An Introduction of Sorts: 100 Facts About Me (Part 1)

I have really been unsure about how to introduce my new blog at The Orbit. The honor of it is pretty damn overwhelming. A good chunk of the writers here are people that I’ve been reading and admiring for a long time, and the ones that are new to me seem to be every bit as incredible. There is, to put it bluntly, a fuckload of brain power and integrity here.

White numbers on a grungy orange background

Even at the best of times, I’m never really good at introducing myself in writing. Whenever an editor asks me to furnish them with an author bio, I kind of freeze up; after writing 2,000 to 4,000 of intensely researched and proofread prose, those three lines about me are always the hardest to write.

So as a way to get around the anxiety, I decided to pull an idea out of the past. Several years ago, there was a meme going through blogging communities to create a list of 100 facts about yourself. It’s harder than it sounds, so I never quite finished one of my own. This seems like the time to do it. I’ve broken it up into four pieces so that people might actually make it to the end of one without getting too overwhelmed.

Most of the items in the original lists were short and to the point: a single sentence, two at most. My items vary in length, from a single line, to some that are almost flash essays. I’m not sure yet whether this is something interesting or the single most bloated, pretentious introduction one could do. But it should give you a straightforward idea of who I am, where I’ve been, and a little bit of where I’m going with this blog.

  1. Chris Hall Self Portrait
    I’m a white, cisgendered man in my forties, so I have a straight flush of privilege. (Although not quite a royal flush, which would require more money and fewer health problems.)
  2. My sexual orientation is always up for debate and modification; the best approximation is to say that I’m a bisexual who favors women/femmes.
  3. I was born in Marietta, Ohio, but I never lived there.
  4. Before I started first grade, I lived in Chicago, West Virginia, Belgium, and Southern California. Once we got to SoCal, my mom refused to move any more.
  5. One of the most traumatic things to happen to me as a child was when the hills behind my house had a huge fire. The fire came so close to our house that we had to evacuate and go stay with friends. When we came back, everything up to about 100 yards from our house was blackened and bare. The sight made me break down in tears.
  6. I went to two high schools. The first was a very upper-class public high school; there were new BMWs in the parking lot. A couple years after my parents got divorced, they sold the house and my mom, brother and I moved into another school district. I liked the second neighborhood and the second school better; it was more working class and less vicious.
  7. I graduated seventh from the bottom of my high-school class.
  8. I first learned to drive stick shift on my grandfather’s tractors when I spent a couple summers working for him in the 1980s.
  9. My first car was a 1973 Volkswagen Bug.
  10. The first album I bought for myself was The Beatles’ Let It Be. I was a serious Beatles junkie for a few years.
  11. Math was very, very scary to me when I was growing up. It seems pretty cool now. If math hadn’t scared me so much, I might have gone into science or computer programming.
  12. I like to cook, but I also find it intimidating, so I cycle between doing a lot of cooking and doing none.
  13. I learned to make pie from Greta Christina.
  14. My parents had the ultimate Cold War romance: They met in Morocco in the early 60s. My dad was a sergeant in the Marine Corps, and my mom worked for the CIA. I like to “joke” that they had her there laying low after doing a certain high-profile job in Dallas. I have no idea what she actually did, though. I hope she wasn’t actually the Man on the Grassy Knoll, but it might be an improvement over her current infatuation with Sarah Palin.
  15. My mom’s last name is absolutely unique; the only people with that name are my blood relatives. Before my grandfather’s family came here from Austria Hungary, there was no standardized spelling of the family name. One of my grandfather’s older cousins could read and write enough that she was able to create a written version.
  16. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area, in the house that my partner grew up in.
  17. I lived in Brooklyn with my partner for seven years. Partly because of that, I get especially grouchy when television shows or movies take place in that mythical version of NYC that is inhabited entirely by white people.
  18. I originally moved to Brooklyn to be with my partner, who I met via online ads in San Francisco two weeks before she moved to NYC to pursue her career in theatrical directing. We’ll soon celebrate our 15th anniversary.
  19. My old neighborhood in Brooklyn, Fort Greene, has now become gentrified beyond my wildest imaginations.
  20. Elysium-cover-jennifer-marie-brissett
    The first friend I made in Brooklyn was then the owner of the local bookstore in my neighborhod. Last year, she published her first science fiction novel, Elysium. I highly recommend it, especially if you’re fed up with post-apocalyptic novels where only the white people survived.
  21. One of the most disturbing things that happened to me in Brooklyn was when one morning, I went out to get some stuff at the local bodega and found a dead woman on the steps. She was apparently a client at the local rehab clinic.
  22. My most prominent scar is from an epileptic seizure that I had in my sleep in 2000. More specifically, it’s from the surgery that followed the seizure, where they had to put a titanium plate into my left shoulder after I ripped the ball out of the socket and shattered it into three pieces.
  23. My partner is a theatrical director and playwright. After she had a stroke in 2008, she began to write some of the plays that she’s always dreamed about doing. The main one is a comedy about “The Female Wits” — the first women playwrights to have their works staged in Restoration England. She’s also doing a lot of work with other disabled directors, actors, and playwrights.
  24. I am both “politically correct” and a “social justice warrior,” and if you have a problem with that, please fuck off. (To be honest, I think I would prefer to think of myself as a social justice mage, or maybe a social justice fighter-magic user.)
  25. Jokes aside, using either of those terms in a non-ironic way is probably going to make me completely ignore anything that follows. I find them extremely handy in that sense.
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An Introduction of Sorts: 100 Facts About Me (Part 1)
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