"You're an amazing, creative cook, and you love plants and animals pretty much equally. You're an avid reader, an inspired writer, and you hated going to most of your classes in college when it was springtime and the flowers were out."
Yeah, that's right... I had been known to ditch Old English and Logic because it was too pretty outside.
Although that was a glowing review, the first story that Clara would actually tell you about me is that she had to physically haul me away from the bacteria mats in Yellowstone. I really wanted to touch one. We figured I might have lost a finger but that doesn't really seem to take the edge off my desire to do something amazingly stupid.
Let's see. I'm just going to make this way, way, way too long. Here's a list of things you should know:
I use my turn signal, even in parking lots. I let people merge in traffic because its good karma. My cats are named after black and white horror movie stars and Mark Twain characters. I keep forgetting that they make cars without proper carburetors- for the last 25 years or so. I prefer the drive-in to the latest, shiniest innovation in theaters. I sing off key and with enthusiasm, as long as someone else is also doing this at the same time. I lose track of time kicking apart ice chunks with my boots. I don't watch the news or read the paper. I take pictures of trees. I make up words or use them the wrong way on purpose.
I am complicated, an old soul, and non-standard
So, I work for a library system, which is a lot like working for twenty six different places... I have been trained to do two different jobs at each place, plus I have an office admin job, and I own a bakery. I can make an argument for having 54 jobs.
Working at the library is not at all like what people think. These are some of my favorite questions that I've had to answer, all asked by perfectly normal, ordinary people...
"Can you order a movie for me? It was made two thousand years ago. No, it does exist. I've checked it out from here before. I just can't remember the title."
"Hi. I'm trying to find a movie. It was about some people that had an adventure... And there was a lot of talking."
"Hi. I was wondering if I can rent human skeletons from you?"
And, my personal favorite, a request to find information about how Henry Winkler is trying to overthrow the U.S. government by advertising for reverse mortgages because he is Australian... And that is apparently what they do in Australia.
I have degrees in English and Philosophy and Film.... None of these things are useful in my day to day work, but it is fun be able to have a clear opinion and express an articulate and reasonable argument about whether the Alien movies are horror, action, or science fiction.
That being said, since my day-to-day work is actually about solving puzzles (sometimes really, really random ones) and helping people, I love my job. I would do it for free. I get to interact with people from all over the world, all ethnicities, all incomes, all levels of education, all orientations, and all stages of life. People are amazing. Also, my coworkers are exceedingly diverse but are almost all exceptionally interesting and helpful people. I feel lucky that they put up with me.
I should probably also mention that I seem to be insatiably curious. You can learn lots of things from books, but I sometimes want to know what the experience is like, so I also end up doing a lot of random stuff or asking tons of questions.
Or just dismantling my car...
Packing things into spaces where they need to fit. Making things fit, in general.
Building shelves out of anything handy is a specialty of late. Like aquariums. I was very proud of those.
All sorts of general kinds of scrounging, to get by. No, no. It really is a talent.
I know when to make decisions randomly, feeling the luck changing and just running with it, and I know when to think decisions over and really sort things through.
I knit and quilt and know an awful lot about plants.
I'm pretty good at tons of stuff that guys are supposed to do, like building campfires, changing tires, math without machines. Not amazing at these things, just good...
I can drive anything with wheels and some things without. I am always the getaway driver.
Oh wait! I tell stories. I tell really, really good stories, and I tell them well! I have an amazing collection of severely 'cannot actually be real people' friends and we've had an interesting time over the years. No, really. They're stranger than your stories. (I figure we get point for being dead stone sober for all of them). I'd take that bet.
Stuff I quote constantly: Futurama, Dressed To Kill, Monty Python
Things I consistently recommend that people read: Born To Run, Garden Spells, Cinderella Ate My Daughter
Things I never recommend but love: The God of Small Things
Movies that I didn't expect to scare me: Mothman Prophecies, Life of David Gale, 28 Days Later
Favorite magical realism: Charles de Lint, Dangerous Angels, Like Water For Chocolate
Books that changed my life: Stranger In A Strange Land (I was seven); Animal, Vegetable, Miracle
Things I watch when I am burned out at the bakery: Stranger Than Fiction, Chocolate
Back to the old list, because this is too much work on a phone. :)
(A) I've had a lot of books in my life. I grew up with them instead of tv, and started early. I literally own a small library. I like a lot of fantasy and SF, but check out other things sometime, too.
Books by Orson Scott Card, including Ender's Game, Roald Dahl, including Danny, Champion of the World, Stranger in a Strange Land (and a lot of other Henlein), Charles DeLint, Mark Twain, Oscar Wilde, and Michael Pollan. Books are The Fountainhead, Catcher in the Rye, Dracula, The Outsiders, Breakfast at Tiffany's, Frankenstein, The Walking Drum, Calvin and Hobbes, Wuthering Heights, Animal Farm, 1984. And poetry.
