1) My Undergraduate Wanderings: I attended three different colleges before graduating. I spent my freshman year at Duke but then decided that I wanted to go to art school and (more importantly) needed to be closer to a girl who was at Dartmouth. So I spent the next two years at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, where I learned how to work my ass off in order to get the most out of my talents. After two years I was ready to return to academia, but with the
hubris exuberance of youth, I decided that if I didn't get into Brown, I wasn't going back to college. I didn't have much of a Plan B, but thankfully the admissions office gave me a shot. My time at Brown was unbelievably fulfilling, and the whole experience was a lesson in not giving up and coping with change. And I married the girl.
2) My Brief Musical Career: While I was in art school in Boston, I worked in a restaurant kitchen for a few months with Charles Thompson IV, aka Black Francis of the Pixies. I told Charles that I wanted to learn to play guitar, and he said he had an old amp that he wasn't using anymore. I dropped by the Pixies' practice space, and Charles gave me a Fender Bandmaster. I was never any good as a guitar player, but I had some fun and hung on to that amp for ten years. A few years after college, my brother David--a drummer--joined me in San Francisco and we kinda-sorta started a band. While David was waiting for the rest of us to get our act together, he started "legendary angry emotional hard core" band John Henry West with some friends and went on to tour the country econo-style a few times.
3) What I Did On My Summer Vacation: In the summer of 1997 I took six weeks off from work and rode a motorcycle around the US--literally. From San Francisco to Needles, CA to Cleveland, TN to Boston to Yakima, WA and back to SF. One of the most vivid and challenging experiences of my life. I still have the bike, an '84 Yamaha FJ 600 just like this one, but I haven't ridden seriously in years; maybe this summer I'll take a ten-year anniversary jaunt.
4) I Love Sad Movies: I'm a total sucker for them, from intense dramas to lightweight tearjerkers. It started with The French Lieutenant's Woman, which I saw on cable when I was in high school, and has continued right up through The Notebook, which I saw on DVD last year. I think it began because it was a (marginally) acceptable opportunity to cry as a boy, and even though I'm much more comfortable crying as a man, it's still a cathartic experience.
5) My Three Favorite Songs...are John Coltrane's India, Brad Mehldau's solo piano cover of Paranoid Android, and The Nerves' original Hanging on the Telephone. Well, those are the all-timers, anyway; my favorite this week is probably Amy Winehouse's Rehab. And my favorite album, track for track, is Haywood's We Are Amateurs, You and I. (Note that everyone from Amazon to Last.fm misspells it.)