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Tag–I’m it.

Tag--I'm it.

Per a post from the Rabbi, I’ll discolse eight things about myself on this here blog. I too have been told I don’t post personal things on my blog…

The reason for this is that I’m not sure how interesting my personal life is, and I have the feeling that the Web is overloaded with posts by folks who shamelessly bare all manner of details about their personal lives with the expectation that someone actually gives a shit about them.

Here are Mark’s Eight Rules:

1. I have to post these rules before I give you the facts.

2. Players start with eight random facts/habits about themselves.

3. People who are tagged write their own blog post about their eight things and include these rules.

4. At the end of your blog, you need to choose eight people to get tagged and list their names. Don’t forget to leave them a comment telling them they’re tagged and that they should read your blog.

And here come eight things about me:

1) I have many friends, professional contacts and acquaintances. I have an active public life. I like public speaking, appearing on panels, meeting people and the like. But at heart, I am a private person. I don’t really enjoy the game of pretending to care about people with whom I don’t have a personal connection. I have a few people I consider very close, personal friends.

2) I don’t talk a lot about my family. I feel like it leaves me exposed. That said, family is what makes us all human. We all have parents, or siblings, or a spouse or partner or children. I have an older brother, who has a PhD in physics. He lives in Missouri with his wife Tessa. Our parents were divorced when I was 7 and My mother lives in Delaware near Bethany beach with her husband Jimmy. He sells storm shutters. My dad just recently moved to Atlanta to live with my wife Trin and me in our new house, which we bought this spring. He’s 64 and on the brink of retirement. He’s worked odd jobs for years. Lately factory labor through an agency. The type of work done by folks a quarter his age. Since his wife Sheryl died from cancer in 2005, he’s been living alone in a small apartment in Baltimore. It is important culturally for Trin to be supportive of family–even at the risk of creating an “in-law” situation.

3) It may be because of Sheryl that Trin and I are together in the first place. We’d been friends for over ten years-working together at Video Americain people used to tell us we bickered like an old married couple, but our friendship was always Platonic. Trin and I had grown apart and been estranged during my failed engagement. When her mother died, I was not a very good friend to her. She was far more generous and supportive when Sheryl got sick. She’d accompany me on visits to see her. On her death bed, Sheryl pulled her close and whispered something to her. Like the video employees 10 years earlier, she told Trin she’d always seen us getting married. It wasn’t soon after that when we were grieving Sheryl’s passing that the dynamics of our relatonship changed. We were married in summer 2006.

3) Since taking on the position of Executive Director of IMAGE in Atlanta, I haven’t had a good night’s sleep.

4) Once, while I was in junior high school–Roland Park Middle–I was on a Baltimore television quiz show called Kid’s Baffle. It was a team game–the concept was you spun this randomizer, lights went wildly around the board, loosley based on a Monopoly board, until the randomizer landed on category of some school related topic. Team members each got a turn to go one on one with the opposition in a face off answering T/F or multiple choice questions. (A little like Family Fued.) Since the questions were pretty simple and the head to head options allowed both teams to score, the only way to get ahead competition was to land on in a Lightning Round or on a “Zapper”. Three qustions exclusive to your team–a chance to make a move. I landed a Zapper. I had to watch a one minute video about the Stuffed Elephant at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History then answer three questions about it. Needless to say, I completely choked. Nonplussed, I completely spaced during the video. I couldn’t figure out which monitor to watch. I kept looking at the feed that was me standing there at the podium. It was a nightmare. Exposed. Before I knew it, the host is firing away with questions. I got all three questions wrong.

The Elephant in the Room

Our team won anyway. But I felt like less Les Nesman in the outfield.

A few months later–a chance for redemption. Roland Park was invited back to Kid’s Baffle for a rematch. This time, I vowed to pay attention. I was selected to go first. I met my opponent behind the Big Baffle Board. In one of the few bits of showmanship, the lead off contestants got to make a grand entrance onto the set.

He and I noticed an open binder just sitting there. Innocently we glanced at it. The show rundown. Quesitons. Answers. Everything. We were like…uh, this is interesting. Couldn’t be… Then…two seconds later, pandamonium. Lights. Applause. We were on. Cameras rolling. Action. When the first question came up, I looked at my opponent. He stared back. We locked in our answers. Surprise: both right. Same with question two. Then HE got the Zapper. Of course he aced it. That was it. Next contestant up.Did we cheat? I have mixed feelings about it. The way I saw it–it was a no harm, no foul sitation. Neither I, nor my counter part, had an unfair advanage over the other. Our inpropriety cancelled the other’s out. If anything, the other team benefitted from it, since THEY scored bonus points on the Zapper.

I saved face, kind of. Our team lost.

Am I the Charles Van Doren for the Pepsi Generation?

5) I am an Eagle Scout.

6) I went to high school at Phillips Academy Andover. I almost always qualify this by explaining that I went there on a full scholarship. I do this because I don’t want people to make certain assumptions about me. Like I’m rich or come from a crazy privileged background. Andover is, after all, where the Commander-In-Chief toiled during his high school years. As did his Daddy. And a slew of Kennedys. Children of corporate leaders, and sons and daughters of very wealthy and important people are classmates. Some classmates have gone on to accomplish incredible things on their own–like toast of Braodway Duncan Shiek. Yet I took full advantage of my experience there–and I’m grateful for the opportunities Andover afforded me. It provided me with resources I’d never have had at home. I traveled in circles I’d never imagined. It changed my world view and fostered a true life long love of learning. I feel undeserving of the experience because I feel like I got in on the strength of my older brother’s accomplishments. He had been recruited the year before and was an exceptional student. I was admitted the following year because the school places a premium on keeping siblings together. I had actually hoped to go to rival school Exeter, but was rejected. I suspect had it not been fo my brother, I might not have been seen as an ideal candidate for Andover. When pressed, I feel that this may be what motivates me professionally and creatively–the desire to want to live up to the investment the school made in me.

7) I stopped drinking. It was something like two years ago, maybe? I’m not sure. It’s not an AA thing, or a 12-step program thing, so I don’t really keep track. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that. I am a Friend of a Friend of Bill W.) I did it because I felt like I was getting depressed (see #3). I figured, why complicate matters by taking a depressant? The hardest part was when I moved to Sonoma…Like a vegan moving to Omaha. An athiest going to Mecca. An Amish going to the Apple Store. I balance this out with a notorious Starbucks habit. After watching Hannah Takes the Stairs, I was so moved by Kent Osbourne’s monologue, I considered looking into anti-depressants.

8) I’m neither a boxer or briefs guy. I wear boxer briefs.

OK–next Eight. Do I know Eight People with Blogs? Let me check the rules… doesn’t say I need to know them:

1) Agnes Varnum
2) Amy King
3) Alison Willmore
4) Arik Sokol
5) Greg Pak
6) Xu Jinglei
7) Lily Allen
8) Kent Osborne

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