06 January 2007


Tim Peterson has tagged me in the meme to write "five little known things about myself." I don't know if there are five well known things about me, so most things apply. But here are five.

1. Two of my strongest and most horrible memories from childhood are things that never happened. At this point I don't know if they are dreams or inventions or what. Both involved my hand. In one, I am chasing a butterfly and catch it in my hand, only it turns out to be a wasp or bee, and I'm badly stung. In the other, I simply set my hand on fire, first pouring on some kind of lighter fuel. According to my mother, neither of these things is true.

2. Again, childhood. I was in a group of friends that liked to build tunnels, on an air force base (my father was probably a major then, later a lieutenant colonel). Being underground was a lot of fun, as I remember. I'm sure we had no idea how dangerous that might have been. I was perhaps 7 years old.

3. I played trumpet for years growing up, through school, although put it down for awhile because I didn't want to be in a marching band. The band directors wanted me to be a drum major, which was even less interesting to me. I picked up the trumpet again in college, took lessons with a grad student who was principal trumpet with the Oakland symphony. Now it's mostly in the closet, though a few years ago I serenaded a friend on her birthday, from outside, on the street. I'm not sure I ever feel as good as when I am making music, whether it's fumbling at the piano (I took lessons more than a decade ago and plan to do so again), singing, or playing that trumpet. So why don't I do it more? Listening to music is almost as great, but making it tops just about everything. A most touching gift, after I had once sold the trumpet when the money was really needed (I still had a cornet but never liked it that much) was when my wife Cynthia bought me a trumpet one Christmas. Yes, that one brought tears.

4. I'm good at math, and was potentially very good at math. I didn't head that direction, not wanting to follow the path of my father and sister. But there are times when I wish I had, or at least, I still find mathematics incredibly fascinating. I have a few math books I like to keep around when writing poetry.

5. In recent years I have sometimes taken one or two of my daughters (now 17 & 13) to rock concerts, seeing Green Day, Arctic Monkeys, and The Killers. I went to rock concerts whenever I could as a teenager (Chicago, Hendrix, Leon Russell, Jethro Tull, Grand Funk Railroad, and many more), and in San Francisco while in college (Rod Stewart, Yes, Eric Clapton, Crosby Stills Nash & Young, Mott the Hoople, Steely Dan, and more), and later in Madison (Violent Femmes, Nina Hagen, etc) even though my listening was mostly jazz in those years. But going to rock concerts was always fun, and it still is, maybe moreso when I am with my daughters. Yet when I think of who I'm really glad to have heard, it's mostly jazz: Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Cecil Taylor, Oliver Lake, Roscoe Mitchell, Weather Report, Return to Forever, Sam Rivers, and on and on.

Now it's my turn to tag and I tag Elizabeth Treadwell, Morgan Schuldt, Dawn Pendergast, Jordan Stempleman, Paul Klinger, and Barbara Henning. That's six. Sorry if I'm greedy.