What’s your full name?
Were you named after anyone?
I don’t think so. Though, my mother is super religious, and so when I was a kid, she liked to remind me from time to time that the name Michael, in Hebrew means, “one who is like God” (I guess after the Archangel Michael?). So yeah, that was like a no pressure kind of thing, haha. I can imagine her going through a book of baby names, and picking that out specifically for that reason. But officially, no. Not named after any other Michael that I know.
Michael is a crazy common name though, at least for my generation. Like, growing up, no matter what class I was in school, there was inevitably at least one other Michael. So I got used to going by my last name in those sorts of situations. Even today, if someone calls out “Faith” from across the room, I’ll probably look up. Now, “Mike” on the other hand… -_-
What’s your average day like?
About as average and routine as you can possibly imagine (by design, heh). On weekdays, I get up insanely early. Partly that’s just leftover behavior from when I was in grad school, which I just never broke out of, but also, I just like to have a nice leisurely morning before going into work. I’ll relax with some coffee, check my emails, watch some tv or read with breakfast. Very chill, and not hurried at all. Go to work, office space style, and put in my 8ish hours leading a team of software developers. Depending on the day, I’ll go to the gym after work. Then if I have plans that night, I’ll go out. Otherwise, I’ll go home, eat dinner and chill there. Weekends, I’ll go do random shit, along with the standard adulting chore type stuff.
How far away do you live from where you were born?
Not far at all. I was born, grew up, and spent most of life in the Dallas Metroplex area, which is about 3 and a half hours from where I live in Austin.
Is that distance something you think about? Do you any connection to your place of birth?
Some people have told me this is kind of odd, but I actually haven’t been back since I moved down. My parents still live (separately) in the Dallas area (my mother’s still in the home I lived in as a teenager). But I just don’t really have a desire to go back there. Plus, I absolutely love Austin so much.
What do you consider to be your “home”?
I guess you could probably guess the answer to this from my last one. Austin is my home now. I’ve lived here for just under 4 years now, but I feel like a native. I really adore the culture here and I just couldn’t imagine wanting to live anywhere else.
At the moment, what’s something you’re looking forward to?
SXSW is always a big event here in Austin, and something I’ve really enjoyed for as long as I’ve been down here. There’s always so much going on. And especially within the art community that I love so much. There’s Flatstock; usually, a Mondo gallery opening or two; last year Pow Pow came down and sponsored a bunch of mural paintings. It’s sort of overwhelming at times, and I’m always exhausted by the end of it, but I love every bit.
What items do you always take with you when you leave the house?
Um, probably what most people carry on them? Wallet, phone, and keys. I’ll almost certainly have a wristwatch on and this lucky ring that I’ve had for like 15 or 20 years. I feel sort of naked without those two things, but they’re the only real “jewelry” (is a watch considered jewelry?) I wear.
When you look in the mirror, what do you notice first about your appearance?
I’d have to say my complexion. I’ve always struggled with that, ever since I was a teenager. It was a lot worse and I broke out more often back then. (and of course, the doctor’s would say it’s something I’d likely grow out of…) But even today, I still have a hard time with acne. I just have naturally oily skin, and it’s tough to stay on top of that as much as I’d like.
If you could change something about your appearance, what would it be?
Either my complexion, like I mentioned above, or my nose. Not a huge fan of my nose. Wow, this is turning out to be a real bummer of a questionnaire, hahaha.
What do you first notice in strangers?
Eyes. Definitely their eyes. A person’s eyes can really speak volumes. About their emotional state, how well they’re paying attention, what they think of you. Also, they’re just gorgeous. So much depth.
What do think those that know you say about you?
To be honest, I don’t really imagine (other than people at work) very much is said about me when I’m not around. I guess I just don’t think I’m the topic of very many conversations? *shrugs* So, is nothing an option?
What would you hope they would say?
I mean, I guess if that’s really a thing that happens, I hope they say that I’m compassionate and passionate, that I care about the plight of those around me, that I’m frequently crippled by empathy, and that I sometimes care way too much. About all the things.
What do you think strangers notice first about you?
That’s hard to say. I mean there’s the obvious stuff, like I’m tall and skinny. I’m somewhat introverted and can be shy, so I fear that sometimes that can be misinterpreted as disinterest or indifference. I feel I’ve gotten better about that over the years, but it’s still something I’m conscious of.
What is your proudest moment? Biggest victory?
Um, I don’t really know, to be honest. My “victories” are mostly small and incremental. I guess finishing graduate school?
What is your biggest regret? Biggest failure?
I don’t know if this is my biggest regret (it’s kind of hard to think in those terms), but I do really regret not learning piano when I was a kid. There was an old piano in my house when I was growing up, because my mother knew how to play. My sister even took lessons for a while (but that didn’t really last long). I played violin in like Junior High School for a couple years but gave that up. Now, I look back and I really wish I’d been more eager to play the piano back then, when I was young, and more easily able to learn new talents and hone all new skills. I’m really considering rectifying that mistake (finally) this year, and maybe taking some piano lessons. But I know that at my age I’ll never be as good as I could have been, had a taken an interest in it way back when.
If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
I guess I wish I wasn’t so prone to anxiety, and require so much routine in order to function as a productive human being, you know? I wish I was more agile in that way, and able to have more of a “take life as it comes” attitude towards things. I’ve gotten WAY better about that over the last 5 or 6 years, after many years of introspection, self-reflection, and personal growth. I’m far less susceptible to the kind of anxiety I dealt with in the past. But I still depend on a certain degree of routine and stability for me to not feel out of sorts.
What makes life worth living?
Now that’s an easy one. Love. As far as I can tell, that’s really the whole point of all of this. Love in all its many shades, is what makes this whole life thing worth the trouble.
If you could know exactly when and how you would die, would you want to know?
Oh, definitely. As long as this fictional scenario, where I know when I’m going to die, is like 100% guaranteed, and there was no question about that changing. Then yeah, I feel like it’d be a relief actually. Freeing. One less thing I’d have to worry about. I could do a better of job of living in the moment, being more mindful of _now_.
What is the one rule you try to live by? Do you feel successful at following it?
There’s a quote by Kurt Vonnegut (whom I absolutely adore), from his book God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater That’s always stuck with me over the years:
“Hello babies. Welcome to Earth. It’s hot in the summer and cold in the winter. It’s round and wet and crowded. On the outside, babies, you’ve got a hundred years here. There’s only one rule that I know of, babies-’God damn it, you’ve got to be kind.’”
Over the years this ideal seems to become more and more present in my perception of things. More and more I do my best to live a life of compassion, and empathy, and understanding, and love, and kindness. I’m not always successful at it. I’m only human, I know that. But I try hard, and feel that I’m getting better at it. Which makes me feel alright.