Oh, shucks, I'm IT.

Cathy just tagged me. My assignment: to confess eight random facts about ... myself. Good heavens. I guess there's a reason VANITY figures so prominently in the title of this (non)blog.

Caveat lector: I make things up for a living.

1. I have been on an anti-depressant for the past year. I don't like taking the little pill, and sometimes will avoid or reject it. (This, too, is part of depression.) I used to be opposed to medication for mood "disorders," because I think sometimes people are sad because their lives are saddening, and that's what needs to be changed. Then I read Peter Kramer's Against Depression and reconsidered. Mostly, the medication works astonishingly well.

2. My left foot is a little larger than my right.

3. I am allergic to guava and ragweed. For a long time I thought I was allergic to goldenrod, but this was a mistake - goldenrod is not allergenic, it just flowers at the same time (and more prominently) as ragweed, leading people to blame the wrong plant.

A tropical drink in a late summer field might kill me.

4. I applied to exactly one university. Good thing they let me in.

5. I was in a "gifted" education program in elementary school, one of ten kids who were swept out of our local grammar schools and brought to another school where we were separated from the rest of our grade level for most of the day.

There is nothing like being separated from one's peers and labeled "gifted" for creating the conditions for constant teasing and humiliation.

While in our "gifted" class, we took part in various "enrichment" activities, one of which involved me pouring a bottle of peroxide all over the classroom woodwork because I was curious about what would happen. "Enrichment" must have meant "not too well supervised." As far as I know, none of us wound up in jail.

6. I used to be a cocktail waitress. One night, the former of mayor of Providence, Vincent "Buddy" Cianci, stiffed me for a seven-dollar tip on two cognacs he ordered, one for him and one for the very attractive torch singer at the bar.

7. I really do have a PhD from MIT.

8. I speak four languages in addition to English -- Italian, German, French, and Russian.

9. When I was eight or nine, I shoplifted a rhinestone button. I don't know why I did it. Maybe just because it was shiny.

If you hold (as I do) that this thing called literature is a dense network of writers' allusions to (not to mention appropriations of) other writers, then this is probably the first indication of what I was going to become. No wonder my parents worried so much.

As a friend -- another writer -- once told me, "We're all just magpies, aren't we."

10. Doubtless to the disappointment of both my parents, my first word was not "mama" or "daddy" but "butter." Or, more precisely, "budda." This utterance marked the flowering, also, of my Rhode Island accent, which has softened over the years but is still present (just ask me to say "carburetor" -- "caaahbuhraytahh")...

Now I need to tag eight other people. Good lord, this make take some time.