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That 25 Things meme...

1. I'm 80% deaf in my right ear. My ear drum was malformed (the doctor said it looks like a chewed piece of bubble gum). I wore a hearing aid throughout tenth grade, but it didn't make much difference, only making the muffled sound I hear from that ear into LOUD muffled sound.

2. When I was nine or ten, while I was playing chase tag with Kim and Edmund Scheer, specifically "cartoon" tag, I ducked down to say a cartoon character when Kim was WAY too close behind me, she tumbled over my head and I bit off a chunk of my tongue. It grew back and there's a spot that only I can really see today at the tip, but when I get dehydrated it's usually the first spot in my mouth that will hurt.

3. I have a small little nub at the center of my right palm, a little knot of skin, which I call my stigmata scar. I had never had a dishwasher until I lived with Paul and didn't know that I should let the machine and its contents cool before emptying it. A mug shattered in my hand, slicing the length of my "head line" (the center of the three).

4. For about a year starting in late December 1990, I was the lead singer of a "hair band" cover band called "Phoenix" (and later "Six Guns"). We had only three gigs, but we rehearsed twice weekly in the drummer's basement (in his parent's house).

5. While I can't stand most sports, I was a member of the Fencing Club in college and regularly came home with bruises and other battle scars inflicted during our matches (all held with my dearest college friends who all seemed to work out our various frustrations with each other (including sexual and romantic) with this sublimated violence).

6. In eleventh grade, I got a B on my English class test on "The Scarlet Letter" though I'd only read the first 8 chapters (which were read aloud in class) and finished reading the story by reading the "Classics Illustrated" comic book.

7. Though I was Bar Mitzvahed, I can't read a single word/letter of Hebrew. I was speed taught by a tutor. She quickly taught me to sight read the Hebrew alphabet, then to read the prayer(s) I would have to read. Once I learned that, they gave me a 45 record of the prayer(s) being cantored. I basically just had to learn to sing along. I "learned it for the test". I don't think I would have been able to do it again even a week later.

8. My first marijuana cigarette preceded my first nicotine cigarette by about three years. Not that I made a habit of it (I've not done it much), but that first joint was smoked at the bus stop one morning before school in my senior year of high school. It was given to me by Dawn Montgomery (the girl who lived across the street) and we shared it with her brother, Scott. (that was 1985, so I think that there must be a statute of limitations on that act). Later, that summer, Dawn's boyfriend, Troy, gave me my first "shotgun"...

9. My very few nicotine cigarettes were shared with Michael Nelson. I don't remember the circumstances that had angered me, but I knew that when the others were angry that cigarettes calmed them down and I bummed a bunch from him one night while we were waiting for our friends to get to "the bluffs" at Union Lake to hang out.

11. The very first time I ever really got drunk was the night of my Bar Mitzvah. Since my grandparents were letting me drink wine that night because "tonight I" (was) "a man" ... I ended up pushing it and going for the vodka (which I covered up with orange soda for color). I know that I was busted by Mr and Mrs Ruiz and Mr and Mrs Scheer that night, but none of them told my grandparents. (I did pay for it, though, because though I didn't have a hangover...or throw up...I had a massive breakout of the hives at the end of the night).

12. Even though I worked as a "professional alcoholic" er, uhm, a "Karaoke Jockey" for two plus years, which included an open bar at most of the places we worked, I've only ONCE thrown up from drinking too much...and I was NOT working that night, though we were at a karaoke. Big Al, Harry, Rich and I had gone to Adelphia's in Deptford and along with the beer special (instead of pitchers, they'd bring an entire tray of pre-poured beer mugs...about eight or so at a time) of which I had at least 8 or 9, the K.J. kept announcing drink specials like "$2 tequila shots just during this song". I added at least two shots each of Cuervo, "red death", "kamikazis" and...I'm sure there was at least one other shot that I don't remember. Oh, and did I mention that I never got anything to eat that night before heading out? Gee, I wonder why I threw up!

13. I didn't learn to properly swim until I was in ninth grade (and only because it was required to pass gym that year). Though I still love to swim and actually prefer to spend more time in the pool submerged under the water, I never quite learned how to breathe properly out of my nose and still have to hold my nose when diving and while I'm under...

14. I believe in reincarnation. I think it explains "love at first sight", the feelings as if we've known recently met strangers "all our life" (since said strangers tend to become significant people in our lives), and that we travel in groups with the most significant people (who wait in an afterlife limbo for us to catch up and regroup for the next plunge when they die). We never leave our greatest loves, our closest friends and our dearest relatives.

