Aside from occasional pieces of memoir, I don’t really discuss my personal life. (I’ve posted my share of revealing, inappropriate writing over the past decade, however, but that blog is private, now resting in online purgatory.)
That said, I had the urge to compile a “100 Things” list because I know a good amount of my regular readers are strangers and acquaintances, from all over the U.S. and abroad. (And I thank you for returning!) You read about my adventures around the world, but you may not know much about me beyond the fact that I love to travel, write, and take photos.
I’ve listed things about me you may not have guessed via my online persona, and things even my friends and family may not know. These items are in no particular order, though you may notice an association between one point and the next. So, enjoy.
100. I get more compliments on my eyebrows than any other part of my body (if you can call an eyebrow a body part). Interestingly, it’s the part of my face I am most self-conscious about.
99. My first feature-length screenplay, written when I was 14, was an action film fusing Natural Born Killers and The Fugitive; I wrote it on WordPerfect and stored it on a floppy disk that one day decided not to open. Ah, well.
98. I wrote my second feature-length script in a red notebook in my senior year of high school. I wrote the male protagonist part for Leonardo DiCaprio and was certain I’d one day marry him. At 24.
97. I was terrified of the dark when I was young and slept with my bedroom door open until I was in high school. Today, I have a fear of looking into mirrors in the dark, especially in bathrooms. I also avoid opening medicine cabinets in the dark.
96. I cannot leave the house without lip balm. I return home to retrieve it if possible, or make a detour to a store to purchase some.
95. I must fall asleep lying on my back.
94. I snore quite loudly for a little person. My friend Irene wears earplugs when I crash in her Brooklyn apartment. My ex-boyfriend once tried to trick me to sleep on my side by placing a small stuffed animal inside the back of my shirt so I would not remain on my back. It failed.
93. I love The Doors. However, I never play any of their songs on my own and instead wait to hear them on the radio. It’s an odd, random agreement I keep with myself. I don’t know where it came from or why I do it. I don’t do this with any other band.
92. My friend Steve once said he didn’t think I had tear ducts. This was true at one point, but these days I get teary-eyed and emotional over pretty much anything.
91. I’m a good writer. But I’m verbally inarticulate. Period.
90. When I turned 30, I realized I was doing exactly what I want to do with my life. It felt nice.
89. There is a possibility that I will not get married. Not that I don’t want to—I actually really do, and would like to soon. I just don’t think I’ll meet someone who complements me. (This item is outdated. In July 2012, I got married.)
88. I think cats are far superior than dogs in their demeanor, skills, and the way they spend their time. I have a plan to adopt two kittens once I have a more permanent abode. I’m uncertain of their names, but will select among Salvador, Spock, Hades, Gandalf, and Desmond.
87. I need to finish projects as soon as possible; once I begin something, I’m distracted by it until it’s finished. I often forget to eat during the day because of this.
86. I walk really fast. In college, I sometimes walked in a zig-zag pattern, while my friends walked straight, to our destination. This pattern kept me from walking too far ahead of them.
85. I run up and down sets of stairs, even when I’m not in a rush. I run to the bathroom; I run to the refrigerator. It’s just what I do, especially when I’m alone.
84. I think drum & bass is a golden, multi-layered, intellectual, and often misunderstood musical genre. It’s not for everyone, and it’s unfortunate that most people just don’t get it. It’s my classical music.
83. I bought my first two Macs, an iMac and a MacBook Pro, in 2010. I have no idea why it took me 30 years to become a Mac user.
82. For a long time, I always plotted my next academic step: an MA, an MFA, a PhD. But at this moment, I have no desire to return to school. It’s a waste of money, at least for me. I learn so much each day from the work I do and the places I go. I’d also rather teach myself to do things, or seek help from those I know who do these things professionally.
81. I think my overt independence gives off the impression that I don’t need anyone. Not true.
80. Watching my nephews Lucas, Maverick, and Gunnar grow up is the best thing ever. I think they are the most awesome little people to be around.
79. I used to work in a sixth grade classroom, scoring papers, leading reading workshops, and working with students on writing the dreaded five-paragraph essay. I miss this work. Reading sixth grade essays kept me grounded and was a way to enter a child’s whimsical world.
