It’s one of the few traditions in the blog world: when a blogger reaches the 100-post milestone without having burned out, she posts a list, usually along the narcissistic lines of “100 Things About Myself.”
At first the idea struck me as obnoxious, but then I read a few such lists and found them creepily compelling. So here I go.
If you don’t want to know, come back tomorrow for more houses and gardens.
1) All 4 of my grandparents were Jews from Ukraine. They came to this country in the first decade of the 20th century and settled in Brooklyn.
2) My grandparents called their old neighborhood ‘Williamsburg,’ but when I sought out my parents’ birthplaces a few years ago, I discovered my mom’s in what we now call Bed-Stuy, and my dad’s in Bushwick.
3) Both my parents are long gone, sadly — they were loving, fun people.
4) I have a sister in Tribeca and a brother in the SF Bay area.
5) My daughter is a scuba dive instructor in Hawaii and my son is a woodworker in Brooklyn.
6) I have three nephews, all smart, talented, and handsome.
7) I was married for many years. Now I live alone and like it, most of the time.
8) Despite the ancestral history, I was only in Brooklyn a few times in my life before coming here to live in 1977.
9) I was born in Manhattan, grew up in Queens and on Long Island, came back to Manhattan to go to NYU, and lived there for 10 years before crossing the bridge into Brooklyn.
10) In my adult life, I’ve lived in tenements, brownstones, and lofts in the East Village, West Village, Soho, Tribeca, Brooklyn Heights, Cobble Hill, and Boerum Hill — never in a modern building.
11) I have a Persian cat named Leo who lost his tail in an accident (and is none the worse for it).
12) I coined the term ‘Mid-Century Modern’ for the title of my 1984 book about 1950s furniture, and boy, did it stick.
13) I get a career break about once a decade — things that come to me with little or no effort. The rest has been struggle and hustle.
14) In the ’80s, it was the chance to write Mid-Century Modern (the book is still in print).
15) In the ’90s, it was ‘Foraging,’ a weekly offbeat-shopping column in the Sunday New York Times Styles section.
16) From 2000 to 2003, I was editor-in-chief of Modernism Magazine, a Lambertville, N.J.-based quarterly about 20th century design.
17) I am fairly indifferent to food. I eat healthy and boring.
18) I’m terrible at filling out Zagat’s surveys. I can describe the wallpaper in a restaurant and critique the lighting, but I can never remember what I ate.
19) I am shrinking. I used to say I was 5’4″, even though I wasn’t quite. Now I’m not even 5’3″.
20) I swim laps and do aerobic dance classes. I don’t go near treadmills or Nautilus machines.
21) I am an Aries with a Sagittarius moon and Gemini rising.
22) I was born with Saturn at 14 degrees Virgo. My second Saturn return is almost upon me, which may explain why I’m moving house in Brooklyn and trying to buy a beach cottage at the same time.
23) My favorite book of all time is Isaac Bashevis Singer’s Shadows on the Hudson.
24) I love John Updike, especially Couples and the Rabbit books.
25) I am a rabid Van Morrison fan. I paid $300 to see him at the Beacon a few weeks ago.
26) I listen to jazz radio day and night.
27) I drive a 2008 Honda Fit with a manual transmission.
28) My license plates say DAYEINU — ‘gratitude’ in Hebrew.
29) My previous car was a PT Cruiser. The Fit is better.
30) My winter uniform is skinny jeans, black boots, a pea coat, and a red scarf.
31) I am a swing-dance dropout. I took lessons for a year-and-a-half before losing interest.
32) I have six bunches of Lucite grapes bought on eBay, all in one day: instant collection!
33) I have been to Europe many times, most often England, France, Italy, Holland, and Scandinavia.
34) I’ve been to Russia twice, Greece four times, and Israel six times.
35) I hope to spend lots more time in Spain, Italy, the South of France and the Greek Islands before I die.
36) On the other hand, there are entire continents that, if I die without having gotten there, it’s OK.
37) I have been to Rancho La Puerta, a fitness resort in Baja, Mexico, nine times.
38) I didn’t watch TV for 10 years through the ’90s, even though my kids kept saying, “Mom, there’s a show you’d really like” (it was Seinfeld, and they were right).
39) I didn’t eat meat for 30 years. Now I do, and it’s delicious.
40) I majored in Russian at NYU, switched to film, and got a BFA.
41) Later, I went to Parsons and got a certificate in interior design.
42). Then I went to Pratt, where I studied architecture for a year.
43) My first writing assignment for a national magazine was a story on collecting sheet music for Apartment Life in 1978.
44) Apartment Life became Metropolitan Home in 1981; I still write for them, and am a contributing editor.
45) I also write for Garden Design, Home Miami, and other magazines.
46) I love being a landlady, especially on the first of each month.
47) I did yoga and meditation for years. Dropped out of that too, except for an occasional class at the Y.
48) I believe life is always going to be a mix of things we like and things we don’t, and we just have to roll with the punches.
49) I’ve gone through several rags to riches cycles. Riches are better, but poverty makes you resourceful.
