I’m it!

This is where someone with a blog has been asked to list a certain number of things about themselves that nobody knows, then to tag a certain number of other people with blogs to do the same thing, and they do, and you are one of the certain number of other people. Then you are in the difficult position of either complying or publicly rejecting an invitation from someone you have a relationship with. I’ve been dreading this happening to me ever since I started posting.

I am twice fortunate. Once, that I have only been tagged to list eight random things about myself. They don’t have to be secrets I have held for up to 43 years. Twice, that the person tagging me is someone I know only incidentally. I commented on her blog recently that I was imagining little joeys in my Bartholin’s glands, so she drew my name when she decided to tag her commenters. Thus I can choose not to accept the tag without damaging a friendship.

Hm. Not so dreadful. Maybe I can do this.

1) I received my high school education in Nigeria at a mission school primarily for children of missionaries. Moving to Nigeria was a bit of a shock, but not a big one. It was clearly different from where I came from, which was Montreal. So, keep an open mind, look for opportunities to enjoy and learn and share, and do what you need to do to keep yourself safe. Attending a mission school was disorienting in a much more fundamental way. The greatest difficulty was coping with the fact that the other kids looked like me. They were mostly white Americans, wore western dress, spoke English with American accents. It was hard to see and adjust to the cultural divide. Not only were they fundamentalist Christians (at the time I started at that school I hadn’t realised there were still people who believed in God), most had been born in the bush. They spoke various West African languages and Pidgin in addition to English. They believed in witchcraft. The friends they were raised with from babies, and who they played football with when they went back to stay with their parents over summer vacation, were West Africans who spoke little or no English. Some of their friends died in childhood of illnesses like dysentery. One of the school’s functions was to teach American culture to these children of missionaries to help them when it came time for them to go ‘back home’ to college. I didn’t get this at the time. I knew (North) American culture as well as most thirteen year olds, and I didn’t understand why a school for (mostly) white children in Nigeria would not put more effort into bridging cultures – which was my need. I didn’t get that I was one of the few who didn’t already have a very solid bridge of their own.

2) I loved Bible class in high school. We were taught about how people think and make judgements, which was fascinating to me. The agenda of course was to prepare us for missionary work so that we could overcome people’s resistance to our attempts to convert them, but I subverted it to my own ends.

3) I googled some people from my past not too long ago. One I liked and respected greatly. I found out that he died in 1995. He’s still being mentioned in current publications. Another I allowed to harm me. She now has a colostomy. I think because she had cancer. I don’t know how I feel about either of those facts.

4) When I split up with my girlfriend of ten years, she took one of our three dogs and moved into a crappy apartment. Six years later she’s living in a different crappy apartment, is lonely without a girlfriend, is unhappy at work and her dog is always sick and needing expensive vet care. The dog has also recently started to leave large puddles of pee everywhere. In the meantime I have gotten together with a Man, we have bought the building my ex and I lived in together and the Man has been fixing it up and making it beautiful, I’ve had promotions at work and my dogs are as healthy and continent as they were ten years ago. I feel guilty but not responsible. I think there’s something immature about my feelings but I’m not sure what I’m supposed to be aiming at.

5) I am a lesbian married to a man. I never thought I would marry – as a true Canadian I hold that the state has no place in the bedrooms of the nation – but now that I’m married I like it. I freely recommend it to everyone. (Note also that as a Canadian I could marry a woman just as legally as marrying a man. By recommending marriage I am not at all promoting heterosexuality. No. Here in Canada those are two completely independent thoughts!) (Oh – the answer to the usual question: “Well, I’d certainly prefer him to be a woman, but nobody’s perfect.”)

6) I am addicted to medblogs. This has almost completely supplanted my earlier addiction to advice columns. What I have learned is that medicine is a profession that will engage you intellectually, physically and emotionally. It will keep you sharp into old age. These are good reasons to go into medicine. A bad reason is wanting to help people. If you think you want to help people it’s just because you haven’t met enough of them. I don’t know if this is a widespread or universal attitude among doctors, though I suspect it is. From a patient’s perspective, I find it comforting. I don’t have to be likeable to get good care. An individual doctor’s level of misanthropy (or distance) is well-established before they meet me, and they are still in medicine. Because they want to be. For reasons that have nothing to do with me or my likeability.

7) I have almost no imagination. I can think very analytically about something that already exists, but I have almost no ability to create something that does not yet exist… say, a trip to somewhere I haven’t been yet.

8) I wonder how my life would be different without my dogs. They are wonderful companions. Pepe asks to be carried all the time, and carrying a soft, sighing 2.5-kilo creature is very soothing. Poupoune’s absolute joy in her walks is infectious. So one would think they improve my life, and perhaps they do. Perhaps without them I would be more driven to seek human companionship. I can’t know.

