Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Five-minutes-of-fame (Interview)

Amy has posted five interview questions in another exercise in "chain blogging." The idea is that she was interviewed by Johnnie, who was interviewed by one of his readers. The questions are specific to the individual being interviewed, not like the "Inside the Actor's Studio" interview. It's kind of a neat idea.

If you want to carry on, let me know and I'll craft some questions just for you.

1. You have been blessed with a son. Name the five best things about having a child, and expand on at least one of them.

  1. There is a whole different level of love for offspring than anything else I've ever experienced. Prior to having a child, I thought that was all hooey, but very early on--probably within three weeks of Sparky's birth--I realized that, yeah, I'd happily kill anyone who hurt him. That feeling has gotten less intense as Sparky has aged; it's now more like the love I have for The Beast: less Mama Tiger, more reasonable. Or maybe I just manage it better?

  2. The childbirth experience made me realize that there are a lot of things in life that are completely out of my control. The last 12 years have only reinforced that. I'm learning, VERY SLOWLY, to live with that.

  3. Kids are fun. They open your eyes to things that have become passe to adults ("Wow, GREEN GRASS!" "Look at all those body parts on ants!" "Rocks are beautiful!" "Jokes are funny, and knock-knock jokes are the best invention in the world!!"). Little kids especially are so eager and open to experiencing anything, there is no equivication; you know where you stand with them and you can't lie to them. Watching them learn is an absolutely amazing experience. Imagine one of us trying to learn to walk they way babies do: fall down fall down fall down fall down fall down stagger fall down fall down fall down fall down stagger fall down fall down fall down fall down stagger step fall down fall down fall down fall down step step fall down....

  4. Sleep is over-rated for adults. I can survive on 4 hours, and even function moderately well. I used to panic if I got less than 7 hours; I'd be cranky and unpleasant all week if I had one short night. Now...well...it's a rare week that has more than 48 hours of sleep in it. On the other hand, sleep is under-rated for kids: if they don't get enough, it's curtains for the whole household!

  5. Summing it up is just the sense of fearlessness and lack of control. Being a good parent means being forced do go places and say and do things that I never thought I'd ever do.
    Go sleepless for years? I can do that.
    Back-talk to a principal? Yup, no problem.
    Go to Disney, Chuck E. Cheese, an apple orchard with 100 5-year-olds? All right!
    Be willing to host a birthday party every year? OK.
    Cut out thousands of patterns to help a teacher with a project (I think it was spiders in my case)? Piece of cake.
    Carry a bleeding child into the ER and not vomit when he upchucks down the back of my shirt? Sure, why not.
    Read the same book 6000 times to keep him quiet on an airplane? Yes.
    Tell him the dictionary definition of "fuck" at age 6? ooh, boy, yeah, ok.
    Admitting to my mother-in-law that I cut the top of his ear off while trying to trim his hair? Yeah.
    And I haven't even mentioned diapers, potty training, baby food, dinner battles over adult food, stupid teachers, field trips to the zoo, Boy Scouts, swim team, Little League.

    The sense of being out of control is ever-ready to overwhelm me:
    ...the time I carefully pulled over to the side of a narrow country road and carefully climbed out of the car and walked away so that I wouldn't kill Sparky.
    ...the time I so badly wanted to go over the school desk at conferences and throttle his second-grade teacher.
    ...the times when I had to lie in bed crying, holding the Beast's hand, listening to Sparky cry for me in order to teach him to go to sleep on his own.
    ...the horrible guilt of telling Sparky I didn't believe his arm hurt that bad, only to find out 3 minutes later that it really was broken.
    ...the current feeling of uselessness as I watch him struggle with the beginning of adolescent turmoil.
    ...those unexpected moments of being so proud of him that my throat closes up completely and I just want everyone to know how perfect he really is.
2. It doesn't take one very long in reading your blogs to know that you've traveled extensively. Have you ever had a "eureka" moment while traveling, where you felt a strong sense of "home" in a new place?

The Swiss Alps in January along the railroad from Milan to Zurich look just like the mountains in Ouray. I so needed a "home" feeling then: we'd spent the trip from Florence sitting in the entry of the train car, by the bathroom, on our suitcases and the floor. There was no space inside the car; people were even sleeping in the aisles. We boarded at midnight, by eight I was hungry, thirsty, tired, freaking out about being away from the States--and the Beast--for 5 weeks. By the time the sun came up, a nice Italian family took pity on the crazy-looking American girl weeping and let me sit in their compartment. I could see the mountains of 'home' as we passed through them. It made me more homesick (and of course the weeping continued!) but it also comforted me.

