Friday, December 3, 2010

Questions and Answers

Jodi from day2daywear just tagged me with a list of questions.  Actually, unlike a lot of lists, these questions are good ones so I took them seriously.  Perhaps you’ll learn something about me from the answers below.  Feel free to ask any follow-up questions if I perk your interest.

1. What did you want to be when you grew up?

That changed.  At first, when I was very young, I wanted to be a mommy.  I wanted to have a baby and take care of it.  Then, when told I couldn’t be that -- and why -- I learned my universe of possibilities was radically different and limited.  

Feeling eyes constantly upon me, I suggested things to see how they’d fly.  I was often surprised by my parents’ reactions.  For example, around age 10, I said I wanted to grow up to be a college professor.  I anticipated my parents’ approval of that job since I imagined it to be synonymous with “smart.”  My parents hated the idea, however, and strongly condemned it.  They deplored intellectualism even though they had no foundation from which to judge it.  Neither of my parents went to college and neither had any interest in or awareness of intellectual discourse.

The question posed is actually what did *I* want to be so, to answer that, I’d say a writer.  That is still what I want to be when I grow up.  I admire good writing and feel I can contribute to the river of informed commentary.

2. Favorite childhood game?

House.  It’s where everyone gets a domestic role and plays it while interacting with other kids playing other roles.

I knew, from harsh experience, that female roles (e.g., Mommy) weren’t available to me so I always chose the next best thing: to be the baby.  At least that way I could be near Mommy and live vicariously through her.

3. Most favorite birthday?

My 50th.  I decided to make it a big event, so I invited all my best friends (about 100 people) for a huge bash.  We rented a very posh, very expensive place which served extremely high-quality food with exceptionally-attentive service.  And we arranged for an  eight-piece live band to travel up from Philadelphia to play: they were so fabulously good that everyone got up and danced their hearts out.  I was placed at the head of an endless conga-line that grooved to a pounding beat.  The birthday was exactly what I wanted it to be: an intensely memorable night.

4. Something you have always wanted to do and haven't yet?

That list is long...  Practically every female experience is on it, from wearing a prom-dress to nursing a baby.  

Of genderless experiences, the list is topped by publishing a book.  I’ve published many magazine articles and been cited in books, but publishing a book of my own would be special.  It couldn’t be any book, however; I can easily pump out an ordinary tome; it would have to be a book I was proud of, having researched carefully, written with enthusiasm, and released to cause some effect on the world.

5. What was your first love?

Reading.  Still is.  I was the only kid I know whose mother said, “Stop reading that book and go out and play!”  My parents were critical when they complained “you always have your nose in a book.”

6. First musical idol?

A bubblegum-music group called “The 1910 Fruitgum Company” which had the hit-single, “Yummy Yummy Yummy.”  (The lyrics went, “Yummy Yummy Yummy, I’ve got love in my tummy...”.)  I remember dancing to the tune at a family Christmas party when I was 6 years old.  I thought they were fab!

7. Favorite gift?

A yellow Schwinn bicycle when I was around 8 years old.  It had a purple banana-seat and tall ape-hanger handlebars.

8. If a theme song played everywhere I went what would it be?

“Love Me Or Hate Me,” by tiny British singer, Lady Sovereign.

9. Favorite city to visit?

Boston.  I love that city.  I spent three years in law school there: going back now fills me with fond memories from the past and powerful insights into how far I’ve travelled since then.  Also, it’s a fun town with lots of great things to do (especially shopping) and it has more history than anywhere else in this country.

Thanks, Jodi!


  1. The commentary about playing the baby while "playing house" actually hurt ME a little... You evoke the pain, confusion, and coverup very well, which shows that you are already an excellent writer.

    I was thinking about your post about dancing this morning while ironing my shirt and singing "Shall We Dance" from "The King and I" (which I have memorized).

    Have you ever seen the Japanese movie "Shall We Dance"? They did an American remake with Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon, and Jennifer Lopez. The US one is OK... but the Japanese one is where it's at!

    You really get the sense of conformity and fear of stepping out of it... if you haven't seen it, rent it STAT!

  2. I had a yellow Schwinn with a banana seat too! Ah, memories! I loved that bike. It had a big basket on the front and I used to put my pet chicken in there and take her for rides. I was a weird kid. :-)

  3. hahaha I love Lady Sov! Saw her live once, she was drunk. I want that bike!! I used to love playing house too! I mostly liked to decorate the area that was the house to look like a house, then I'd get bored.

    I want to be a writer too, you'd think for being an English major I would be able to use proper grammar. But no. I am so excited for you that you have been published! I really hope you keep persisting it!

    Your birthday sounds like it was friggin awesome!!

  4. It is great to learn about people. Since you live in New York, Are you a Yankees fan or a Red Sox fan since you went to school in Boston?

  5. That's such a beautiful photograph! I really think you will be able to publish a book :) Also, I agree with lawyerdoll, you evoked a lot of emotion in me while reading... you will do great in writing.

    Those questions are really great, I feel like I know more about you. It does make me sad to hear that growing up, there was barriers to the things you dreamed of doing. But it seems like for the most part that you have broken those barriers down. You are a strong person to be able to do that and be so open about your experiences.

    BTW, you're bike sounds pretty pimp!

  6. Thanks, lawyerdoll. And, yes, I saw both the Japanese and American versions of "Shall We Dance." I agree with you that the foreign movie is much better.

    The song of the same title, from "The King And I," is a classic and one of my favorites, too.

