100 Facts About Me (Part 4): The Oxford Comma, My Taste in Books, and Why I Like Being in the Friend Zone

100 in white stencil on rusted background.

Here we are: The final countdown. I hope that this has been an interesting start to my tenure at The Orbit, and not a massive exercise in self-involvement.

  1. I own a pretty nice pair of red Beats Studio headphones, and they do a great job of keeping the sound of yapping dogs and crying babies out. Unfortunately, I’ve had to have the company replace them three times for various technical failings.
  2. I’m a bit of a grammatical pedant. I particularly get annoyed by people making mistakes between “its” and “it’s.” Also, the Oxford comma shall triumph forever.
  3. I have very few absolute, non-negotiable deal-killers in either my platonic relationships or sexual partners, but there is at least one: Considering Ayn Rand to be a serious thinker will kill my interest in a person for any contact longer than a brief handshake. It’s one thing to have bad morals or to have bad taste in writing. The combination of the two is unbearable.

    Hover Text: “I had a hard time with Ayn Rand because I found myself enthusiastically agreeing with the first 90% of every sentence, but getting lost at ‘therefore, be a huge asshole to everyone.'”

  4. That said, there’s some perverse part of me that imagines a kinky scene where one person is tied up and punished by having passages from Atlas Shrugged read aloud to them — or being forced to read them aloud. But perhaps that’s too perverse.
  5. I like a lot of books and movies that have strong themes of paranoia and moral ambiguity, such as stuff in the film noir and spy genres. I particularly like the “stale beer” variety of espionage fiction that John Le Carré is known for. I’ve loved both adaptations of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, and my partner and I are currently watching The Americans and The Man in the High Castle.
  6. I love improbable conspiracy theories; I just wish people wouldn’t try to apply them to real life. But I do love to read fiction about them, and sometimes invent them myself. Ask me to tell you the Truth About Donald Trump, in which he’s actually a gentle, soft-spoken liberal who is being controlled by an alien parasite that’s grafted itself to the top of his head. Yes, it’s the toupee causing all this trouble.
  7. Now reading: Iron Council by China Miéville.
  8. I’m going to vote for Bernie Sanders, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have loads and loads of problems, or that we shouldn’t call him on them. And you can be for either Sanders or Clinton without being an asshole about it.
  9. Various celebrity crushes over the years include: Julie London, Diana Rigg, Chrissie Hynde, Johnette Napolitano, and Davids Bowie and Tennant.
    Album cover to Julie London "Around Midnight"
  10. I’m a longtime fan of Doctor Who; I watched reruns of the original series on PBS when I was in junior high. The first episode I ever saw was “City of Death,” with Tom Baker and Lalla Ward. It remains one of my favorites. The new series is awesome, though. The Daleks are finally no longer stopped in their tracks by a staircase, and England’s quarries can be used for other things than standing in for alien planets.
  1. My main geek fantasies: I lust after a lightsaber and Jedi mind powers, or a TARDIS and a few regenerations.
  2. I am a major introvert — hence the perpetual headphones and laptop. I’ve always said that I’m an interesting person, but it’s sometimes hard to tell when first meeting me. I seem more like the boring guy who spends the whole party sitting by himself.
  3. I realized just how introverted I am when my partner and I moved into her parents’ house in 2008. One of my major stresses — other than dealing with her stroke and the other things — was the constant overload of activity. Her family is very outgoing even in non-crisis situations. In some ways, that’s great, but in some it can be very stressful.
  4. Second dates — or second hangouts with platonic friends — can be more difficult and stressful for me than the first. I have trouble being certain whether the other person is as interested in me as I am with them.
  5. I’m in the so-called “friend zone” with quite a few women, and I find that I like it there. Most of my best friends have been women. Friendships are underrated. I should know; building them is a long, hard process for me, and getting myself to really believe that someone else considers themselves my friend is even harder.
  6. The flip side to that is that is that I have a hard time bonding with men, especially those who are very macho and non-queer. I always felt out of place in heavily masculine environments when I was growing up. Note what I said about athletics.
  7. One of the best things to happen to me last year was when I made contact with a woman I used to know in high school. We were never romantic, but we were good friends.
  8. Gender politics are very interesting and very important to me. Feminism and queer politics have made the lives of the people I love better, and I think that they’ve made me a better person.
  9. I think a lot about gender, and especially about my own relationships with masculinity. In a way, it’s a matter of survival. I think that a lot of the depression I suffer is heavily tied into the messages that I’ve gotten about gender. I might not want them to be in my brain, but they are.
  10. I really hate the use of “male tears” as a snarky punchline. I have a lot of feminist friends who really disagree with me on this, but I can’t help it: I’ve swallowed a lot of tears and grief in my time, and especially in the last eight years. What I see when someone wears a t-shirt or drinks from a coffee cup that says “male tears” is one more person saying that men’s grief is by default manipulative, insincere, a sign of weakness, or a burden on others. It’s bad enough that I get that message from the media and the voices in my head. (Note: I understand context, and within the context of specific conversations, it works. But when it becomes a generic shorthand, it loses that context.)
  11. Many of my friends and heroes are or have been sex workers: strippers, pornographers, erotic models, porn stars, escorts, pro-dommes, and the works. I’m definitely a better person because of that. Contrary to what SWERFs believe, I think that I’ve learned more respect for the bodies and consent of other people than I would have without the sex workers in my life. If you try to tell me that “The average age of entry into prostitution is 13,” I will direct you to a thoroughly-researched debunking I wrote for The Atlantic shortly before banning your ass for wasting my time with pseudo-scientific, whorephobic bullshit.

  12. I worked really boring temp jobs for years, including data entry, telephone surveys, and legal proofreading. At some of them, I coped with the boredom by listening to music on a portable CD player or MP3 player. The two albums that deserve the most credit for getting me through interminably boring, degrading jobs are Big Time by Tom Waits and Stop Making Sense by Talking Heads. The fact that they’re both live albums (and great concert films) is probably not insignificant.
  1. Possibly the weirdest job that I ever had was one of my telephone survey gigs, which was a nationwide survey on gay men’s sexual health. This means that I sat at a computer calling randomly-selected people across the United States and asking them if they qualified as “men who had sex with men.” Most of the guys were pretty blase; it was the wives who really responded with open hostility. The questions were incredibly detailed, too, asking about unprotected rimming, anal fingering, penile penetration, and so on.
  2. One of the most grueling jobs I ever had was when I was working for my grandfather’s electrical contracting company in Ohio for the summer. I was 15, and spent a couple weeks tearing apart metal cabinets, then pulling out the cables and chopping them up into manageable lengths. At the end of all this, I hauled the cables down into a field and set fire to them to burn off the insulation. The summer in Ohio is bad enough without standing near a huge bonfire of rubber, plastic, and copper.
  3. I have very intense memories of the Rodney King trial and the surrounding events. At the time, I was living in Simi Valley, where the trial was held. After the riots, a neo-Nazi named Richard Barrett came to demonstrate in support of the verdict clearing the four cops who beat King. Six supporters came out to back Barrett; there were over 300 counter-protesters. I covered it for a public radio station that I was volunteering for at the time and wound up doing a 15-minute article on the demonstration.
  4. (BONUS) I usually hate listicles, but in this case, it seemed like a useful format.
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100 Facts About Me (Part 4): The Oxford Comma, My Taste in Books, and Why I Like Being in the Friend Zone
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