25 Things

99.9% of the time, I don’t recognize anyone or anywhere in my dreams – they’re all people I don’t know/have never met in waking life in places I’ve never seen.

Worrying about other people’s (even strangers’) tattoos is something I do a lot – are they going to still like those tattoos in five years? ten years? will their skin start to sag and make the tattoos look funny? will they have enough money to get the tattoos removed if they want to at some point? what if they had the bad luck to choose a tattoo artist who misspelled something or couldn’t really draw (even worse, what if the tattoo was in a place on their bodies where they couldn’t see it and catch the problem before it was too late)? This last one would exponentially exacerbate all the other issues.

There’s no middle name on my birth certificate, but I do think the first and last ones make up for the lack pretty well and give me some credibility in claiming a patronymic (and don’t tell me that Margarita Vasil’evna doesn’t sound fabulous – because it does).

Perversely and infuriatingly, I seem to care much more about what people who don’t know me think about me than about what people who do know me think about me. I also seem to tell people I don’t know many more personal details about myself than what I tell the people closest to me.

I would love to be able to make useful and beautiful things out of wood.

When I was in middle school (pale and bespectacled even then, but also bucktoothed), a guy who is now a linebackers coach for an NFL team said he was going to beat me up, because he assumed I was the one who told the principal (my mother made me do it!) that the bus driver was selling pot on the school bus and letting kids smoke it in the back. (I’m pretty sure he got over it.) (Looks like I didn’t…) (And did I mention that he was an NFL linebacker before he was an NFL linebackers coach?)

If for some reason I was allowed to eat food of only one color, I would definitely choose orange.

Sometimes I get so wordy, prolix, verbose, etc., etc. that it’s almost logorrhea (who am I kidding, it *is* logorrhea) and I cant’ seem to stop myself, and afterwards I feel embarrassed, remorseful and sorry for the person who was just subjected to it (feels kind of like a word hangover). I guess the first step is admitting I have a problem… Er, what’s the second step?

I wish I liked chess.

There’s a particular kind of exhilaration that comes from intensely concentrating on a translation. It may be my favorite kind of buzz.

I’ve got an uncanny attraction to the cereals, hair products, television shows, etc. that end up being quickly discontinued. I feel like I should be able to make money somehow with that as an anti-consultant: if Margarita likes it, don’t waste any more time or money on R&D or market research. Just shelve it and come up with something else.

It’s ok with me that I haven’t been to London, Paris or Rome.

I get lost much more often when there’s someone else in the car. Really.

My fondness of footnotes and parentheses and bibliographies and appendices and lists (and other “scholarly apparatuses” and/or “front matter” and “back matter”) is beyond all reason, and I usually gravitate to those things first, before I read the text itself (and sometimes *instead* of reading the text itself). [I've also got a thing for ellipses... (But that's a whole 'nother issue.)]

Too much of the Brontes, Jane Austen and Louisa May Alcott in my formative years created my (unreasonable and anachronistic) expectations about dating and relationships. Where was The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy when I really needed it?

My life is lived with the assumption that everyone else out there in the world (pretty much without exception) is more productive, more social, more creative, more witty and more organized than I am. This assumption includes you.

Once, at a U2 concert, I stepped on Joan Baez’s foot. I’ll never forget the look she gave me. She was so not amused.

Having a last name like Nafpaktitis has made me a stronger person, able to instantly know whether the person on the other end of the line is a telemarketer, very conscious of inflammatory diseases (since it’s often pronounced like one), a good speller (Los Angles 6th-grade All-City Spelling Bee Champ – 1st prize a picture dictionary and a $25 savings bond that didn’t mature until I was in college) and really terrible at penmanship (Mrs. White gave me a C in 4th grade. Back when they used to teach penmanship). And Nafpaktos, my ancient ancestral town, whence the name, was so strategic in the Pelopponesian war that Thucydides mentions it more than 40 times. Uh huh. 431 B.C. Check it.

There’s something about making phone calls that unnerves me, so I have to work myself up to them for days — sometimes weeks — and then blitz through them all at the same sitting.

Some of the food (or at least it’s food in some countries) I’ve eaten/drunk (including things from my pre-pescatarian days): jellyfish, raw mussels and clams while they were still alive, limpets, sea urchin, birch sap (indeed, large quantities of birch sap), snails collected from the backyard, raw pork fat, goat head (split open at one’s table with a cleaver), sheep brain, sheep tongue, pig testicles (which the Greeks delicately call “unmentionables”). I haven’t deliberately ingested any insects, but it’s happened (one in particular that I do remember was a large, disoriented fly in the Beskid Niski mountains). And I was given plenty of things to eat in Japan without ever finding out what they were (because my hosts didn’t know the English word for something and/or they were laughing too hard at the fact that I ate it). I don’t think any of it was a reptile or an amphibian, though.

I hate running out of things that I use a lot when I don’t have a backup on hand. Storage space and whether or not it’s an OCD both become concerns when I occasionally find myself thinking that I need to have backups for the backups.

However long it takes for a television show I think I want to see to come out on DVD, I will wait for it. When it does, I’ll watch the whole season in a couple of days. So don’t even think about telling me what’s happening on True Blood, Season 5. We can talk about it next August.

I get moderately freaked out about becoming a “regular” at cafes, restaurants, etc.: when someone working behind the counter recognizes me and knows what I’m going to order before I say anything (“here comes skinny double capp no foam”). So if I do (have to) go back to a place on a semi-regular basis for some reason, I feel compelled to order something different every time, even if I’d much rather have the thing I had the last time, in the futile hope that it will make me seem just a little *less* regular.

The summer between my freshman and sophomore years of college I worked at a McDonald’s drive-thru and lived out in the country in a trailer with my mom (my dad was building a log cabin from a kit one weekend at a time on the property, but it wasn’t up to code yet). Sammy Hagar apparently ordered something from the drive-thru once, a couple of years before I got there, and everyone kept hoping he’d come back. (Because I didn’t know who he was, some of my fellow employees didn’t think I was worthy of the window, and I got extensive supplementary training during breaks on what he looked like, exactly how I should let everyone else on shift know he was there, and on ways to stall him so other people could see him before he drove away.)

The only famous living person I really wanted to meet was …NOT Sammy Hagar: Wisława Szymborska. I had this fantasy that one day I would see her walking in my direction somewhere in downtown Kraków, and when she was close enough I’d say to her… But that’s the problem, I have no idea what I could say that would make her instantaneously want to know me and invite me to go for coffee to continue the conversation. After that she could do all the talking and I would just ask questions and nod enthusiastically. And I would *definitely* pay for her coffee. I used to spend almost as much time scripting possible opening gambits (so far, all rejected) as I still do worrying about other people’s tattoos (see above). But I could do worse than being a groupie of an octogenarian Polish Nobel laureate. Couldn’t I?

Photo licensed under Creative Commons by flickr user tribp.