Onward and upward! Here we go with the sixth page in my 3000 Questions about Me series. As usual I haven’t previewed these questions and am answering off-the-cuff, to be as open and honest as possible. I like to hope that these posts give a bit more insight into who I am and the life I’m living; even before the widespread COVID-19 shelter-in-place I’ve been fairly reclusive and would like to take this opportunity to open up a bit.

How emotional are you? (0076)

This is actually a tough one for me to answer. By and large I’m a pretty stoic person, perhaps due to years of struggling with depression and anxiety and trying to pretend that everything was okay. I’m not afraid to laugh or smile, but I approach most situations with caution, and that certainly includes addressing my own emotions. I used to be very sentimental but have grown much less so in the past ~10 years or so; to a large degree the only reason I haven’t donated or given away more of my past belongings is simply the time and effort required to do so.

The death of Princess really choked me up for a few days, and while I still feel tinges of sadness at the loss, I almost moreso feel guilty that I don’t feel worse, as if there were a standard or expected period of grieving for a pet that I’m somehow short-changing. On the other hand deep interpersonal relationships usually cut to the core; when it comes to other people I’m usually either passingly accepting or incredibly invested—there really isn’t a middle ground. Is that being “emotional?” Am I intentionally separating myself from other social engagements which may be rewarding in their own right? I don’t know if there’s an objective answer to any of it.

Have you ever had an internship? If not, what would be your dream intern job? (0077)

I’ve never had an internship, and my only stint with a staffing agency lasted three weeks before the client company hired me on full-time. I’ve often told people that, if I were just entering college right now, I’d want to study astroclimatology, the budding field of understanding and analyzing the atmospheres of planets outside our solar system. I love learning about space and astronomy, and being on the forefront of that kind of emerging science—using instruments that weren’t even dreamed of twenty years ago—seems like it would be an exciting and rewarding career. To answer the question as asked, I’d have to say following or doing research for someone like Robert Picardo or others at the Planetary Society would be a simply awe-inspiring opportunity.

Do you prefer chicken, beef, or seafood? (0078)

I really like the ubiquity of chicken and the number of dishes it can be prepared in, but as someone who enjoys grilling steak, it falls a little flat for me. I’ve recently (in the past decade or so) acquired a taste for seafood that was all but absent during my college years, but I’m still very particular about what kinds I’ll order a second time. The short answer then, is that beef remains the primary staple of my grill and my kitchen.

Have you ever had a health scare? (0079)

Aside from my tumble down California’s coastal cliffs, the biggest health scare I had came in 2010. I owned my own business, had an upcoming wedding, and was under a lot of stress in my position at the Freemason Lodge. I was at a business social breakfast for the Chamber of Commerce, and I realized halfway through the meal that I couldn’t feel anything on the left side of my body. It wasn’t numbly tingling, it was just gone. Shortly thereafter the vision in my left eye diminished and faded to black.

I sat still, trying to understand what was going on with me. I may come from a family well-tied to the medical field, and had passed wilderness first aid training many times as a Boy Scout, but none of that prepared me for half my body just no longer working.

The strange malady faded after what felt like a few minutes, and I have no better idea today than I did back then what the speaker was discussing or who I may have met that morning. As the meal paused for some socializing, I took my leave and did the only sensible thing—I drove the 20 miles home. Note: I am being incredibly facetious here—if you have a medical emergency please get help rather than just shrugging it off.

I called my mom and described my symptoms, and she ran them past a doctor in the clinic she was working at. It was their shared opinion that I check myself into an Urgent Care. Not having insurance, and the symptoms having thankfully subsided, they figured it for the best option, rather than going directly to the Emergency Room. My roommate and then-girlfriend (now wife) drove me across town to the facility.

I met with the doctor, gave an account of my symptoms, and she recommended I get a diagnostic CT scan to hopefully get more information on what it could have been. Unfortunately the CT scan came back “inconclusive,” which to me is a far cry from definitive. The call I got back from the doctor wasn’t much better. “It could have been a tiny stroke, or an ophthalmic migraine, or something else.”

So, I don’t know what happened that morning in early 2010, and I don’t really know what could have caused that confluence of symptoms. Maybe they’ll find something some day down the line when I’m in for another procedure, or maybe it was just something lost to the mysteries of time.

It’s been a long while since I’ve let the mystery bother me.

What do you love most about the holiday season? (0080)

A question I can answer with almost zero thought—the smells. I have a very vivid sense-memory of my mother boiling apple cider with cloves and orange peels in it, and how it blended with the pine needle smell throughout the house. With hearty stews, hot chocolate on cold nights, and hopefully more than a little rain against the window, Winter is absolutely my favorite season.

Do you think a fling could be a good thing? (0081)

Absolutely. I’ve discussed more fully my thoughts on relationships and sex in private sections of this blog, and my steadfast opinion is that so long as everyone involved is consenting enthusiastically and nobody is being harmed, who am I to say what someone else can or can’t do with their personal lives. For some people, sex doesn’t require a deep emotional connection, and there’s nothing wrong with that or those who feel differently.

