Thursday, April 10, 2008

My Hot One Hundred

I'm told it's a blogger's rite of passage. I know I always enjoy reading them and come away feeling like I know the author a little better. I might even have gotten to know myself better doing it. It was certainly a great writing exercise...and I'm sort of impressed with how it all fell out in more or less chronological order.

Some of this may be review. Other bits might be brand new. And I still have enough left over to send a postcard or two to PostSecret.

With no further adieu, I give you 100 Things About Me.

1) I was born in the Garden State on the 12th day of the 12th month, just before 12 midnight. I debuted the same year as the Beatles.

2) I love all animals and think they are amazing. Even the spiders and the rats.

3) I believe that gardening is one of the few ways in which I can make the world a better place.

4) I have been blessed to have known four of my eight great-grandparents, and all four of my grandparents.

5) The scent of sweet allyssum on a warm morning always sends me into misty half-memories of my great-grandma B’s garden.

6) My Mom and Dad are still married...and to one another. Together, they created a great childhood for my sister and I and gave us a fairly stable background on which to base our lives. I appreciate this more and more as each day goes by.

7) There’s lots of cousins on my Mom’s side of the family. Every once in a while, a great bunch of us get together and have a hell of a time.

8) Branches of our family have been traced back (or the memories carried forward and hopefully not adapted too awfully much over the years) to the 1700s.

9) I love comic books and superheroes. As a very young child, I wrote a letter to WPIX-TV in New York suggesting a perfect afternoon line-up might include The Adventures of Superman, Batman, The Green Hornet and The Lone Ranger.

10) A slightly older me’s “problem” with bringing home ill-fated baby birds was so obvious, even my baby sister used to roll her eyes when a new one showed up.

11) “The Jungle Book” was my first Walt Disney full-length feature.

12) I think I first felt some sense of being gay when I was around five years old. It was years before I figured out that other people felt that way, too. It didn’t take long to learn all the names for it.

13) I spent much of my childhood in northern New Jersey and remember watching the progress on the eastern horizon as the Twin Towers were built.

14) The first “grown-up” record I purchased with my own money was a 45 RPM of Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”

15) I sometimes wonder if I can attribute my kinkier side to the “Batman” TV show. They were always getting tied up.

16) Throughout my childhood, Dad and I went on rides near local railroad right-of-ways in a nearby industrial park, where we would watch the nightly freight train assembled. On two different occasions, we were invited to ride along in the loco.

17) The second time, the engineer let me “drive” the train on a short section of the Pascack Valley Mainline. I recall with some horror there was beer present in the locomotive.

18) I have always disliked shopping for clothes.

19) My favorite color is green. But green doesn’t mean as much without all the others to play with!

20) I passed many a childhood afternoon reading in the comfortable embrace of a friendly old apple tree in our back yard.

21) I think elephants are one of the coolest creatures on the planet. I try to remind myself that dogs and cats are easier to live with, though.

22) I never found anyone to do all the “childhood messin’ around” they say is natural for kids.

23) When I was fourteen, we moved from New Jersey to the Adirondack Mountains of New York State.

24) The male object of my first real (secret) crush died in a car accident when I was fifteen. I’m not sure if I’ve told anyone that before. And I still teared up just a little as I remembered again.

25) My high school English teacher once called me the “king of run-on sentences.” But I’m never sure if that period should be in or outside of the quotation marks.

27) An ability for ignoring swarming black flies defaulted me into the planting of annuals in Mom’s garden as a teenager.

28) I believe the reason I was so drawn to super heroes was because they pretended to be normal people, too. And I thought that before Michael on Queer As Folk said so, too. But we can’t discount the form-fitting costumes.

29) For reasons I don’t entirely understand, despite my earlier introductions to both Batman and Superman, Wonder Woman is the hero I groove to the most. Probably it’s her Mission of Peace. But maybe it’s the lasso. It’s sure not the boobs.

30) I had planned to come out once I went away to college. That same year, men started dying from a “gay cancer”. I got scared and changed my mind.

31) The influence of Bugs Bunny on my life must not be underestimated.

32) I was present for the difficult birth of a calf when I visited a college dorm mate’s family dairy farm. It was an amazing experience.

33) I can’t blame Billy Joel for my being a smoker. But his “Keeping The Faith” gets full credit for my first purchase being a pack of Lucky Strike filters.

