Oh noes! Random fact meme!

xdawnfirex tagged me!

Once tagged by this entry, the assignment is to write a blog entry of some kind with six random facts about yourself. Then, pick six of your friends and tag them; no tag backs. This explanation should be included.

1. My parents are Jehovah's Witnesses, which is a species of pseudo-Christian that emerged from the 19th century burst of American religious creativity that also gave us the Mormons and the Seventh Day Adventists. These days they're not so much a religion as a sales organization for Watchtower magazines. I recall vividly the last time I was allowed to celebrate Christmas as a kid. It was fun realizing as a teenager that I didn't believe a single word of it, that this creationist stuff was ignorant crap, and that my parents had chosen to spend their lives with some fairly stupid cult members. And then learning the hard way that teenagers don't get to say that stuff to their parents unscathed. My first act of successful rebellion was to go to college. Seriously: the JayDubs disapprove.

2. My degree is in mathematics. I was into abstract algebra. I moved to California to get my Master's at Berkeley, but I was a total washout as a grad student. Too busy living and going to pieces once I had fully escaped from my family. (You spend years pushing against a barrier, and maintaining your identity in the face of family whatever, and then once the opposing force is gone, what do you do? Implode! Fortunately very temporarily, but just long enough to end my academic career.) I've made a whole lot more money writing software than I would have as a mathematician. There I was, surrounded by people with brains the size of planets, all fiercely competing for $20K stipends. I was not one tenth as smart as they were, but I seem to be smart enough to write software fairly well. So that worked okay as far as life goes, but I've always regretted it. It's a thing I screwed up.

3. I listen to music as much as I can, to drown out the inner noise. Which is either a musical soundtrack going constantly, or snippets of writing that I remember repeating, or just the inner monologue. I am way prone to earworms. I have no idea if it's like this inside anybody else's head.

4. My husband and I decided to get married a month after we met each other. It was: accidentally sit next to each other in the bar in a large clump of mutual friends, insult each other straight off, one week later break up existing relationships, he flies out to California, I fly out to NYC, boom, engaged, terrifying all our friends. Married 364 days after we met. It's now nine years later. So it's not so much that I believe in love at first sight, as that I believe in peculiar certainty at first sight. And in the value of blink judgements.

5. I watched Buffy for the first time in January. We'd been into Firefly. When Serenity came out on DVD, my husband watched it over and over. And over. I finally had enough of it, and ran out to buy season 1 of "the show that made this Whedon guy famous", just to get him to stop and watch something else at least for an hour. We watched it over a week, and in fact spent New Year's Eve watching "Prophecy Girl" because I was pregnant at the time and not really up for partying. We decided it was awesome. I then bought the boxed set of all 7 seasons. We watched the next three seasons through January. I fell in love with Giles while watching "The Dark Age". (Which is odd: he was revealed as a suicidal man with a dark past and alcoholic tendencies. But a handsome one. Maybe it was just that he became a so much more complex character.)

6. I spent February being pretty depressed and reading Buffy fanfic as mindless escape. Also re-reading all my usual comfort novels. Then at some point I became annoyed with a story I was reading and said, screw this, I can do better. And so... here I am. It's more complicated than that, obviously. One factor was the fluidity that comes after traumatic events: I was willing to rethink certain life choices. Why not try to write fiction again? Why not be willing to change careers? So I put a plan together to try to get myself over a truly paralyzing fear of having my stories read by other people. It has worked fairly well.
  • Current Music: Ralphie B : Ralphie : Paul van Dyk / The Politics of Dancing
Mathematicians are done by age 30. They potter around after that, but all their best work they do young.

The other thing is that I've forgotten all of it. Scary. I look at my grad school notebooks and say, Yeah, that's my handwriting. Yeah, that's my handwriting proving theorems in Galois theory. That means that at one point in my life I understood it. But I have no memory of it. I taught a class in differential equations, but if you showed me one now I'd just blink.

Use it or lose it. And it is lost.

If I went back to school I'd do something totally different. Like languages. Though that's also harder later in life.
Glad that you've moved past your paralyzing fears in so many areas -- v. cool to read.
Don't feel like it is a screw-up to drop out of grad school. I had finished all my coursework for my PHd in History and just burned myself out. I couldn't even look at another history book for years. It wasn't a screwup: it was a burning need to have a life outside of constantly studying and regurgitating history facts for my professors--and the stunning realization that a PHd. in history will get you a counter job at McDonald's asking people if they want fries with their order. I got a very decent job at a public library and if it wasn't everything I ever wanted to do with my life, it paid the bills. At least you can do math--my abilities along those lines are: one, two, many.
I have a degree in math, too. I also minored in both computers and physics. So, I work in a fabric store.
Um, I can totally relate to #3, although I have recently discovered that the hum from my desktop computer has a way of blanking my brain.