I think the bounds of relationships—and I use that term to mean everything from casual acquaintances and friends to lovers and life partners—depend heavily on the people involved, and can change from moment to moment, and all of that is okay. For those who are looking for and engage in a fling, as long as both parties are on the same page, with the same expectations, and such are communicated clearly, I think it can be a normal, positive, and healthy experience for all.

What part of your routine do you always try to skip if you can? (0082)

Though I’ve gotten much more about it in recent years as my business role has increased in seniority and responsibility, I still don’t enjoy having shaving as part of my regular routine. Granted I also hate having a scruffy face and neck, but the daily routine of scraping sharp metal across my skin hasn’t ever been the most pleasant to me, and certainly not something I’ve looked forward to. Moving to a safety razor was a big step up from cartridges, as well as getting a more modern electric shaver I can fall back on if I’m feeling particularly lazy but need to look 80% presentable.

What do or did you hate most about dating or the dating process? (0083)

Some years ago a friend got remarried after what felt like—to me—a short dating and engagement period. I asked them about it once at a party and they imparted what I feel is some pretty good wisdom on me. “This time around I know what I want. I know the kind of person that makes me happy, and more importantly the kind of person who doesn’t.”

The part about dating I least liked was the figuring out whether or not the other person and I were a good match, the perhaps overly-cautious tiptoeing around subjects or topics that could possibly be divisive. I readily admit it’s far from my place to give advice to others on the subject of dating—my wife and I have been married for ten years, together for fifteen—but I like to think that open and honest communication from the outset would prevent a lot of heartache down the road. Be honest about your expectations, be honest about your needs, and communicate them clearly.

What do you frown upon when it comes to raising kids? (0084)

Here’s a topic with which I certainly have zero experience. I would say what depresses me about some people’s take on child-rearing is the what feels like a pathological need for some parents to impress upon their children their own sense of morality, belief structure, and societal expectations. I understand that it may be frustrating or frightening to have a child that disagrees with you on what could be serious or important issues (to you), but then again I’m someone who, as has been expressed even in this post, believes in the right of everyone to make their own informed choices.

Have you ever been professionally photographed? (0085)

I have had two professional headshots taken for my turns on the stage, and of course I’ll add them to this entry for posterity. Aside from other theatre-related engagements—promotional materials and the like—I can’t think of a time I’ve been professionally photographed. My senior portrait I guess, but I feel that’s a fairly common occurrence that doesn’t quite stand out.

Where or how do you find serenity? (0086)

It sounds weird, but I find the most serenity these days between the moment I finish writing a blog post, short story, or other written work, and the moment I hit “Publish,” when anxieties and self-doubt return. It’s the satisfaction of hard work paying off, of fulfillment, and the joy at creation all wrapped into one singular instant.

I find a lot of serenity when my wife sleepily wraps me up in a hug in the middle of the night, or when listening to hard rainfall outside, and even when relaxing with “lo-fi” or “post-rock” music playing in the background, but I think I have a lot of company with other creative types when it comes to feeling the most at home, the most at peace, when I can set down the proverbial pen and say “done.”

Do you influence people more than they influence you? (0087)

For as many leadership roles I find myself in, I’ve usually shied away from trying to directly influence others. I have many strong opinions—which I hope are largely born from experience and logic—and I’m more than willing to share those opinions and beliefs, along with my reasoning behind them, as a way of presenting my case. In answering some of the initial questions in this book I asked some close friends to describe me, to think about what traits they’d ascribe to my person. Almost universally they said “thoughtful,” meaning both in the positive and negative sense. I like to think I’m not easily influenced, but I also think rare is the person who believes themselves to be.

What can you do to make your life better? (0088)

O’ where to start! I think maybe a better question is “what are you willing to do to make your life better” as it evokes things that are possible and hopefully realistic. I think the biggest change I could make to improve my situation, and to some degree my emotional health, is get involved in more social activities. Even with the ravages of the COVID pandemic wrecking havoc on everyone’s social calendars, people are connecting with existing and new friends, engaging in online or virtual social activities, and making the best of it. Right now I’m simply not and I think it’s actively to my detriment. In fact I haven’t been doing anything social for 3+ years, and for someone who used to lead theatre groups and have a very active night life, the change is rather stark.

If you could ask one person, alive or dead, only one question, what would you ask? (0089)

“Are you proud of me?”

Now the real question is of whom would I ask that singular question.

What is your favorite hiding place? (0090)

I don’t know if “favorite” is quite the right word, but certainly the “most frequent” would be behind my own stoicism. I think one of my self-prescribed defenses against the ravages of depression and anxiety is the concerted effort sometimes to feel nothing at all, or at least let feelings wash through me instead of overtop. Most commonly at my current job, but in the rare social situation as well.

And that does it for the next page of questions! Next time we’ll cross the #100 threshold on our journey to 3000, and as I write more content in other categories I hope I’ll be more motivated to keep up this deep dive into my own thoughts—I feel self-conscious if I post too many things from one category in quick succession. Onward and upward!

Header image by bertvthul from Pixabay