a kettlebell training log, and
a launch pad for aberrant missives

Friday, January 30, 2009

25 Random Things

There's this thing going around on Facebook where you're supposed to write 25 random things about yourself, and tag 25 friends to make them go through the same exercise. I was absolutely determined to hate whoever tagged me, because I seriously do not need any homework. So there are already three strikes out there for the three people who have tagged me so far. But since one is a long-time friend, one is an awesome client, and one is an incredibly charming guy, all three are forgiven on account of One, and I relent. I may reveal myself to be arrogant and bitchy (as if you don't already know it), and narcissistic by nature of this very act of writing randomly about myself, but these "facts" that decorate my lifescape may well be considered incidental and inconsequential. I am a private person and my memoirs are not forthcoming. The one and only decade-long sob story of my life - oh so pathetic, melodramatic, and perchance a tad tragic - has been told, listened to, contemplated upon, accepted, embraced, and released. This is not a tell-all and I do hope this sentiment is reciprocated. I have enjoyed reading about my friends' eccentricities and odd experiences, and I hope mine can equally amuse and entertain. Just please don't tell me about your botched suicide attempt or the time you had sex with your horse via Facebook.

  1. I am a vampire. I don't get anything done during the day. I like to work, train, eat, surf, and write after sundown. If I do Turkish get-ups in the daytime, I see all my hair and dirt on the carpet and I get depressed. In the evening I dim the lights and I don't see anything. I am wired biologically to sleep between 5 and 11 am. Since I endeavor to live, eat, sleep and die green, I have been thinking of getting an Ecopod for my bed. Too bad they don't make it queen or king size because I'd sure like to make out with another vampire.

  2. I don't own a tv. When I first graduated from college, I bought one and had it for three years, during which time the only show I ever watched was ER. Since then, and before the age of Netflix, internet streaming, and DVD drive, I did not watch any television. (Okay, so I bought a little watchman with a 2" screen to watch World Cup Soccer and the Olympics when they came around every four years, but that was it.) The first series that I've watched since getting Netflix was Grey's Anatomy. I like medical dramas! McDreamy is sweet and McSteamy is hot - which one are you???

  3. In high school, my friends and I used to steal the physics test the day before from the teacher's waste paper basket. I would then compile the answers for distribution. I always did my own homework and came up with my own solutions to problem sets (because I trusted nobody) but I freely circulated my science and math answers during exams for my friends to copy. Yes, I am ultra-competitive and I am not a team player, but as long as I come out on top (and I did graduate first in my class) I am actually quite generous. On the geek track it was hard to be bad any other way.

  4. The summer after high school, I received an all-expenses paid scholarship to spend six weeks in Israel. When I first learned about this opportunity, I told my parents my intention to apply for it. They said, please don't, so I did. I secretly went to the interview (which was held on the Columbia University campus), and then of course I got the award. This was an international science program hosted by the Weizmann Institute of Science with about 80 students from all over the world. I was placed in a biophysics lab and did research on graft-vs-host disease in bone marrow transplants. They took us all over the country hiking and exploring, and we spent some days in the desert conducting field experiments. I swam in the Dead Sea and climbed the Masada. This was my first most excellent adventure!

  5. The summer before that, between my junior and senior years, I got an NIH-funded scholarship to attend a science program at the University of Iowa. My connecting flight to the land of corn was on a propeller plane - scary! I landed in a lab with a graduate student whose first name was also Cecilia. My tasks: homogenize human eyeballs (donated from the deceased), put pureed eyeballs in the centrifuge to spin and separate, and perform chromatography assays on the resultant goo. I got really good at it, and practically ran the lab by myself when the other Cecilia was away for some days, and received a glowing review from the professor. We also did something terrible to a huge sad-looking rabbit, for which I deserved to be put on PETA's death list. But I have been a good vegan all these years and I gave money to SaveABunny.org - I know there are starving children in the world but this is Jill's pet project - so I hope I have sufficiently atoned for my complicity in this one atrocious act in the name of science.

  6. I love to sing and grew up singing in school and church choirs. Classical or religious choral music is what I like the most. In college, I joined the Memorial Church Choir and went to service every Sunday just for the musical and aesthetic experience. I was their bible-reading girl too. I never saw any of my classmates who were real Christians. They preferred the bible-study group thing, but since I didn't believe in hell and had an immense aversion to sitting around and "share," I stuck with the stage and the podium. I know I am still hell-bound, at least according to my mother. But you're all going down with me, so I have no fear.

