25 Things

There is a viral meme going around Facebook about listing 25 random things about yourself. It’s not accurate, since people spend some time crafting the 25 things (so they’re not really random … it’s not like people write 500 things and do a Monte Carlo selection or anything). Anyone, I got tagged by Annie and gamely set out to make my list, which is reproduced below the fold.

1. I was three years into an astrophysics Ph.D. program before I ever saw the stars.

2. My fondest memory of college is an evening before Winter finals, spent sipping hot chocolate and coloring with crayons on the floor.

3. I once took a journey by rail in a figure-8 around the nation.

4. While growing up in NYC in the 1980s, whenever I awoke to the sound of thunder, I spent a minute wondering if it was a Soviet nuclear strike.

5. I have a curious attraction to songs that repeat their openings in the closer.

6. People tend to be misled by me because I mean exactly what I say.

7. I wrote my first love poem at the age of 20. It was pretty bad. So were the next twenty-three.

8. I think Sneakers was five years ahead of its time and so became the most underrated movie of 1992.

9. I am absolutely convinced that we are living in the final century of human history. What comes after, I don’t know.

10. Much of my professional success has come from a lopsided mix of ability and (mostly) confidence — even when the latter isn’t justified.

11. If they had had those computer-linked digital microscopes when I was growing up, I very well might have been a biologist.

12. Every year at college I fell hard for exactly one (different) person. I didn’t get over the last one for over fifteen years.

13. I am liked by more people than I like. At the core this makes me worried that I present a false face.

14. My favorite breed of dog is “mutt”.

15. Despite what everyone seems to think, I have no skill at chess.

16. I think that, had he not written “pop”, Billy Joel would be recognized as a great American songwriter on the order of Copeland — and I don’t care what anyone else thinks.

17. There are times I worry that my muse of writing has abandoned me in retaliation for neglect.

18. I have known few joys as satisfying as figuring out a really good way to get a point across to my students.

19. I don’t know what or who God is, but anyone’s definition that leaves out music is simply wrong.

20. I have been in love many, many times. I have been loved exactly once, and it’s still going on, and I still don’t exactly know how to react.

21. But I can’t imagine my life any other way anymore.

22. I can’t get through the “Le Marsailles” scene in Casablanca without tearing up.

23. I think that life is simpler than people make it out to be.

24. I’m not so keen on arbitrary rules and, apparently, cannot count to 25.

25. I think about the vast and timeless sweep of the Universe, so brimmed with meaning beyond our sight or understanding, and I am floored by the fact that I can think about it.

26. Every minute of every day I am imbued with a desperate knowledge that we are running out of time. We have to become stronger, smarter, better — and we have to do it now.

27. At the end of it all, for absolutely no good reason, I remain an optimist.