This is a personal survey, which a dear friend forwarded to me.  Even though each of you knows me well, some of these answers may surprise you.  I hope they do.  Life's much more fun that way.

If you wish, please take some time to complete this survey yourself.  Rename it to [Your Name's] Ultimate Survey 2000.  I've added a fun little rule:  Take out your least favorite question and replace it with your own.

Have fun!  Can't wait to hear what you think and see what you do.

NICKNAMES: In sixth grade, my best friend, Nora, called me Cricket.  I liked that.  Crickets symbolize good luck.  Since reading A Cricket on the Hearth at a young age, crickets always have held special meaning in my life.  And their music is some of the most beautiful to grace my life.

Now that I'm grown up (yeah, right!), I like to think of myself as C.C. Writer.  (Again, music connection.  Great song!  And, of course, you all know I'm a journalist who is a writer first.)

BIRTHPLACE: Bonn, (then) West Germany  (Top that!  Well, of course, if you're one of my brothers who also was born abroad ...)

FAVORITE SALAD DRESSING:  Blue Cheese.  Or, Roquefort -- dahling.

CROUTONS OR BACON BITS: Ooh, hard call.  I'm such a food snob that my answer depends on relative quality.  If the chef (either a restaurant professional or a date who's trying to impress -- hopefully succeeding) cooks both deliciously, croutons crackle and dance on my taste buds.

DO YOU DRINK? Yes.  Love, love, love water.  Am occasionally trysting with tequila, esp. Patron Gold straight with salt and limes.  They have to be fresh limes, or paying through the nose for a shot of that gold is like playing a slot machine.  Am carrying on a passionate love affair with excellent wine.  When I win the Pulitzer, I'll drink my first bottle of Dom Perignon.  Would anyone like to contribute to the fund for that party?  I'll make sure you're on the guest list.

SHAMPOO OR CONDITIONER? Yes.  Stuff that keeps my hair red ... !!  For those of you that don't know about the red and A.R.P. yet, keep reading the survey.  The conditioner I use also keeps my hair way too healthy.  But that's another story.  Women know about the healthy hair problem.  When it's too soft, you can't do a thing with it.  But it sure is nice to run fingers through, to touch, to luxuriate in.  And it shines.

HAVE YOU EVER GONE SKINNY DIPPING?  Yes.  Now it's story time.  We'll keep this G-rated.  Get out your milk and cookies.

        Once upon a 1983 sweltering summer night, in South Bend, Indiana, my "townie" friends, my "Domer" friends (for the Golden Dome at ND) and I decided to swim in St. Mary's Lake on campus.  The decision came after we already had ventured out, so none of us had bathing suits.  We donned our birthday suits.  (That we would have done even if we had thought of bathing suits beforehand.)

        Shortly after beginning our dark swim, campus security arrived, demanding to know who we were and if any of us attended Notre Dame.  Being scared enough not to think, I volunteered my student status.  At least I kept my wits about me enough to lie when asked if I had my student I.D. on me.  (Technically not a lie.  Besides water, the only thing on me while I was discussing campus life with ND's finest was a white sheet.)

        Obeying their stern orders, we dispersed.
        Ah, but the story does not end here.  My nefarious skinny-dipping career continued into that infamous murky night.  Two of the students invited me to join them at "The Rock."  For those of you without the amazing good fortune of intimately knowing the University of Notre Dame, the main student athletic center at that time was named after Knute Rockne.  Affectionately nicknamed the Rock, this building housed the student swimming pool.  The three of us agreed to move our skinny-dipping to this building, where one of the students worked and had a key.

        Yes, we did skinny-dip in the Rock's pool.  I know, some of you might think what we did approached criminality.  But I'll always list that on my life resume of fun things I did once and don't regret.  The risk of getting caught coupled with the joy of the feel of water on my skin -- and being bold enough to do this with male friends -- holds a place of honor in my memory album.

DO YOU MAKE FUN OF PEOPLE?  I always try to treat others as I'd like to be treated.  Since I'm very sensitive to teasing (this might possibly, just maybe, on the off chance have something to do with growing up as the only girl with four brothers -- nah, couldn't be), I steer a path clear of making fun.  That being said, most politicians are not people.  And I've never met a movie star, so they could be computer-generated and not people.  I just don't make fun of real people.

FAVORITE COLOR:  Being an Aries, I love red.  I have a red car, red hair (more on this later ...), a red personality, and a red home planet.  (No, I'm not an alien.  Aries are ruled by Mars, the planet of action and war.)  But yellow fills me with joy.  It symbolizes growth, Springtime, youth, fun.  It's a daisy.  Who doesn't like daisies?

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME?  The closest I ever came was getting caught skinny-dipping.  Apparently, my past isn't checkered enough.

BEST ONLINE FRIEND: Hands down, it's you, Pat Casey.  Your astounding wit, your unwavering and unflappable faith in my talent and goodness, your deep friendship that extends beyond the foreign border of Nevada/Oregon, your Domer sensibilities, your worship of James Joyce that mirrors my own, and your masculine support of my feminine strengths -- no matter what silly romantic upheaval I may be experiencing -- make my heart leap with joy every time I receive an e-mail from you.

ONE PILLOW OR TWO?  Two delicious pillows that were new two years ago and feel brand new again upon a couple of tosses into the air.  (Two's my favorite number, and not just for pillows.)

WHAT IS YOUR BAD TIME OF DAY?  Whenever someone tells me to do something.  I don't take kindly to orders.  But I'll gladly do something if you're smart enough to make me think it's my idea and I'm the leader.  Then it's a joy for me.

PETS:  Bernie, the love gift in my life.  She's my bunny, my sweet little girl who saw me through my dark night of the soul into the light.  Now she and I just play.  Even if your affinity is not towards rodents, you'd love Bernie.  And she's got enough spunk in her that she mirrors her person-mom's fire.  At those times, she could audition for the attack rabbit in The Holy Grail.

FAVORITE TYPE OF MUSIC:  Soul, esp. of the funk variety (but I don't get to hear enough of it to know individual groups as well as I'd like).  I love many different kinds of music except most top 40, although I confess to a weakness for the top 40 from my formative years. Other favorite types include blues, classical, folk, alternative (whatever that means!), movie soundtracks (modern classical?), zydeco, and some classic rock.

