Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Not So Frequently Asked Questions, Part 1

So, my favorite wedding blogger is A., who writes at Accordions and Lace. I love her blog because she is not trying to sell anything but is instead trying to process her own experience through storytelling. She is honest enough to be both excited and frustrated by the process and displays a true understanding that most opposing forces in this world need to be held in tension rather than allowing one to overcome the other.

So, she participated in a sort-of chain mail wedding interview. I stuck my hand so high in the air that my shoulders were actually perpendicular to my desk and I sort of hopped around a little without actually leaving the seated position so that she would call on me next.
In gratitude, I will happily return the favor to other brides and grooms who want to be interviewed. Just leave a reply and I'll get to work on it. Here are the rules:
* leave me a comment with your email address saying: “interview me”* I will e-mail you five questions of my choice
* you can then answer the questions on your blog {with a link back to my blog}
* you should also post these rules, along with an offer to interview anyone else who emails you, wanting to be interviewed
* anyone who asks to be interviewed should be sent 5 questions to answer on their blog
* it would be nice if the questions were individualized for each blogger

So, A.'s first question is, "You seem to have gone in a lot of different directions and gone through many transitions in your (young!) life. How did you get here?"

One of my favorite singers is Barbara Cook, who quoted Stephen Sondheim on the tribute album that she recorded when he said that he never felt like anything that he wrote was particularly revolutionary. He just did the next thing in front of him. Of course Sondheim had certain things that guaranteed that the next opportunity in front of him had the chance to be revolutionary: talent and a supportive social and professional network being at the top of the list.

I feel a little like Sondheim. A solid family that gave me the ability to adventure outside my comfort zone and a probably inherent sense that I should live a life as interesting as the heroines' in the novels I read were the reasons why the next thing in front of me on my path was different from the last thing. So, although I started a little boring as a teacher, I married a poet who was also an actor, which made my life interesting in my early 20s. Interesting does not always equate to happy, remember. When telling the story that way, I don't think anyone would be surprised to learn that my ex-husband told me lies about himself on our first date in order to impress me, then had to build on those lies by building a fictional life that he lived when he wasn't with me in order to support those original lies. At some point the lying became a habit and when he left it was a complete surprise to me that the relationship was even in jeopardy because he always told me what he thought I wanted to hear. By that point, unbeknownst to me, he was doing drugs regularly and had a mistress that he quickly married after the divorce. It turns out that he had never gotten the Bachelors degree, Masters degree or coursework toward a teaching certificate that he told me he was getting when he was gone at nights, even though he gave me tours of the campus and told me stories about being a TA.

But the women in the novels pick themselves up from being knocked down by dramatic adversity and find interesting tasks to occupy them until they heal. I had already done this once before when I left my first teaching job completely burned out and responded a few months later to an ad in The Reader looking for teachers of child actors in plays. That adventure took me on tour with a great group of roadies and actors and renewed my vigor for teaching. However, when the next teaching job also turned sour after two years and within a year of my husband leaving, I accepted an invitation from the son of a family friend who I met at a wedding to go visit him on Orcas Island. There I found a community of artists, organic farmers, trustafarians, Microsoft retirees, actual retirees, hippies and any number of solid folk who shared a common desire to live surrounded by the beauty of oceans, mountains and trees and equally surrounded by the beauty of a community forced into closeness by its small size (only one grocery store) and remoteness (1.5 hour ferry ride available only four times a day). I started my blog when I moved there so that I could allow the rhythm of that life to lull me back to a place of equilibrium while still paying attention to the experience. I was writing the story that I hoped my life was interesting enough to sustain. I give my family credit for my sense of self-assurance that anyone would want to read my story because they exposed me to lots of adults who told me I was interesting as a kid and for believing it themselves, even if they expressed it by shaking their heads in bewildered disbelief at the ideas I would come up with.

The decision to come live in the city of Chicago came from the fact that I missed being an active part of my family and because after awhile it became clear that I couldn't change them world from a tiny island on the border with Canada. I had regained my vigor again. After a stint in a local non-profit, this naturally led to a Public Policy program at the university of Chicago and to my current status as a job-seeker. While I was doing all of that, more of my adventurous focus was on finding a spiritual home first by trying to push my way into a community that was not right for me and sinking into the comfort of the emerging Christianity movement when I fell backwards from the attempt. This new-found validation of my leanings toward pluralism and universalism made my interfaith relationship with Jacob possible.

Storytelling and family. These are the things that brought me here.

Thanks for asking.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Love this. I really loved reading this and seeing you conceptualize your past. And the blog appreciation is mutual!