  7. I have to cover my ears when I sleep. My family came from tropical Hong Kong, where it was hot and humid in the summer, and mosquitoes grew like flies, and I always had a hard time falling asleep because as soon as I dozed off, one of those blood suckers would go "wung wung wung" by my ear. Have you ever seen a mosquito settle on your bare skin, and moments later it's transmogrified into a sinister little red balloon - and what do you do? Smash it? Spank yourself and splatter and smear your own flesh and blood all over? We lived on the first floor of a high-rise building, which didn't help. They chose me over my siblings and parents, no doubt because I tasted better. I had shown up in school covered in mosquito bites. My teachers asked me if I had chicken pox. One time, a mosquito got into my ear while I slept. It escaped, but I was traumatized. I haven't seen a Hong Kong-style mosquito for decades, but I still sleep under the covers, even in mid-summer nights. For some reason, when I'm on vacation, staying in a hotel or with someone, my compulsion temporarily releases me, and I feel safe to expose my sleepy head. Which tells me I probably should go sleep around more, anywhere but on my own bed.

  8. There was a period in my life when I felt I needed some convincing that I was a good, unselfish human being, so I signed up to volunteer with San Francisco's Zen Hospice Project. For a year, I spent five hours every Sunday afternoon in the hospice ward of Laguna Honda Hospital, hanging out and helping out and trying to be all zen and mindful and embracing and spacious in my witnessing of those momentous end-of-life moments. What I learned about myself: (i) I was never really sad when someone passed on; perhaps I didn't care enough, or maybe I think death was just one big shrug. (ii) I had a morbid curiosity about the dying process, had read the Tibetan Book of Living and Dying from cover to cover, and often wondered about the bardos while still sincerely attempting to do tonglen practice for the "imminent" folks. (iii) I really hated it when little old ladies or men pinched my cheeks and said, "You're so cute!" In the end, it comes down to this: To die well one has to live well. I don't know if I'm a better person for having done this, but if I end up with a volunteer by my deathbed mucking around saying mantras, I promise not to pinch her cheeks.

  9. I have only spent money at Starbucks once in my whole life. I was bored and hungry and rationalized my way into trying the Frappuccino which predictably turned into a cookie binge. My other three Starbucks visits were paid for by the people I was with. First time - t'was the day after my sister's wedding in the summer of 2002, in Louisville, Kentucky, a town which I had never heard of until a few months prior. My entire clan found the entire downtown deserted on a Sunday afternoon, so reluctantly we went to the airport early and sat at the Starbucks. Second time - I was visiting said sister in Washington, DC, last year. She has, since my first Starbucks encounter, begotten three offsprings and her kids apparently needed an outing, and it had to be Starbucks. Third time, and most recently - I was attending Pavel's strength stretching and super abs workshops in Sacramento in November. We managed to spend the entire lunch hour walking to the Starbucks and back. Pavel bought tea for us and nobody ate anything. I have observed that when the Chief's around, everybody automatically goes on the Warrior Diet.

  10. I once was so broke that I answered a craigslist ad to "donate" 5 cc of blood to a UCSF research project for a $20 stipend. I parked my car at the bottom of the hill and walked up towards Parnassus, a cold sweat breaking out. The thought of needle penetration made me extremely squeamish, even though I generally have a high pain tolerance and don't mind blood and gore. I met the doctor, signed the release, and he proceeded to grope around for the vein on the inside of my left arm. For someone like me with a pulse so faint that I can't find it half the time, and blood pressure low enough to qualify some folks for a pace-maker, this was not easy. He had to poke a few times to get the needle in. I was trying to be very zen about all this, staying detached, and attempting to induce an out-of-body experience. Perhaps that was why the blood stopped flowing after a few drops. The doctor pulled the needle out and started to prep my right arm. The thought of Take 2 sent me reeling. I swooned and fainted and caught myself on the table. Orange juice and crackers appeared under my nose, but both he and I knew this had nothing to do with needing replenishment. We are talking about less than 2 cc of blood drawn. I lose way more than that during my periods, and I never miss a beat in my workouts and classes. Needle phobia. The doctor told me he'd taken over 250 samples and I was the first case he had to abort for that reason. I was mightily embarrassed. He gave me the $20 anyway "for showing up," but for his parting advise, he said, "Don't ever bother going to give blood."

  11. Worst childhood trauma - I was once mistaken for a lamp post - by a dog. Enough said.

  12. (This list will get done at some point, with divine or diabolic intervention!)


Unknown said...

Very compelling. Can't wait to read more.

Diane Masiello said...

Nice, Cecilia! So glad you posted this. I knew you in high school and I never knew you went away to do research during the summers.

And, by the way, there's no way you could possibly be going to hell. You'll be in heaven, teaching us all about kettle bells, and we'll be loving it!!!

Joe Sarti said...

WOW! You are brilliant, super intelligent, a freaking riot and a wonderful writer. I thank you and if you stop here I would say I am grateful to know so much more about the beautiful Cecilia

Cecilia Tom said...

Diane, I'll be tagging you soon, so you'd better get started on your list :-)

My human eyeball research (actually it was about sugar and diabetes) was the basis of my Westinghouse paper. A little while ago a classmate of ours friended me on Facebook and reminded me that I helped him with his Westinghouse paper. I had no recollection of my generosity, LOL.

Anonymous said...

I knew you were a smart gal.

P.S. -- No need to mention periods again ... or ever.