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100 things about Sparky, revisited

I’ve been promising myself that I would use all this free time I have now to devote energy to writing here again, but I have become so undisciplined about writing for myself that it’s been extremely hard to keep that promise. It’s also uncomfortable to face the reality that this site has long outlived its relevance, and I mostly keep it going just because I’ve had it for so long that I hate to just give up once and for all on something that has so much more history than so many other things to be found online.

I recently look back at an old entry from late 2002 in which I listed 100 substantial and trivial bits of information about myself, and was struck by the differences between the state of my life then compared to now. I figured it would be a manageable way to dip my toe back into the water by assessing that old post and updating or fleshing out as needed.

  1. I actually mostly like being in my thirties forties. I think they suit me. Or at least I’ve made it to the point of having some confidence about what I can do.

    I think the biggest reallization of my forties is that the ways I’m deteriorating — losing more hair, going more grey, having to try a little harder with overall maintenance of my body — are just normal aspects of aging. I realized a while back that I had been acting for much of my thirties with a certain fatalism, an unconscious assumption that I’d never live this long. Well, turns out that thanks to modern medical science, I’ll probably grow old like everyone else, rather than wasting away dramtically like I grew up thinking is what happened to people with HIV. Man oh man, did THAT realization force me to get my shit together!

  2. I’m still not so crazy about the thinning hair that’s slowly turning mostly turned grey. Although embracing a shaved head a beard is one of my better decisions, especially in terms of making myself more alluring to eligible bachelors.

  3. My brother Bob killed himself when he was 23 and I was 13. that’s why you may hear me refer to being the youngest of either 5 or 6 children. It depends on which time of my life I’m talking about.

  4. All my brothers and sisters are (or were) married and have kids. I have 9 nieces and nephews altogether. And now two great-nieces and a great-nephew! And my oldest brother has since remarried, and really sorted out his life overall.

  5. I really, really love my parents and get along with them very well. When I was seeing a shrink this summer back in 2012 he kept trying to dig up dirt about my folks, but I didn’t have anything bad to say. My sister also had a similar experience with a therapist. (We picked up a lot of behaviors common to children of addicts, but it was by being the younger siblings of addicts.)

    My dad died last Summer, and it was much more of a gut-punch than I anticipated, even though we all knew it was coming as his health declined. He was a class act right up to the end, and my mom continues to amaze me, although she'll turn 80 this year and is slowing down a lot.

  6. I have a powerful sweet tooth.

  7. I have had 8 teeth removed, all because of overcrowding in my mouth. Some of the remaining teeth are capped now, which I guess is still partial credit.

  8. I’ve been tipsy a few times, but I’ve never once gotten drunk.

  9. I tried smoking when I was about 14, always in private. I didn’t really care for it.

  10. My mother once told me I was never to dye my hair, get anything pierced, or get a mohawk. I still haven’t gotten a mohawk, but I’d like to. Of course, that won’t really work with male-pattern baldness, so I don’t see it happening.

  11. She never said anything about tattoos. I now have 5 26.

  12. I went to the country’s only tuition-free private high school a Jesuit school in Manhattan for Catholic boys who were smarty-pants.

  13. I had a full-tuition scholarship for all of college that required maintaining at least a 3.5 GPA. I never dipped below 3.7.

  14. I have tried going to grad school twice for a Master’s in graphic design. I quit both times because I wasn’t being challenged, only overworked. The third attempt at grad school really was the charm, though, and my MA in Typeface Design (University of Reading, 2006-07) really and truly changed my life and jump-started a new career.

  15. I still have to pay $9,000 for the one year of classes I took the last time I tried grad school. All paid! However, I still owe about $33,000 on that succesful year of school in the UK.

  16. I should have just kept teaching myself things by making zines. Eh. Life is a journey. I may have squandered time here and there, but it all seems to have contributed somehow.

  17. Between an ex-boyfriend and an ex-roomate, I’ve paid $3,500 rent for other people who’ve lived with me.

  18. I only have one testicle (the left one). The other had to be removed when I was 13 because it got twisted up and choked until the tissue died off. That hurt a lot. Having only one ball doesn’t make much of a difference, in case you’re wondering.