50) I remember when mortgage interest rates were 12%.
51) I love tag sales, stoop sales, estate sales, sidewalk sales, barn sales, and yard sales.
52) That said, I’m very disciplined about what I buy. I can say ‘No’ very easily.
53) About 1/3 of my worldly possessions are in storage. I don’t need any more stuff.
54) I can go weeks without going into Manhattan.
55) I dislike the subway.
56) My wardrobe is 90% black.
57) My favorite place to have lunch outdoors in summer is Stone Street in lower Manhattan. I also love the New Leaf Cafe in Fort Tryon Park.
58) My taste in wine has gotten better over the years, but I still couldn’t tell you the difference between Burgundy and Bordeaux.
59) On my iPod: the Moonglows, the Flamingos, Etta James, Long John Baldry, Nina Simone, Leonard Cohen, Nick Cave, Cesaria Evora, Bebo Valdez, Antony & the Johnsons, Sister Rosetta Tharp, Getatchew Mekurya, Joe Cocker, Thin Lizzy, to name a few.
60) My favorite movie of ’08, Cadillac Records, didn’t win a single Oscar.
61) I prefer small films like The Visitor and Two Lovers to major movies like Slumdog and Milk, neither of which I enjoyed all that much.
62) In 3rd grade, we made books with an “About the Author” blurb. I wrote: “When I grow up, I want to be an interior decorator.” So why the hell did I study Russian for 8 years?!
63) In college, I read Doestoevsky and Tolstoy in the original. Now I can barely remember how to say “What’s your name?”
64) I have an encyclopedic knowledge of Billie Holiday’s music.
65) In 2005, I decided I wanted to buy a building every year. I am behind schedule, but it’s still my goal.
66) I never fail to get a thrill out of seeing the Manhattan skyline at night.
67) My daughter and I watched the World Trade Center’s south tower fall from the foot of Congress Street.
68) For a long while, the skyline of lower Manhattan looked painfully diminished to me, but now it looks quite normal.
69) I have had the same British penpal since age 13. We’ve met many times, but we still write.
70) About three years ago, I found a cache of wonderful, evocative letters in an antique shop, written in the 1930s by a woman named Tilda to a man named Sol. I paid $11 for them, and may publish them on a website.
71) I write down my dreams when I remember them.
72) On my night table: Katha Pollitt’s Learning to Drive, Revolutionary Road, the James Agee book about Brooklyn, The Colossus of New York.
73) I rarely go to the theater, but I want to see Exit the King.
74) The live performance I enjoyed most lately, even including Van, was Laurie Anderson & Friends at BAM.
75) I often give to panhandlers, even though they’re annoying, because of what a rabbi once told me: the Torah doesn’t oblige us to feel compassion, but it does oblige us to give.
76) I try not to judge others because I don’t want anyone to judge me.
77) Anger is poison.
78) I sometimes do styling for magazine photo shoots. I love going to the wholesale flower market at 7AM with $400 of someone else’s money.
79) When my kids were little, I went all out on Halloween costumes and holiday decorations.
80) I have this quote from Saul Bellow near my desk: “Rejections are not altogether a bad thing. They teach a writer to rely on his own judgment and say in his heart of hearts, ‘To hell with you.'”
81) I admire Martha Stewart. I think she was sold down the river and handled her jail term with grace and aplomb. I also like her aesthetic.
82) I’m also a big fan of Oprah’s. I never watch her show, but her intelligent magazine has gotten me through many long plane flights.
83) I have seen every episode of The Sopranos and Six Feet Under.
84) I devour self-help and spiritual books, from Melody Beattie to Lao Tzu.
85) I once saw Bob Dylan give a light to a bum on MacDougal Street. It was a rainy day around 1970, and we were the only three people on the block.
86) One of my dear friends has known me since I was a few months old and she was 7. We lived in the same housing project in Queens, and my mother let her push my carriage.
87) I was amazed to discover Philadelphia about 5 years ago, when my son went to art college there. I couldn’t believe there was such a beautiful, historic city so nearby, hiding in plain sight.
88) I’d like to live in Philadelphia at some point.
89) I’ve driven cross-country twice, at age 11 and age 21. Wouldn’t mind doing it again sometime.
90) I believe the beauty of New York State is underrated.
91) I believe George Harrison’s ‘Brainwashed’ album, released after his death a few years ago, is a masterpiece. (He thought it wasn’t good enough, which is why it wasn’t released in his lifetime.)
92) I think Woody Allen’s best movie is Crimes and Misdemeanors.
93) I wish I was a musical genius, or could at least play the piano.
94) If I could travel back in time, I wouldn’t go far — to the late 19th century, maybe, when things were less scary but not totally primitive.
95) I love giving big parties, but only once every three years or so.
96) I’m having a lot of fun with this blog, which is the reason I’m doing it.
97) I have 37 posts in various draft stages.
98) I have ideas for other blogs, but life is short.
99) I rarely know more than a day ahead what I’m going to write about, but something always seems to come up.
100) I like sunsets and long walks along the beach.