        I'd exclude a few kinds.  Most reggae I've heard repeats itself too much.  Rap doesn't do it for me either, although I've heard some I truly enjoy -- couldn't tell you what, though.  Finally, slow jazz and fusion-type jazz put me to sleep.  And most avant-garde music I've heard -- from classical to jazz -- grates on my ears.

HOBBIES:  Writing (esp. letters -- can you tell?), collecting books, madly cleaning my house about three times a year after I can't take it anymore, talking and playing with friends, dreaming about and creating my future

HAIR LENGTH AND COLOR:  Length:  Short -- as in Bob (or is that Page -- or Paige?)  Well, anyway, it's a person's name.  If you know the difference and know what my hair is, please let me know.  It's life-or-death for me.

Color:  Vibrant red.  Have you been wondering what A.R.P. is?  Artificial Red Personality.  Most of you know me well enough to know my personality is that of a redhead.  After all these years of living life as a cute blonde where it didn't match my personality, finally I dyed my hair to match my fire.  But since it's artificial (the color, not the personality), it's A.R.P.  Sort of like Garp's followers in the novel.  Read it.  John Irving rocks!  Amazing story-teller.

EDUCATION:  BA English and German, University of Notre Dame, 1984
completed year-long German study abroad program in Innsbruck, Austria, 1981-1982
beginning the masters program in journalism at UNR; will transfer to Berkeley or Northwestern or Columbia or Maryland or Missouri or Cardiff.  Anyone want to invest in the next Christiane Amanpour -- er, Carol Cizauskas?  You'll get your money's worth, if in no other way than world-class reporting of global events.  Just think what you could say you contributed to!

TYPING:  Of course I am.  How else would I transmit this info to you?
        Seriously, excellent typist.  Don't know the rate, but before college it was about 60 WPM.  Probably 100-120 now.  It's not the speed, though.  It's my style.  Especially when I'm in an artistic flow, my fingertips fly off the keyboard with musical flourishes.  Maybe if I picked up the piano again (bad choice of words -- those slipped discs would prevent that), I could make magic this time.  More than sight-reading this time around.  Thank you, Mrs. Oltman, for all those years of patient listening -- to musical mistakes and teenage tales.

LIVING ARRANGEMENT:  Alone.  Happy.  In a cute, small, bright, SF-style duplex.  Bernie loves it, too.

WHAT DO YOU THINK ABOUT OUIJA BOARDS?  Strange that a toy which purports to answer your questions is named by a combination of "yes" words (Oui + Ja).  Obvious sign of lying.  Magic 8-Ball beats it every day.  "Ask again tomorrow."

WHAT'S ON YOUR MOUSE PAD?  Nothing interesting.  It's at work and is a symbol of my team, "Casino Management Systems."  Ooh, cool.  I work for a casino.

FAVORITE BOARD GAME?  Don't like board games because I don't like how competitive I get.  I like it better when I'm nice, and soft.  This competitiveness comes from playing Monopoly with the whole family, all seven of us.  Bob used to cheat by hiding all his money and property.  Yes, I know.  Some of you will say that's not cheating.  Go play with yourselves.

FAVORITE MAGAZINE:  The Onion, technically a newspaper, also online.  If you love satire half as much as I do, check it out:  They also published the book Our Dumb Century, which featured one year per page in the book.  Here are some sample headlines from that hilarious book, which is so similar to their newspaper:

From April 16, 1912: "World's Largest Metaphor Hits Iceberg"  (They're talking about the Titanic.)
From April 4, 1927: "Babe Ruth Unveils 'Wife Bat'"
November 9, 1988: "Marion Barry Re-Elected On 'Let's All Smoke Crack' Platform"

FAVORITE SMELLS:  honeysuckle in June; fresh cut grass; bacon cooking; summer-sun tar, which reminds me of spending growing -up summers at the beach; diesel fumes (we all know I'm wonderfully unusual) because they evoke memories of my only experience of city living, in downtown Innsbruck, Austria; Bernie after a bath; the scent of a man I'm in love with

BEST FEELING IN THE WORLD:  the zeal of writing

WORST FEELING IN THE WORLD:  the Black Box of despair


WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU THINK WHEN YOU WAKE IN THE MORNING?  On the weekend or during the week?  Alone or with someone?  When I have a lot of drudgery ahead of me or when I have a lot of excitement ahead of me?

ROLLER COASTERS - SCARY OR EXCITING?  Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful.  *Both* scary and exciting!
        I have a list of what I want in a man.  (See below for details.)  "Loves roller coasters" is on that list.  Gotta share that adrenaline with him!

HOW MANY RINGS BEFORE YOU ANSWER THE PHONE?  Depends on how I feel.  Sometimes I screen.  Sometimes I'm too tired to answer.  Sometimes I can't wait to answer.  If I don't answer, I'll call back.  I promise.

FUTURE SON'S NAME:  If I were to have a son and we would agree on my choice, we would name him Michael or David, both beautiful names with rich spiritual history.  I especially love the name David because God loved him deeply, even though David messed up continually.  I believe God favored him because he lived passionately, he loved God openly, and he wrote and sang aching music which praised God through its beauty and by its nature.  Not only is music the path to our hearts, it seems it is the path to God's.

FUTURE DAUGHTER'S NAME:  If I were to have a daughter and we would agree on my choice, we would name her Anna or Genevieve.  Both hold deep meaning for me.  Anna connects to my spirit, Genevieve to my heart.  Anna is the name of the daughter I miscarried, the one who brought my life to crisis, then resolution and finally joy.  Genovaite is my mother's name, the Lithuanian form of Genevieve.  I could think of no greater life gift for a girl than to grow into the tradition of love and honor of my mother.  Thanks, Mom.

Nevertheless, most of you know I actively haven't wanted children since at 12 years old I first understood the awesome responsibility of parenthood.  I always knew there was something more important for me personally than raising children.  Now I have found that in my calling to international journalism.  I think you all know how much I love children and love being with them.  I also believe deeply that were I to become a mother, I would be wonderful.  Look at my role model!  But life is choice.  I'd rather love other people's children when they enter my heart and life in scattered moments of grace.  Better that than leave mine behind continually as I board yet another jet to cover the next crisis, which anytime could endanger their mother's life.

