing arts company in the mid-nineties. Now defunct, but lots of fun at the time. I’m not involved in the performing arts currently, but I’m rethinking that. I miss it.
18. My first public performance featured me, 5 dancers, and a 15-foot slide of an x-ray of my face projected on the stage behind me. I rehearsed for this performance at an old cemetery, where I could face an audience and scan looking for familiar faces in the crowd.
19. I like to sing, but wish my voice was stronger.
20. I was a music major at one point in my misspent youth.
21. My parents are from Texas. I can pretend to be Texan without much effort.
22. I lived at 12311 Texas Avenue in West Los Angeles when I was seven. I have a quirky memory for numbers.
23. I am an “expert” in autism and related disorders. I am not, however, autistic myself. I have some generalized suspicion of “expertise.” To a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
24. I really like Japanese food. Especially sashimi.
25. I entertain frequently, even though I am somewhat antisocial.
26. I like to travel, and have been all over the U.S., here and there in Mexico and Canada, to the Netherlands, Uganda, Kenya, and England. I like my creature comforts when I travel, unless I am actually camping.
27. Philip K. Dick was my neighbor many years ago. He was writing “A Scanner Darkly” at the time. He kept the drapes drawn, was hairy and pale, and drank red wine.
28. While I’m name dropping, I learned to read tarot from Tom Robbin’s girlfriend, whose name I’ve forgotten. I am a wicked good tarot reader. Robbins was hairy and pale and drank red wine. hmmm.
29. I’ve been Rolfed, Tragered, acupunctured, trigger pointed and structurally integrated. I have a working knowledge of Bartenieff fundamentals as well as Laban Movement Analysis. Therapeutic movement, dance and bodywork have been big life-changing influences for me.
30. Sarcasm makes me very uncomfortable.
31. I laugh frequently.
32. I split my therapy practice into two age groups — little bitty kids and people nearing the end of life. The little bitty kids make me laugh, which gives me energy to share with the folks who are struggling. This does seem like a good balance to me.
33. I have a pair of lovebirds, Antonio and Pilar. They talk all day long — beede-beet beedee-beet chip chip chip. In my house, when one person is talking to another but does not really need to be listened to, that is called a beede-beet.
34. My second car was a red 1965 Corvair. Hardtop. Her name was Bonanza Jellybean, because she was beautiful but doomed.
35. Right out of high school, I set corrections on linotype for the Santa Ana Register while they were switching from hot lead to cold type. The linotype operators (who were all men), were union, paid $17.00 per hour. The women who were hired to learn the new system were non-union, and made $1.90 per hour (minimum wage). Two years later, the men were all gone, the union was busted, and all the typesetters made $2.00 per hour (the new minimum wage).
36. At about the same time, all classified ads in newspapers were separated by gender: Help wanted, male. Help wanted, female. Wait, that’s not about me. Well, I moved to Lubbock, Texas, where I worked for the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal as a proofreader. My father worked there too, in the 1950s. And my father-in-law, Dave, in the 1960s.
37. I just gave my wife a three-wheel cycle with a canopy top and a basket in the back for her birthday. She decorated it with grape vines and little bells. She rides it to the farmer’s market every Sunday. Then we cook and play in the yard.
38. On our 2 acres, we grow grapes and pears and plums and basil and tomatoes and onions and apples and currents and have flower beds also.
39. I am almost bilingual. Spanish-English. Out of practice.
40. I’m a yellow-dog democrat. Or maybe left of there.
41. I’m ambidextrous.
42. The night before my first facial reconstruction, I ate with friends at a Chinese restaurant in Seattle. My fortune cookie said — “God have given you one face, and you make yourself another.”
43. My eyes are brown, my hair is brown, my skin is fair.
44. A couple of years ago, I almost died of a misdiagnosed illness. I’m glad I didn’t. It took a couple of years for the illness to resolve.
45. It’s only recently come to me that I might not die tragically young after all. I’m chock full of thoughts of what I should do about it now that the future has magically reappeared.
46. I am a great cook.
47. The cottonwood is my favorite tree.
48. I don’t like formal religion. I am intolerant of intolerance.
49. My favorite shoes are generally cranberry color.
50. My favorite season is fall. I have an iguana. I read a lot. I lose my train of thought at times. Sometimes it take me a while to get back on that train.