My "Grim List"

Waaay back on 18 February, Grim posted a "getting to know me" entry which was just brilliant. Unfortunately, that was 2 days before my back surgery, so needless to say, I didn't get to it. I think I can do this now (with frequent breaks to go lay down and rest). So, with HUGE thanks to Grim for creating this thing, it's my turn. I've learned a ton about my booklikes friends, and feel richer for it! I'll be using Grim's dictum of starting each of the 10 entries with "I am," because, well, because Grim said so, and that's good enough for me. Let's go:


1. I am a child of the world. I was born in Wiesbaden, Germany, during the Cold War. My father was a US Air Force sergeant with a certain set of skills (intel, electronic intelligence, and electronic warfare, mostly) that caused him to move a lot. There was only one time we couldn't go with him, when he served (I later learned years after he retired and his classified clearance ran out) as a war planner planning how to invade North Korea. That was back in the '81. Yep. They've got a plan. Anyway, I was born in Germany, then moved to Texas, then to the Philippines (my earliest recallable memories are of the Philippines during the Vietnam War under Ferdinand Marcos, who put the "dick" back in "dictator). After that, we moved back to Texas, then to Italy, then Mom and I moved to Minnesota while dad was being cross-trained down in IL. After that, we reconvened in Nebraska, then moved to England, where I graduated high school. I moved out on my own to Wyoming (long story), stayed a couple of years in Pennsylvania, moved back in with my parents in California, where I met my wife. We lived in California a few years, moved to Utah for my schooling, then moved here to Wisconsin for graduate school and decided to stay. Note that in all of these instances, I *lived* there. These were not just month-long visits. I can't even begin to tell you all the places I've been.


2. I am a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. It's been a long time now, 26 years, since I've had a drop of alcohol or taken illicit drugs. I also don't smoke. I gave all that crap up about a year after high school. I had done enough of all of them in the previous 5 years to that to last a lifetime. I was in pretty bad shape. What changed? I got busted, faced 10 1/2 years of potential prison time, (re)found religion, and cleaned my act up. Luckily, I didn't have to serve prison time.


3. Related to 2, I am deeply religious. I have very strong moral and spiritual beliefs and am very active with my church. I spend probably 10 hours a week, on average, giving church service, since there is no such thing as a paid clergy in my religion. I get to serve the sick, poor, and downtrodden quite a bit, helping those who are down emotionally and/or spiritually, in bad health, and financially needy. I find great joy in giving this service. 10 hours a week goes by like it's nothing.


4. That said, I am very open minded. I tend to be pretty liberal in my political beliefs, even while I can be rather conservative with my moral beliefs. They have a word for people like me, it's called "independent". I love diversity. I love that I have such a wide range of friends, from all races, beliefs, backgrounds, etc. I have friends of all shades, gay and bi and straight friends (my youngest son is gay, by the way), religious and atheist and agnostic and "religion hater" friends. I won't always agree with you, but I will always respect you and defend your right to believe and do what you want to do, so long as you're not being willfully dumb (see 8 below).


5. I am creative. I love writing. Writing is my drug, it really is. I used to play guitar (more on music in a moment) and need to "pick up the axe" again. It's been a while, but I can play irish tin whistle, as well. I draw, but nowhere nearly as well as my children, who are true artists. i create through role-playing games a lot, too (more on that, as well).


6. I am musical. Not that i'm great at creating music, but I love music. I sing in the shower at top volume and, truth be told, I'm not that bad. Not professional material, but I could win at karaoke (if I went to the bar, but I really don't go to bars much - see above). My tastes are very broad. I'm listening to psytrance/techno as I write this (Infected Mushroom, to be specific). I like (in no particular order) hardcore heavy metal (of all varieties). techno/trance, celtic, bluegrass, jazz of all types from all eras, classical (especially modern classical of the horror movie variety),  "classic" rock, '80s pop, world music, new age, just about everything except gangsta rap and "twangy" country. Music is a very important part of my life.


7. I am a role-playing gamer. I can't overstate the influence this has had on my life, both for good and bad. I barely graduated high school, mostly because I was too busy drinking, getting high, and playing D&D with my friends to actually study or do homework. On the other side, I love being surrounded by roleplaying geeks. My kids and I really enjoy playing RPGs together. Thankfully, they get way better grades than I ever did.


8. That said, I am intelligent. Not trying to be cocky, honestly, but I like surrounding myself with smart people who aren't dicks. It's tough to peel the two away from each other, but it can be done. As a result, I have a really, really hard time with dumb. Not people who are limited because of their genetics or accidents or stuff like that. I hate it when people are willfully stupid, who are fully capable, but too lazy to think for themselves and who say stupid things because they think they are cool. Man, I hate dumb.


9. I am a foodie. You wouldn't know it from my diet lately. But when I can, I love to go out to eat at restaurants that usually cost ridiculous amounts of money. My wife is a marvelous cook (teaches foods at the high school level), and I love to cook, too (though I hate doing dishes more than almost any other domestic chore). I love fine food. I love dark chocolate and am a dark chocolate snob. Lindt is the bottom of the line for me, just tolerable. Godiva isn't much better. I like the really exclusive, mostly handmade stuff, usually sourced from one plantation in some remote place in South America or Africa. I'm a genuine snob, I admit it!


10. I am a pretty nice, reasonable guy. I can be a douchebag with the best of them, and I have a *very* strong sarcastic streak. But, generally speaking, I like people. I'm usually one who is more forgiving, rather than vengeful, unless you screw with my wife or kids, then I might just unleash all fury on your ass. I value diversity. I don't like mean people, but am usually able to blow them off and get on with life.


And I love book lovers. Even those who like "Catcher in the Rye" (which I illogically despise). So there you have it. Hope I didn't scare any of you off, but if I did, I'm sure we'll come around to each other, eventually. The shared love of books goes a long way to encouraging interpersonal harmony!


Thanks for listening.