And yet, well ... having reached 38 and knowing more wisdom than at 12, I have learned never to say never.  Conceivably (pun intended) I could fall in love and realize this man is the father of my children to be born.  God loves to surprise.

CHOCOLATE OR VANILLA?  Vanilla. They say those who love vanilla are the most creative, intelligent, and all-around fascinating people.  Seems the opposite of logic, doesn't it?  I mean, why wouldn't someone who loves Rocky Road with cherries, mint, and marshmallow sauce be more of an adventurer?  I don't mind accepting the truth of my brilliance, however.

DO YOU LIKE TO DRIVE?  Are you familiar with Mumbo Gumbo's tune, "I'm Driving?"  (Actually, I enjoy it when a man who is a good driver and not too slow takes the lead -- er, the steering wheel.)

DO YOU SLEEP WITH A STUFFED ANIMAL?  When I feel lonely, Mama Bear cuddles next to me.  And my Nittany Lion always guards the bedroom.  Somebody tell Richard.

STORMS -- COOL OR SCARY?  So cool for me, I might be a little reckless about them.  If I want to talk on the phone during a lightning storm, I do.  I've never been afraid of storms (or spiders and snakes -- but that ain't what it takes ...)

IF YOU COULD MEET ONE PERSON DEAD OR ALIVE:  One person -- that's hard.  How about five?  Al Pacino, Kevin Spacey, Joan of Arc, Andy Garcia, and George Stephanopoulos.  Love those sexy movie stars.  And Joan ... well, Joan's just one of the coolest, strongest, bravest, wildest, most brilliant people ever to have lived -- man or woman.  Maybe she was even manic-depressive.  Even more reason for me to idolize her.

        George is my first choice.  Ol' Steph' is even more of a political animal than I am, and he currently works as a journalist.  Charts probably couldn't measure his intelligence, diamond words spill out from his gorgeous lips, and his liberal status makes him shine in my eyes.  He's first-generation American, which I can relate to as second-generation.  His name is Greek, and many times people mistake mine for Greek.  And by far not least, when I watch him on TV, I can't stop saying, "George, you are SO cute.  You're just so cute.  Call me!"  (If this would bother you, please stay clear of me watching the news when he's on.  It's an auto-immune response to the overall quality of my love life these past ten years.)  Who wouldn't like a guy whose name anagrams to Gorgeous Elephants' Poo?

WHAT IS YOUR ZODIAC SIGN?  Double Aries: Sun and Venus.  Double Leo: rising and Moon.  Then my chart is flooded with water, mostly Pisces.  And there's one planet in earth (Virgo) and one in air (can't remember what).

        I steam.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE POET?  Robert Pinsky.  He's such a man of the people.  He helped me understand I'm not stupid when reading, listening to, and understanding poetry.  He's my poetry hero.

DO YOU EAT THE STEMS OF BROCCOLI?  Broccoli rules!  Bush be damned!

IF YOU COULD HAVE ANY JOB YOU WANTED, WHAT WOULD IT BE?  international correspondent

IF YOU COULD DYE YOUR HAIR ANY COLOR, WHAT WOULD IT BE?  Never thought I would.  Never thought I'd dye it red, especially.  Never thought I'd want to be an international correspondent, either.  Never thought I'd join a dating service.  Never thought I'd live out West.  Never thought I'd live in Nevada, especially.  Never thought I'd be published, outside of school publications.  Never thought I'd still be single at 38.  Never thought I'd own a rabbit.  Never thought I'd have such a brilliant journalistic mentor, Larry.  Never thought I'd love my life as much as I do.  Never knew I'd love myself as much as I do.

        Life's unexpectedly cool.

HAVE YOU EVER BEEN IN LOVE?  At least twice.  Brian Murphy captured my heart at 16.  He broke it at 17.  Shakespeare knew what he wrote about (didn't he always?) with Romeo and Juliet loving so much at that age that they died of broken hearts.  Love -- and loss of it -- never feels so poignant then.

        My second love happened at 21.  It truly was an adult love, even though I was a bit young to feel on that level.  Rino (pronounced Reno, like my home city -- life's ironic, isn't it?) was an Italian who loved me with the same depth, fervor, and amazement I felt for him.  Even though I broke our hearts by returning to America to complete my Notre Dame education, we kept in touch.  He called me for years, and I wrote him letters.  We lost touch over time, but often I think of him and wish him the best from my heart.

        I may have been in love other times, but sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between being in love and infatuation.  I do know I can tell the difference between being in love and loving.  One's a feeling -- delicious, heady, devouring, encompassing.  The other's a choice -- a repetitive, giving commitment to treat the other with kindness, with respect, with awe.

WHAT IS ON YOUR WALLS IN YOUR ROOM?  Two light switch plates with Marilyn Monroe on them.  On one, she's wearing a sky-blue suit.  She looks like she's heading in for a day at the office, a la 1940s.

        I also have spider webs residing close to my ceiling.  My spiders and I are friends.  They keep me safe from the nasty bugs.

IS THE GLASS HALF-EMPTY OR HALF-FULL?  Almost always half-full, until evaporation settles in.  (I'm way too analytical.)

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SNAPPLE?  None.  I never really liked Snapple.  Then one day I read the label, and I especially didn't like Snapple.  Ever read what it is?  It's sugar water.  Give me regular water or real fruit juice any day.

        Snapple's a cult.

ARE YOU A LEFTY, RIGHTY, OR AMBIDEXTROUS?  Extremely right-handed.  I'm also extremely left-brained, which fits.  I think you use the side of your brain opposite your dominant body side.  But, hey, I'm creative as well as anal-retentive, so what do I know?

        What's the question again?

DO YOU TYPE WITH YOUR FINGERS ON THE RIGHT KEYS?  Yes.  But about a year ago I switched to an ergonomic keyboard.  Great move, except some genius at the evil empire of Microsoft decided to move the delete key when redesigning the board.  It took me weeks to stop deleting things when all I wanted was to go home.  Dorothy thought she had it bad.  Her wizard was far less harmful than a Gates lackey.

WHAT'S UNDER YOUR BED?  I wish I had a bed to have things under.  I do have a great new mattress set that sits on the floor.  There is something exquisite about the height of my bed.  My bedroom windows extend two feet from the floor.  I sleep with them open and the curtains pulled back.  A delicious breeze and exquisite sight of the stars and trees give me over to the night.

