I celebrated — nay, ignored — my birthday this year by cunning and subterfuge since the date was paired with Mother’s Day. It was fortunate for me that mom likes to get attention, so I gladly took to the background and let her have her day in the spotlight.
For mom, I finished knitting the shawl I’d started about the same number of times as the years I’m old. Mom was happy with her gift although I could see every mangled stitch and error I made while trying to get the thing done in time for her day. I’ll be knitting her another, nicer, shawl soon, given all I learned with my first try.
Meanwhile, now that life is back to normal, it’s time to update a list of questions I re-visit every year to keep track of how little, or how much, I’ve changed. The questions come from Inside the Actor’s Studio, the now defunct TV show where James Lipton interviewed actors about their life on stage and screen. Since I’m the lead of my low-ratings story, I always fancied being asked these questions by Mr. Lipton. Some answers haven’t changed since I first took this questionnaire, but after becoming a man of a certain age, I’ve had to revise and update some of my answers.
So, here’s me, at 54:
What is your current state of mind?
In acupuncture terms: Spleen Qi Deficiency with Liver Qi stagnation. That translates to stressed with some temper issues.
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
A sunset, at the beach, laughing with my best friends, with no exams to study for. Or a quiet night at home knitting or lost in the pages of a good story.
What is your greatest fear?
The acupuncture herbal board exam. My last board to get my license. Still.
Which living person do you most admire?
Who are your heroes in real life?
My parents, my sisters, my friends—anyone working to make this planet a better place to live.
What is your most marked characteristic?
My forehead. I keeps getting bigger every year. It’s grown to 4K definition but without a HDMI cable included.
What is the trait you most deplore in yourself?
Not feeling comfortable with being vulnerable. Until I do, I won’t be able to be myself.
What is your favorite quality in a person?
What is the trait you most deplore in others?
What is it that you most dislike?
Anyone not open to, or willing to, learn new things—or try.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Thinking I have time on my side.
What do you most value in your friends?
Their honesty, unrelenting support, and patience for all the stupid things I do.
What is your favorite journey?
Going back to school at 48 to learn acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
What is your most treasured possession?
The education my parents gave me.
On what occasion do you lie?
When someone asks me who is the person I despise most.
Which living person do you most despise?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
My fluctuating waist size. After that, I’d like to learn to be compassionate to myself.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
Going back to school @48, starting over, getting a degree in acupuncture, and not giving up on myself when I don’t do well on a board exam.
If you could change one thing about your family, what would it be?
They’d be liberal Democrats. But then, they wouldn’t be my family, and I wouldn’t be a topic for discussion.
What is your idea of misery?
Rush-hour traffic, in Miami, in summer, with no AC.
What is your favorite occupation?
Acupuncturist and healer.
Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Captain Christopher Pike, of the U.S.S. Discovery and U.S.S. Enterprise.
How would you like to die?
Asleep. In my bed. Embraced by my loved one. (But I’m sure that would be creepy to my loved-one, but these are my questions, not his.)
What is your motto?
“Hit it.” — Christopher Pike
What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on?
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
Waves crashing on the shore.
What sound or noise do you hate?
What is your favorite curse word?
What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt
Acupuncturist and Chinese Medicine healer—otherwise, the past few years have been for naught.
What profession would you not like to do?
Fox News pundit. Politician.
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
“That was’t so bad now, was it? Let me put on a pot of coffee and get my knitting. I want to hear all about it.”