78. I cringe when I read “LOL,” “LMAO,” and the like, especially on my Facebook feed. It’s just not acceptable to me, and never will be. I can’t stand the use of “ur” as well.
77. I read the Chicago Manual in my free time (not all my free time, but some of my free time). I enjoy reading comments from regulars on the online forum and appreciate people who are witty when discussing punctuation.
76. I love long-distance running, but I have weak, deteriorating ankles that I sprain each year. My best year for running was in 2004; I ran the New Orleans Mardi Gras Marathon. Aside from two half-marathons in Thailand later that year, I have not run in a major race since. My ankles aren’t strong enough to endure distances of over 10 miles.
75. My female crushes are Jessica Alba and Natalie Portman. (Like everyone else, I suppose.)
74. I hated the last season of LOST, but had tears in my eyes the night I watched the finale. Not long after, after absorbing it, I realized the finale was the worst ending imaginable.
73. I think Peep Show is ingenious. The fact that Jeremy aspires to be an electronic music superstar makes it all the more brilliant.
72. I say “neat” too much. My friend Angel can confirm this.
71. I have loved two people in my life so far. I thought I loved two others.
70. I love San Francisco, but I think people who think it’s the best city in the world and rave on and on about it need to travel more.
69. Two regrets I have are related to music. I wish I didn’t quit my middle school orchestra and continued to play the violin. And I wish I’d bought turntables in college and taught myself how to spin.
68. I can’t cook, even when I try. My food is edible, but I have no skill at all. My goal is to hold cooking sessions in my mother’s kitchen on a regular basis so I can learn as many Filipino dishes as possible.
67. I wish I could speak Tagalog. None of my cousins do.
66. My extended family is huge. My father has five siblings; my mother has six. I honestly don’t remember how many first cousins I have—I’d like to say around 20. I mix up my younger cousins’ names. This is just my immediate extended family—the entire Lucas clan of the Bay Area is massive. I don’t know anyone’s names at family reunions.
65. I believe in astrology to an extent—my sun is in Leo, my moon is in Cancer, and my rising sign is Scorpio—hence I’m a balance of introversion and boastfulness, moodiness and warmth. I’d probably be the most reserved Leo in a room full of Leos, but I’d make my presence known in subtle, strategic ways.
64. When I’m older, I’d like to live a bit off the radar. I especially would like a yard to raise chickens. I’d like to be the quirky little aunt that lives in a cute cottage with her two cats. Northern California wine country or along the Mendocino Coast are options. Pacific Grove in Monterey Bay is a more suburban spot on my list.
63. I’ve had many nicknames. From childhood: Mucas and Che (pronounced sheh, not shay). Recent ones: Little One, Pip, Cherbear, and Scratchy.
62. If ever on the ballot, I would vote for strict population control and/or sterilization laws. I don’t openly discuss this.
61. I am not sure if I want to have a child. I think a good amount of people have children but aren’t ready, or shouldn’t bear children at all. I generally don’t like babies or children unless I personally know them.
60. I was raised and confirmed a Catholic. By the time I reached high school, I knew the religion was not for me. Today, I philosophically identify with Taoism. Over the years, I have weaved my own philosophy with Taoism. My personal Tao is a cosmic wave.
59. I need to create a living will. I don’t think it’s too early to create one. I’ve also voiced my wishes to some of my family regarding what I’d like to be done after my death. One of my deepest fears is that I will be buried and honored in a church memorial. I’m stating publicly that I do not want this. Please transform me to ashes, rent a small yacht, cruise the Bay on a beautiful day, and scatter me. Then, proceed to have a party. No rosaries, please.
58. I am especially fond of my Aunt Julie. Her nickname over the years has been “Aunt Flo,” although I can’t pinpoint the children’s book that we lifted this from. She used to live with us when I was a little girl, and when we drove places, she let me shift the gears of her car. She also served me milk splashed with Bailey’s Irish Cream on ice. We also adopted a boulder on the beach in Pacific Grove as ours, but whenever I drive down Oceanview Boulevard along Monterey Bay these days, I can’t locate it. (8/2011 update: We drove to look for our boulder. Read about it.)
57. I have an obsession with squirrels. I think squirrels are cute but puzzling creatures—they lead lonely, neurotic lives, similar to writers. I always wonder how a squirrel would react to caffeine.
