The 25 Random Things About Me thing has been circulating Facebook recently, and I finally got around to writing my own. Figured I'd repost it here. This ended up way longer than a lot of folks' lists, and it's a little unnerving how geeky I really am. Anyway, here goes:
1. I was born in New York City, and one of my earliest memories is going to a park (perhaps Central Park) and climbing a tree and getting stung by bees. And on another occasion getting wet cement in my hair. And getting spanked for sticking a fork in a rotary fan and shattering the plastic blades. If you want young kids to remember their early childhood, give them traumatic experiences that will imprint on their memories.
2. I grew up in Minnesota and lived there from age 4 to 21, and I still consider myself a displaced Minnesotan. I drink pop, eat hot dish and play Duck Duck Gray Duck. I went to Twins games at the old Met Stadium in my hometown of Bloomington (the site is now the Mall of America).
3. I moved across town between third and fourth grade and changed schools, and my claim to fame as the new kid was that I could solve the Rubik’s Cube in less than two minutes.
4. I had some minor degree of childhood asthma, and my mom didn’t want me playing a brass or woodwind instrument because she thought it would be too hard on my respiratory system. So I played violin instead and hated it. But I enjoyed piano, once I got to play music I liked.
5. In eighth grade I got third place in the entire state of Minnesota at the St. Cloud Math Contest. I was also on our school’s MathCounts team, and in our state finals, the top four finishers went to the national competition in Washington DC. I tied for fourth, and after two tiebreakers, I lost by one point and didn’t get to go to nationals.
6. I got completely burned out by accelerated math programs, so I gave up on math and switched to the humanities, especially literature, theatre and creative writing. In tenth grade, I wrote short stories starring my friends and classmates. One story had my honors English class trapped in the school and all of us getting murdered one by one. Other stories cast our group of friends as having paranormal superpowers, or exploring fantasy lands a la Dungeons & Dragons, or in sci-fi scenarios like Star Trek.
7. I was in 4-H for many years, despite having no farming or agricultural experience. My projects were in things like bike safety and photography. The first time I ever danced with a girl was at a 4-H leadership conference held at the Minnesota State Fairgrounds.
8. I’ve kept a journal pretty much every day since tenth grade. I was really shaped by Bob Greene’s book Be True to Your School based on his high school journals, which he described as “time preserved.”
9. During high school I once had a part-time job doing phone surveys and market research, and of course I got a lot of hang-ups and annoyed people. So now I like getting phone surveys and always try to complete surveys whenever I’m called.
10. I also had a summer job working at Dairy Queen. We got bored making the same kinds of Blizzards all the time, so we’d invent our own. Or make alternative Peanut Buster Parfaits with layers like blue raspberry, Heath Bar, mint, Oreos, etc.
11. Once in ski club I was coming down an icy hill and couldn’t stop, and I collided with a popular cheerleader and ended up lying between her legs. I don’t know which one of us was more mortified.
12. I was in high school debate league and went to a two-week summer debate camp. I was told that the girls had a “hot guys” list posted in the girls’ bathroom and that I made the list. (Which probably isn’t saying much, but hey.)
13. I ran track for one year because most of my friends ran track. I never did very well, but I trained enough to bench my weight and run a six-minute mile.
14. I had bit parts in theatre in high school. One play, I had thirteen words (not lines – just words), so my cast T-shirt said “Thirteen.”
15. I love Broadway musicals. I’ve seen Les Miserables four times and pretty much have the whole three-hour symphonic recording memorized.
16. Ellen and I have a bunch of Coca-Cola polar bears because a few months after we started dating, she was in the hospital for abdominal surgery, and her family brought her a Coca-Cola polar bear from Hardee’s. I got one as well so our polar bears could date. When we dated long distance, one or the other of us would keep both bears so the bears could be together even if we were apart.
17. One of my college responsibilities was filling pop machines. Just before graduation, I and a friend put some cans of non-alcoholic beer in the pop machines in rarely consumed slots like diet A&W root beer, so they wouldn’t be discovered until the next school year.
18. When I went to Urbana 93, I bought two full boxes of IVP books. I now have what is probably the world’s largest collection of autographed IVP books – over 400 signed titles.
19. During grad school I had a journalism trip to Washington and one of my classmates was friends with a Secret Service agent, so we got a behind-the-scenes tour of the White House. We stood at the doorway to the Oval Office and got to sit in the private presidential movie theatre. I have a picture of myself standing at the press room podium. We also attended a real press briefing, and I stood two feet away from George Stephanopoulos.
20. My master’s thesis at Wheaton was the basis of my first book, Singles at the Crossroads. I had been dating Ellen for three years at the time, and I waited until the book proposal had been accepted and contracts signed before I proposed to her.
21. I love buying books at thrift shops for a quarter and selling them on Amazon for ten or twenty bucks. It feels like magic.
22. I like team comic books like Justice League and Teen Titans and ensemble cast shows like Friends and Lost. Probably has something to do with a yearning for community and the sense that we are better together than on our own.
23. I consider myself a moderate evangelical mutt. My church history has included Covenant, Evangelical Free, Alliance Church, Church of Christ/Christian Church, went to Lutheran retreats, worked at a Baptist camp, etc. I joined the Anglican church in 2005 and appreciate its ancient-future liturgy and worship. Many of the Christian writers who have most shaped my thinking are Anglican: C. S. Lewis, John Stott, J. I. Packer, N. T. Wright.
24. I have never had a broken bone. Or any major surgery, I think.
25. I am an ENFP on the Myers-Briggs and an Enneagram Seven (the enthusiast), so I am described as “a frisky puppy that likes to have his nose into everything.” My virtue is taking joy in life, and my vice/besetting sin is gluttony – I want to try everything and don’t want to miss out on anything.