15. For about a year, Terri Garvey and I appeared weekly on Paul's radio show as movie critics "the Movie Schmucks" (sound familiar, Ronnie?). We were actually pretty funny. It's a shame we did it before the whole podcast stuff had started, 'cause that would be a pretty good gig.

16. While I had a dog, Buddy, growing up, and I loved him dearly (as I did Happy (Jorge and Bobby's dog) and Missy/Shadow (Kim, Edmund and Lori's dogs)), I've discovered upon living with Paul and his cat, T.C., and subsequently my "tribe" of feral cats that I adopted, or that adopted me (all five of our cats are descended from that tribe), that I'm much more of a cat person (I wouldn't have known as a child, because my grandmother was afraid of cats and I didn't really have contact with them on a regular basis until college and Michael and Michelle's respective cats).

17. While I love our friends' kids, I find they are best in doses. I've gotten spoiled by my freedom and don't ever want my own kids.

18. Though my parents divorced when I was five years old and in kindergarten, I didn't meet another child of divorced parents until I was in fifth grade. Now, I can barely name a friend with still married parents on one hand (and some of those people are themselves divorced).

19. I didn't "french kiss" a girl until I was in college and was only emboldened by Michael Nelson who was also kissing the same girl (and probably the idea, though this was never uttered, that I was basically kissing him by proxy through her).

20. My father abandoned my family when I was five years old. I barely saw my mother throughout my childhood (though her version of those years differ significantly). She would frequently break promises of visits while I was still quite young. Because of this, I still struggle with abandonment and trust issues. I'm always paranoid that my friends are going to break dates with me (if I'm supposed to meet you somewhere, those five minutes that you may be running late can be excruciating for me as I believe you've stood me up. Yes, "you" is EVERYONE and no one in particular). This was not helped by my grandmother who fed into this paranoia for years for example: if Michael was coming over and was five minutes late she'd start ranting about "well, I guess he isn't coming...did he call you and tell you he wasn't coming?"

21. As a small child, I had nightmares about mannequins coming to life in an otherwise unoccupied department store and shambling through the streets after me like zombies (long before I'd ever seen a zombie movie or knew what such a thing was). To this day, I've never seen the movie "Mannequin" with Kim Cattrell and Andrew McCarthy because just thinking about seeing it still makes my stomach a little queasy.

22. I still own the first album I ever bought/owned, purchased at the age of four (on vinyl): "Up To Date" by the Partridge Family. (purchased at the now defunct "Two Guys" in Vineland, NJ).

23. In my childhood bedroom, there was a full-length mirror on my closet door. Instead of having a monster in my closet or under my bed, the monster was my reflection in the mirror (who only became a monster when the lights were out...and would try to trap me in his world and replace me). I believed that if I kept my door open all the way (so that the mirror faced only an empty wall) he would have no way to step into our world, since I wouldn't be reflected). Even though I no longer have a mirror on the closet (and have a mirror on my dresser...though it's not full-length and is bisected by a shelf), I still have to sleep with the closet door(s) wide open...(mostly out of habit?)

24. My biggest phobia revolves around birds. I know that I saw the Hitchcock film when I was way too young (maybe eight or nine) and it creeped me out. I still occasionally have vivid nightmares about birds flying at and attacking me (some so strong that I'm still seeing them and trying to shake them off while I'm bolt upright in bed). This was not helped by Michelle Andrews' parrot divebombing at us while we were filming "Two Hits and a Miss", by Kris and Becky's bird flying at me when I was babysitting Maia and she thought it would be funny to let the bird out, by the attack in Wildwood years ago when the seagulls stole our (Paul, K.O., Melanie and I) funnel cakes, or by the bird that decided to LAND ON MY HEAD in Universal Studios (while all the Transducers around me laughed at the irony) while we were eating our green-eggs-and-hamwiches.

25. I'm allergic to climate change. My pediatrician described it as I'm basically a human barometer. When major weather patterns change, I break out in the hives. Once we've settled into winter, I'm generally fine (unless there is a MAJOR snow storm). It tends to be affected more by air pressure changes and summer rains. The hive outbreaks are usually small and manageable. For a few years in my twenties, I was sure I'd outgrown the outbreaks, 'cause they'd gone away or had gotten very mild, but they came back with a vengeance in my thirties. For many years, I had to take atarax/hydroxyzine for the outbreaks, but being a narcotic that would affect my ability to drive (usually not until much later, including the next day) and cause major drowsiness (again, most of the time not until the next day). This meant sometimes having to choose to suffer rather than chance the drowsiness affecting me at an important time (perhaps I had a test the next day at school, for example). I've now discovered that Claritin (or a store brand equivalent)works without those side effects.

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