34) I once huddled with a friend on the concrete pier of a railroad trestle as the early morning train that caught us half-way across passed by overhead.

35) I rarely take chances, but don’t always display the best judgement.

36) There is nothing more thrilling than a lightning storm, except maybe being idiot enough to stand out in one in hopes of a good photograph.

37) I can be a bit of a klutz.

38) I have an over-active imagination: I can follow any scenario through to its worst case conclusion with blinding speed. But I can also totally imagine what a garden could look like in five years.

39) I finally came out when I was 23 years old.

40) As notable exceptions, I have carried forward few friends from the years before I came out. By the same token, I’ve made many friends, gay and straight, in the years since.

41) Because of an embargo my grandma placed on the news of my coming out, my cousin D was long considered to have been the first gay cousin.

42) That same grandma once told me she had wanted to be a showgirl in New York City, but opted for something more practical. This may have been recounted as parable.

43) I have a B.S. in Theatre. Acting’s fun, but nothing beats directing a play. I also have an Associates in Business (see 42).

44) I am uncomfortable with conflict, except as it advances a plot.

45) With the accidental cooperation of nearly every fellow thespian I knew at the time, I once prepared a Division of Forces flow chart which detailed whom everyone in the Theatre Department had slept with during our years at college. Now that created some conflict. Officially, it no longer exists. And that’s the story I’m sticking to. ; )

46) I have discovered that mad directing skills translate nicely to gardening and I find the participants more cooperative with my whims.

47) Christmas is my favorite time of year, for the hope and kindness it inspires in me and others. And the lights can be just amazing.

48) I don’t think I shall ever tire of watching It’s a Wonderful Life. I miss the days before the copyright was renewed, when you could watch it nearly every moment of December if you chose. I have it on video, but its just not the same. Then again, nothing is.

49) I have worn a Santa costume on more than one occasion and since childhood have wished for my own fur-trimmed red suit.

50) I still believe in him, though.

51) Baking and decorating (and eating) Christmas cookies has been a favorite tradition of mine since I was a kid. I try to give most of them away these days, though.

52) The house we lived in when I told my parents I was gay is now a store that sells Christmas ornaments and decorations.

53) I once re-created some of the classic Lucy and Harpo scene with a black bear in the garden.

54) Except for the Olympics, I couldn’t be less interested in sports.

55) I believe that a walk in the woods is the perfect way to pass an afternoon with the right company. Alone, it may be the closest I come to walking with a god, if one exists.

56) Sometimes I like to sit on the ground by the garden and just watch the community of insects and birds who invariably make it their home.

57) I have this irrational belief that the power from lightning travels through the ground where it strikes, spurring new growth in nearby plant life. Prove me wrong.

58) I have never attended a circuit party.

59) I was ear-to-ear-grinning-proud to participate in the 1994 Pride March on the UN in New York City.

60) I love being wrapped in the comfort of a good flannel shirt.

61) I drink entirely too much coffee, but I just love the stuff. Two cream and one sugar, please.

62) I like to bring a stack of Batman comics along with me when called to jury duty, in hopes they’ll decide I have a skewed sense of justice and send me home. It never works.

63) After college, I was one of three co-founders of a community theatre group in my Adirondack hometown.

64) For that group, I edited a collection of Shakespeare scenes into a show. It was a real kick to offer some students...and a few adults...their first taste of the fun of the Immortal Bard.

65) I have never flown in an airplane larger than a seaplane. I don’t feel like I’ve missed a thing.

66) In our family history, you’ll find a brewery in Brooklyn, a horse farm in Vermont, a ship’s captain from Germany, a lacrosse team in Montreal and a New Jersey dress shop.

67) Over the years, I have worked as a disc jockey/radio host, play director, ice cream scooper, campground worker, fundraiser, waiter, magazine writer, theatre critic , cleaner, weed puller and late-night newspaper supplement stuffer. (The weed pulling was the best job. Doing the glossies sucked, but I liked the hours.)

68) I could sit and watch the ocean, or wander the beach, for hours. On one of my favorite days ever, I stayed for an entire tidal cycle.

69) Owen and I met later that night at the Atlantic House in Provincetown, where I was a visiting tourist. We didn’t expect to see one another again afterwards, but our paths continued to cross.

