Before you criticise someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticise them, you’re a mile away and you have their shoes.
The “I” List
I currently live in Tokyo, Japan.
I love chocolate.
I have lived on four continents, a dozen countries and more houses than I care to remember.
I have been sharing my living space with roommates or significant others ever since I was fifteen.
I was practically a vegetarian for many years. Mostly out of dietary habit.
Gave that up completely upon moving from the very veggie-friendly city of San Francisco, to the very veggie-unfriendly country of Japan.
I am currently happily omnivorous.
I don’t like seafood, though.
Out of politeness, I will (and did) eat practically anything.
Practically anything has included, among many things: baby wasp larvae, locust and natto.
I am a cat person.
I do not anthropomorphise my cats by trying to give human-centric explanations to behaviours that can perfectly well be explained by simple animal instincts to stay warm and well-fed.
I have no issues, however, doing exactly that for my computer.
I once worked as a bartender in a Tokyo strip-club.
I have graced the cube farms of a few prominent Bay Area tech companies.
I’ll let you guess at which job I witnessed the highest amount of whoring-out and outright seediness.
Of my years as code-monkey and pseudo-cool-boy-software-whizzkid, I have only retained a profound contempt for corporations and their management personnel.
I have five given names on my passport(s).
Yes, I have grown tired of having to explain to incredulous immigration officers that my parents just couldn’t decide.
My real first name is actually David-Alexander (hyphenated).
Nobody has called me that ever since fourth-grade.
Even my parents renounced pretty early on.
My least favorite ice-breaker: “So, where are you from?”
My favorite ice-breaker: “So, you like kicking puppies in your spare time too?”
I have been known to make up very stupid answers to generic getting-to-know-you questions at parties.
Even more so when drunk/high.
Even more so when talking to drunk/high people.
“Florence Nightingale” and “Adult Movie Director” have been two of my most common straight-faced answers.
This habit has so far resulted in a few people addressing me as “Florence” every time they saw me and two people inquiring in all seriousness about job prospects,
I can order a gin-tonic with lime and compliment the bartender on its taste in five languages.
That would be seven, if I knew how to say gin in Latin and Ancient Greek.
I am strongly political, yet have long come to understand that arguing about politics is about as pointless as arguing about religions (probably because politics is religion for lots of people).
If anything, my position on most matters could be described as a very personal mix of economic liberalism, radical socialism and some tiny amount of libertarianism when it comes to civil liberties: let’s just say I am lucky I am not living in 1950’s America.
In my personal 9th circle of hell you probably would find, along with the usual suspects, the likes of Ronald Reagan, Dick Cheney and Margaret Thatcher (if you just pointed out that not all these people are dead, you need to take a closer look next time their body shows up on TV).
I do not consider myself affiliated to any given political party. If I was, it doubtlessly would be considered left of center in your country.
Ways to make me seriously dislike you include displays of racism, homophobia, fratboy machismo and overall any sort of attempt at compensating for a small dick.
Other than that, I’m a pretty friendly guy and very outgoing with strangers…
Although I went to catholic boarding school, I am neither strongly anti-religious, nor into organised religions at all.
But I certainly know that bible book better than you do, so you probably ought not to use it on me.
I you really had to stick a label on my beliefs, I guess you could call me agnostic with some interest in non-mystical buddhism.
I got married at Graceland chapel, Las Vegas, with six of my best friends present.
The hour was 6:30am. The day was Sunday, on my 21st birthday.
Yes, a whole week-end of miscellaneous substance abuse was involved. No, it wasn’t the reason we did get married in the first place.
We only got an official divorce two years later, mostly for administrative reasons.
I went to Burning Man before you knew it existed.
I attended Burning Man three times, never two years in a row.
I do not, in fact, take any pride in the above two items. Really, I don’t.
I did, however, feel a few tingles of sadness the day Burning Man t-shirts went on sale on the official website.
From past experience, I do believe it is the fate of every community to eventually join the mainstream or die.
I do not think this is a good thing, nor a bad thing.
In many occasions, I have found myself in places and times that have been thereafter labeled of “historical significance”.
I am neither to blame nor to praise for being there: 90% serendipity, 10% curiosity are the only reasons I ever was where I was at the moment.
