Friday, February 22, 2008

The Great Interview Experiment

A few days ago, I stumbled across Citizen of the Month and The Great Interview Experiment. Neil, author of Citizen of the Month, had the brilliant idea to start an interview chain based on his belief that everyone is someone and deserves to be interviewed. You simply place a comment on his blog and are placed on the interview list. You are then interviewed by the blogger listed ahead of you and you in turn interview the next person to sign up. Then you post the interviews on your blog. He already has hundreds of bloggers signed up.

I was interviewed by Marge at Marge in Real Life and I really lucked out because she authors a great blog which I have added to my daily reading list and she asked fabulous questions. Go visit her.

So, here is my interview. It's kind of long. It may offer you
enough reading material for the next week. Sorry, apparently I like to write about myself. Who'd a thunk it?

I have interviewed another very interesting blogger, one whom I or my readers would not be likely to find on our own, and I will post my interview with her this weekend. Stay tuned--she's a pretty cool lady.

Your writing is amusing and unguarded in Not In Front Of The Children. How has online writing affected you personally?

Your question actually reflects on of the things I have learned about myself through blogging. I have never thought of myself as a very funny person, so the occasional humor in my writing has surprised me.

The whole blogging experience has given me the sense of fulfillment that I had been seeking. I have really enjoyed the daily writing and have been particularly excited to connect with other women bloggers. I especially love the dialogue through comments. They always spark new post ideas. I also am thrilled that people other than my friends and family read my blog!

What options did you consider in addition to blogging as a means to stave off your desperation as a housewife?

You mean aside of the obvious choices of martini lunches, bong hits and running off with Pablo, the pool boy? Nothing really. This was it. Do, or die a death of boredom.

You seem to have a regular readership. Do you try to provide catharsis for your readers or are your posts more of an outlet for your emotions?

Both, but using it as an outlet for my emotions can be dangerous sometimes and
I don't like to make everything about me, me, me, so I edit myself.

Do you consider your teaching career to be a passion or is there some other field that piques your interest?

Teaching is definitely a passion, but not my only one. In fact, teaching is something I decided to do to pursue a larger passion, which is interest in social equality and justice.

When I was a child, my mother took my sisters and me shopping one Friday afternoon and we stopped at Krystal’s on the way home for a quick dinner. She ordered the usual 2-3 of the little hamburgers and fries for each of us. If you have ever been to Krystal’s or White Castle, you know that the little hamburgers are perhaps a third of the size of a regular burger. One is definitely not enough, so we usually each had two or three.

As we were eating, an African American family, a mom, dad, and a couple of children, came in, ordered and sat a few booths down from us. As we got up to leave, we passed their table and I noticed that the father was cutting a little hamburger in half for the two children. There were only two other little hamburgers on the table and one box of fries. The children looked eagerly at the meal and I could tell that this was a special treat for them. I was concerned and confused though about why the children didn’t have their own hamburgers and fries. I just didn’t think that was fair and didn’t understand why the parents hadn’t ordered more for them.

As we walked out of the restaurant, I asked my mother why the children didn’t have their own meals. Why did they have to split the hamburger and why was there only one box of fries for the family? My mother replied that perhaps they could not afford more than that. This was Friday, the parents had probably just been paid and it was a special treat, even if they could only afford three burgers and one box of fries.

This did not seem right to me. It did not seem fair that those children, who were around my age, had to split a burger while my sisters and I had more than we could eat. I asked my mother if she could buy the children some more hamburgers so they could have enough. She told me no, that they might not appreciate that. I did not think that was a good answer and if it had been up to me at that moment, I would have bought them more food. Of course, now, I understand her point.

Although I had this experience at a young age, it really was a defining moment for me. It was my first realization that other people in the world were not as fortunate as I was and I wanted to change that.

I also became interested in people different from me through extensive travel as a child and because I attended very diverse schools. Many of my friends were from other cultures or were other races. Furthermore, my mother was an inner-city middle school teacher and I saw the dedication and love she had for her students and her intense desire to impact their lives for the better.