That's probably the most emotional moment. However, there are lots of "comfort moments" that were less fraught:
Ydra in Greece is one of those places where you can feel the muscles unknotting
The streets of Florence seem to breathe history and shout their stories
The entrances to the Underground last summer just seemed like old friends
Moosehead Lake (in Maine) has always felt like I've been there before
Toronto and the whole province of Ontario feels just like America (I'm sorry to say)
Outer Mongolia in winter is Wyoming with the addition of camels.....
3. You seem to get more out of music than simple entertainment--it seems to reach you at a deep level. Is that true? Do you have any recommendations to share?

I love music. Always have. Before I was born, my parents and sisters had a local radio show where mom played the piano and sang along with the rest of the family. We all grew up singing and taking piano lessons. It's just part of my life, totally taken for granted, so subsumed in my psyche that I always assume that everyone feels that way about music, like everyone has a heart and toenails. Don't you all?

I remember lying on the floor next to my parents' stereo cabinet listening to "Jesus Christ Superstar" and "The Music Man" and Ferrante & Teicher when I was really little. Eventually I was allowed to listen to Shaun Cassidy and The Knack, quietly, there too. Saturday mornings, cleaning my room, I always had the radio on. When I got my brother's hand-me-down stereo, it was not off very frequently. I had all the lyrics to Broadway recordings of "The Music Man," "The Sound of Music," "Fiddler on the Roof," "Jesus Christ Superstar" and The Singing Nun memorized by ages 12, and had whole choreographed dances created for them, a la "At the Ballet:"

...Anyway, I did have a fantastic fantasy life.
I used to dance around the living room
with my arms up like this...

The first time I heard the soundtrack for "A Chorus Line" it floored me. Five years later I realized I probably should have been taking dance lessons for most of my childhood, but I wasn't allowed. Long story involving my dad's religious hangups.

Yeah, so I almost always have music playing in my head. There is very little music that I can't stand, as long as it's got some link to actual music or rhythm. Music makes me laugh, makes me cry, brings me back to specific events in my past (good or bad) and can cause a complete mood shift. I love to sing, too, but not alone, in public.
4. You and I are both the youngest children in our families. What are the worst, and the best, aspects of being the "baby" of the family, generally and specifically in your family?

The worst: it took years of adulthood before my siblings accepted that I'm not a baby anymore (and some frequently forget....). Oddly, my oldest sister figured this all out before anyone else did, including my parents. Another less obvious, but equally annoying, thing is the list of "We couldn't... but YOU were allowed" things:
"WE couldn't have a dog; you got one!"
"We were never allowed to wear jeans to school; YOU could."
"We didn't get a swingset (or whatever toy); YOU did!" [etc.]
[my response: "I never had built-in playmates, dad never took me skating or sledding, I never got away with anything because there was no one else to blame, I never had new anything just a lot of hand-me-down--clothes, furniture, whatever--and my dad died when I was young."

The best: my parents figured out all the stupid things they tried with the older kids didn't work and left me alone to develop more or less naturally. The first time I heard this quote from Bill Cosby about parenting: "Parents aren't interested in justice, they want quiet!" I realized he was talking about my parents. Stay out of trouble and be quiet. Yup, that was pretty much the idea for me. Oh, and get good grades, which I was fortunate enough to have no difficulty achieving.
5. Some days, it seems like the best thing in life is a long (and/or fast) drive. Where would you go, if you could just throw the essentials in the green monster and head out at sunrise?

If I were leaving at sunrise, I'd have to head west to keep the sun out of my eyes. :-)

I'd just drive. Anywhere. Some roads, when you drive past them, just look interesting. I'd stop driving past them and drive on the interesting roads. I prefer to drive in the mountains, and frankly the center section of the country--North Dakota to Texas--is incredibly awful driving. I'd need some good tunes (see above), and a cooler of pop and some chips and I'd be good for the day. When I got tired, I'd stop at a mom-n-pop restaurant for a sandwich and a walk around town (no McD's please) and eventually I'd just find a nice-looking cheap motel to spend the night.

All of this is probably why I love this book so much.

Phew. OK. Who's up for being interviewed??

The Official Interview Game Rules

1. If you want to participate, leave a comment below saying "interview me."
2. I will respond by asking you five questions--each person's will be different.
3. You will update your journal/blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview others in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.

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