56. One of my (many) projects I’ve yet to undertake is a children’s book about a squirrel that is part-robot. At some point, the squirrel must wear a cape. This image makes me happy.
55. I have problems forgetting visuals in horror films, which is why I do not watch scary movies. The image of the long-haired creature emerging out of the TV in The Ring is ingrained in my mind. There’s also an illustration from a book of ghost stories at my elementary school library that I will never forget: the short story was titled “The Elevator Operator,” and a scary man maintained the elevator of a building. I don’t recall the story, but the graphic of this evil man is etched in my memory.
54. I used to have a cat named Striper. She often gazed across the room as if she was staring at a spirit. I’m convinced she had this sixth sense.
52. My first major concert was REM and Sonic Youth at Shoreline Amphitheater. My favorite show in recent years, surprisingly, was Nine Inch Nails at dusk in the Coachella desert in 2005. Trent Reznor pulled my heart out, threw it on the ground, and spit on it—in the most pleasing way possible.
51. My first warehouse rave was Feel Good Experience at Homebase in Oakland in May 1997. The rest is history.
50. I am wary of people who don’t dance, or refuse to dance; I think it’s important to lose control and let go physically.
49. I am extremely picky about dance music and prefer a certain blend of tech-house that’s at once bouncy, dark, and dirty, which is why Dirtybird Records tracks consistently rate high on my list. Deep house bores me, and funky house sounds dated to me. I love breaks, but I rarely listen to it. I generally dislike dubstep: the good stuff is super good, but when it’s bad, it makes my ears bleed. I occasionally listen to techno à la Richie Hawtin, but I need to be in the mood.
48. My favorite painting of all time is Hieronymous Bosch’s The Garden of Earthly Delights. Nonsensical and irrational in parts. Completely cohesive and meaningful as a whole.
47. I consider myself a writer, and I’m good at writing, but I’m not great at it. I think I’m conceptually excellent, but technically average.
46. When I splurge on espresso drinks, I drink caramel lattes. That’s pretty much it.
45. I hated getting tan when I was younger. I understand why some Asian cultures are obsessed with whitening lotion.
44. In college, I registered for courses based not on what they were about, but what time they were. My classes started at 11 am or later. Today, “sleeping in” means sleeping until 8 am. I don’t feel productive if I’m not up by then, even on weekends.
43. My intuition has never failed me.
42. I believe I have numerous soul mates, but given the world population, I probably won’t meet one of these people in this lifetime.
41. I believe in reincarnation, and I know I’ve been a cat many times. I also spent a lifetime in ancient Egypt, but I haven’t thought much about what or who exactly I was. I need to be cremated so I can be released as soon as possible to undertake my next life.
40. I once sent a god-awful piece about Barry Bonds and the metaphorical asterisk to a senior editor at Salon. Because of this, I will never send another unsolicited piece to Salon again. I’m too embarrassed.
39. I have yet to write about the 2010 Giants playoff season, and probably won’t. The experience was so heavily internal, and I have a ways to go to process it. I’m letting it simmer.
38. I succumbed to social media after years of the create-delete-create-delete cycle. I don’t know how many times I deleted my Friendster and MySpace profiles before deleting them permanently, and I’ve deleted or deactivated my Facebook and Twitter accounts several times. Earlier this year, I let go.
37. I used to hate Twitter. Now, it’s become an essential tool. If you don’t get it, you probably don’t need to be on it.
36. I learn a great deal from the travel peeps on Twitter, but I think the online travel industry is extremely cliquey. I guess life is a perpetual popularity contest.
35. I pay attention to what my peers are doing, but I rarely feel conflicted about what I personally need to do. I have always just done my own thing.
34. My close friends tell me I can be harsh sometimes. This is true. I think it’s a waste of time to beat around the bush.
33. I use clichés. I don’t really mind them, especially on days when I’m too lazy to be creative.
32. I don’t have the maternal gene. I’ve only changed two diapers full of pee in my life, and I almost vomited when asked to wipe my nephew’s ass. I once suggested we “stick the kids outside” when a group of children started crying.
31. I used to only drink pinot noir. I’ve branched out to drink all types of wine, and especially love light, crisp, and fruity sauvignon blancs.
