Friday, July 10, 2009

25 things, supposedly about me

My cousin just reminded me of this list. It's something I wrote on facebook (I know...) a few months ago. Important update: I now have a harmonica, but in 4 months I haven't learnt how to play it. Oh, well. It's reproduced pretty much verbatim:

1. Let's start off big, why don't we: I have recently come to the conclusion (or maybe what I did recently is phrase a thought I've had for a long time) that I am quite in love with my doubt. I find it very hard to be sure of something, to be totally convinced, to not see the other side of a question. As such, I feel hard-pressed to commit to anything of importance, any single ideology, any major "truth". In fact, my one and only solid belief might be that there's no absolute truth.

2. Yesterday I ate some fried grasshoppers. They tasted like any other fried thing with lemon and hot sauce on it. They looked really cute, though.

3. I consider myself quite the movie/music/books buff, and can talk about the subject(s) for hours. In the past I believed that invariably, similar taste in those will translate to getting along great with the aforementioned taster, and that what I consider bad taste could be an insurmountable dividing wall. I have since been proven very wrong, from both sides.
I love books and movies ever since I remember myself, but the real interest in music came at the late age of 19. Before that I had such embarassing artists featured in my music collection as Louise, Robyn, Meja (remember her? It's all about the money; It's all about the dam dam da de dam dam...), and such CDs as Hitman 8, The Best of The Best of 1997 and cassetes taped from MTV... thank god (in this case, that would be either Robert Fripp or Nick Cave, I guess) I saw the light.

4. From the movie Ghost Dog, a quote on the 'way of the samuraí': "Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige's wall, there was this one: "Matters of great concern should be treated lightly." Master Ittei commented, "Matters of small concern should be treated seriously." The last few years, I have tried and (I think) succeeded in living by that philosophy.

5. If I had to choose a favorite book, I would (presently) choose "Eyeless In Gaza", by Aldous Huxley. If you (whoever "you" are) get a chance, I highly recommend it. And that's an understatement.

6. For the last year and 3/4, I have lived a sort of nomadic lifestyle, never staying in the same place for more than two months, and travelling and working across the Americas. I think that I've learnt an enormous amount about the world, myself, people, and each of Argentina, the US, Mexico, Guatemala and Chile in particular. I consider myself hugely lucky (if there is such a thing as luck. Maybe grateful would be better, but grateful to who? Or to what?) for the fact I am able to do this. In fact, so much so that it gets to the point of feeling guilty and undeserving (again, deserving in whose eyes...?) of it.

7. I love to write, but, in accordance with #1 on this list, I always feel the need to qualify everything, to reduce it to a proposition and not a declaration, to use parenthesis and expressions such as "to the best of my knowledge" and "as far as I understand". I think this must be maddening for any theoretical reader, but I can't help it. I often think about writing a book, or at least a blog or some short stories (I have written several of those, but it's been a while) and publish them, but for now it hasn't materialised.

8. When I was 15 or 16, I came up with the sentence "The tragedy of human existence is that people are intelligent enough to know that they're not intelligent enough". I was very proud of myself.

9. Also at that time, you could say that the center of my philosophy was that there's no such thing as black and white, only different shades of gray, and that the "meaning" of life is to try and understand yourself by way of understanding the world. I still suscribe to those two beliefs. For somebody that thinks he's changed a lot over those (almost) ten years, it seems I'm quite consistent. I'm kinda proud of 16 year old me, if I may say so myself.

10. I am an avid drinker. If I had my way, I would drink single malt whiskey and microbrewed beer (a good porter or scotch ale... mmmmm...) all the time. Of course that's kind of expensive, but there are imperfect alternatives, and wine, arak, fernet, mezcal, etc. are all also good. This is also a subject I can talk about for hours.

11. I love to cook. I started off with meatloaf about 3 years ago, and haven't looked back. I can honestly say that, to this point, I have never used a written recipe, preferring to always improvise with what I have. I will say though that my repertoire is somewhat limited.

12. I keep a small, tattered notebook in which I write my thoughts during my travels. In it, I have a section I call "god is in the little details", where I write small, strange, amusing things I come across while travelling. E.G.: a truck selling gas going around Valparaiso in Chile playing ice-cream truck music. Another one, this one recent: in a supermarket in Puebla, Mexico, next to some products there were receipts from rival supermarkets with the price of that product (obviously higher) highlighted.

13. When I was in Buenos Aires, I was pickpocketed by a transvestite. It was a very effective system: you try thinking about protecting what's in your pockets while his/her sylicon tits are rubbing against you and his/her hands are trying to get inside your pants... It was only 100 pesos though, and I consider the story worth the price.

14. One of the biggest regrets in my life is not being able to play any music instruments. Of course, that is quite an easy regret to rectify, but for some reason I never do. Maybe it's about time? I should go out and buy a harmonica or something.