When I was in high school, I developed a love for writing and a deep interest politics as a means to change the world. I wanted to combine my writing talent and interest in social issues and politics with a career in journalism as an op-ed writer. I initially attended to University of Missouri to major in journalism, but transferred to Rhodes College, where I majored in political science because they did not offer a communications degree.

Somewhere along the way, I got waylaid and after much thought, decided to pursue teaching. I love learning, I love children and I believe it is one of the most important jobs in society. It offers me a hands-on way to change people’s lives through education. I am especially interested in teaching in an inner-city environment, though it looks like I won't be next year.

If I were to choose another career, I would choose to be a professional writer and political commentator or work for a non-profit serving minority and lower socioeconomic communities.

How do you define your “comfort zone” in life and what activities have you considered that might fall outside of it?

Actually, my life right now is a little out of my comfort zone and I would like to get back in it!
I am not very comfortable not working and I am not very comfortable living in our current location. I don’t necessarily dislike where we live, but it is not what I would prefer. Without divulging too much, it is a small, very homogeneous southern city which is very conservative politically and religiously.

In fact, I have never lived in such a small city, or such a homogeneous city. We moved here from Nashville, which is three times as large and a gazillion times more diverse. Before living in Nashville, I lived in Memphis proper, where as a white woman, I was in the minority. My favorite city of all is New Orleans, due to its diversity and blend of cultures. And I also lived in San Francisco for a year or so as a child. My current local is about as far as you can get on the other end of the spectrum. It is definitely outside my comfort zone.

What subject(s) do you teach? In light of the coming election, have your teaching experiences influenced your political views?

Well, currently I teach the ABC’s and how to wipe your bottom, but when I go back to work this fall, I will teach middle school reading and language arts, as I have in the past.

My teaching experience absolutely informs my political views. On a national level, I always examine a candidate’s stance on education and it is a deciding factor in which candidate I choose to support. I want someone who believes in the value of public education and is willing to work hard to improve it. I dislike much of the NCLB legislation and would like to see it dropped or changed drastically. I also am not in favor of school choice or voucher systems and I would like to see a candidate who can maintain a good working relationship with the NEA (more important on a local level than national).

In local politics, I want a candidate who will support local schools no matter what the political cost, even if it means raising taxes.

And of course my broader interest in social justice means I always support a Democratic candidate.

When parenting the young ones becomes a hassle, where do you go to find escape (beside your blog)?

I read, exercise, and occasionally go to dinner with friends.

I also am embarrassed to admit that I have affection for television. I often like to just zone out. My guiltiest pleasure is The Girls Next Door. Don’t ask me why. I can’t explain it.

Your literary hobby is befitting of a teacher. Which book would you choose to represent your preferred genre and writing style? Why?

I really can’t choose a book to represent my preferred writing style, because the only writing I am any good at at all is journalistic in style. I could not write fiction to save my life. I guess some book of essays would best reflect my writing style.

I also read a wide variety of stuff and am never without a book. My favorite books are Another Country, The Color Purple, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Third Life of Grange Copeland, The Secret History, and Pride and Prejudice, and The Road.

Recently you courageously shared very personal photos of your house its natural “lived in” state. Is your home a reflection of your family and the love that lives there? If money were not an object, what would you want your home to say about you?

If love is defined in mess, than yes!

If I had unlimited funds, I would fill my house with artwork that I truly loved and with pieces I had picked up during our travels. Each piece would be chosen for its beauty or as a remembrance of a location. I would love to furnish it with eclectic, one of a kind furnishings, and wonderful hand-woven rugs. The house would have to have tons of bookshelves to house our ever expanding library. I would also choose to live in an older, remodeled home full of character and architectural details.

All of this would reflect a person who is connected to the world around her and who values diversity and its manifestation rather than mass consumerism and the artificial beauty of a showroom floor. It would be evident as a thinking person’s home, not the home of someone who is the blind acceptor of what pop-culture deems fashionable or important.

That sounds a little pretentious, doesn’t it? It’s not meant that way.

What legacy do you hope you and your posts will leave for bloggers and readers in the future?

I don't expect to ever have a blog important
enough to leave a legacy, though I can always dream!


Missybw said...

This is cool... I commented (and signed up) today.

jennifer h said...

This was fun to read.

The Secret History is one of my favorite books, too.