Jamie Zimmerman MD
The tree frogs have just started their night songs in the area where I live, a good thing if one enjoys the beauties and sounds of nature. I do. But I cannot see most of the stars as the Dark Skies environmental movement has not made many inroads here. I’m looking forward to moving to the mountains, a lifetime dream and a more recent goal. I love those waves of stone that make up the ancient Smokey and Blue Ridge mountains. Soon, I hope.
Ah, the seasons, they do change. This morning I awoke to 8" of snow with a sleet covering on the ground. Another 2-4" to come, according to the weatherman, that sublime trickster. As this is the most snow in these parts since the early 2000's, I had to take a bit of a walk. As I expected, not another soul around, no footprints or tire tracks. I love that. No sound other than the wind, the caw of crows that seem to be undeterred by most anything and a small finch-type bird that is in the process of singing its life away. No food to be found for him, so no energy to spare this day. If he continues, he will certainly fall prey to the laws of Darwin. I doubt that there will be any traffic today - Southerners are well aware of their lack of expertise in snow driving. Now the area's many snowbirds, who seem to know everything there is to know about driving in the snow, they will be out. Good luck to them.
I suppose the primary thing that I would say about myself is that I have lived a richly textured life, and have a richly textured history, intellect and personality. Not all good or all bad, some brightly colored and some dark or drab, some rough, some smooth or soft, but a complex interweaving of many threads.
I am a free-spirited and very independent individual; free from everything but myself and the hammer and anvil of my personal evolution. I'm disinclined to follow others, particularly to places I don't want to go - generally some spiritual or intellectual nowhere. I color outside the lines; think outside the box; take the road less traveled; march to the beat of my own drummer; think for myself, don't play by the rules. I'm sure you get the picture.
I am also a retired civil/sanitary/environmental engineer with additional degrees in literature and history. I can confidently converse in diverse subject matters ranging from English Romantic Poetry to 19th Century European History to the deleterious environmental effects of maintaining grass lawns. However, smalltalk doesn't particularly interest me, so I don't generally do well in that area.
I am a lover of art in most of its many forms: symphony – Scheherazade to Rhapsody in Blue; ballet – Swan Lake and the Nutcracker; art – Starry Night to Michelangelo’s Captives; theater – Death of a Salesman to The Crucible; cinema - Dr. Zhivago to Blade Runner; literature - Shakespeare’s sonnets to the novels of James Lee Burke; and rock and roll music – Cream to Alice in Chains. I have not yet learned to like opera, despite my best efforts, though I love the music from Carmen.
I was raised to be their idea of a Southern gentleman – at least in terms of manners and treatment of women - by my grandmother and her sisters. For the most part, completely unsophisticated and poorly educated working women, through the very hard times of the Great Depression. Most without benefit of assistance of working husbands; being widowed by death or alcohol; and having many children needing their care. I generally reflect their values with the exceptions of religion and the prejudices of their own status and day .
Today, I find myself to be a large – NFL large and still muscular - intelligent, mild-mannered, grizzled, doubtlessly difficult and eccentric, introspective, and analytical man. I lay no claim to being sexy, at least visually. Nor to “cleaning up well”, as no clothing designed can make me look to be a cultivated or stylish man.
I am something of an aging Boy Scout in that I love the outdoors and wildlife; respect the environment; and adhere to most of the original list of boy scout virtues (clean, kind, trustworthy, loyal, friendly, cheerful, courteous, and brave). A few of the other listed virtues - obedience, reverence and thrift, not so much. I long ago substituted being faithful and true for reverent; never saw much benefit in being thrifty, given that tomorrow is promised to no one; and I'm far too independent to be obedient. I am known for having a well developed sense of humor, generally witty, dry on occasion, bawdy and rollicking on others, and nearly always nuanced and edgy.
I love hard and deeply but also playfully. I don't know that I am a romantic, though I very well might be, depending on how deeply one peels away the layers. Though I have not been particularly successful in these areas as I'm still looking for my first great love.
I do believe in marriage and love; perhaps not "true love" as I really don't understand exactly what that means, and definitely not love at first sight. But I believe that the best things in life spring from love and that nearly all of the good things that come to one from love, come not so much from being loved but from the love one gives. And I love long walks along a deserted beach at night, regardless of the presence of moonlight or company. But with both is usually better. Nonetheless, I deeply value the combination of solitude or near solitude with great natural beauty.