  19. I am a native New Yorker. I was born and raised in Staten Island, left there at 18 for college and few years of work and grad school, and returned to New York over six 19 years ago. I’ve lived in Brooklyn ever since. I moved to England for almost seven years when I started grad school in 2006, but I eventually realized England was never going to feel like home. Now that I’ve bought a place here in New York, I’ve committed to this really being home for the forseeable future.

  20. I have lived in New York and Massachusetts and England, and travelled to Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, North Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin, Nevada, Arizona, Colorado, California, Oregon, Washington, and Washington, D.C.

  21. I have also travelled to Canada, Jamaica, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Brazil, Iceland, England, France, Belgium, Italy, Japan, China, Portugal, Germany, Greece, Ireland, India, Spain, the Netherlands, Austria, and Sweden.

    I have travelled a LOT in the past decade.

  22. I’ve been on every subway line in New York City at least once. I’ve also been on the Staten Island Rapid Transit, the Staten Island Ferry, a horse carriage in Central Park, and the Roosevelt Island Tram.

  23. I’ve never had a driver's license. I’ve only driven a car a handful of times.

  24. I visited the roof of the Word Trade Center four times. It was really cool.

  25. Getting caught in a snowstorm while walking along the Great Wall of China was still cooler. I have seen a lot of really incredible things around the world, actually.

  26. I know a little bit of Spanish, Portuguese, and Latin, but not that well. I can read all of them much better than I can speak, understand, or write them. I can also read a little bit of Italian and French, through interpolation. German is starting to make the tiniest bit of sense when I see it.

  27. I don’t tie my shoelaces properly, nor do any of my brothers and sisters. My parents tie theirs the normal way, and have no idea how we all learned the wrong way.

  28. I got 1380 on my SATs.

  29. I’ll bet I have the biggest tonsils you’ve ever seen.

  30. I don’t know who infected me with HIV, or exactly when it happened. I can make a much better guess now about when and how I acquired HIV, thanks to an obscure news reference from some years back about a certain South American telenovela actor who passed away from unspecified illness at a young age.

  31. All the bold names on my links page are bloggers I’ve met at some point. This hardly seems relevant now that the culture of blogging is so incredibly different than it was in 2002.

  32. I’m 32 45. I’ve known one of my best friends for 30 43 years.

  33. I’ve known my best friend for almost 8 months. I’m completely in love with him, which is occasionally awkward for the both of us. Yeah, that wasn't such a great idea in the end, and he wasn’t actually that great a friend.

  34. Apparently I have a lot of artistic talent, but I’m usually too lazy and uninspired to prove that.

  35. I make a living doing really nerdy computer type stuff, but my skills aren't have turned out to be very portable, and broader than I would have guessed. I think I may be trapped in my current job for years and years to come. But it's basically OK. (It wasn’t OK. I'm glad I made some bold choices to get out of bad situations over the years.)

  36. I’ve had a website for about 7 twenty fucking years, and I was basically blogging before they called it that.

  37. I’ve never been mugged, although some guys pushed me down some stairs once and tried to grab my wallet. I screamed as loud as I could and they ran away before doing anything.

  38. I’m not afraid of heights so much as I’m afraid of precipices.

  39. I don’t eat pickles, olives, mustard, ketchup, or eyeballs.

  40. I never ate a cheese I didn’t like.

  41. I took ballet for two years in high school as an excuse to avoid going to gym. Believe it or not, this was considered a pretty clever idea, not a faggy one. All the punks and skinheads in the class below mine did the same thing.

  42. I bite my fingernails.

  43. I think god is a nice idea, but I just don't buy it.

  44. I find it much easier to believe in alien life and intelligence, although I don't expect us to encounter any for a long, long time.

  45. I’ve always wished I could live on a spaceship and have adventures with a kooky alien or robot sidekick.

  46. Instead I live in the basement of an old factory and have adventures with a Texan math-teacher sidekick. This co-op apartment that I know own is the 23rd place I have lived in my life. I hope and hope and hope I never need to move again, at least not for a long, long time.

