I've always been a sucker for questionnaires and quizzes as a way of describing one's self. It generates an array of answers one might not have thought of or produced otherwise. Recently The Oregonian posed a series of political candidates running for office. I liked the questions so I decided to answer some of them myself:
Coffee or tea?
Beer or wine?
I like Eric Sten’s answer: “Wine with dinner, beer in a bar.”
Ducks or Beavers?
Have you ever bought a lottery ticket?
Definitely. I used to daydream a lot about winning the lottery. I think when you’re not happy or not fulfilled in your job, you tend to daydream more, and a lottery ticket gives you extra license to do that – however long the odds. I haven’t bought a ticket in years, though. Incidentally, I’ve always felt conflicted about the lottery system. It pains me that the lottery essentially acts like a regressive tax, because studies show that poor people far outspend the affluent on tickets. But people are to some extent always going to gamble, so I’d rather that our always under-funded state government get some of those funds.
What magazines do you subscribe to?
The New Yorker, Dwell, Metropolis, Metropolitan Home, Esquire, Premiere, Arcade (a Northwest architectural quarterly), Modern Painters.
When was the last time you attended a house of worship?
To actually attend services? I can’t remember, but it must be about ten years. I’m not an atheist, but for years I’ve thought back to a bumper sticker I once saw that said, “Dear God, save me from your followers.” Many of my family members are religious, which I completely respect. But it’s not for me.
Introvert or extrovert?
I definitely have aspects of both. I’m happiest at home by myself (or with Valarie and the cat). But I also love to socialize.
Marcia, Jan or Cindy?
Marcia for looks, but the depressive-neurotic in me often sympathized with Jan.
Mac or PC?
PC for the most part. I also own a Mac that I edit video on. I love the way Macs look, and I always like the idea of being a Mac person. They’re so much better looking machines, and I definitely would prefer Mac users if comparing those who use which machines. But I’ve used PCs for so much longer and thus know them so much better, so I prefer to stick with them. I also think I’m more inclined to the PC’s hard angles than Apple’s soft curves, conceptually speaking.
Good or bad cop?
Definitely good cop. Even if my motives were to be sinister, I’d still find charm and charisma more effective than yelling at or harassing someone.
Have you ever been inside your next-door neighbor’s house?
No, but I’ve talked to them outside several times. In most cases that’s good enough for me.
Do you have any tattoos?
Definitely not. People are free to do whatever they want, but I hate the idea of blemishing my body with some heart or dragon. I wouldn’t spray-paint graffiti on the outside of my house – why would I do it to myself?
Did you pledge a fraternity in college?
No way. At any fraternity I visited, most of the members were knuckle-draggers, which my friends living there soon discovered and moved out. I wanted to meet the smarter, artier types in college. That said, if you’re a kid attending some isolated school and that’s the best way to make friends, I have no grudge.
How many pairs of shoes do you own?
I just counted 11 pairs. Could be 12, 13. Valarie occasionally gets me free or discounted shoes because she works at adidas, so I have lots of sneakers. Couple pairs of black shoes and brown boots in there too.
Do you have a second home?
No. I’d love to have one on the Oregon coast, though. Maybe Manzanita, Neskowin.
Do you screen calls?
Most of the time, other than during work hours.
What’s your screensaver?
Various photos we’ve copied from the internet over the years, everything from Andreas Gursky photos to The Fonz.
What time do you wake up/go to bed?
On weekdays I usually wake around 8AM, give or take a half-hour. One of my favorite things about my job is being able to wake up naturally on most days. On weekends I may wake up anytime between 9AM and noon. I go to bed around 10:30 or 11:00PM most weeknights and closer to 1AM weekends.
Does your cell phone take pictures?
No. And so far I’m fine with that.
Have you ever fired a gun?
I may have fired a little .22 caliber rifle – there’s some foggy memory of a friend’s house in the country and a tin can. But that would be at least about seventeen years ago. No plans to take it up again, unless some crazy future scene renders it absolutely essential to survive. But I’d prefer to stay as far away from them as possible.
What’s your political and employment background?
I studied politics in college (most schools call it political science) and served as an intern with my then-congresswoman, Elizabeth Furse, in the fall of 1993. Otherwise I haven’t been politically active other than attending a protest against the Supreme Court’s awarding of the presidency to George W. Bush in 2000.
Employment-wise, I started in junior high working at my dad’s restaurant, then in high school worked at a grocery store (bagging groceries and sorting returned cans), a car dealership (washing and detailing cars), and a huge plant nursery (on an assembly line transferring plants from little pots to bigger pots). In college at NYU I had work-study jobs at the Robert Wagner Graduate School of Public Service and the Office of Legal Counsel, and over two summers worked at a helicopter company in the parts department.
Also, while taking a year off to live with friends in Washington, DC, I worked a series of office jobs for a temporary agency. One was at the US Department of Transportation in the security department – basically that agency’s version of the Secret Service, a group of agents who accompanied the Secretary of Transportation. Incidentally, the secretary then, in 1992 (during the GHW Bush administration’s waning days), was Andrew Card, who would go on to become Chief of Staff to the current president. I also worked briefly at the Department of Agriculture, and for several months at the National Institute of Mental Health in Bethesda, Maryland. My bosses were several accomplished neuroscientists and psychiatrists, including a guy named Gordon Brown who I’m told is a legend in the field. I remember him apologizing to me profusely one day for all the help he needed taking boxes of books down to his car, describing himself disarmingly as “this old fucker” or something to that effect. I liked him a lot after that.
After college I worked at Nick’s Italian Café, a regionally legendary restaurant in McMinnville that is widely regarded as the unofficial culinary capitol of Oregon’s Willamette Valley wine country. I was only at Nick’s a few months, but it was the best job I ever had. (Other than working for myself, of course.) We all worked hard prepping, cooking and delivering food to customers, but there was a wonderful staff of over-educated misfits with whom it was fun to chatter.
I remember once during daytime prep work grilling about 25 Italian sausages at a time while reading The New Yorker. Then at night it’d be such a madhouse, and to blow off steam afterward we’d often gather down the street at the dingy Deluxe tavern to drink beer, play the jukebox and eat French fries.
After moving back to New York in 1996, I worked a series of office jobs for a temp agency. One was at the telephone company, NYNEX, working for a hard-driven but nice Ukranian immigrant. Another job was at NBC in Rockefeller Studios, answering calls in the legal department for a lawyer supervising the news magazine show Dateline. I remember doing filing work there, and noticing all the file folders that existed for a series of reports on shark attacks. I also remember taking dictation on a letter of agreement between NBC and Barbra Streisand concerning her upcoming appearance on Saturday Night Live. Oh, and I also remember getting a fax every afternoon of Conan O’Brien’s opening monologue. It was for one of the lawyers to read in advance of taping to make sure there was nothing NBC could get sued for. Incidentally, that same lawyer, named Doreen, also turned out to be the producer of David Lynch’s debut film, Eraserhead. I remember on my last day the two of them gave me a book about the Yankees, who I had seen win the World Series that year.