(Part three of a series.)
My favorite writing utensil is a black pilot Razor-point pen. I don't like ballpoints. My handwriting is very tightly compressed and difficult for others to read, although I don't feel any need or desire to change it to suit others. I have changed a tire perhaps seven or eight times. The worst time experience was when I was outside an indoor soccer facility on a rainy winter night and drove the car through a puddle that was obscuring a pothole and it tore the tire in half. I had to change it in the cold and rain while my son played his soccer match indoors. Although I use it sparingly, my favorite punctuation mark is the semicolon. I do not have a favorite color or favorite day of the week. I have owned two Volkswagens, one Datsun, one Chevelle, one Chevette, and five Toyotas, in that order. Before that, I owned a Honda motorbike and later, a Honda motorcycle. Almost everything I wear is made of cotton. I like my bed hard and my pillows firm. I have no reason to believe that anything in the world is likely to get better in the future. I do not like the smell of perfume. I went for years without reading the paper. Now I skim the local paper daily but rarely find anything worth reading in it. I like going to art galleries. I read mostly lying down. I have taught myself to touch type, and have greatly improved my performance to do so by transcribing audiotapes I've made of comments one of my artist friends makes while he is doing demos. I no longer enjoy going to the beach. I have never been in a fistfight or punched anyone, although as a teenager I was punched several times by morons. Both of my parents believed in paying for quality. My mother used to say, with only a tinge of irony, "The best is none too good." The two times of day I enjoy the most are when I am setting off for work and when I am walking home. I get impatient with people who complain of being bored. I agree with the woman in The Glass Menagerie who argues that boredom betrays a lack of inner resources. I often surprise myself by weeping in movies and then feel ridiculous for doing so. It is my general practice to withhold my opinion unless I am asked for it, unless I am with people I know and trust. I have never been seriously hungry. I have never been in the armed services. I have never fired a machine gun. I have fired rifles, shotguns, and pistols. I've shot and killed woodchucks, crows, squirrels, rabbits, pheasant, and ruffed grouse. I rarely get headaches. My knowledge of world geography is sketchy at best. If I had to draw a map of Asia, I'd get most of the major countries but I have no real sense of how they interlock. I dislike Musak and Hallmark cards and all other forms of merchandized secondhand sentiment. When I was a child, I used to believe that there were animals outside the windows of my house waiting for me to come out so they could pounce on me. I used to follow my mother around the house because I thought I would be safer in her presence. I prefer abstract art to realistic art. I have fainted on several occasions, including once when I was serving as an altar boy at a confirmation ceremony and holding the bishop's crozier, which fell to the ground with a crash that startled everyone in the congregation when I passed out. When people ask me if I miss New England, I tell them I miss the last week of September and the first week of October, and that's about it. I do not like cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, eggplant, peas, corn, or lima beans. I generally fall asleep quickly and sleep solidly. Given a choice, I'd wear jeans, sandals, and a t-shirt all the time. I do not smoke. I do not drink coffee. It bothers me when people walk by art on the walls and do not even register that it is there, much less look at it. When I visit houses I am always drawn to look at what is on their bookshelves. I skateboarded long before skateboarding became a craze. I know how to whistle and sometimes like to do so, but it annoys me when others whistle so when I catch myself whistling in company I try to stop. I have had surgery for cancer; it saved my life. I cannot recall ever wanting to take revenge on anyone. While I am sometimes disappointed by the behavior of others, I do not generally get angry at them. I do get angry at myself. I don't believe in ghosts, but I do not necessarily disbelieve in them either. One of the scariest people I ever met claimed to have worked as a ghostbuster and he had detailed, very convincing stories of how he had worked with a team to make contact with spirits stuck in between the real world and the spirit world and to perform healing rituals to help them to the other side where they could be at peace. I nearly killed myself and my son when I drove in front of a truck while fumbling in the glove compartment for a pen. The car was totaled and by some miracle we were essentially unhurt. I am an unapologetic liberal democrat, and it distresses me that liberals over the last thirty years have let themselves be pushed around by conservative demagogues spouting utter nonsense. I know several poems by heart: Frost, Dickinson, W.S. Merwin, and William Carlos Williams. I have played chess for more than fifty years and am a decent player but probably not as good as I should be at this point. I've never been serious enough to really study the openings or analyze even the games I have played, much less the games of others. This particular autoportrait exercise produces a kind of writing which make me seem duller and less fully rounded than I feel myself to be. I like my life. I like to read and write. I love talking about ideas with students and colleagues. I've never wished to be anyone else or envied anyone else's life. I work hard, and I try to be useful in this world. I have few regrets and no complaints. It's good to be here, for as long as it lasts.