17 Beliefs, Ideas & Solo thoughts

After reading through a lot of my friends’ “25 Random Things” lists (and my own), I realized that most of the “Things” were about the past & listed “facts,” while I’m most curious about the future and learning about how people think. This led me to write this list of 17 Beliefs, Ideas & Solo Thoughts (things I think when I’m alone or just don’t usually share). I’m not going to tag anyone or make it a “rule” that you’re supposed to write your own — but know that I’ll be happy if you do!

  1. I chose the number 17 for this list because I think it’s an awkward number. I’m only somewhat a numbers person (hardly one when compared with so many I know), but I think prime numbers are kind of funny and feel a little sorry for numbers which are just one away from a common number (like 17 is to 18). On a related note: I will forever regret both slacking off in 7th grade pre-algebra and taking a dislike to my calculus teacher in my first semester in college. The first action caused me to repeat pre-algebra in 8th grade, pulling me off the track most of my college-bound friends were on, and the second made calculus the course I then ignored, nearly failed, becoming the last math class I’ve ever taken. On the plus side, though, being off-the-math-track in high school enabled me to go sailing every day while everyone else was in calculus which was pretty excellent.
  2. I am rarely bored. Much of my life has been guided by my eagerness to learn new things. I find that there’s always a way for me to investigate something more deeply or from a different angle. I love reading non-fiction, listening to “informative” podcasts & asking questions of experts in any field. Just staring at a rock can spark my thinking about the process of how rocks are formed in the earth, how they are visible records of time, the types of rocks that I’ve climbed, what volcanoes would look like when erupting under the ocean, how magical it is that rough rocks can be smoothed by water, current trends in kitchen countertops… you get the idea. As a result, spying on me when I’m alone would get pretty dull sometimes because I’m often just sitting still in one place wide awake while my brain wanders the galaxy.
  3. I am drawn to young children because they have the same sense of wonder about the world that I do. They are eager to learn and I love (re)learning right along with them. I am positive that it is this quality that makes people think I’m much younger than I am. Well, that and the genetic predisposition to a lack of wrinkles which I inherited from my Filipina mom.
  4. I like to picture what is happening inside my body. Thoughts are neurons firing. Cravings are mineral deficiencies getting expressed. Light gets refracted and bounced around on rods and cones in my eye and interpreted by my brain into sight. When I get sick or injured, I visualize the individual cells of the immune system swimming through my bloodstream, wriggling through tissues, wrapping themselves around infected cells. I cheer them on. This propensity came in useful for (and was amplified by) my work on a documentary series about disease. I now have an amazing amount of respect for the bacteria that causes the plague (but am mystified how it evolved) and am deeply fearful of a mutated flu virus. I am not, however, by any stretch of the imagination a germophobe (technical name: mysophobe). On the contrary…
  5. …I enjoy doing activities that remind me that I’m just part of the earth. I love to crawl in caves in the mud, stand with my face up in the rain, sleep outside, dance in dust storms on the playa, and float in the ocean. Just thinking about it makes me happy.
  6. I value work far more than I value money. Those who have tried to impress me with their net worth but are bored and aimless paled in comparison to those who work hard for what they desire. This is why I have no interest in schemes to make as much money as possible for little effort and why I get bored with luck-based games. I know it’s a contradiction that I like some expensive things but will argue that I don’t like them because they’re expensive. Of course, I still think it’s the best thing in the world if you get to do what you love and get paid for it. And yes, I have been totally broke financially several times.
  7. I started dancing in college but I didn’t identify as a dancer until I encountered the Lindy Hop. To me, life is about connecting with others to create something neither of you could do on your own and swing was the first style where I learned to do that while dancing. Since then, I’ve learned many types of partner dancing and find them more satisfying than any solo dance (although I really like that, too, which you would know if you did spy on me because when I’m not sitting catatonically thinking about something I’m often dancing around).
  8. I sometimes have a hard time thinking when music is playing. Music takes up so much space in my brain that I can’t think around it. I usually have to turn down the music when I’m looking for a parking place.
  9. I do not enjoy breaking rules. However, I need to understand the logic behind them and agree with their reasoning before I consider them valid, and I make a distinction between rules that make sense and laws that are there simply to exert control. I will follow rules which don’t make much sense to me out of respect for the person who asked me to do it, if that person is deserving of my respect and the rule doesn’t injure anyone. But if it makes no sense and is just an expression of power, then I don’t think it really counts as a rule and I will often ignore it.
  10. I have a hard time imposing myself on others and hate the feeling of being pushy. My close friends have learned that this means I don’t invite myself along. It also means that I don’t like to push my ideas onto others or run over others’ ideas. I take great joy in promoting others but I don’t like to promote myself. This has worked against me as a director and as an artist. It’s probably not served me well in other ways, too.
  11. I believe it was a blessing to be raised in a culturally mixed household and to be mixed race. From the beginning I knew that there was more than one way to be in the world, that real life contained lots of exceptions to any category, and that there was always someone more poor and someone else more rich than I. It made me separate intelligence from formal education, and recognize different forms of intelligence. I also knew that you couldn’t tell just by looking what kind of life someone had lived.
  12. I feel sorry for people whose face naturally falls into a frown or a sad look. People don’t want to approach them. When I was in middle school I practiced making sure that my face relaxed into a slight smile. I still consciously relax the muscles on my face often to be sure that I’m not frowning when I don’t mean to. I just did it again right now.
  13. I like to study how people walk. Sometimes when I’m walking down the sidewalk I’ll imitate the walk of someone ahead of me. I’m not making fun of them, I just think it’s interesting that we all have slightly different ways of walking. Then I start to think about why they walk like that and make up a little story. I start to write a screenplay in my head based on this story and picture who their friends are. I might spend the next hour walking like them.
  14. I know that clothing is just costuming and have changed my looks based partly on my own whim and partly based on how I want to be perceived. I love how men and women look when they’re all dressed up and put together. Oddly, though, when my outfit is really coordinated I tend to think I look foolish or like I’m trying too hard. I never want to spend that much time on my looks because I think it’s vain. There are many more photos of me in the world looking foolish or rugged than there are of me looking pretty. I love that in the last few years more women have come into my life who are smart and beautiful in a range of ways and have a strong sense of personal style. I worship them and am learning a lot. I feel like they are helping me to become more of myself and more of a woman.
  15. I have spent most of my life being included in many different types of groups without feeling like a “core member” of any of them. A few years ago I went through some trauma and the process of being with my friends to heal from that let me know that I am far more integral to others’ lives than I imagined. I also know now that if I’m not part of a group it’s usually because I have excluded myself. I will forever be grateful to those who not just helped me restore my world but also radically changed it, making it richer and more solid than it ever was before.
  16. I have often been called upon to help in emergencies because I can stay calm and therefore useful. I can remember picturing the tension in my stomach as a white light and imagining it suffusing my tissues and then evaporating through my skin. I can “see” my emotions as living in one corner of my brain and I put up a little box around them, or streaming out of a spigot which I turn off. This ability is handy but it leaves me with a strange sense of distance from my emotions. I love the feeling of being suffused and overwhelmed and this is why I am drawn to intoxication and physical experiences which demand full attention.
  17. If I could do anything in the world, I’d be able to talk to everyone and find out what makes them passionate and happy and connect them with other people to help them achieve those things.

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