FAVORITE NUMBER?  2.  See above.

FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH:  College football.  I decided to attend Notre Dame because they offered me a football scholarship.  They kicked me off the team when they remembered they were admitting women to study, not to play football.  I decided to stay anyway and got hooked on the games.  There's nothing like the electricity of home games (especially, especially, especially against USC, Tom Gordon!), of Touchdown Jesus guarding the field, and of a Hail Mary play that succeeds.  Harry Oliver, you rock!  (No, I no longer know Harry personally.  He's not on this e-mail list.)  What happened to Harry Oliver is proof that the meek do inherit wonders.  A nice guy, previously unknown, kicked a 51-yard field goal that won the game, and became beloved by all true college sports fans.  This kind of sports miracle occurs only at Notre Dame.  I'd bet my soul on it.

FAMILY BACKGROUND:  Last September, we gathered at the beach to celebrate Mom & Dad's 50th.  Out of the lifetime of abundant love and learning they gave us, if I had to pick the most meaningful gift, it would be dinners.  We grew up with vibrant family discussions ranging from why there was a dried up old lima bean under the table (Dad, that was an invisible lima bean!) to why Watergate didn't matter as much to Europeans as to Americans.  And don't forget about the dreaded philostrophon!  (Was that ever a real word?  Is it in the OED?)

        The best dinner of all continues to be Kuce (pronounced KOO cheh), our boisterous, ethnic Lithuanian, spiritual, somewhat Catholic, somewhat Jewish (the empty seat), somewhat sexist, always beautiful Christmas Eve dinner.  Was the traditional Adam & Eve argument the best part?  I know it got better when Debbie joined our family!

        You've already met Mom from the previous answer to "future daughter's name."  More than anything from our shared lives, I remember hugs.  My conscious understanding of love began at a tender age, when I asked, "Mom, what is love?"  She reached out, enveloping me with her arms, heart, and warmth, and said, "This is love."  I've always known love as that real as well as symbolic embrace.

        Dad also has lived according to his ethics, believing strongly in public service and debt re-scheduling -- from post-war Germany (How many children can say their father played an integral role in the Marshall Plan?) to his loans to his children.  But Dad has been more than that.  He opened a fantasy world for us, from Tsimbo and Tsambo drawings in sand perfect for building castles, to C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia and multitudes of magical realms in literature.  Instilling in us a love of reading, learning, and politics, he has given us the best of his mind and heart.

        Mom & Dad lived all over the world.  Instead of collecting souvenirs, they collected children.  Albert, the oldest, was born in Indonesia.  He knows more than any person I've ever met.  If you want information culled from his years of voracious reading or especially if you want love from a wonderful big brother, he's the one to turn to.  He stood as my Confirmation sponsor, and that gift he gave to a 13-year-old Carol shines as one of the brightest moments in my life.

        Within two years of Albert's birth, Bob was born in Milan, Italy.  I remember family movies of me running up to him on the beaches of Spain, hugging him tightly and not wanting to let go.  He holds the honor of being the first man to break my heart.  At 18, he left home to attend Virginia Tech.  At eight, I cried and begged him to stay home.  I remember standing in the kitchen, realizing I had to let go of my warm, sweet big brother.  The pain is as fresh as if it were today.

        Bob redeemed himself by bringing a great new love into my life five years later, when he married Debbie.  I had always wished for a sister.  Outnumbered five to two, Mom and I needed someone to join our ranks.  Debbie has believed in me and supported me beyond what an ordinary sister might do.  She helped me grow up in many ways and saved my sanity on more than one occasion.  She inspires my strength.

        Then there are the three younger of us, Tom, me and Richard.  Only recently did we realize that as children we each did not understand what place Albert & Bob took in the family.  You see, we had our parents.  That was straightforward.  Then there were the three of us, all close in age.  And we knew Bob & Albert were our brothers; after all, Mom & Dad told us that.  But weren't siblings supposed to be in your age group?  Weren't they supposed to want to play with the same neighborhood kids you did?  Obviously they couldn't be brothers.  They were ... The Big People.  Intruders of some sort.  Nice, but foreign somehow.  (Well, of course, foreign.  One an Indonesian, the other a Milanese!)

        Tom's the American, four years older than I.  He grew up with a cat inside him.  This cat performed all the mischief that Tom somehow got spanked for.  But it really wasn't his fault.  This Virginia brother also knew just how to get Richard and me to do what he wanted.  Never mind the details.  Let's just say it wasn't always the cat that created mischief.  Tom's imagination and intelligence have followed him into adulthood.  And I feel intense pride for this brother so close to my heart.

        Richard and I were born in the same city, Bonn, two years apart.  Although he has grown into a strong, mature, sensitive man, Richard will always be my little brother.  No matter what part of the world he flies off to (literally -- he's a hang-glider and instructor), my heart tendrils connect to his.  Please always remember for me, Richard, it's a wonderful life.

# OF GAY RELATIVES:  Possibly one, a cousin.  Maybe more, maybe less.
        Why this question?  A person's sexual orientation is relatively irrelevant. (Try saying that five times fast!)  Hetero-, homo-, or bi-sexuality helps determine who a person is -- as do religious affiliation, hair color, family background.  These facets of a person help shape frame of reference and personal interactions.  However, unless you're sexually attracted to another person or you're experiencing prejudice because of the interaction of sexual preferences, sexual orientation is irrelevant.

WHAT GIVES ME ENERGY TO GO EVERY DAY:  Belief.  Belief that life is good, people are good, God is good.  At times people have told me I'm too innocent, naive even.  I'm not.  There's been enough pain in my life that I understand the dark side, both from myself and from others.  I've come to understand that your focus shapes the quality of your life.  I prefer to live in joy.

FAVORITE BOOK:  The Shipping News, by Annie Proulx.  (Hollywood almost made this into a movie, starring Kevin Spacey.  Except that Kevin's far sexier and more intelligent than the novel's homely hero, if anyone's acting could carry off this role, it would be Kevin's.  Sigh.  Maybe Hollywood and Kevin will re-visit this idea.)

