Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Ask Me Anything Answers, Part One

Per my post Ask Me Anything! (paragraph 2, sentence 1), I invited the community to ask a question about me, any question,. . ." Furthermore, in the same document and paragraph, sentence 2, I stated "I'll post my answers on Monday or Tuesday . . ."

You know, Martha's right.

I'm a dumb shit.

I should have known that the village would come through for one of its sons with questions galore. I should have realized that this particular village is too damn intelligent for its own good and the questions would be hard. With sight of the hind, I should have set this thing up like Jeopardy! on TV: I give simple answers and the contestants (y'all) give simple questions.

Your host, Alex Trebek
Alex Trebek: "And the answer is, 'beer foam.'"
Alex Trebek: "Mapstew."
Mapstew: "What is Charlie's second most favorite crayon color?"
Alex Trebek: "That's right! His favorite color is 'sewer gas.'"

So much for the should haves. If my Muse, my fickle Greek goddess, wasn't fooling around somewhere in Michigan, I wouldn't be begging you people for blog fodder in the first place. I'll answer all your questions as advertised, but it will take several posts to do it; otherwise, this thing would be longer than an all-day sucker.

* * *

Question 1 is from Robert at Plead Ignorance: "If you could live your life over again, what would you do differently and what would remain unchanged?"

As I gaze into my Pensieve, there is nothing I could do differently to change the formative years of my life. The clay of Who I Am was in the sculpting hands of an alcoholic father, a mentally unstable mother, and nuns who constantly promised eternal horror. I didn't have a chance against abusive adults because what child ever does?

If I could change the formative years, the first eighteen years of my life with a wizard's wand, I would rid it of ninety percent of the adults I knew and could not trust, including my parents, especially my parents, in which case I would be an entirely different person sitting here, maybe for better, maybe for worse, but in any event a stranger who couldn’t answer this question because I wouldn’t know Who I Would Be.

Take a breathing break with me. [Good air in, bad air out, good air in, bad air out]

I don’t need Mr. Peabody’s WABAC (way back) machine to know what I would do differently as an adult. I wouldn’t re-smoke the 468,000* cigarettes I smoked and end up with lung disease all over again. I wouldn’t drink again, not even socially because there was never anything social about it; I drank to get drunk because it was my medicine.

The non-drinking thing bothers me, though. Due to my recovery work, which is due to my alcoholism, I know Who I Am. Due to my recovery from alcoholism, I was (and am) able to help others with their drinking and drug problems. Without alcohol, I wonder what my new medicine would be to self-discovery and altruistic helper. (I know, Robert, that you won’t suggest religion, self-help books, or Dr. Phil.)

Fini. While it may not make much sense, I'm glad that I was able to provide an unintelligible answer.

*Calculation: In the US, there are 20 cigarettes in a pack and 10 packs in a carton, for a total of 200 cigarettes in a carton. 45 years times 52 weeks per year equals 2,340 weeks. I smoked one carton a week for 2,340 weeks, for a total of 468,000 smokes. Minimum.

* * *

Question 2 is from Jan at DJan-ity: "Who is your favorite author? Why?"

Tickle Me Elmo Chuck
"The first objects that assume a distinct prescence before me, as I look far back, into the blank of my infancy, are my mother with her pretty hair and youthful shape . . ."
—Charles Dickens, David Copperfield

What an idiotic statement by Dickens, writing as Copperfield. How does David look into the blank of his infancy? He can't because, well, it's blank. Dickens must mean post-infancy, then, perhaps when David was two. But how does a rug rat in the throes of the "terrible twos" notice anything other than all the breakable shit on the coffee table? He may remember a tiny snippet here and there, a flash in the brainpan, but David has a distinct memory of his mother's "pretty hair and youthful shape." Since when does a two-year-old use adjectives—and know the difference between a youthful shape and a banana?

Gee, I might use this for a book report if I ever need to send one in.

To answer your question, Jan, Charles Dickens is my favorite author. I forgive him of illogic (see my book report, above), wanton use of coincidence, and the cliffhanger story line that disappeared in Little Dorrit. He was a master of characterization, dialect, and emotion. He was a window to Victorian England, writing often about the social ills and inequities between the haves and have-nots.

Most of all, he wrote stories that capitvated me.

Especially David Copperfield.

