>Here are some random facts about me — though clearly a couple of facts sent me into some strings of thematically related ones.
15: I have a picture of me, at age 15, with Joe Strummer. When I get the scanner set up (someday) I’ll scan the picture, blur my face and my friend’s face, and post the picture.
16: Until moving in with Bullock, I had never lived in a residence with more than one story within my own residential space. The house I grew up in was a ranch, and after that I lived in dorm rooms and apartments with living quarters all on one floor (unless you count the downstairs entry hall to my 2nd floor apartment in Rust Belt Historic District — I don’t). Many of the dorm and apartment buildings were two stories or more, but my own residence wasn’t.
17: I have been to 36 US states and the District of Columbia. The biggest cluster of states I haven’t been to is in the west, including: Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Montana, North Dakota, and New Mexico.
18: Of the seven continents, I’ve been to Asia, Europe, and, of course, North America.
19: My first trip to Europe was in 1978. I was 9. I still remember a lot of things about that trip, including the taste of a chocolate crepe at a specific creperie in Paris.
20: I have a world map with pins covering it. The red ones are for places I’ve been, the blue ones for places I want to go. I have a friend who calls it “Virago’s Plan for World Domination.” He says he worries every time a blue pin is replaced with a red one. (I haven’t found a place in our house to hang it yet, but I think it will go in my study somewhere.)
21: I once spoke in the Cambridge Union Society. It was the scariest public speaking experience of my life because it was a packed house and there were people like MPs and TV personalities there. It was just a “floor speech” (extemporary, during open debate, brief — i.e., not a formal speech) but still, it was terrifying.
22: I’ve petted a lion cub (in the Vienna Zoo) and a full grown male orangutan (in a US zoo, through a barrier, under the careful guidance of his keepers). The orangutan seemed very pleased to meet me — he made lots of noises which his keepers said were his “stay away, this woman is mine” noises. In the wild that could be very, very frightening, as orangutans do not distinguish primate species — any female primate will do. But this O behaved himself after that display (the barrier helped, of course!) and presented his lips and fingers (through the laticework of his cage door), which I stroked.
23: I wanted to be a zoologist when I was growing up, and I had a career crisis in grad school which led me to take an extension biology course on “Animal Behavior in Zoos” and volunteer as a research assistant in the local zoo. Although the experience was very pleasant, for various reasons I decideded to stick with literature.