70) I moved to Cape Cod a year later, settling first in PTown.

71) He and I have shared our home and life for nearly ten years now.

72) The fall we moved in together, I planted a small field of white and purple crocuses in our front yard, with a heart of gold crocuses in the center.

73) We’ve moved six times in those ten years. Because of the regular frequency of moving, the perennials in our garden almost never need dividing.

74) We’ve got gardens growing all over Cape Cod now, as something always stays behind.

75) I still think about going back to that first place to dig up some of the irises that remained.

76) I have always been a sucker for the disaster scenario movie, wherein a gathering of folks of varying morals find themselves tested or done away with as the world goes to hell around them.

77) I guess 9/11 must have been like that for the people at the heart of it all.

78) I don’t believe we know what really happened that September day, but it seemed to be as carefully choreographed as one of those movies.

79) I do know that lots of life since then has felt as though we are living in some kind of pre-apocolyptic comic book.

80) I read all twelve volumes of the Left Behind series because I wanted to know what crazy people think about. And also so I’d know what to look for if it turned out they were right. I was disappointed on so many levels.

81) I think that children are amazing. But I’m almost beyond thinking I want to raise one.

82) Owen and I are currently herded along Life’s path by a dog, Emily Grace, and a cat named Badum.

83) Over the years, our company has also included a hamster, a guinea pig, two parakeets, a bunny and four hermit crabs named John, Paul, George and Ringo.

84) I currently earn my living as a catering director for a restaurant, hosting weddings, rehearsal dinners, surprise parties, social club luncheons, fundraisers and the occasional memorial celebration.

85) I have a great staff. Only occasionally do I feel like Charlie Brown with a megaphone.

86) My Other Half is the cook who prepares all the food for these events.

87) Somehow, we love each other anyway.

88) I love all kinds of music, but might love the show tunes best. Don’t tell the other songs.

89) I enjoy online games of all kinds, but the word puzzles are the best.

90) I have a deviated septum. I think Breathe Right strips may be right up there with the pyramids.

91) I have wonderful phone conversations with my Granny. She is the only grandparent I had the opportunity to come out to personally (the other got the news second-hand and quickly set to work on how to spin it) and she couldn’t have been more loving and accepting about it all.

92) I will almost always choose gardening over housework. Now you know why it rains.

93) Although I often laugh out loud, I almost never LOL.

94) I am more amused by LOLcats than I should be. But I blame text messaging more for people’s inability to spell things.

95) I remain cell phone free.

96) I think few experiences compare with hearing a band concert on a park green on a warm summer’s night.

97) I have trouble getting too worked up about cholestorol. People lived long and happy lives or dropped dead suddenly for years before we knew anything about it. But fortunately, I do love the Honey-Nut Cheerios .

98) I’m in the process of organizing and cataloguing my life-long comic book collection. I estimate there are more than 5,000 of them.

99) I’m kind of hairy.

100) I can spend hours gazing up at the stars, but I haven’t yet been successful at teaching myself more than a few of the constellations. Similarly, weather fascinates me, but I don’t know clouds at all.

(Are you still here? Well, which one did you like?)


Cooper said...

This is a wonderful list, Greg! It's quite lovely how reading these "rites of passage" do give an enhanced sense of the person. I feel like saying, " so good to meet, you!"

We have a lot in common, most notably your deep reverence for nature.

Greg said...

Coop, I've enjoyed getting to know you, too!

One of my favorite things about these lists is seeing what we all have in common--you, me and Torn should get together and NOT go clothes shopping sometime!

waags said...

This is so wonderful. I thought I knew you well and I still learned a couple of things. You are an amazing man. Dad and I are so proud of you.
By the way, the brewery was in Canada but there was a store in Brooklyn - lol.

Greg said...

Aww, thanks Mom...for everything, really! And also for the re-direct about the brewery...see you soon!

Jenn Thorson said...

Wow, you were a busy, busy fellow coming up with all those-- a fine job, sir!

The one that made me laugh out loud (not LOL) was:

21) I think elephants are one of the coolest creatures on the planet. I try to remind myself that dogs and cats are easier to live with, though.

And how amazing is it to have a mom who would comment on your post? Now that is inspiring!

Butch said...

