Thursday, February 28, 2008


A friend forwarded me these questions. I enjoyed answering them.


1. What is the first movie you saw and where did you see it?

The very first movie? I can't remember - but I think the very earliest one I can remember stands out because it was the worst and I hated it: Tron. I was 5 years old, and my parents were watching it in our hotel room while we were on vacation in Sanibel Island, Florida. I remember being soooooo bored. Other than that, early, early movies that stand out are The Muppet Movie, and The Last Unicorn - both of which, I loved.

2. What television show(s) did you like in the 70's?

I was born in 1978.

3. What television show(s) did you like in the 80's?

Sesame Street, My Little Pony (this was my favorite), Care Bears, Garfield, Punky Brewster, Silver Spoons, He Man & She Ra, The Muppet Show, Fraggle Rock (other favorite), The Smurfs, The Littles, The Jetsons, Dungeons & Dragons.

4. Name as many childhood Halloween costumes as you remember.

When I was 7, I was a horse (which everyone thought was a cow, which pissed me off, and my brother got to be a "cool" devil, which pissed me off, too). I believe that costume, already a hand-me-down from my cousin Allison, was recycled for me for 2 consecutive years. Brilliant!

My very first costume was an artist, at age 2. I had a little black beret, a paint smock with bowtie, and the paint-thing with all the colors on it, with a hole for your thumb....the thing artists hold while they're painting - and a paintbrush. I was so proud - I wanted to be like my dad.

When I was 5, I was painted as some sort of weird vaudevillian clown face and taken door-to-door by my father. I was so embarrassed, because I thought I looked ugly, so I cried the entire time, and wouldn't look anyone in the eye. I have no idea what my dad thought of my reaction.

At age 6, I was Strawberry Shortcake, and wore the cheap plastic mask with tiny breathe-holes. I rememer wheezing and the whole mask covering my face with condensation, which was an extremely unpleasant sensation, but I was determined to wear it - I loved Strawberry Shortcake, man. The rest of the costume consisted of a plastic tablecloth-like sheet with a hole for my head, draped over my body and screenprinted with a Strawberry Shortcake picture.

At age 9 I was Raggedy Ann, an entire set, lovingly handcrafted - including a red yarn wig, a blue flowered dress with white pinafore (I loved this dress and pinafore - I felt like Alice and Wonderland, which, looking back, would have been a wise choice, since I loved Alice and felt silly wearing this giant red wig) and red-and-white socks. It was borrowed and handed-down from my next-door-neighbor-best-friend. Obviously my parents did not like buying Halloween costumes.

My final year of trick-or-treating was at age 13 or 14 - I knew I was old, but I loved it, and my friend Lisa and I were going to go together. Her brilliant idea was to make our own costumes, and we were each to be "a bag of jelly beans." It took a lot of drawing-board brainstorming to determine how this feat was to be accomplished, let me tell you. We made my costume first, and taped balloons with masking tape to the outside of a black trash bag, reconfigured with holes for arms, and head.

After my costume was complete, we had the stroke of genius to tape the balloons with much-sturdier duct tape. We were giggling as we squished into the back of my parent's station wagon, in order to drive us to "the rich neighborhood," where we would get more & better candy. We barely fit in the car, and my heart would flutter at each popping of a balloon.

My costume, due to its embarrassingly shoddy craftsmanship, cast balloons one bye one, two by two, lost into the dark night after each house we visited and each crispy, sugar-frosted lawn we traversed - until I was just walking around in a black trash bag. Lisa's costume was fully intact, her enviously bright bouquet of colors a beacon of hope in the frigid, obsidian air. I felt the clench of a quiet panic rise in my throat.

At that point, we rang the bell at a large, white house. I believe there were pillars - or it may just be my faulty memory, increasing the stakes in the ominous tragi-comedy that was to ensue. When the woman opened the door, her face turned to a bitter sneer as she looked first at Lisa, bright and bubbly, and then me, in my wrinkled, crinkled, ripped, pathetic, disgusting - trash bag. "YOU COULD TRY HARDER THAN THAT!" she barked, crushing my fragile self-esteem, my confidence, my wishes to be clever, lovely and glittered.

5. What was the first thing you bought with your own money?

I remember being so proud that I had six dollars, for a long time, carefully stowed away in my quilted pink purse. I think I used it to buy candy - but didn't spend it all in one place. I bought M & Ms, my treasure, and would eat just a few at a time, and would delicately roll up the little papery bag and tuck it away in my cupboard in my room in order to savor them as long as I could.

6. What was your allowance at age 10?

I never had an allowance.

7. Was/were there a(n) political event(s) you remember from the 70s and 80's?

I don't remember anything. Except in 3rd grade, our teacher asked us who we thought would be voted for governor and wrote down two names on the blackboard. We voted. I was so proud a few days later when my guess was correct. I had chosen the name because I liked it - and truly had an instinct about him. ;)

8. What religion were you raised in?

A bit Christian, but we never attended church. I remember my dad taking me to the Nature Center, walking around looking at the trees, and my dad called it, "My Church." He'd always ask us if we wanted to go to his church.