I enjoy domestic and foreign travel, in the sense of aimless or whimsical wandering as well as adventure and cultural enlightenment. Accordingly, I'm well traveled insofar as the US and Europe are concerned, but there are still many places left on my bucket list to see or see again at a more leisurely pace. As much as I enjoy travel, I hate flying. The military took care of any interest I might have in helicopters as they are uncomfortably noisy and have a nearly vertical glide slope. As I cannot afford to fly first class, I find myself very uncomfortably wedged - in terms of width and length - into airliner seats. I cannot sit in a middle seat. My butt fits, but my shoulders and arms extend about 6” into the seating spaces on either side. I can at least lean away in aisle and window seats, but it’s still no picnic for me on a long flight. And most puddle-jumpers are much worse. The damn overhead storage won't even hold my hat, though I'll admit it's a large hat.
Left to my own devices, I am primarily an outdoorsman - camping, hiking, whitewater sports, sailing and kayaking, and target shooting. I am not a fan of blood sports like hunting or fishing, though I can and would do either if it were a matter of actual survival. I cannot take, or even understand, pleasure or entertainment in or from the death of any living thing.
I enjoy a simple life and I am undemanding of a significant other or of people in general. On a neediness scale of 1-10, I’m probably about a 2, with one being the lowest possible score and generally allocated to the deceased. I don't expect anyone to defer to me or take care of me. I am not in the least manipulative or controlling (I believe that control of people, events or things outside oneself is illusion) and I'm not easily or readily controlled or manipulated by others. If and when I realize that others are trying to manipulative or control me, I generally react in a noticeably negative manner - I am not the least bit passive-aggressive. I am financially comfortable, but I'm not a accumulator of "stuff" and don't have a great deal of interest in material things other than my outdoor gear, photography equipment, motorcycle and music - though if someone offered me a Monet, a van Gogh or a Porsche, I wouldn’t turn them down.
I am neither a hermit nor a loner, though I can be alone comfortably and successfully in any place or situation. I am not a fan of crowds - say the sidewalks of Manhattan in the vicinity of Macy’s at midday - and I typically do not like most large cities for extended periods of time (generally measured in hours). In spite of that, I have a real fondness for San Francisco, Seattle, Paris, Amsterdam and Rome. New York, LA and London not so much, even though New York and London have such wonderful museums. I am certainly not a social butterfly, more of a social bumblebee (a flying insect that aeronautic sciences say cannot possibly fly, but somehow manages to do so anyway) if one is to adhere to the metaphor.
Should you be interested in knowing more about me, without actually communicating with me, I refer you to my often detailed answers to more than 2000 of OKC's questions and tests which may or may not be either relative to or reflective of my nature. While I am not necessary completely upfront on all things concerning my psyche, habits, traits, successes, failures, shortcomings, etc., I believe in full disclosure and will answer most questions as honestly as possible. Unless I don't answer at all, finding that all truths need not be spoken.
When my 24 year old son is off from home - yes, he lives with me, the consequence of low self esteem and lack of confidence, a sort of "Failure to Launch" syndrome - I try to go motorcycle riding or kayaking. When circumstances permit, I am open to relocating away from North Carolina for at least part of the year, hopefully to some place on an ocean with a rocky or mountainous shoreline (think Pacific Northwest somewhere along the coast between the California line and Vancouver, Grecian islands, southeastern or northwestern Italy). I wish that the government and politics of California weren't so squirrely and the land so pricey, so that I could say that I would love to live almost in any coastal location north of San Luis Obispo. I would probably avoid Southern California like the plague.
I also fantasize about buying some sort of truck that will allow me to sleep in the back and take off on a meandering driving tour of the USA or buying a sailboat and sailing to ports and anchorages around the world. Heck, I might even take my big old honking motorcycle and tour the US.
Lastly, I expend a lot of effort trying to improve myself with exercise, walking, beginner's yoga and tai chi, reading and quitting smoking. As of now I can't say that I've been entirely successful, but I have not smoked in nearly 6 weeks and I have not used any of the smoking cessation products other than nicotine patches for the first 5 days. Somehow though, I always feel as if I could pick up a cigarette and start all over again. Strange how that habit just won't let go, at least for a long time.
I'm also a pretty good or perhaps even very good listener. Knowing as I do that everything one says or hears must pass through the filters of ones own life, beliefs, experiences, etc., I tend to listen very closely and ask questions to clarify meaning that seems unclear. Conversations with me about significant topics tend to take a while.
My son says I frighten or intimidate people and project an aura of menace, though I expect that most of that is just a leftover from his teenage years and his guilty conscience. I certainly have no desire to threaten or intimidate anyone unintentionally. Nonetheless, those who are looking for someone to intimidate or otherwise molest seem to avoid me, even at my age. I find that useful.
However, there are many things I would much prefer not to live without, including, in no particular order:
my automobile and motorcycle
adventures among the wonders of nature
arts (music, paining, photography, sculpture, ballet, performing arts)
my kayak and some rough water to put it in
I know, I know, that's more than six. What can I say? I don't care much for commandments, instructions, ultimatums, commands, requirements, rules, etc., and I try to disregard at least one of each daily.