Greg: A huge congratulations!!
You have jumped the fire of the 100 questions and have done it quite well. You have managed to do quite a lot in your young life. I'm beginning to think that most gay folks I know are over-achievers for what ever reason makes us do it. When all is said and done, we seem to squeeze three or four career lives into our one life. You have done this very well.

( If you are going to go lily-grabbing, make sure you wear ninja black and do it at night. You don't need a map to know where you planted the evidence. )

#29. I am saving something for you in a future entry on my blog, stay tuned.

#55. I have heard the trees called a "Green Cathedral" and this would seem appropriate for your walks.

#74. You are the new "Johnny Appleseed-of-the-gardening-world." Wear that title, proudly. ;-)

Congratulations on your 10 year relationship with Owen, these are hard to come by and when one see a relationship lasting more than 5 years, one knows it just might last a lifetime.

Many thanks for sharing your life with me and with the rest of your blogger friends. Well done!

Greg said...

Thanks, Jenn!!

The two things about Em that have possibly prepared us for a potential pachyderm pet would have to be 1) trying to share a bed with her, and 2) her obsessive love of peanut butter.

Pretty amazing...that about sums her up! : )

Greg said...

Butch, the official uniform of the ILF (that's the Iris Liberation Front) is black pants and black shirt with an embroidered purple iris on the left. We black our faces, too! ; )

I'm so pleased I did this list, it was quite an experience to see it all coming out on paper.

Oh, a teasing coming attraction--you just know I'll be checking out The Banter on a regular basis to see what *that's* all about!

Gillian said...

Your list is fantastic Greg.
Number five and I resonated completely...there is NOTHING like that smell in the evening.

Number 99, well, that one just took me by surprise and made me laugh out loud.

tornwordo said...

They were all good ones! It's amazing that you can work and live together. Spouse and I tried that out for a while and well, we found we liked it better the other way.

Greg said...

Hey *is* sort of amazing. We worked together at another place once before...and it probably is better the other way, but we make a good team for the function thing, too.

Back/front of house gives us some boundaries, too. I imagine it'd be very dif if we were both cooks, or both waiters.

dykewife said...

one? i liked them all.

Sh@ney said...

What a fantastic List...Love the snapshots of your family pets...No cell phone? How do you survive *winks* I share your love of gardening! Cheers for sharing so much of you, which I guess is (more than likely) only a snippet of your life. hugs xox

JessWarren said...

I am impressed! Once I realized how much thought you had put into this list, I decided that I would only read #1-50 today, then the remaining tomorrow. (Would that be considered a run-on?) But then, I was hooked! I had to see what #49 was...then 48...then before I knew it, I was at #1. Your list was fantastic. I'm so happy that I met you that your flannel shirt. =)

Greg said...

Hola, Sh@ney! Glad you enjoyed! For the record, the gray cat is only a chubbier internet doppleganger of our boy.

As for the cell phone, well, it makes life a lot more peaceful in the garden...and I'm not always having to walk outside the house to talk to people when they call!

Hiya Jess! I forgot I was wearing flannel when you stopped by the Jailhouse that first time! What fun that the list and I were able to draw you in right to the end (for now...).

Bwa ha ha... : )

dottie said...

Just love you more and more to bits!!! Wonderful list. Thank you for sharing and opening your heart, mind and soul for all of us to see. You have inspired me to do the same. I know WPIX from New Jersey and I can agree with you about Bugs being an influence...where do you think my love of opera came from? I couldn't pick one as my favorite, they are all my favorite. You'll get my list someday!
Kiss, kiss, Anna-Face

Kelly Wight said...

Fav - #40, I count myself one of those notable exceptions who has known you before either of us came out. Great list. Funny I feel the same way about elephants...

Lacey said...

Nice. I have a few people in my life from "before". Most notably, my wife. I love love love coffee. Costa Rican is my fav. And I have no cell phone. Love your photos, and I love to grow things. And I love the ocean. I think I started my one hundred things but couldn't seem to be comfortable with it.

TigerYogiji said...

Faaabulous! :)

afod said...

I've known you for a while now, but discovering these 100 has shown me even more about you and where our similarities lie. I only wish I could come up with more than 25. ;-)

Sh@ney said...

Well I liked reading all of them but the one that stuck out the most is my love for disaster movies too.
Do you have a favourite, it might be one I am yet to see.

Great List Greg, so much one would never have known about you.