Requests to share “25 random things about you” have been flooding my inbox on Facebook, so I decided to give in. Ok, may be not flooding. May be it was more like 4 random requests. Anyhow. I cannot bring myself to forward it to anyone else, just because forwarding chain mail makes me feel like Cornell Engineering will take away my geek badge forever. So, instead, I list my 25 things here, and hope that people who forwarded me that flood of requests find my blog.
1. I lived in Novovoronezh, Borisoglebsk, Brooklyn, Ithaca, Santa Clara, Gaithersburg. I do not feel a special attachment to any of these places, and have come to feel at home when family is around me no matter where I am. I feel no allegiance to any country, place or land – only people. (I sure do feel allegiance to the posh areas of San Fran and New York though. )
2. In the “Outliers” book my Malcom Gladwell, I read that originally there were 2 types of cultures: herders and farmers, and herders evolved much more of a “My name is Indigo Montoyo, you killed my father, prepare to die” attitude – they had to look bad-ass so that no one would steal their sheep. Farmers had no such issues, as no one was going to run off with a field full of corn, and so no bad-ass attitude evolved. The book then makes the point that these attitudes persist well into the modern day, with herding-heritage cultures still being hot-tempered and all about their honor. Which makes me strongly believe that my father and I should be able to trace our roots to some mean goat herders. Plus, I was always a sucker for the cute little goats. And schnauzers sort of look like goats…. Ok, I digress. See what happens when you ask me to state 25 random things about me? And this is only thing 2!
3. I am puzzled why humans insist that they are a ‘special animal’. I think we are no different from dogs, cows, horses or mollusks. My studies in biology and evolution quite strongly support my belief. Questions like “Do dogs dream?” or “Do birds have feelings” are completely ridiculous to me. People, your nervous system exists in MOST OTHER SPECIES!! GET OVER IT! THERE IS NOTHING SPECIAL ABOUT YOU, NO. What’s that? You collectively construct masterpieces far more sophisticated than any one of you could, you transform your environment and communicate with one another? Um, so do ants. There.
4. My interests lie in brain sciences, biology and psychology. I spent time getting a Cognitive Studies concentration in college, and almost had a Psychology minor as well. Why didn’t I pursue those things as a career? Good question.
5. My favorite book is “Master and Margarita” by Bulgakov. I am not a religious person, but that book describes the faith I do have.
6. “In God we trust. All others must bring data.” I don’t know who said it, but people, it is true. There are few things that irk me more than someone saying “Well, I disagree…” to DATA!! You cannot disagree with mathematics, ok?
7. In high school, I considered being pre-law. I was talked out of it by fellow Russian people, who advised me that “no one will want to have a laywer with an accent!”. I wonder if that’s true. I don’t think I want to be a laywer in any case, but still.
8. I spent 5 years in a music academy learning to play piano, and graduated from the said academy – even though I have NO pitch, NO sense of tonalities/keys/whatever, and a horrible singing voice. Witness the power of mediocrity combined with perseverance!
9. I do, however, have rhythm. Hence, I dance. Or used to.
10. My Mom is the most beautiful woman I have ever seen – and scores of men falling over themselves when they see her on the street agree. A lot of my time, especially when I was younger, was spent obsessing over how I was nowhere near as pretty as my mother. Didn’t help that everyone pointed it out, either.
11. Cornell was the most stressful thing I have done in my life. However, I cannot imagine having lived without it. I met my husband there. It was the only place I could have attended.
12. I have only been in love once. I married the man. Still in love.
13. Still have no idea what I want to do when I grow up. I watched Avenue Q when I was 26, and freaked out to have my exact emotions acted out as a musical in front of me.
14. I am very worried about ever messing up anything in anyone else’s life, and so don’t like to offer advice. I am concerned you will come back to me years later, and throw my bad advice at my face, and tell me how everything is messed up because of me.
15. I can’t stand girly movies. “Pretty Woman”, “Steel Magnolias”, “The Notebook”, “The Titanic”…. all make me want to roll my eyes.
16. I am more like my Dad than I like to admit, and less like my Mom than I’d like to be.
17. I have once been solicited as a potential bride for purchase at a Sochi market. Yes. I was 12. Yes yes. My Dad did some excellent rhetorical maneuvering, especially when the Georgian peach-selling men surrounded us and demanded he name a price. I was very upset by the incident, because it made my Mom completely disallow me to ever travel to the area by myself, which I desperately wanted to do.
18. I loved traveling to Florence, Italy – partly because for the first time EVER in my life I was surrounded by people who looked like I do.
19. A lot of my life outlook comes from what I went through with my dog, who I lost in Russia and dearly love.
20. I really easily end up feeling in other people’s shoes, and for that reason hate watching anything where someone gets embarrassed, hurt, tortured, bereaved, whatever.
21. I like it when people pay attention to the little things.
22. I do believe that your face speaks volumes about who you are, especially as you get older. Physiognomy is a dying art!
23. I don’t really have a set political party. My political beliefs are defined by the premise that I should not screw with other people’s lives, because I have no idea what they are going through. But I should try to help. This means I am socially liberal and willing to pay high taxes to live in places where people share wealth – therefore, in America it makes me a Democrat.
24. An aweful lot of melancholy comes with being Russian. Don’t know why, but Russians love feeling bitter-sweet. It makes me feel bitter that I don’t have anyone but my parents who understands my bitter-sweet moods at times.
25. I hate chocolate chips. Peanut butter. And dislike popcorn. I have been accused of being un-American for it. Call me what you will, I like my dark chocolate, believe that nuts should NEVER be in butter form, and that corn is best left unpopped.
Yeay, 25! That was not as easy as I thought, but here it is. Now, back to melancholy while contemplating neuroscience journal articles and avoiding chocolate chips cookies in my pantry.