        I know Proulx personally from a fax interview -- see my webpage -- and from talking to her in person.  Proulx may not exude generosity, but she writes like no one else in the business.  Her fragments stand as tall above other writers' syntactic perfection as the California redwoods above the ferns in their forests.

RELIGIOUS DISPOSITION:  Catholic.  Don't practice it as often as before or as often as I'd like.  I loved the warm, close masses at Notre Dame and the Innsbruck masses for which we American students founded a folk group and sang in it.  I've soured on the churches and priests in Reno.  And it's lonely to go to church alone.  Seems it shouldn't be that way, right?  But many Catholic churches lack community.  And fundamentalist non-denominational churches, which specialize in community, believe in a kind of religion I can't stomach.  I believe in a more generous God than fundamentalism allows.  My God is a God of music, not a God of literalism.  I believe that the deepest truth is poetry.

DREAM CAR: White Mercedes convertible.  Will buy this sometime after the first Pulitzer.

TYPE OF CAR YOU DRIVE NOW:  My wonderful red Honda Civic.  I promised myself that after I first was published, I'd get a personalized plate, CC RYTR.  Refers to my profession and the song about that infamous heartbreaker.  Still need to get the plates.

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST CAR?  Green Ford Pinto, of the non-exploding variety.  Also of the "Found On Road Daily" or "Fix Or Repair Daily" variety.  By the time I got rid of it, I had to wedge the seat in place with a heavy-duty plastic crate.  I also commuted an hour each way between Laurel, Md., to Southeast D.C. with no heat.  Because you had to keep the windows open to keep the windows defrosted, those commutes froze me during the winter.  Life sure was fun!

WORDS OR PHRASES YOU OVERUSE: Cool beans (thank you, Richard, for the best phrase anybody could aspire to overuse), really, esp., totally (yes, I know -- somewhat Valley), cool, neat, amazing, love (as in "I just love Conner Lake in the summer," or "I love imported chocolate.")

TOOTHPASTE:  We grew up using Crest, which I liked, until in my twenties I discovered the deliciously different flavor of Colgate.  Now it's my favorite; probably will be until I die.  Plus I think it's cool that there's a university named the same.  Who ever heard of Crest College?

FAVORITE FOOD:  Maryland Blue crabs eaten along the Chesapeake or the Delmarva (DELaware+MARyland+VirginiA) peninsula and lobster eaten in Maine, both within hours of trap retrieval; fresh West Coast salmon; filet mignon that's still mooing; tapioca; bread pudding; ausukis (Lithuanian pastry pronounced "oh SU kees"); cheesecake (esp. our old family recipe); Rueben; real Caesar salad (coddled egg, anchovies, the whole deal); East Coast pizza, N.Y. style

ONLINE CRUSH(ES):  Never.  But Fred and I fell in love online after having met and dated for a very short time in person.  (Very short time = 3 days.)  Wasn't real, though.  Or at least, it didn't last.  What did I expect, a pacifist (me) falling in love with a soldier?  Maybe not blind, but this love needed bifocals.

CURRENT BOYFRIEND/GIRLFRIEND?  Unattached and quite available.

PIERCING OR TATTOOS?  Pierced ears, one in one ear, two in the other.  I got the third piercing years later, after Rino gave me a physical sign of his love and good-bye, an antique, 18K, double-stranded drop earring.  Could be the most meaningful gift I've ever received because of the poignancy of the moment.

        No tattoos.

ARE YOU ROMANTIC OR NON-ROMANTIC?  Romantic still, despite all the heartbreaks.  I always will believe in true love and in finding that true love.

MOST ROMANTIC THING THAT EVER HAPPENED TO YOU:  Rino and I first met at the Naples train station.  Not a surprise, actually, considering he hung out there just to pick up young, foreign chicks.  Well, it wasn't that bad.  But when you consider that he was 36 and I was 20 when we hooked up, it's not too far from the truth.

        But he was a good, loving man.  I still remember his exuberance for life, laugh, surprising kindness, soft dark eyes, beautiful deep brown hair, and mustache that framed his face so differently than any I've seen.  I pet named him "Tricheco Mio," my walrus.

        At first I took the 18-hour one-way train ride from Innsbruck just to hang out with him and his friends.  Progressive southern Italians find all kinds of ways to dine out, party and dance until the moon meets the sun, and avoid Mafia entanglements (no joke).

        After several months of trekking this roundtrip, I realized I could enjoy life just as easily in Austria as Italy.  There was a deeper reason for the intense anticipation I felt as each of the 18 hours ticked so slowly by.  I was falling in love.

        This was no Brian Murphy love.  This consumed me and brimmed my soul, heart, and eyes with joy and passion.
        Rino's large yet fragile ego, like mine, wanted to know if I loved him.  Not practicing pretense then or now, I honestly told him at first, "Not now.  But I promise, if I fall in love with you, you'll be the first to know."

        Finally the day came when my answer filled both our eyes with tears.  I waited for his response.  Not forthcoming.  Strangely, though, there was peace.  Maybe I felt enough love for two of us.  Maybe I knew the future.

        A month later I decided to summer with him in Naples at the Albergo (Hotel) Casanova (honestly -- I wouldn't make that up.  During this time, he and I and about five or six of his friends went to the Amalfi Coast to holiday.

        Demeter, the earth goddess of bounty, bestows her love on the azure waters and white cliffs of Amalfi's sun-drenched shores with wild abandon.  Never since have I seen such glory in nature until I viewed the grandeur of Tahoe.

        I stayed there the full two weeks, while the Rino contingent came for long weekends.  The second weekend, the group of them waited for me to finish showering and changing for dinner out.  I emerged from the bathroom unprepared for the group.  No makeup; hair dripping wet; casual, unattractive clothes.  Far from any kind of practiced beauty.

        Rino looked at me, looked at his friends, and said, "Do you know I love this woman?"  Never before or since have words sung such beauty within me.

DO YOU GET ALONG WITH YOUR PARENTS?  Mom, Dad, and I have experienced turbulent years in the past.  Now that I've grown up enough to appreciate all they've given of their hearts and lives, we are close and at peace.  I admire and love them so.

FAVORITE TOWN TO RELAX IN:  Bethany Beach, Delaware

FAVORITE ICE CREAM:  Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough.  Ever since Mom used to let us lick the bowl and the spoon, I've always loved raw cookie dough.  Delicious comfort food.

