I’ve been tagged by my dear online and offline friend Grateful Bear. It’s the “5 weird things/habits about yourself” meme!
To play the cybergame, list 5 weird things/habits about yourself. Then, choose 5 more people to be tagged and list their names. If you link to the post of the person who tagged you, and also link to the blogs of people you tagged, you can create a little navigation system for the idea virus. The people who get tagged do the same, rinse and repeat. Leave each of your viral victims a comment that says “you’re tagged!” and direct them to the post in which they are named. No threats, now – some folks just don’t like to play.
Sounds easy, no? But already I have a problem, because I’m not exactly sure what “weird” signifies. I grew up in an environment where “weird” was understood as the antonym of “normal.” I never know whether either one is meant as an insult or a compliment unless I can see the person who makes the call. What’s normal to one person can be very very weird from the perspective of someone else. There was an old lush in my hometown who referred to me as “weird” because when I was in 5th grade I used to check out a dozen or so books a week from the library. There was a boyfriend who thought I was “weird” because I really did prefer talking to the artists and scholars of the generation ahead of ours over putting on black lipstick to go hear a garage band. But then a good friend told me that if I became normal, he’d never speak to me again; he loved me for my “weirdness.” It’s a matter of perspective.
I see that other interpretations of the intent of the meme have left off the more archaic meanings of the word. It’s clear from the context that there is no assumption regarding the involvement of the fates (fey, fae, fated, uncanny, eerie, witchy, preternatural) – so no magical anecdotes. Similarly, it seems that there is no expectation of anything deeply creepy or pathological (sinister, odd, icky) – so no JW or ex-step tales.
Should it be “weird” even to me, or just a little weird to my family, or friends, or peers? Weird considering my sense of self, my usual interests? Socio-economic class, gender, race, religious or sexual preferences? Region, country, language-base? Weird for a human? What of the intended audience? Weird from whose perspective?
For the purposes of the meme, “weird” seems to mean just the mildly unique, off-beat, perhaps slightly eccentric types of habits and little bits of things that you strongly suspect are out of the ordinary range. Things that you might even hold dear, albeit a bit secretly. Things that help define niches of self-identity, things to laugh with yourself about in quiet, the kinds of things that might be fun to know about someone else – or perhaps a habit or trait that sneaks up on you and surprises you one day because it has become part of who you are, but you’re not sure exactly when or how or why.
That’s when I realize that the question that seems so problematic to me is really very simple. These are the kinds of things that someone who knew me really well might share in an anecdote at my funeral. That actually makes it easier.
So, then, here are my 5 weird things/habits about myself:
- I’ve just illustrated the first weird habit. I have a habit of overcomplicating things because I am obsessed with strong, but fair, interpretations that are constructed from multiple points of view. Usually I consider this a strength, but every strength in overabundance becomes a weakness. There are times when it is better to shut down the endless questioning and research and debate and analysis – and just take a stand, make the decision, do the deed, close the deal, write the argument, make the case… even if it has to be revised later. No-one can be perfect, and we’re not immortal. I forget that. My standards are so high that sometimes I keep them beyond reach.
- I like to sneak out, and wander around outside, at night. I’ve done this since I was a small child. If I can’t get out, I will wander around inside, but I really prefer to get outdoors. I’ve left the house and wandered neighborhoods without letting anyone know I was gone – family, roommate, lover, anyone. One of my favorite things used to be to roam in graveyards, stopping to lie down and look at the stars. I used to like to sidle up alongside an electric fence and convince a stallion to pick a mare for me to ride. I like to swim at night, and to hum toward the moon. Even now, I usually wake up 2-3 times a week in the middle of the night and sit out on the deck, meditatively smoking a Marlboro (yes, I know) and drinking a glass of chocolate malted ovaltine on ice. I guess that’s a little weird.
- Every once in a while, I feel compelled to sing at top volume – just as loud as I possibly can. Again, I prefer solitude for this (and I think everyone else prefers it that way too). When no-one else is home, I will crank up the stereo or play the piano or even just listen to a CD with headphones – and sing. And I mean sing. The “set” is about 2 hours, one song after another. I have some favorites… Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair and Evita and Rocky Horror. Blondie and Pat Benatar and Eurythmics and Kate Bush and Edie Brickell and Sarah MacLachlan Bjork and October Project and Tori Amos. Whoever sings “Son of a Preacher Man.” John Lennon and Leonard Cohen and Lou Reed and Sting and Green Day.
- I have this giggle. It’s the bane of my existence. As far as I’ve been able to determine, the giggle started in elementary school as a disarming mechanism. I was afraid of other children, but I was also a “regular little Sarah Bernhardt” according to my principal. By the time I was in middle school, already wearing glasses, I think I was trying to step back from the stigma of being a “brain.” Alas, it marked me as a nerd instead – the laugh at that point was a braying thing somewhere between Woody Woodpecker’s insane yodelling and the snorting huh-huh-huh of Horshack from “Welcome Back Kotter.” The only relief I got (it was even more annoying to me than to the people around me by then) was when I discovered the stage. I was a lousy actress, but I looked like an ingénue (on a good day, something like Grace Kelly – on a not so good day, more like Shirley Jones). The giggle quieted down eventually, but I still have to “psyche up” before teaching so as not to ruin a perfectly good lecture by giggling through it. In social situations where I’m uncomfortable and ill-at-ease it will still burst out, or when I meet someone new, or when I’m on the phone, or… well, anyway, it’s still a weird thing, although people who have known me for a long time say that it now has a much more pleasant sound.
- I have a drawer in my desk that has, way in the back, a collection of tarot card decks. I have a lot of different kinds, and some of them are very beautiful. What’s weird about that, to me, is that I’ve never really done a formal reading. I’ve never “told a fortune” or really sought an answer to any kind of question, but every once in a while, the cards seem to help me work things through for myself. Once or twice a year, when I’m stuck or anxious, I pull them out. I’ll pick one deck, whichever one strikes me at the time, and walk around with it. I’ll shuffle it for a while, I’ll feel the texture and weight of it. Sometimes I’ll turn over a card or two, and look carefully at the images, and let my mind take on the images as a kind of starting point. Right now the tarot decks include Rider, Hanson-Roberts, Goddess, Karma, Aleister Crowley Thoth, Jui Guoliang’s Traditional Chinese Art, and Dream of Red Mansions (I think it’s meant to be “Red Chambers” after the book, but it was a gift. The box still has “2 yen” written on it in pencil). I notice as I pull them out that at some point I took out all the versions of the fool/joker to look at, and never put them back in the decks.
Here’s who I choose to contagiously vector out on for continued weirdness confessions:
Anyone who reads this is welcome to join in! Comment if you do.