Who I tag: nobody. This one ends with me.

5 Responses to “I’m it!”

  1. Karen Little Says:

    Thank you for playing with!

    I really enjoyed this post – it was actually quite interesting: these things usually aren’t.

    Wouldn’t being married to a man but actually preferring women make you bisexual?

    One of the things I miss most about home is my dogs. My boyfriend and I are moving in together next year and I was really hoping we could get a place with a garden so I could get a dog, but it would probably be irresponsible to do so because I have absolutely no idea of what I’m going to do with the next ten years of my life. So now I just love other peoples’ dogs.

    Thanks again for playing…

  2. Luc Says:

    Intéressant ton billet Alison.

    – C’est triste la vie de ton ex. Alors pourquoi, veux-tu ben me dire pourquoi, de l’imaginer ainsi, seule, pauvre, déprimée, avec ce chien malade qu’elle a elle-même choisi et qui maintenant pisse partout, l’imaginer ainsi m’a fait sourire malgré moi.

    – « If you think you want to help people it’s just because you haven’t met enough of them. » Voilà qui est bien dit. Moi-même, plus je vieillis, plus je deviens misanthrope. Je vois autour de moi des gens gavés de confort, de biens matériels, et pourtant toujours insatisfaits, des gens infantilisés, intellectuellement paresseux, incapables de penser par eux-mêmes, pétris de sentiments convenus qui n’exprime qu’une hideuse autosatifaction, des gens, enfin, d’une lâcheté que je ne peux plus voir autrement que criminelle. Bref, des ordinaires. Des gens comme moi.

    Mais, d’un autre côté, il y a tant de souffrance. Comment ne pas en être soi-même heurté ? J’ai encore à l’esprit cette phrase : « Au détour des rues, les patrouilles de la MINUSTAH tombent sur d’immenses terrains vagues remplis d’ordures où fouillent ensemble les grands-mères et les porcs. »

    – Je comprends le bien que peuvent faire les animaux de compagnie à leurs maîtres. Mais, au coeur même de ce bien, qui peut être considérable, il y a tout de même un mal qui n’est pas considérable mais qui, multipliés par le nombre d’animaux, finit par donner le symptôme d’un malaise social. « Perhaps without them I would be more driven to seek human companionship. I can’t know. » Les gens n’ont pas tous cette lucidité.

  3. alison Says:


    Thank you! You play very nice, so this was a nice one to do.

    Very good question as to why I called myself a lesbian instead of bisexual. Of course it’s partly the shock value but also partly political wishful thinking. For the fifteen or so years I was living with women, I acknowledged myself as a lesbian of the bisexual variety – that is, I had a history with men and was a lesbian by choice. ‘Lesbian’ meaning that my life was woman-centred; it wasn’t just about my sex life, but about my priorities in my life as a whole. Some lesbians have no choice in the matter, but I did and I chose women.

    Now that I am living with a man and am living as het a life as anyone could imagine, I don’t like to call myself bisexual any more. Women in public, primary relationships with men who call themselves bisexual make me think of swingers who treat other women as mere adjuncts to their sex lives. While on the one hand I know I’m not being fair, that this is prejudice, that the reality is more complex, I still want to distance myself from the stereotype.

    It would be just as accurate and ego-syntonic to call myself straight. I do sometimes, but not completely happily. Just as I’m not completely happy about calling myself lesbian or bisexual. So, I pick the label that’s most interesting in the circumstances, or I sidestep the issue by talking about my current and my exes rather than labels for myself. Unfortunately I am still of the old-school politics that attaches importance to the label. Whatever. I’m not complaining: having this breadth of experience and identity is definitely in the category of high-class problems.


    La vie est un bien à ne pas gaspiller, dont on ne peut nier la futilité. Donc la misanthropie. Mais comme c’est tout ce qu’on a, on n’a le choix que de l’embrasser. Donc l’attirance envers les animaux qui tiennent à la vie et les appétits qu’elle entraîne sans juger.

    Grrr. Le français doit être élégant. (Je pense souvent au contraste entre « À chaque jour suffit sa peine » et “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”) Je souffres quand je le massacres.

  4. Sharon Says:

    Hi Alison,
    I got your url from Anne, glad I did, you’re such a great writer!
    I can totally relate to your dilemma regarding the bi/lesbian thing, seeing that I’m in the exact same situation as you. Minus the marriage part. (What do you like about it, by the way?)
    It would be great to hear from you, now you have my email address.

  5. anonymous coward Says:

    With respect to #4, I have intimate understanding of which you speak. When I first read this entry, I said nothing altho the rational explanation for my attraction to you pleased me.

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