FAVORITE DRINK:  Real lemonade, easy on the sugar.  (Yeah, pucker, baby.)

FAVORITE ALCOHOLIC DRINK:  See the answer to "Do you drink?", at the beginning.

WHAT'S YOUR BEDTIME?  These days, grad school really has me hopping.  Either I'm up until 12:00, 1:00 or 2:00 (I would say burning the midnight oil, but studying journalism is curing me of cliches), or my body dives for the sheets around 9:00 and then I battle the alarm clock for about an hour between the wicked hours of 3:00 and 4:00.  I've gotta figure this one out.  More than that, I've gotta get a life again.

ADIDAS, NIKE OR REEBOK:  Macht mir nichts.  (Consult your German-English dictionary.)

FAVORITE PERFUME/COLOGNE:  Red Door.  Sounds pretty sexy, doesn't it?  Sort of like Behind the Green Door.

FAVORITE TIME OF THE YEAR:  Christmas.  How can you come from the Cizauski (plural) and not love Christmas?  It's in our blood, our soul.  Thanks, Mom & Dad, for such a gift.  But now you've ruined me.  I need to find a man who'll love amalgamating his and my traditions into our own celebration of the whole year.  A lot of folks just aren't into that.  Guess I just have to find someone extraordinary.

        I love all four seasons.  Change excites me, and just when I'm getting tired of the temperature, light, and nature of one season, Demeter raises the curtain on the next.

FAVORITE SONG AT THE MOMENT: "Scottish Summer" by Eat At Joe's.  (Yeah, I know, Tom G. -- I've been listening to the album way too much.  But it's so cool!)  Actually, this ties with "El Farol," the only instrumental on Santana's new album.  I seem to hear this piece most often on warm nights.  It pulls me out of the house onto my front lawn, where I sway to the music and gaze at the jewels of the night sky.  Magic!

FAVORITE MUSICAL GROUPS/ARTISTS:  From my teenage years:  Chicago, Stones (no one, absolutely no one, can do disco like the Stones), Fleetwood Mac, Eagles, Steve Miller, Aerosmith, BTO, Bad Company, James Taylor, and the like.  I love an eclectic mix of groups and artists:  Steve Earle, Aimee Mann, George Thorogood (everlasting thanks to my brother Tom for turning me on to the blues through introducing me to Thorogood), Joan Baez, Jewel, Santana, Barenaked Ladies, Talking Heads, Beethoven, Vivaldi, Aaron Copland, Earth Wind & Fire, everything but the girl, Animal Logic, Sonja Dada, The Sundogs, Cream, The Beatles, Patsy Cline, Mark Cohn, Harry Connick, Jr. (sometimes those Southern boys getcha and don't let go), Buffalo Springfield, Dusty Springfield, Crosby Stills & Nash, Joe Jackson, Sonny Landreth, Jonny Lang, Chris Rhea, John Prine.  My top five are Lyle Lovett, Delbert McClinton (does the blues like nobody's business -- esp. when he makes you feel the sex he's voicing with his husky rasp), Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, and Fleetwood Mac.

        Yes, I know I mentioned F.M. twice.  I love their eponymous and Rumours albums.  This is partly because it was so, so, so cool when Bob & Debbie treated me as old enough to listen to *hip* music, rather than Mom & Dad's music (classical just wasn't hip), by giving me these albums as Christmas presents.  It's also because I've never heard another sound as unique with as beautiful guitar work as this band before or since.  Even their earlier, blues, work doesn't jam the same way -- and neither does their later work.  However, although I'm not a Tusk fan, the album holds a special meaning for me now, Tom (Gordon -- as opposed to Cizauskas).  I never knew I would want to get to know and would like a USC alum!  But having marched in their band (even if you hadn't gotten onto the re-release of this album *and* met weird Mick Fleetwood) puts you in a world class above most mortals.

FAVORITE WEBSITE: The Onion.  See above.

FAVORITE MOVIE:  Just one?  How about my top ten (in order).  Hey, folks, this took me an hour to narrow down!
        The Godfather, Thin Red Line, Life Is Beautiful, American Beauty, All the President's Men, It's a Wonderful Life, Gone With the Wind, American History X, Eyes Wide Shut, Rear Window

FAVORITE MOVIE YOU HAVE SEEN RECENTLY:  I experienced Casablanca for the third time, this time at Wingfield Park in downtown Reno during the July Uptown, Downtown, Artown festival.  Awesome to see it on the big screen, outdoors, surrounded by hundreds of like-minded fans.  We spoke the famous lines together ("Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world ...") and sang *the* song together ("The world will always welcome lovers / As time goes by.")

FAVORITE TV SHOW:  The West Wing and The X-Files tie.
        I know, you can't compare the two.  One's amazingly written, acted, produced, and directed -- and perfect for a politics junkie like me.  And Rob Lowe still is unmatched.  What an absolute hunk.  The heart-throb can act, too.

        The other's just pure fantasy fun -- and perfect for a someone fascinated with the paranormal (to use that overused X-files phrase), like me.  The X-Files reminds me of a modern Kolchak:  The Night Stalker.  Remember that, starring Darren McGavin?  (Carl Kolchak, a Chicago journalist, investigated supernatural phenomena.  Have always loved those journalists, from Clark Kent -- always found him far sexier than his alter ego! -- to Al Gore.)  So for those of you who think The X-Files sucks, remember how bad The Night Stalker was.  Thank goodness for modern talent.

FAVORITE ACTOR/ACTRESS:  Peter Sellers.  Genius.


LEAST FAVORITE SUBJECT: Statistics (college again).  The only subject I almost failed.  Erin Ryan, my best friend in college, studied with me every day until the dark hours, just so we could get something -- anything -- straight.  Statistics isn't only imprecise, it's perverse.  Screw it.

FAVORITE SPORT TO WATCH: Notre Dame/USC football.  Second favorite:  Notre Dame/Penn State football.  Notice a pattern?  The Fightin' Irish always come first!

MOST HUMILIATING MOMENT:  Ooh, great question.  And since I'm so honest, I'll just have to share the truth, embarrassing as it is.

