The "Things You Don't Know About Me" meme is going around yet again, and so here's my list.
Hopefully I didn't repeat stuff from the old lists I've made, but there's been so many of them that I make no promises
- I trained to become a certified skydiver. A long time ago when we were bored, a friend and I decided to go tandem-skydiving (where a professional is hooked to you for the ride down). My family was pretty freaked out, so I didn't tell them when I went back to take classes so I could become a licensed skydiver... but I did. I went through all the classroom training, did my static-line jumps, then completed my first solo freefall skydive... then decided I was done. I toy with the idea of jumping again from time to time, but never have. Travel is my adventure now.
- I have a complete set of INFOCOM "grey box" packaging for every one of their text adventure games. If you don't think this is a big deal, you weren't a computer geek in the 1980's. You also don't know how expensive these games were for a kid in high school.
- When I was a kid trying to earn summer spending money, one of my many jobs was mowing the lawn of an elderly couple in town. For the three years I did his yard work, the guy would pay me to accompany him on occasional trips up to the mountains so I could help him collect water for making pickles. He was convinced that you couldn't make pickles with tap water, which was great for me because it was easy money. A couple years after he died, I read of a drowning that took place where we used to go for water. When I mentioned it to somebody at work, they told me that people die or get hurt there all the time because there are undercurrents in the swift water that suck people under when they fall in. If ever there was a shining example of money not being everything, here it is. Lesson learned, and all that.
- There are a lot of things that I want to learn to do before I die. Learning how to blow glass is at the top of my list. Learning to create stained glass is a close second. I'm mesmerized whenever I visit a church with beautiful stained glass in it.
- I have spent years researching world religions because I find the best way to understand the people I meet around the world is to understand what they believe when it comes to matters of faith. This has led to numerous awkward conversations when it turns out that I am more knowledgeable about somebody's religion than they are. With this in mind I can state with complete confidence that the people who know the least about their religion are the people who are most likely to use it as a tool of bigotry or hate. They may be familiar with the words but the true meaning and historical context of those words are missing.
- I have designed graphics for many, many, many things over the years. The one thing missing from my resume that I most want to design is a map for a theme park or museum.
- I can add "professional musician" to my resume even though I can't sing worth a crap, can barely read or write music without a computer, and have long-since forgotten how to play an instrument. Despite all that, I compose music for video projects and have been in a band (where I "sang" backup vocals and played keyboard... which I do by smashing on all the keys until I figure out which notes sound closest to what I'm supposed to be playing, then memorize which keys to hit). In my heart, I think I probably have a talent for music... but any hope of making use of it was crushed years ago.
- In high school band I wanted to play the saxophone. Bad. But my band teacher said he really needed talented people in the clarinet section, and promised that I could move to saxophone after a year once he got the arrangements figured out. I hated the clarinet, but wanted to be a good student, so I agreed. After a year of clarinet where I was in first-chair more often than not, the band teacher said I was too good in clarinet to give it up, and he'd really appreciate it if I stuck it out one more year. I wasn't going to agree, but he promised that he would spend extra time with me after class to get me caught up with the saxophone the next year. Encouraged, I finished year two on the clarinet, then rented a saxophone and practiced all summer. On the first day of year three, I sat in the saxophone section... only to have the band teacher say "I notice you're in the saxophone section, David... I need you to move back to the clarinet section!" I was going to argue the point, hold him to his promise, and refuse to move... but ultimately decided that I didn't want to spend one more minute in a class run by a lying piece of shit. So I packed up my sax, said "No. I quit" then walked out the door. It is possibly the most angry I have been in my entire life, and yet I'm really proud of myself for handling it so well, which was not typical at the time. The hard lesson I learned about how some people keep their promises was more valuable to me than my desire to learn to play saxophone ever was, and I am really grateful I learned it before I graduated and entered "The Real World." So thank you very much, Mr. Johnson, you lying asshole.
- Over the years I have become a much less angry and vengeful person thanks to my study of Buddhism. Sure, I still have my moments (seriously, don't do something to really piss me off), but I can honestly say I am a completely different person than I was fifteen years ago. Looking back, however, I think I was on the path towards Buddhism long before I even knew what it was.
- Back in the mid-to-late-80's I volunteered to teach adult computer literacy classes for people in danger of losing their jobs (or unable to get a job) because their work was being computerized. Many of the people I trained had used typewriters and filing cabinets for years, and had never even turned on a computer before. It was a job requiring a great deal of patience and calm because PCs were nowhere near as friendly back then as they are today. Unfortunately for me, I had neither patience or calm, and it was a horrible struggle to endure two hours without screaming at people for being idiots. All that changed when an older woman approached me after class and thanked me for my efforts, but said she was going to have to quit because she felt stupid that everything was going over her head. Without even thinking about it, I said "That's not your fault, it's my fault... please come back for a few more classes and I'll see if I can do a better job, because you're not stupid." She agreed, and I congratulated myself on being so clever. Until I was driving home and suddenly realized what I had said... and how every word was absolutely true. It was my fault. My class wasn't filled with idiots... they were people so desperate to keep their jobs or find work that they were giving up their free time and trying their best to learn something new and challenging. I needed to figure out a different approach to teaching the material that actually worked, and so I did. This was a defining moment in my life, and accepting the truth of it all has paid off again and again... both professionally and personally.
Now, granted, that's probably all stuff you didn't know about me that you didn't want to know about me... but you'll have to blame the people who keep reviving this meme for that!