15. Patagonia, or southern Argentina and Chile, is the most beautiful place I've been to. I'm not going to qualify that, even though my instinct is to write "probably" somewhere in that sentence. The 2.5 months I spent trekking there gave me a new appreciation for beauty, nature and the world. No less. The Variety of landscapes and the sheer force of some of the places I've seen will stay with me forever (a meaningless term if there ever was one, but if I'm being hyperbolic, then why not go all the way?)
All those places I saw in Patagonia, together with San Juan, Salta & Jujuy further north, made me want to study geology. I'm signed up and will be starting in 3 months.

16. I speak Hebrew, English and Spanish, and some French, Russian, Italian and Arabic (some meaning very very little). I would love to learn more languages.

17. My stated goal in life these days, besides continuing my travels and getting to know different people and places (and very much related to that), is to fight my own cynicism and get it as much out of my life as possible. I feel it is a mask I hide behind to avoid believing in ideas and people, for fear of the (possibility of) eventual disappointment. I have met so many amazing, kind, good people on my trip that I feel I should be more trusting. I realise this is sort of contradictive with #1, but contradiction is an unavoidable part of human existence.

18. I feel like food is underrepresented here, so here goes: I just plain love eating. Steak, hummus, chocolate, all kinds of Mexican food, pineapple, sushi, ice cream, tomatoes, canelone, cheese, all kinds of bread, sweet, salty, sour, spicy... I just love it.

19. I consider myself quite unambitious in the regular sense of the word. I don't care much about money, brand-name products, a respected career, how I'm seen or "doing something with my life". At least for now, I prefer lateral movement over its forward counterpart.

20. In the same vein as 19, I also consider myself an anti-consumerist, up to a point. I just don't see any logic in always buying new clothes, or clothes with a certain name on them, or other stylish or luxury products. I strive to only buy necessary things, and I'd much rather find something old and used, that has character, than buy the newest new thing. This point does not apply to alcohol.

21. I've often been heard saying that I don't think the world (or at least the human race) will survive much more than 50 years on this planet. I don't know if I believe that or not.

22. I love logic crosswords, crosswords in which each definition is a riddle or a play on words. I love word games in general. I haven't done any in the last year+, though. It's about time to get back into it.

23. I spent a year of my life (six months in 2007 and another six in 2008) working as a technician for video cameras on rollercoasters. I got to know a bunch of amusement parks across the US, and have become a small connoisseur on the subject. I can use such terms as inverted loop, linear magnetism motor, double corkscrew, stratocoaster, etc. and kinda know what I'm talking about, plus I know which rollercoaster manufacturer is my favorite (Intamin. And I can usually tell who manufactured the coaster just by looking at the tracks). Kinda cool.

24. Almost done! Strangely enough for an Israeli, I am a baseball and a Red Sox fan, ever since the 2003 playoffs. The way in which the Red Sox lost those playoffs, and the completely insane way in which they won the 2004 ones, made me hooked for life (for life in this case means at least until now). I have occasionally spent an illogical amount of time following the team. I chose number 24 for this little point of info because it was Manny Ramirez' number.

25. I case you haven't figured it out yet (in which case you're not very perceptive), I am a hopeless zayan sekhel, Hebrew for mind fucker. I kinda like it, too.


  1. I apologize. "Pompous" wasn't what I meant. "Stiff" would have been better. I'm an okay teacher but a demon editor. When you're ready to publish, think of running it by me. I really am good.

    I enjoyed the list. The trick to something like this is to be very personal without being egotistical or unaware of the audience--and you pull it off in style. Varied list with insights on offer but nothing too much for the audience. If you were pitching, they'd say he's very savvy out there, fine control, mixing up his pitches, showing his stuff, toying with the batters.

    I tend to agree with what you said on the gamethread today about the unimportance of the "bad" words. My students are always astonished that I can mutter "fuck" without embarrassment or apology.

    Have you tried Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA? Pretty fine. I've been bringing along some wild hops all summer for a homebrew at the end of the month. We'll see.

  2. So you're realising two of my dreams: make my own beer, and have my own vegetable garden (you grow potatoes and such, no?). The homebrew might be doable, and I might come to you for tips in the future, but for the garden I will have to either move or make myself an artificial garden in barrels or something on the roof.

    Oh, and don't worry about the 'pompous' thing. I've called myself pompous many times, including the introduction to this blog. But in this specific situation I think some pomposity (a much better word than pompousness, imo) is justifiable, if not required.

  3. I do grow vegetables: potatoes, corn, tomatoes, cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts, peppers, eggplant, lettuce, spinach, okra, artichokes, onions, carrots, cucumbers, herbs, greens, beets, pumpkins, and so on. My wife does flowers.

    And I've been a homebrewer a long time too--since 1979. My brewing has tapered off as microbrews abound. The tiny town I live in (Belfast) has two brewpubs!

    Now you know two things about me.