I am acutely aware of the deeply laughable aspect of the term “historical significance”, in the grand scheme of things, when attached to events and trends of the past two decades.
I have a deep-rooted phobia of needles.
My fear of needles is much stronger than any fear I may have of chicken pox, polio, diphtheria or any disease for which I have successfully avoided all mandatory “booster” shots for an ongoing 15 years now.
I am not very interested in attempts at fitting sexual orientations into neat categories.
Although I am convinced sexual orientations are much more fluid than what most people would want to believe.
I probably rate a 1 on the Kinsey scale (ok: 1.5 if David Bowie counts).
I believe that true feelings of love between two consenting adults, regardless of their sexual orientation, should prompt respect and appreciation, If anything.
I have many vices but no addiction.
I rarely drink coffee, hardly ever smoke cigarettes.
I have been known to drink Bloody Marys on random mornings, for no other reason than because I felt like it.
I have been known to go weeks or months without a drop of alcohol, for no other reason than because I didn’t feel like it.
I have tried at one point or another in my life, most common psychoactive substances, as well as some not so common ones.
I am highly circumspect of most pharmaceutical drugs and do not ever take any unless absolutely mandatory.
Feigned, fictitious or possibly real mental alienations of mine: bipolar disorders, attention deficit disorder, mild paranoia and seasonal affective disorders. All of them proudly unmedicated.
I am of average height in Europe, short in the US and slightly above the current Japanese average (which probably won’t last more than a generation if they keep drinking milk like they do).
The two principal phenotypes I have inherited from my mother are a particularly white skin and a propension not to put up a single pound, regardless of what I eat.
Yes, I am, indeed, a skinny white boy.
Ironically, I was born on a remote tropical island near Africa, mostly by accident.
Major natural phenomena I have so far witnessed: major earthquakes (> 6 on the Richter Scale), typhoons, tropical cyclones, floods, volcanic eruption.
I tend to like nice clothes and usually pay close attention to my own appearance and clothing, but loath people who judge character on such criteria.
I would spend months’ worth of rent at once on nice pairs of Italian shoes at a point in my life.
I do not do that any more. But still have all the shoes.
I like nice suits and own a few very fine custom-made ones.
I make a point of ignoring all dress-codes and only wear a suit when not required to.
I think prominent luxury brands on items of clothing or other objects are extremely tacky.
I am not overly fond of denims. I hate khakis. Polo shirts give me hives.
I have practised Judo, Jujitsu and a few other martial arts for many years.
I am very much non-violent.
I do exercise, for about half an hour, every single morning.
I am a full-fledged music nerd. To the point of making any music-related excursion in my company highly irritating for more casual appreciators.
I easily own over 2000 “vinyl” records, a few hundreds (legal) CDs and just too many gigabytes of digital music files to count them.
I can recognise any of the track I own, from the first two or three beats alone.
I do say “record” to designate about any physical music medium. I pronounce it “rekhid”.
Any piece of music, regardless of genre, length and medium, is a “track”.
I listen to any musical genre and like all sorts of music, save for the extremely untalented and blatantly commercial.
“Any musical genre” includes obscure classical chamber music, Italian opera, old-school hip-hop, insanely trippy acid house and Leonard Cohen.
Extremely untalented usually includes stuff so bad that it needs to be looped to exhaustion through every available mainstream media outlet until it hypnotises anybody into paying for it.
As a matter of fact, blatantly commercial stuff also fits that definition.
Although I am a mediocre instrument player, I have absolute hearing and can usually pinpoint a note half-a-tone off in a track without paying attention.
Things I really need to be somewhat sober to do well: find directions, beatmatch, write code.
Things I can do all the same, if not better, when seriously altered: type on a keyboard, dance, play the piano, discuss metaphysics, speak foreign languages, bartend.
I have two tattoos, no piercing (cf needlephobia, above).
Beside my taste for reading, I have an irrational love of books and physically can’t stand people who write notes on them or tear off corners.
I sometimes fake forgetfulness to hide my freakishly good memory of conversations and situations.
Things I can never remember: any abstract numbers… phone numbers, zip codes, birth dates, street addresses. Including my own and those I’ve been using near-daily for many years.
Things I remember effortlessly: entire book chapters, movie dialogs, the names of most of my first-grade schoolmates.