* * *

I was planning on answering a third question, but my verbosity has done me in. I've spent parts of four days writing this much and my eyes are pooped from constant squinting and refocusing. The other fifteen questions will all get answered sometime in time, so until then you'll just have to keep your shorts on. Please.


Madame DeFarge said...

I shall look forward to your continuing enlightenment. Sorry I forgot ask you a question. I feel that the chance for great knowledge has passed me by.

Faysoflife said...

Ok, so you're asking me to keep my shorts on. Man, has life changed!
Personally, I get the whole time/space/redoing future all confused. For purely selfish reasons, which are the only reasons really, I'm glad you are who you are right now.

hope said...

Well, I'm happy with who you are and am perfectly willing to wait my turn. And to keep my shorts on. Cause I was raised in the South where they generally look down on unladylike behavior...while trying to get us to misbehave. ;)

Thegoodcook said...

hhrmph. Is that a word?

Kim Ayres said...

As someone once said or at least someone probably should have once said and if they haven't then I'll say it now just to make sure it has been said (pause for breath), if you got the chance to live your life over and wouldn't change a thing, then you're a boring sod with no imagination...

savannah said...

i was going to ask a question and then the phone rang and i walked away and came back to look for something (google it) and closed your window AND there it is - a big nothing and here you are just expounding away on all manner of things, ok, three things, but done so well that i am in awe once again! (that was my verbal answer to a very famous continuous cinematic tracking shot...) xoxoxox

trina said...

brilliant, I think your doing great!


Djanstewart said...

Charles Dickens, huh? Well, your response was incredibly enlightening. You are definitely one of a kind, Charlie, and I am feeling quite honored right now that you managed to give me this cogent response when you have to work so hard to write anything. (I'm really wishing your eyesight will adapt or recover so it's not so damn much hard work to write!) I'm sending you a virtual hug.

Syd said...

I think that our childhoods must have been remarkably similar. I wonder what it would have been like to be raised in a functional family where self-esteem was boosted and less criticism meted out. Alas, that didn't happen. So I came out pretty well considering. And the journey of self-discovery would likely not have occurred without all the dysfunction. Your answers are good and filled with humor. Looking for more of that.

barbara said...

You have your work cut out for you, kiddo! All these people out here, drumming their fingers, waiting for you to answer their question. No pressure!

Mapstew said...

Ha! :¬)

Wandering Coyote said...

Funnily enough I cannot stand Dickens. He is the least favourite author I was ever forced to read. I couldn't finish Tale of Two Cities.

Looking forward to the rest of your answers, but for God's sake, take your time and don't sweat it too much. 4 days to do this much is epic, man, but don't overdo it, OK?

Kid-at-heart said...

CHARLES DICKENS!!???????? *hyperventilating* Charles Dickens?? *weeping* Really??? But...but....but....

Robert the Skeptic said...

Thanks, Charlie. I think of this question often regarding my own life. I was moved by an episode of Star Trek TNG (#141) entitled "Tapestry" where Picard has the chance to actually live his life over again It is one of the best episodes from the entire series, in my opinion, and it puts the question into a comfortable perspective for me. I won't say more, other than it is worth re-watching and appreciating.

Charlie Callahan said...

I knew this was going to happen, I just knew it. Will it help if I say that, since Dickens never wrote a trilogy, Faulkner's Snopes trilogy is my favorite? Or are you going to tell Doctor Daughter to call me a chump?

Kid-at-heart said...

No, to Dr. Daughter "The Trilogy" is The Lord of the Rings. Her father feels the same way. So yes, it helps a lot that you have designated Snopes as your Number One Trilogy. All is forgiven. And I have nothing against Dickens at all, at all. I enjoy him immensely myself.

Kid-at-heart said...

Dr. Daughter would give you ALL the points for that, Robert. She is rather fond of Q's shenanigans.

unknownmami said...

Always nice to learn more about you. I'm looking forward to more answers "sometime in time".

Pat said...

Makes for good reading. Carry on;)

Tiffin said...

Well your responses to questions ! & 2 sure were interesting, Charlie, so I'm wishing now that I hadn't asked something so dumb. Bleak House is one of my most favourite books. The first time I read David Copperfield I think I was about 9 and I cried for two weeks. I read it again when I was in my mid-teens and bawled all over again. So I don't know you you do it. Maybe I need to read it again as a hardened old crone of middling years. Anyway, this AND the comments have been terrific to read.

Charlie Callahan said...

It is both a relief and goodness to hear from you—even if you're a hardened old crone.