  47. I’m a homo. Did you know that? Yes, I’m sure about it I’ve tried both.

  48. I have engaged in naughtiness with six a decent number of other people who have or have had blogs of their own. There may have been others, but I was never informed about their having web sites. Again, this now sounds like a very arbitrary, especially trivial bit of info, considering how the culture of the internet has transformed over the years. Bloggers are not a secret society of introverts reaching out into the void anymore, not by a long shot.

  49. I’ve pretty much given up on sleeping around. I got it out of my system and discovered it wasn’t really my thing after all. I’m no prude, but I’d rather get naked with someone I really like.

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Ah, youthful optimism. It’s easier to see over time that I have gone through — and presumably will go through again — phases where I’m happy to be very sexually active, and others when I’m happy to concentrate my energy and attention on the rest of life. I have at least learned to distinguish (usually) between feeling sexually adventurous out of desperation or out of contentment, which has helped me choose when to go for it more wisely.

  50. I often pretended I was the Bionic Woman when I was a little kid. I thought she was about a thousand times cooler than the Six Million Dollar Man.

  51. I knew the bride when she used to rock-n-roll.

    That was a cop-out, since I was getting bored writing this list the first time. Here’s a fresh tidbit: by the time same-sex marriage was legalized, I was so glad it wasn’t an option when I was younger. I’m pretty certain I am more temperamentally suited to living on my own, whether or not I’m involved with someone I care about.

  52. I used to have two piercings in my left ear. I never thought about the piercings much, and I only noticed the rings had fallen out months after the fact. I never felt like replacing them.

  53. I’ve seen "Hairspray" more often than any other movie.

  54. Contrary to popular legend, I never developed hairy palms, and my face never froze like that.

  55. This is a lot more boring than I’d guessed, so I’m going to skip this one.

    Another cop-out. Here’s this: I am very proud that my research and writing is cited on Wikipedia, even if it’s just the entry for Times New Roman.

  56. And this one.

    Cop-out. Instead, let me point out that in addition to living with my parents and 5 siblings growing up (and at various times a sister-in-law, a niece, and a nephew), I have had 31 different housemates over the years. This is how I know how much I love living alone.

  57. Even though I do technical work for a living, I haven't taken a math or science class since my junior year of high school.

  58. But I really do find that I use algebra and geometry in everyday life.

  59. People with excellent penmanship fill me with envy.

  60. I like Thanksgiving better than Christmas, but I’d honestly rather skip both.

  61. Leather really turns me on and I’ve cultivated a decent collection of it, but the whole scene doesn’t do much for me. I usually think those guys are usually kinda goofy.

  62. When it comes to houseplants, I am the Angel of Death.

  63. I was never really into computers or electronics until I got to college. I now own my sixth and seventh computers, my third printer, my third scanner, my second Palm Pilot, my fourth cell phone, and my first iPod and digital camera. Oh fuck, I’ve lost count by now. I haven't had a land-line telephone since 1996, which gives you some idea of the situation.

  64. I splurged on my first computer by upgrading to an 80MB hard drive and 12MB of RAM.

  65. I needed so much extra money for art supplies when I was in college that I felt I had to explain to my parents that I didn't have a drug problem. In retrospect, I should have realized that part of the problem is that my brothers’ problems gave my parents every reason to suspect that I might be spending that much money on drugs.

  66. I’ve actually never taken any recreational drugs, except for smoking a little pot for the first time a couple of months ago once in 2002. It was OK. I keep thinking I should try it again, but I feel self-conscious about it now.

  67. I take one antidepressant three kinds of vitamins and two three viral inhibitors each day.

  68. I haven't In 2002 I hadn’t been to a gym since 1993. I was taking a weight-training and exercise class when I worked in Boston, but I quit because I got bronchitis. I joined a gym for a little while around 2004, but it didn’t take. I technically have a gym membership now, but I haven’t used it yet. We’ll see if I get my act together soon.