        When Tom left for U.Va., I gained possession of his room.  I loved it because now I graduated to a level of freedom.  Until turning 14, I had lived in the upstairs bedroom, next to Mom & Dad's room.  It was about time for a little autonomy.  The only other person living downstairs was Albert, a great floor mate, quiet and respectful of my privacy.

        Not only was I testing my freedom a little at this time, but I was trying on a newer, larger vocabulary.
        One evening, Mom, Albert, and I enjoyed a rare, small dinner together.  Richard and Dad must have eaten earlier, and Bob and Tom were both living away from home.  As Mom got up from the table to refill our plates, I noticed that Albert chewed meticulously.  Because I was sitting right next to him, that also meant I could hear every bite, every swallow.

        Wanting to impress with a polysyllabic word that I had discovered recently, I wanted to tell him and Mom that he masticated loudly.  Instead, with complete innocence the words tripped out of my mouth,

        "Albert, you masturbate loudly."
        I wished I could have eaten my words.

ARE YOU A WOODPECKER OR A HUMMINGBIRD?  Hummingbirds dart around quickly, pleasing the eye and bringing joy to those who attract one to their home.  Woodpeckers create noise, dust and confusion while finding their living.  Which do you think I am?

CRAZIEST OR SILLIEST PERSON YOU KNOW: Andy Geraci, my dear, sweet friend who lives life as the adventure it is.  He laughs -- and cries -- his way through it and teaches me to do the same.  Andy is my teacher of life and joy.

FAVORITE HOLIDAY: Christmas.  Reference the Kuce table.

FAVORITE TYPE OF GAME TO PLAY:   Mental games -- of the passionate, intellectual argument type -- as opposed to mind games.  I avoid mean people and have finally learned not to rise to the poisonous bait of the latter type of encounter.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN THE OPPOSITE SEX?  Do you really want to see my 4 1/2 page Excel spreadsheet?  How about if I just list my 10s?  (My logical brain compelled me to categorize from absolute must-have's to well-it-would-be-nice-but-I-probably-wouldn't-miss-these-if-my-love-didn't-have-these.)

        Okay, here goes the ol' cut-and-paste.  Note:  I rarely finish a personal project, esp. one as important as this.  I'm a kid in a candy shop who keeps adding items to her basket.  I do know that when I recognize Mr. Ten, we'll recognize each other.  Oh, yeah ... and there's love.  Well, see the list below.  I didn't forget that.  I never forget that.

        Intelligent, passionate with his emotions, kind, believes in love, supports my beliefs and goals, believes in God (wide-open definition of Who God is; my God is a big enough God to handle all understandings and relatings to Him/Her), strong emotionally, has an active career that he is passionate about, understands me, loves me, I love him, is in love with me, I'm in love with him, passionate about life, passionate about sex, courageous, open-minded, loves my mind, loves my heart, loves my soul, decisive, ambitious, loves freedom for him and for me (absolutely not talking about an open relationship here), healthy psychologically, believes in beauty, believes in magic.

        (If you're interested, my only item listed as a one is "loves sailing."  Would enjoy spending my life with someone who loves sailing, but I could do without that more easily than anything else.  Sheesh, this is hard!)

DO YOU INVEST IN THE STOCK MARKET, AND IF SO WHAT WAS THE LAST STOCK YOU PURCHASED AND WHEN?  I'm a news junkie.  The only segment of the news I absolutely cannot concentrate on is the stock market report.  My future wealth will be earned, not snatched from the workers of the world (who I hope will be uniting by then).

YOUR BEST NEW YEARS RESOLUTION YOU ACTUALLY KEPT ALL YEAR:  I didn't make any New Year's resolutions this year.  I rarely do.  I usually wait until my birthday, at the end of March.  I figure two things:  one, what better time of year than the Spring to begin anew; and two, since resolutions are highly personal, why make them at a time everyone else does?  Why not wait until a private time?

        Even so, I made no birthday resolutions this year, either.  However, I did take time in the early summer to write down my goals -- or most of them, anyway.  I'm still refining them.  Of course, I'm always refining my life.  I look at my time on earth as a winnowing field, a place to cast off the negative so I can grow into the shining soul I continually am becoming.

        My primary goal at this time is career-oriented, as you all know.  The goal is an affirmation:  "I am an international correspondent who covers the news in a factual, fascinating manner that draws attention to important issues and allows the world to work on creative solutions to our challenges.  I am compensated well financially and with responsibility and recognition.  I am exuberant in doing my work and experiencing its results."

        My other major goal is more personal.  The wording is a work in progress right now.  I've realized how important it is to me to share my life with someone.  I miss the family we seven shared, and I now want my family -- a home -- of two hearts shared.

THING THAT MADE YOU LAUGH HARDEST:  I don't know.  I do know I have friends who share joy with me through laughter, and that is a precious gift.  I also laughed out loud this morning at 3:30, watching Conan O'Brien.  I can't believe how much of life I've missed until today, never having seen his show!  What a riot!  What a talent!  What an intellect!  (Yes, I'm getting hot here.  The mind does it for me every time.)

FIRST RECORD YOU PURCHASED:  CSN, the Crosby Stills & Nash album with the sailboat on the front cover.  Still one of my favorite albums.  I have to buy it in CD form, because all I have is the original LP, and my turn-table has been broken for years.  Sometimes change is sad.

FIRST ROCK CONCERT YOU SAW:   Fleetwood Mac.  Here's another story.
        At 15, I already was planning my future.  I knew I loved foreign languages and wanted to clear my high school schedule of math so I could continue learning Latin and German simultaneously.  To do this, I needed to take Geometry in summer school.  I love math, especially Geometry, the English of math.  Still, at eight hours a day, five days a week -- when you're 15 and want to have fun! -- it grew a bit much.  I needed a break during those six weeks of angles and radii.

        When friends invited me to join them at the Capital Center in Landover, Maryland, to watch Fleetwood Mac, how could I refuse?  This was and is my favorite band!

        Sometimes parents can surprise you with coolness.  They suggested that I skip class the day following the concert.  They reasoned that I could miss just one day and realized that I'd be wiped out from a late night of high energy with my friends.

        Along came the big day.  We drove out to the Capital Center and began drinking beer in the parking lot while waiting on the general admission line.  Those days the drinking age for beer was 18 in the D.C. area, and most teens drank when they went out to play.  I wasn't a bad kid or a wild kid; I just fit in with the group.

