So, my mentor has given me this 78 question autobiographical questionnaire to complete as a writing exercise. The idea is to write quickly and not spend too much time on it. The hope is to gather material from the responses. Here’s a sample–the first question and my response.

1. Describe subject physically. Face, hair, hands, feet, body, gestures, way of walking, voice, clothes, etc. What are subject’s most pleasing physical characteristics? Most displeasing?

Her long face, olive-complexioned, suits the way she seems to brood even if she’s just daydreaming rainbows. In a day, she wears her hair long, pins it back, lets it down again, never settling. Her eyes probe and her gaze does not drop, except when her heart sometimes commands. She covers her hands, sandwiching them between crossed legs, draping them one over the other, putting them in pockets. Some years back her fingers were often cracked or cracking with eczema and now she’s grown accustomed to hiding them, as she’s grown accustomed to covering her mouth when watching a film that blows her mind or to a story that offends or enthralls. She prefers to keep moving, walking with long, determined strides or even run as fast as she can. Even in yoga class her voice is deep and loud enough to be heard by her students in all corners of the high-ceilinged monster of a room with no microphone. She never had the Monday—Tuesday—Wednesday underwear, but prefers to dress according to feeling. Oh, this fabric! Grown up slacks. Little girl cotton skirts. Blue-brown love knot. Red determination. Joyous mandala tye-dye. As she buys according to compulsion, she also dresses that way sometimes stylish, sometimes drab. Baby sis is designing a tattoo to cover the one on the left side of her upper abdomen of which she is ashamed. She counts the artist among the men who’ve maimed her. She can do ten push ups now and her arms show this strength. She’s never been fat, except for that one rough year, but she’s thinner now than ever and fitter because she runs, bikes, stretches, whatever she can do to keep propelling her body through time. She has trouble smiling for cameras, but not smiling in general. Her forehead is long, as are her legs compared to her torso, as are her fingers, as is her neck. She talks with her hands, preferring to move words from her mind through the tapping of fingers on the keyboard, the brushing of the pen on the page, the movement of legs over the ground, the chopping of arms through the air.

77 more to go! Woo–hoo!


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