9. Are you still in that religion?


10. What rules did your parents have that you hated?

I don't remember any rules. Except I hated doing homework - especially math homework. I would cry with frustration. We also had to always practice the piano - which we all procrastinated about doing - even though I liked it.

11. What's the first song you made out to?

There was no music.

12. Who was your first kiss?

Not telling. But I was 18 years old.

13. How many schools did you go to as a kid?

4 - one elementary school, one middle school, 2 highschools

14. Which place(s) did you live growing up?

North Saint Paul, Minnesota

15. What color(s) was/were your room growing up?

White stucco, with dark wood trim in weird V shapes. My dad said he wanted it to look like a tudor-style house (on the inside of my room). Until I was in highschool, it also had blue persian-esque tiles on the floor, which were cool - but it made the floor hard and cold. It was a weird room. No wonder I chose to sleep in my brother's room until I was 7. (It was also because I was afraid of all the dolls in my room. I thought they were staring at me at night, in the dark, as I tried to sleep. Gave me chills.)

16. What was your favorite book in the 70's/80's/90's?

From the start, I loved to read and be read to. Books were my entire world. As a young kid, among all the picture books, the famous kid authors, I loved all the 1950s Little Lulu comics that my dad read to us from his collection.

As I grew, I loved all the Oz books & Alice in Wonderland (my favorites), Dr. Seuss, all old fairytales, everything by Zilpha Keatley Snyder, Anne of Green Gables books, Madeleine L'Engle, Cynthia Voight books, Chronicles of Narnia...............

17. What was your favorite movie(s) in the 70's/80's/90's?

I love movies and always have. If I had to pick one though that stands out most from childhood, I'd say Labyrinth.

18. Who was your first "best friend"?

Kristen, next-door.

19. Do you still know him/her?

Yes! Although she moved away, we re-discovered each other later in life. :)

20. What was the farthest you rode a bike as a child?

I think to the 7/11. It was "up the hill," which I thought was a marvelous, long journey. Now, I know - t's not. LOL

21. Were your parents strict?

Not by a long shot.

22. When were you allowed to date?

Never was an issue because I was extremely shy. It never came up.

23. What pet(s) did you have before you were 18?
Poppy & Moose - 2 cocker spaniels
Goldie & Blackie - goldfish
Tosca - cat
Hamsters (my sister's - yech)
Nibbles - guinea pig (my sister's - again, yech)
Zip & Cupid - cockatiels
BearPaw - mutt dog
Zeke, Cecily, Zolly - 3 lovey cats

24. Did you get good grades in school?


25. What hobbies did you have as a child?

I loved to read and write....I also played the piano, tennis, and skiing. And until I was about 9 or 10, I loved dolls and always played with dolls.

26. Did you play sports?

ONLY tennis & skiing. Outside of school. They were the only things I liked, and I was terrible at everything else. I HATED school-related sports/gym class. Such pressure! Such tension!

27. What was your favorite food as a child?

Rice. When I was 10 and my parents asked me what I wanted for my birthday, I only half-jokingly asked for "a barrel of rice."

Also, artichokes and brussels sprouts. I loved eating steamed artichokes as a family, because it took a long time to make them and eat them, one leaf at a time, dipped in mayonnaise (yum!). This delectable vegetable was particularly conducive to having quality family time - eating, talking.

28. What food did you hate as a child?

I never liked meat very much. And until I was a bit older and grew to LOVE spaghetti, when I was very young, it was scary to eat because I continually choked as I was eating it.

29. Are your parents still married? If so, how long?
34 years this fall, inshaAllah, mashaAllah.

30. Who was your favorite teacher in K-8?

Definitely Mr. Fredlund, my 5th grade teacher. He was my beloved, staunch supporter. Believed in me, loved me in a grandfatherly way. Now that my mom's a schoolboard person and always involved in education and the community, she sees him from time to time at different functions. He always asks about me. :)

21. Who was your favorite teacher in High School?

I loved Mrs. Lamb, my 7th grade English teacher, and Mr. Brick, my 11th and 12th grade English teacher, even though EVERYONE I knew made fun of him - he was quite odd. I liked him very much - he was a huge fan of Asian poetry, and I will never forget his moving, inspiring lectures about Lao Tsu and Li Po, which revved up quite a bit of enthusiasm for these writers on my own part. I will never forget how, through these and other writers, he taught me the word "reticence," and the whole concept behind it in Asian poetry. It followed me for the rest of my days, trying to capture that essence and practice. Mr. Brick was so supportive of me. He was so respectful and 1000% encouraging of me and my writing. It was exactly what I needed - saturated praise - in order to draw me out, to blossom and be brave and expressive in my writing.

It's funny, but I remember little else from my scholastic highschool days, but these afternoons of reading poetry and world literature stayed with me. Just the other morning - a cold, bright winter morning, I read a beautiful article in National Geographic about the 17th century Japanese poet, Basho. It took me back inside a reverie.

