In the age of electronic and digital media, the human element can be lost in the shuffle of pixels. The list that follows is similar to one that I use in class to help me and my students get to know one another on a level beyond student and professor. I thought it might be a fun exercise for the first blog post of a new year.

1. I can't stand to touch hair after it has fallen off the head. That includes my own. Eeewww!

2. Minty fresh toothpastes are fine, but I prefer the green apple flavored one that Ali brings me from Egypt.

3. I use Hazelnut flavored cream and no sugar in my coffee.

4. In spite of my medical condition and the several surgeries I've had, hospitals terrify me. It's an irrational fear, I know, but a very real one to me.

5. I'm a big fan of Bath and Body Works products but every time I find a scent that I really like, they discontinue it! To wit: Orange Blossom, Stress Relief (the original one, not the one they have now), Brown Sugar and Fig, and Gardenia Lily.

6. My stress level is easily measured by the number of exczema blisters on my palms and fingers. Without fail, the little blisters pop up within 24 hours of an especially stressful time or event. Lucky me!

7. I love cats, and cats love me. A feline companion or two or three or four is an absolute must to maintain happiness.

8. Climbing a staircase is not a problem for me, but I can't go downstairs without stumbling or falling. It's even difficult to negotiate a safe landing from a curb thanks to the balance problems that are part of Chiari.

9. Until I was about 8 years old, there were 5 generations of women on my mom's side of the family alive simultaneously. It's cool to remember family gatherings with me, my mom, my grandmother, my great-grandmother, and my great-great grandmother all in the same room. Even more cool -- we are all the firstborn in our nuclear families!

10. When I drive, my toes, not the whole foot, manage the pedals. I have no idea why I use my toes instead of the whole foot, and I don't even remember when the habit began or even why it did.

11. I had my first broken heart at the age of five when my Uncle Jerry, whom I planned to marry and watch Batman with for the rest of my life, dumped me and married someone else. I was so traumatized by this event that my Aunt Juanita had to work really hard to convince me that she was likeable. She succeeded quite well. :)

12. 1976 was the most traumatic year of my entire life to date. On September 9, 1976, my maternal grandmother died in a car accident as she and my grandfather were making their way home from vacation to help my mother because my father was in ICU and not expected to live. My dad survived the staph infection he had gotten following surgery, but three months and three days after her mother (my grandmother) died, my own mom died on December 12, 1976. She was 37, and I was 17.

13. My favorite book of all time is Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte.

14. Being the oldest grandchild on both sides of the family meant that I grew up quite spoiled. How many other kids got to take two road trips most summers?

15. I will be 50 years old in May of this year.

16. My maternal grandfather spawned a fascination with the American Civil War in me. Our summer road trips always, without fail, included stops at nearly every historical site along the way from California to New York. My grandmother, who did not share our interest, didn't appreciate the frequent side trips, though.

17. Ever since I began the habit at the age of three, I have been a prolific reader. The habit must be genetic because I got it from my mother, and my daughter got it from me.

18. I must have taken on some of my grandmother's genes because I have two moles in the exact same unusual spots that she did: in the middle of my forehead and about two inches above the hairline on my skull.

19. I graduated from high school at the tender age of four. Ok, I didn't get a diploma that time, but I did get to walk with my Aunt Naomi when she graduated!

20. Long before "Jessie's Girl" or the creation of the General Hospital character, Noah Drake, I was crazy for Rick Springfield. It was 1972. I was 13, he was 23, and his first hit, "Speak to the Sky" had just made the charts. I've kept up with my very first celebrity crush for the past 37 years.

21. Musicals are my preferred film genre. South Pacific, Calamity Jane, Paint Your Wagon, Bright Eyes, Lullaby of Broadway, On a Clear Day You Can See Forever, Porgy and Bess, Gypsy, Funny Girl, Meet Me in St. Louis, The Jazz Singer, Hello Dolly, Fiddler on the Roof, Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, Annie, Little Shop of Horrors, Hairspray, Cabaret, A Star Is Born, My Fair Lady, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Grease, The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins, and The Sound of Music are among my favorites.

22. For having completed my M.A. in 3 semesters with a 4.0 GPA while publishing and presenting papers at professional conferences overseas and at home, I earned the honor of being my university's Outstanding Graduate Student.

23. The McIntosh apple is my preferred fruit.

24. I've been to 46 of the 50 United States and 11 countries. The places I have most enjoyed visiting are Pagosa Springs, Colorado (my dad's hometown); London, England (I'm not a big city person at all, but I fell in love with London); Copenhagen, Denmark (I don't think I've seen a cleaner city anywhere!); Louisiana (I haven't found a city/town there yet that I don't like); and Cairo, Egypt (what's not to love about all that history?).

25. I have a thriving African Violet plant that my sister gave to me in 1992. From this single plant, I have shared cuttings and its offspring with more than a dozen people.
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