30. I have a thing for meatballs. This is not supposed to be dirty.
29. I have no problem waiting in line for a half-hour for a meatball pork sandwich at Saigon Sandwiches.
28. I experience withdrawal from not eating pho over a long period of time.
27. I can easily tell when a guy is interested in me because of his fetish for Asian girls.
26. I’d rather it be silent in the car than listen to most of the Urban Top 40 shit on the radio. Silence is rarely awkward for me. I cannot be around people who talk constantly.
25. I travel solo. Unless I’m planning a trip for a reason (a wedding, a reunion, a weekend trip to catch up), I explore alone. I also cannot shop with other people.
24. I experience bouts of OCD behavior when I search for flights online. Once I find a flight I want to book, I obsess about it until it’s charged to my credit card.
23. When it comes down to it, I do not have trouble making decisions. I have a hard time dealing with others who are indecisive.
22. I can be deathly quiet around people I don’t know. I have been told it borders on intimidating or unfriendly. While I have no problems introducing myself and engaging in initial chitchat, I don’t force myself to be outgoing. I normally take on the role of silent observer: I speak only when I have something substantial to say—it’s just how I operate.
21. My closest friends are scattered: Los Angeles, Brooklyn, Baltimore, Phoenix. It’s hard to not be around them on a daily basis, but I make the effort to fly and see them when possible.
20. I expect my friends and significant others to be straightforward, reliable people. I hate dishonesty. I hate flakiness.
19. I am never late, unless something happens that’s out of my control.
18. Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. But I am apathetic about most holidays, especially Halloween and Christmas.
17. I don’t believe in tangible gift-giving, unless it’s an item that someone has made for me or is of personal, historic value. I get claustrophobic in residences where there’s just too much “stuff.” I hate junk.
16. I prefer minimalism and show my wealth in my past experiences.
15. Growing up, I was ashamed of where my family was from. I wanted to be white, used a thin brown marker to place freckles on my face, and poured peroxide over my head many times to lighten my black hair. (By the time I was in fourth or fifth grade, my hair was damaged.)
14. My friend Lauren once referred to me as Filapanese, and that description has stuck with me. My mother sometimes called me “Little Ella” (nicknamed after my father), although I am told I now resemble my mother. My older brother, my middle nephew, and I have my father’s eyes.
13. My grandfather made me laugh. He carried around a notepad with the names and birthdays of his grandchildren. I loved when he took the pad out of his shirt pocket when he saw me and read my birthday out loud. When I was obsessed with thrift stores in high school, I rummaged through his closet and found a bright blue and yellow track jacket. He gave it to me. It’s in my closet to this day.
12. I love happy hour and prefer to drink during the day.
11. I used to party. Hard. Sleepless nights, smoky warehouses, dance floors ’til 10 am. I think about these years and it makes me tired.
10. I think cheese, not the dollar, should be society’s symbol of wealth and well-being.
9. I think everyone has their own way of preparing Top Ramen. Mine: adding chopped bits of hot links (sausage) and sliced monterey jack cheese to melt, and cracking an egg over it. A bit of Si Racha and/or Tabasco to flavor. It’s the most unglorious meal, but an acquired taste that never fails to satisfy me.
8. I’m an uber-fan of Bananagrams, thanks to my friend Maggie. Bring a banana to a bar, and I’ll play with you over a round of beers. (I didn’t intend to be dirty here, either.)
7. I spent a semester studying French at a school in Cannes, across the street from the Mediterranean Sea. We went to the beach after class. We drank a lot of red wine. If you ever hear me speak of my time with French pirates, I’m talking about the spring of 2000.
6. If I have no trip planned in the near future (within the next 2-3 months), I panic and subsequently book a flight somewhere, to a city I’ve never been.
5. I overuse these words when writing about a place: quirky, nestled, charming, and hip.
4. I was obsessed with Dungeons and Dragons, the CBS morning cartoon from the eighties. I wanted to be the red-headed character Sheila, so much so that I told the girls in my neighborhood that my name was Sheila. The series never had a proper ending, and it bothers me that these characters are still stuck in the Realm.
3. George Costanza remains my favorite character from television. No one compares.
2. I suck at writing fiction. I have never finished writing a short story.
1. As stated in #87, I have to finish a project before moving on to something else. I wasn’t able to do any work until I finished this list. Hence, I’ve fallen behind.
Cheri Lucas Rowlands
Blogger at Writing Through the Fog. Story Wrangler at Automattic.