22. Did you ever steal anything as a kid?

We had these neighbors that we (my parents, and therefore, us kids) hated, until they moved away when I entered middle school, or maybe a little earlier. They were dumb as rocks, and loud, and mean. They used to have this plastic crate of rocks - just rocks - sitting next to their garage.

I don't know why, but I feverishly decided I just HAD to take one of those rocks. Maybe it was vengeance for their son being mean to me? My heart was pounding, pounding, as I cased the situation, crept up, and snatched a big rock from the crate. Just as I did so, they drove up in their van, onto their driveway. I ran, and hid in the bushes. Someone jumped out of the van and chased after me - was it their daughter? - and caught me in the bushes, and started screaming in my face, "WHAT WERE YOU DOING?! WHAT WERE YOU DOING?!!" I couldn't answer, couldn't speak, could only shake in my cold sweat.

I still had the rock when she walked away. I remember laying in bed that night, unable to sleep, my stomach in a twist, nauseous, paralyzed with fear, begging - someone, something, instinctually? - for forgiveness. Vowing never to do that again. The next day, I crept back, and put the rock back in the crate, praying they would never notice.

23. Did you ever cheat on a test?


24. Where would we find you on your elementary school playground?

Hoping recess would end as quickly as possible (I didn't like any forced socialization), or, on a more peaceful Spring day, playing 4-square, if there were any taking it up.

25. Did you have a job before you were 18?

At 15, I worked at Dege Garden Center. I was a cashier, but also did other odd jobs. It was the weirdest place to work - the employees were bizarre, are-you-a-convict? types - but they were very funny, and I enjoyed working there. I thought they were SO OLD, so haggard, so experienced - but looking back, they were about 25-30 yrs. old. We would take turns taking naps in the back, on top of bags of fertilizer. We'd jump up and start sweeping if the owner, George, came in the store. I loved watering the flowers with the spray hose in the hot, misty greenhouse.

I also worked at Bruegger's Bagels, which I didn't like much - but I stuck to it.

26. Excluding family, who have you known the longest that you still have contact with now?

Kristen, from next-door

27. Did you go to any concerts when you were a child? If yes, which ones?

Classical ones.

28. What fad(s) did you just have to have?

Friendship bracelets, Cabbage Patch dolls, moccasins, hairsprayed bangs, jelly shoes, tight-ankled jeans held together with safety pins

29. What fad(s) did you hate?

Hairsprayed bangs and tight-ankled jeans held together with safety pins

30. It's Friday night in high school: Where are you?

Sometimes home, watching a movie, sometimes out with friends - movie, restaurant, coffee shop or their house.

31. Did you ever copy a celebrity for your hair style?

Wanted to, but don't think I did or was able to.

32. What song was played at your high school graduation?

I can't remember.

33. What was the dumbest thing you did as a child?

Perhaps when I tried, in secret, to copy my dad by putting M & Ms in my nose. I was in the bathroom, sitting on the counter, looking in the mirror, to see how it looked to have orange and green nostrils, like him. The trouble came when the M & Ms wouldn't come out again. They were stuck. I panicked. They melted. I started blowing my nose, blowing my nose, for what I've always remembered was "half an hour," blowing chocolate out - and then blood. Decided never to do that again, either.

My friend Kristen answered these questions too, and for this one, I just have to post her answer as well, since it is about her and me:

"One would have to be when my best friend and I made wishes, blowing on dandelions, that we would become centaurs. And we were absolutely, whole-heartedly convinced that our wish had come true, and oh, were we delighted. ("I can see the outline of my back legs!" "I can jump higher than I could before! Look!") Until, classically, the doubts started to creep in: what had we done? How would we live our lives this way? How would we ever return to normal?? I went inside to my mother, in tears, wailing about dandelions and wishes and back legs and despair. My mother's response:
'Why don't you just wish on another dandelion?' "

34. How late were you allowed to stay out?

I didn't really have a curfew

35. What was your first car?

The red Ford Taurus station wagon was passed on to me. I thought it was a huge embarrassment, but my friends in highschool liked it, which made me happy. It always smelled like grass, from having huge black lawn bags filled with freshly mown grass in the summer that my mother then drove to "the dump." The smell remained.

36. Is your life what you thought it would be?

I hadn't known what to expect, but I certainly hadn't seen this coming.


  1. Salaam! Do you mind if I hijack these questions and use them on my blog? With my own answers, of course. I'd like to add a little casual fun to my blog rather than just the dull side of life!

  2. Go right ahead!

    walaikum assalaam!


  3. Umm yehiya, this explains so much :)

  4. Umm AbdurRahman,
    LOL, are you serious? Like what? :D

  5. Umm Y, yeah I'm serious. I love all your quirkiness. If that's even a word. I absolutely love how unique you are. It gave me a real glimpse into your childhood and what shaped you into who you are today. Don't worry.. I don't mean it in a bad way.

  6. Aww, shucks. *blush, blush*
    No, of course I didn't take it in a bad way at all! I'm flattered - and surprised!