    Audi, what a fun coincidence! Only I didn't have a basket or a chicken. :)

    Sara, I saw the SOV live, too! I can't believe you saw her in the Mitten; she's so obscure I never imagined her to be way out there. I had to go into NYC to see her perform.

    Oh, and being a writer isn't about knowing the rules of grammar (that's what editors are for); it's about having an authentic voice. You have one, Sara. I've heard it!

    Emma, I *hate* the Yankees. Hate 'em! I was a Red Sox fan solely because of their rivalry with the Yankees. I saw the Red Sox play in Fenway while I was in Boston: that's a great old park.

    Thanks, Ashelle. As hard as my life has been, it isn't over and I plan to keep trying to live my dreams before it ends. One of my favorite expressions is, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."

  7. I'm so glad you posted this. I enjoyed reading it.

    Publishing a book is something I've always said I want to do, as well. I most certainly identify with you there.

    Also, I loved reading about your 50th birthday party. It sounds like it was a hoot! A good memory like that is worth its weight in gold.

    And I have to say, excellent choice on your theme song! I love Lady Sovereign. That song packs the perfect amount of attitude... Let the haters hate. There's plenty of people who love you! And no matter how you twist it or shape it, either way, they're still obsessing over you ;)

  8. I enjoyed today's post, too. You definitely have the talent to write a book one day. No problemo. You certainly have a gift for stringing words together and this honesty thing (as in "I'll be honest about me") that's pretty compelling.

    I laughed out loud at the bike comments. I hade a bike with a banana seat and ape hangers, too! But mine was not a Schwinn AND I didn't have a basket or chicken either. Had I had a basket and chicken, I would have enjoyed taking it on tour, too!

  9. I love you guys! Not only do you enjoy my writing, you get my obscure references! I thought I was alone in America in loving SOV. Glad to see you find the same thing in her, Meg.

    TM, you made me laugh! Kids should all be given a basket and a chicken growing up. :)

  10. Only other person from American I've heard mention Lady Sovereign...awesome! Great questions and thoughtful answers. :)

  11. Thanks, buddy. I wake up every morning listening to "9 to 5" and the rest of that album.

    SOV (whose real name is Louise!) has an energy about her that's addictive. Plus, when she performs in concert, she has mammoth charisma for a small person.

  12. I enjoyed reading your answers and learning more about you. I think you can definitely write a book on your life. :)

    P.S. Also thank you so much for your continuous uninhibited appreciation. It is very kind of you!

  13. It's my pleasure, Tanvii. Your blog is wonderful.

  14. My parents used to tell me to get outside and not stay inside and read all day. My rebellion is that I would sit on our front steps (just barely outside)...and read, lol.

  15. With a mind like that, you could be a lawyer, Sheila!

  16. Every time I visit your blog, you DO NOT fail to impress me. I always knew you were a great writer even from the very first post I read. My grandfather used to come to my room turn off the lights so I would stop reading.. I would either read in the dark or grab a flashlight and read under the blanket!

    Luv ya!

    p.s. more coming..

  17. Wow how very insightful.
    Maybe a good topic to write would be on parenting, from a child's point of view.
    As I have mentioned in my case, like yours parents/guardians just shut down certain dreams like for example becoming a teacher or a journalist.
    I was told that teachers were poor and that journalists were skanks and that I should study something else.
    I don't think parents will ever be pleased with what we do and no matter how hard we try it's like we (or at least me) have that judging eye on you.
    I could say so much more here but I am just going to stop now, it gets me emotional :(

  18. p.s. I've never been to Boston but heard its a fantastic drive from Canada during fall. It's on my list of places to visit and so is meeting blogger friends IRL.

    What do you think about that?


  19. You know, I have always wondered if you'd ever wanted to have children and was afraid it might be too painful of a question...I guess I should know by now you're willing to share, but I didn't want to re-open an old wound in case there was one. I'm sorry, so sorry...

    Though I know your parents loved you, I am sorry they tried too hard to mold you into what they thought you should be...not only as a male but also in your career and hobbies. I'm so glad you're deciding to live your happy childhood now. Some of your experiences as a child hurt me to the core. Yet your choice not to let them rule you anymore is beyond inspiring. Anytime I'm talking to someone who's resistant to believing this is a real thing people struggle with as kids, I tell them about your coffee can, and after that, there is simply no way they can allow themselves to dispute your experience. They soften immediately, and I see the emotion change in their eyes because it's so changes their thinking.

    I'm not sure if you saw a comment I left a while back where I was curious whether or not you wished your parents had not forced a surgery on you.

    You definitely can write! Have you thought about a book about your transgender experience? You've seen on here how moved people are when reading about the details of your feelings and emotions about it. Or are you thinking another topic? Fiction, non-fiction?

  20. Lorena, thank you for commenting. I'm sorry this struck a chord in you. If you want, e-mail me privately and we can talk about this further.

  21. 20 York: I'm sure visiting Boston would be fun for you. And I'm very eager to meet blogger-friends IRL. I don't push anyone to meet but I would travel any distance, without hesitation, to have a cup of coffee and chat with my online friends.

  22. Hi Jen! Thanks for the thoughtful comments, as always. You have uncommon insight into me.

    I did see your earlier question. It's too complex to answer here. We can follow it up in e-mail, if you wish.

    I'm open to writing about any subject so long as it's genuine and soulful. My nature would qualify. :)

  23. i am such a huge reader- I can definitely relate to that!! It makes me sad your parents never supported you with reading though, or when you wanted to be a college professor.

    Charlotte xxx

  24. I must say, this is a truly fascinating and eye-opening blog. Thank you for sharing your stories!