  69. This is the number that Bill and Ted were thinking.

  70. I really want to go skydiving one of these days. Meh. Now ˆI think it would be more fun to learn to drive a motorcycle.

  71. My friends Chris and Brin first started calling me Sparky around 1994. Chris introduced me to my co-workers at a part-time job as Sparky, and it stuck once and for all.

  72. I know it's a conversational cop-out to talk about the weather, but sometimes you have to do it in order to keep things moving along. In England, I really came to understand the value of this, as people there have really perfected the art of small talk to avoid substantial conversation.

  73. Although I spent a lot of time watching the World Trade Center burn, I was on the subway when both planes hit, and I was at my desk trying to calm down by writing about what was happening when each tower fell. I don't feel bad that I missed seeing those actual moments, because the whole scene was bad enough already.

  74. I don't know anyone who died that day.

  75. I like both boxers and briefs and certain kinds of boxer briefs but I really hate wearing boxer briefs boxers.

  76. I only know two people who I really hate. They are from the same state.

    I have a few mores names on that list by now.

  77. I only wear white or black socks.

    Socks? I was really scraping the bottom of the barrel with that one. I have expanded my palette of options, but rarely wear white socks at all. Lots of red now, but not exclusively.

  78. Reading the newspaper invariably makes me either furious or depressed. Watching the news on TV usually just makes me feel like my intelligence is being insulted.

  79. I don't think it's our freedom they hate us for.

  80. I don't think we have nearly as much freedom as we like to think we have.

  81. I really love New York City, but I’m pretty sure that I'll need to live somewhere else eventually and expand my horizons, if only for a little while. I worry, though, that I'll never afford to come back again.

  82. I don't own a single piece of furniture that wasn't found, inherited, or purchased from a thrift store. I’ve moved enough times to have jettisoned any furniture I would have owned in 2002. Now my goal is to avoid Ikea furniture as much as possible.

  83. I am riddled with insecurities. If I seem to be accepting a compliment gracefully, I’m just being polite. I probably don't believe you.

  84. I’ve read the entire charter for the United Federation of Planets, but I’ve never gotten all the way through the Constitution of the United States. I know the Preamble, though, because of that song. Maybe they should set the Prime Directive to music someday.

  85. I am not now, nor have I ever been, a member of the Communist party.

  86. I often get the feeling that the freedom to dissent and question our leaders is considered a luxury rather than a right.

  87. I am pretty timid when it comes to making a fuss, so I’m just as guilty as anyone of not defending the right to dissent. that’s something I’m not very proud of.

  88. I’m trying to get over my own apathy.

  89. I always thought that the Silver-Age Green Lantern and Aquaman were really hot. I also know I’m not the only one who's had the same thought.

  90. I have never actually fantasized about a comic-book character, however.

  91. I fantasize more about people I’ve already slept with than I do about people I’ve never met. That still gives me plenty of material to work with.

  92. I would rather fall asleep nuzzling against someone I care about than have sex. Maybe.

  93. I just thought of a good one, but now I’ve forgotten it.

    Cop-out! True fact: I always keep around a small amount of currency in dollars, UK pounds, and Euros, just in case I have some last-minute travel to do.

  94. I’ve wasted so much time on this today. As true now as it was then.

  95. I don't want to go to Chelsea. (Elvis said it first, but he said it best. I just mean something slightly different. But I also mean it about the same Chelsea he did.)

  96. This is all trivia. It only tells you little details, but gives you no substantial information about who I am am or what I’m like.

  97. I am a crackerjack copy editor, but usually too lazy to proofread my own writing. Your punctuation mistakes, however, will drive me crazy.

  98. There was a time when I bore an uncanny resemblance to Andy Rourke, the bass player for the Smiths. I don’t think I need to tell you that was about 1985.

  99. To be perfectly honest, the only reason I ever owned a skateboard was because I thought skaters were so hot. I could have saved so much time if I had just realized that then instead of years later. Hell, I might have even managed to kiss a skater.

  100. I love all the love in you.

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