1. My middle name is Hammer.

photo: Stephen Nakatani on flikr

2. When people find this out, they say, “No!” Then they say, “You’re kidding!” Then they start to laugh uncontrollably. I explain that it’s a last name, a family name. Still, they laugh. Personally, I like having a tool for a middle name. It comes in handy in a variety of circumstances.

3. When I was four years old, I woke up in the middle of the night and saw a bunch of sheep standing in my room. They were watching me, silently. I finally got up the nerve to get out of bed and run into my parents’ room. My mother assured me the sheep were not real, but I knew better.

photo: James Bowe on flikr

4. I am proud of being left-handed. Extremely proud. Bordering on arrogance.

5. I love old-school Stevie Wonder music. Just hearing some of those songs can make me so happy, anything that’s bothering me will vanish. The power of music to elevate and transform is astonishing.

6. I can touch the tip of my nose with my tongue. When I was a kid, my next-door neighbor Patty Carvey told me this meant I was retarded.

7. For a long time, I didn’t know how to dress. In high school, we’d have choir concerts and I had no clue how to dress like the other girls. I just couldn’t get the hang of girly fashion. Finally, in my middle adult years, I realized that I like to dress in what we think of as “men’s” clothes. I understand them. They make sense to me. And I actually enjoy my clothes for the first time in my life.

photo: Sipho Ntshangase on flikr

8. I love sugar so much I can’t eat it. Not at all. When I eat sugar, it’s all I want to eat and then it’s all I DO eat and then I get sick. Everything got a lot better for me once I figured this out.

9. When I was in 5th grade, I loved to sleep. I was extremely happy about everything in my life, so it’s not like I wanted to escape. I couldn’t wait to go to school every day (!) and I couldn’t wait to go to sleep every night. This bliss ended the next year, when we moved to Georgia. I got called a Yankee all the time and had a harder time sleeping.

photo: Domenico Salvagnin on flikr

10. I worked in a factory for about a month when I was 23. It was a health food factory in Santa Cruz. They made “healthy” gummie bears. I don’t remember what I did. It was something mindless.

11. Sometimes when I’m driving and listening to music, I’ll look up and see a flock of birds flying in time to the music. It makes me feel like I’m in a movie. Or a really cool dream.

photo: Don DeBold on flikr

12. I used to want to learn to play the banjo, but I don’t anymore. I’ve let that go.

13. I’m a sucker for talking animals. In commercials, on TV, in movies, etc. Look at that! The cat is talking! That’s so cute! So funny! Dude. I can’t help it.

photo: Kurt and Sybilla on flikr

14. I care what people think about me. Not nearly as much as I used to. But I still don’t like it when someone’s upset with me. I like everyone to be happy and often take on the “job” of cheering people up.

15. I only have one tattoo. But I want more. I want to get “sleeved,” which means I want tattoos on both my arms. All of my arms. I think this has a 50-50 chance of happening. (And by this I don’t mean, just on one arm.)

16. My birth name was Elizabeth. The only person who ever called me that, however, was my grandmother. She refused to call me by my nickname (Betsy) because of a contest that took place when she was a child. The contest was to “Name the Cow” of a company in Boston, where she grew up. The name that won? Betsy.

photo: William Warby on flikr

17. My nickname worked for me until I was about 20. Then I started to hate it. I could never come up with anything else, though. There are tons of other nicknames for Elizabeth, but I didn’t like any of them. Then, a few years ago, I remembered my college nickname, Z. Duh. Given that I look less like a Betsy every minute, I figure I changed it just in time.

18. My first crush was on a little girl who lived down the street. I don’t remember much about her, except that she was beautiful and mysterious and unattainable. I was four.

19. I love to meditate. The first time I tried it, it was like I’d discovered a whole new world inside myself. Like I’d been living with a mansion inside me all these years and I had no idea it was there.

photo: Doug Wertman on flikr

20. For a long time, I could only wink with one eye. Then, for some random reason, I decided this should change. I worked for about two weeks on winking with the other eye. Now I can wink with both. But winking with my non-dominant, learned-to-wink eye is still a bit unnatural. I suspect it looks like I’m in intense pain.

21. My cat is transgender. Her face doesn’t look like a girl or a boy cat, but somewhere in between. She has a hard look about her, like she’s spent time in prison. She attempts to spray my house plants, marking them like a male cat would. Her name is Lucy, but I call her Louis.

22. I was a total nerd in high school. I didn’t wear glasses or a pocket protector, but all the elements were there. Not a lot of friends. Good grades. No partying. Not too much lying to the parents. I’m still a nerd, but proud of it. And I have lots of friends now.

23. My favorite color is blue. My aura is blue. I’ve seen it.

photo: Steven Depolo on flikr

24. When I was in ninth grade, my English class was really small. Like, seven kids. At one point, the teacher said that we had “a writer” in the class. Meaning someone who was really talented with words and who should pursue this talent as a vocation. The person he was referring to wasn’t me. I took this to mean that I was NOT a writer, and that writing was not something I should pursue. I let this one tiny moment keep me from writing for years and years. When I first started to write fiction, at age 39, I remembered this ninth-grade moment and countered it in my mind. “I’m a writer too,” I told the grown-up me. I’ve been a writer ever since.

25. In my next life, I want to come back with a kick-ass singing voice. That’s all I want. I don’t care if I’m a donkey or an ant. I just want the voice.

photo: Chris Darling on flikr



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