        By the time the arena opened its doors, we felt buzzed.  As we waited for Fleetwood Mac to take the stage, kids and young adults all around us started lighting up -- and you know it wasn't cigarettes.  My boyfriend and his friends passed it around, too.  Although I was straight-laced enough not to smoke that, I did inhale.  The smoke surrounded us, and I kept breathing deeply of the sweet perfume.  I couldn't get enough.

        Even with this sedation, we grew restless as the band passed its curtain call by an hour or more.  Finally, someone stepped onto the stage to tell us Stevie Nicks was ill and the band would perform the next night instead.  Our tickets would be honored then.

        Of course, this meant I needed to revamp my schedule.  As buzzed as I felt, could I still attend school the next day?  And what about the concert the next night?  Of course I would go then, but could I miss two days of class in a row?  That would have equaled two regular weeks of classes.

        I decided to stay home the next day (to nurse my first hangover), join my friends for the concert that night, and attend school the following day.  I dragged through class that second day.

        Stevie Nicks chose to grace us with her presence that second night.  She spent more time offstage than on.  Whenever she made another entrance, she flitted on with a new diaphanous outfit.  I suppose Nicks knew her clothing carried far more weight than her musical ability to us audience peons.  She gave herself thoroughly to us.  Even at 15, I could appreciate fine artistic performance.

        Thank goodness little Miss Stevie didn't ruin my first rock concert.  The genius and beauty of Fleetwood Mac surpass any individual member's immaturity.  And, of course, Christine McVie balanced Nicks's bad form.  McVie embodies beautiful womanhood to me then and now.  Not only is her voice richer and fuller than Stevie's, but she exudes calm and love.  McVie gives full measure to her audience.

        Thank you, Christine, Mick, John, and Lindsey, for carrying the night.  You guard and guide my musical pantheon.

LAST BOOK YOU READ:  The Verbally Abusive Relationship:  How to Recognize It and How to Respond, by Patricia Evans.
        I was trying to survive John's stalking, attacking behavior.  The police, the courts, some people in my life, my doctor -- these people either were telling me it was my fault or at the least weren't helping at all.  I didn't know how to handle the pain, fear, and pressure.

        I met a wonderful counselor, who, along with some very good friends, helped me do more than survive.  They helped me understand it wasn't my fault.  They allowed my strength to return.

        The counselor showed me the signs that John had abused me throughout the four years we were together.  Because it was covert -- rather than overt -- verbal abuse, I rarely recognized the problem while we were together.  I also came to understand how someone with my strength and joy could be beaten down over time.  I saw how verbal abuse devastates as thoroughly as physical abuse.

        One of the greatest tools this counselor gave me was the book I mention above.  If you know someone you suspect might be suffering abuse, give that person this book.  It might save that person's life; it at least will help save her soul.

FAVORITE BEATLE AND WHY:  George Harrison.  As I've heard the story, he loved Eric Clapton so deeply that when Eric and George's wife, Patti, fell in love, George stepped out of the way to remain friends with Eric despite this great loss.  This reminds me of "No greater love hath a man than to lay down his life for his friend."  Amazing to me.  Eric wrote "Layla" for Patti, and I've heard he wrote "Wonderful Tonight" for her, too.  Romantic and very sad.




Sugar Walnut



TYPE OF CAR YOU DRIVE: Honda Civic Hatchback


Carhonda of Lithobid

YOUR OPINION OF THE SEXIEST MAN / WOMAN ALIVE:  Andy Garcia.  There's something about a Latin lover.  Plus, he's got just enough arrogance (haven't ever seen an interview, but it comes across in his acting) that he excites me.  Confidence is great; when it spins on the edge of arrogance, it's hot.  And it doesn't hurt one bit that he's absolutely, rivetingly gorgeous.

        Either him, or Kevin Spacey.  But he's a whole different kind of sexy -- amazingly talented and seems to be wildly intelligent.  But I don't think I'm his type.

        Somehow I don't think either of them is showing up at my door tonight.  Oh, well.

WHAT WERE YOU DOING WHEN YOU HEARD OF THE SPACE SHUTTLE EXPLOSION IN JANUARY 1986?  Cross-training at another private school in the Archdiocese of Washington, although this one had money, unlike my inner-city school.  We were watching the take-off right in class.

        No words.  Silent tears.  Shock.

WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE -- STAR WARS, THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK, OR RETURN OF THE JEDI -- AND WHY?  Star Wars.  This was such a brand new kind of fantasy, even the opening graphics thrilled!  Its brilliant novelty, its absolute belief in magic, its requirement for your joyful suspension of disbelief, its embrace of ancient values of good vs. evil -- all these capture and carry audiences as no other movie does.  A classic from the beginning, no film ever will match its stature in combining these elements.  Oh, yeah -- its special effects kicked ass!

FINALLY, SAY ONE NICE THING ABOUT THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU, AND BE SURE TO SEND IT BACK TO HIM OR HER:  In early October, I will celebrate my 10th anniversary of moving to this wonderful, interesting, schizophrenic hamlet.  During this time I've met hundreds of people that I can call by name whenever I see them at the grocery store or in the park.  I've gotten to know 50 to 100 folks that I can strike up a friendly conversation with when we meet at a party or school.  I've grown close to one or two dozen friends that dance with me at concerts and talk with me over the phone.  I've met ten or so individuals that defy categorization and touch my heart.

        These are the people that affect your life profoundly, whether for the single moment they alight in your life or for the years they rest, stay, and grow to love and be loved.  These are special people, the ones who befriend you, offer you opportunities for growth, share the joy of their golden souls.

        Tom Gordon and I met only last month.  I don't know if our friendship will last for the moment or continue for years.  I do know he is one of the most special people I have met in this city of dreamers, achievers, spiritual warriors.  No matter the length of our connection, I already have received gifts of joy, enthusiasm, my song forever on disc, intelligence, warmth, and sharing Monty Python.  Despite his USC alumni status, Tom Gordon rocks (in more ways than one!).

        And definitely not least he's got the richest, most gorgeous hair anyone -- male or female -- should be allowed to have.  A fine-haired redhead envies him.