(B) Lots and lots of movies. Lots. Again, I should have public funding. And I like... anything with Buster Keaton, Bruce Lee, Ron Perlman, Bela Lugosi, Sean Connery, Joaqin Pheonix, Steve Martin, John Cleese, or directed by Alfred Hitchcock, 'Beat' Takahashi, Tim Burton, M. Night Shymalan, Guillermo del Toro, Miyazaki, or Jim Henson.
Some of my favorite movies are: Benny and Joon, Legend, Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid, Army of Darkness, The Red Violin, Hellboy, Tank Girl, Zatoichi, Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, Zero Effect, Day the Earth Stood Still, Usual Suspects, 13th Warrior, The Crow, Fish Called Wanda, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Rabbit Proof Fence, Alien & Aliens, Wolf Man (Lon Chaney) Indiana Jones, the original Star Wars trilogy, James Bond with Sean Connery, Peter Pan, Say Anything, Invasion of the Body Snatchers (with Donald Sutherland) City of Lost Children, Under the Tuscan Sun, Hudsucker Proxy, Saved, Angus, 28 Days Later, Eternal Sunshine, Willow, Legend, and Princess Mononoke.
(C) Alphabetic order... in no way a complete list...
Beatles, Black Crows, The Cars, Eric Clapton, Nat King Cole, Harry Connick, Jr., Counting Crows, The Cure, The Doors, Bob Dylan, Melissa Ethridge, Faith No More, Billie Holiday, Buddy Holly, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, BB King, Jonny Lang, NIN, Magnetic Fields, Mighty Mighty Bosstones, Placebo, Tom Petty, Rammstein, Ramones, Refreshments, REM, Rolling Stones, Samples, Soul Asylum, Matthew Sweet, TMBG, Type O, Weezer, U2
(D) If I had to say that I subscribe to some sort of food paradigm, it would probably be "slow food." I like for my food to be made out of actual pronouncable stuff with as few additives as possible. I read a lot about this and it is important to me. That being said, once I learned how they synthesize vitamin E, eating hot dogs from a street cart doesn't phase me, lol.
Living space that is quiet and safe. Especially if it includes a real kitchen (my last apartment was severly lacking in that area).
Stars. Running water. Stuff that lives in my house.
The kind of conversations you only have somewhere between the middle of the night and dawn.
Realizing how many of the things that I say (or want to say) will have no reference for most people. Today I accidentally mentioned to my boss that I remembered that we had to heat up water on a wood burning stove when I was a child. I don't actually think this is a big deal, but there are literally hundreds of little things such as this that are not shared experiences.
I cannot stress enough that I have no idea about what to expect from meeting new people or how this works. I have been advised to just insist that I am from the moon and know nothing of your customs, but that's just weird, right?
Also, I have a collection of plastic dinosaurs on top of my television. They're mine. You can't have them. :)
I'm going to work on a new list here, but it is a work in progress. Here's what I've been thinking lately...
Are perfectly wiling to test out a semi-dangerous looking used gas grill that was procured under shady circumstances. So far, no takers.
(Update to that... my dad actually ended up being the guy. The grill did not, in fact, explode and has cooked many interesting things before breaking. The End.)
Oh yes, so being tall enough to boost me through a second story window and to get things down from high shelves is really handy.
Drink coffee. Also if you make coffee if you get the last cup.
Read books, not because someone made you. Hang out at bookstores. Used bookstores. And libraries. And not because someone made you. Are okay with spending time reading books. Possibly even reading the same book at the same time.
Are ridiculously obsessed with something that isn't television. Really. Mine are gardening and cooking, but it could be anything, as long and you love it deeply and truly, like in a you-can't-stop-doing-it kind of a way.
Don't have to have conversations about what you saw on tv last night, but still watch it occasionally.
Don't mind getting filthy due to some project but generally don't stay that way for too long. In fact, if you take great joy in doing something that makes you filthy, wet, cold, stained, cramped, possibly bleeding, and/or look stupid simply because it is fun. I mean the unplanned climbing of trees more than scaling cliffs, if you know what I mean.
You don't have a problem with live traps for mice in the house. Or with training the cats to bring them to you unharmed. Oh, and if you're not going to make fun of me because my cats have a curfew.
You give deep and unflinching thought to what makes you happy and why, then make those the most important things. I don't mean temporary gratification, I mean stuff you don't regret when you die kind of happy. And you realize the constant need for reevaluation of this throughout your life (as in, there is no one answer to figure out for all time).
You realize that life is short, time is fleeting, and people you love will die, but the stuff that is important, specifically because of this, is all those little things that it is so hard to find the time for. And that it really isn't hard to find time for them.
That being said, there's a lot of them to do. No time to waste! Scarves to knit, leaves to look at, pictures to take, dinners to feed to hungry boys, sleeping kitties to pet, friends to kiss goodnight. Not enough hours in the day.