Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Great Interview Experiment

A few weeks back I signed up to be part of Citizen of the Month's Great Interview Experiment. The concept is to interview and be interviewed by your fellow bloggers, finding out what makes them tick, why they do what they do.

I was lucky enough to interview the wonderful A.C. from Thunder and Windchimes. I have become a big fan of her blog because she writes so simply and so eloquently. Check out her posts on nature and on thunder and windchimes.

Now on to the interview:
1. You are relatively new to blogging, why did you start? What did you hope would come of it? Now that you've done it for a while, what do you like most? Is there anything you dislike?

Well, I started blogging a few years ago - maybe 4 or so - but my first blog didn't make it to more than 10 posts. I started up again last year when I decided to go back to school for a science degree. I had started reading some really interesting science blogs and I thought it would be neat to try and write one of my own, chronicling my life as a non-traditional student. So, I have two blogs; Thunder and Wind Chimes and a science/school blog.

I only recently started Thunder and Wind Chimes because I found myself wanting to connect with other bloggers on a more personal level. I also wanted some more freedom in my writing; freedom to write about arguments with my partner, freedom to write about my childhood. You see, my partner and my mother both regularly read my science blog, so I feel limited in what I can write there. I suppose when I started Thunder and Wind Chimes, I hoped that I would have a place to vent and a means of connecting with and relating to other people. That's my favorite part - the relating to people. I love it when I read something someone else has written and it brings back my own memories. I also love that everything that happens to me is potential post fodder. Sometimes AJ and I will be doing something and he'll say "great, now you can write about this on your blog." He even warns our guests that anything they say or do may be published. What don't I like about blogging? Sometimes I feel guilty if I don't write every day. I put a lot of pressure on myself as it is so it doesn't help when I have blog guilt.

2. You are very open about your past substance abuse. Is that a hard issue for you to discuss or does the discussion help you deal with things?

Nope. It's really not hard for me to discuss at all. I spent the last six years discussing my substance abuse with people in AA meetings and I'd say it's actually harder for me to NOT discuss it. Sometimes, I think I mention it when it's best left unsaid. I'm not sure if it helps me to deal with things or not. I think, for the most part, that I've come to terms with it all. In fact, discussing it usually opens the door for other people to relate to it and share their own experience. I was taught that I could do something positive with it - to help other people with their own substance abuse issues - so part of me feels like I can't do that if I hide it. Of course, I respect that some people prefer to remain anonymous and I don't believe that they're doing a disservice. There's a lot of stigma attached to the term "drug addict."

3. Ok lets go back to your childhood. I still have my childhood teddy bear. What was your favorite toy/possession? Do you still have it? If not do you wish you did?

Oh, my favorite possession, by far, was Dinosaur. He's a stuffed Brontosaurus (back when Brontosaurus was the correct name). He's green and about the size of a football. I used to sleep with him every night and take him to school in my backpack. I got him for Christmas when I was five, after I'd seen one at my friend's house and bothered my parents for one for months. He was the last gift I opened on Christmas morning. I still have him and I actually still keep him in the bed, though he sometimes gets moved to the floor to make room for AJ and the cats.

4. As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up? Did you have realistic plans (like doctor) or were they more fantastical in nature (like fairy princess)? Do you still wish you could be that?

At about age three, I started telling my parents that I wanted to be a paleontologist. That seemed, to me, like a very realistic plan, though the word "paleontologist" struck fear in my parents' hearts because paleontologists don't get rich (well, some certain Hollywood consultant paleontologists might...but not most). I really loved dinosaurs and I was pretty proactive about my passion; I wrote to paleontologists and sent them my drawings, I plastered my walls with dinosaur posters, I started saving up money to go on a dinosaur dig. Somewhere along the line a few things happened to squelch that dream: I started to become afraid that my parents were right and that I'd never make any money, my self-esteem got so poor that I decided I could never get a degree in science and, of course, I started using drugs. I do still wish I could be a paleontologist and, in fact, I have started to pursue just that. Last year, I decided to go back to school to study geology and zoology, the building blocks of paleontology. I have two more years of school after this coming one and I can start looking for grad schools that have paleontology programs. This fall I'm going to a big paleontology conference where I'll hopefully meet potential grad school advisors and do some networking.

5. It seems that nature has a really important place in your life. What is your favorite spot to enjoy nature? Describe being a nature sitter and what it means to you.

Nature does have a really important place in my life, though I often get caught up in other things and forget to enjoy it. I think by "nature sitter" I mean that I tend to use nature as a means of calming down and relaxing and bringing my life back into perspective. I have pretty bad anxiety problems and I often battle with depression and I've found that the best way for me to alleviate that is to find a quiet, beautiful spot outside and let myself blend in with my surroundings. It's hard to not feel good when you feel a part of the natural world. I have so many favorite spots to enjoy nature - I live in a beautiful area with a gigantic lake and little mountains. This summer, I've spent a lot of time at a particular beach that is fairly secluded. The water is clear and the mountains rise up behind the water. The close ones are light blue and the ones far away are dark blue. When the sky is blue and the water is blue, the whole world just looks blue...it's really breathtaking. We've had a lot of thunderstorms this year, so I haven't gotten to sit outside much, but it has made for some great storm watching. I have a chair on my back porch that I like to sit in while storms are approaching. I also like to sit on the porch and read Mary Oliver's poetry. She's a nature-sitter, too, and I'm pretty sure her poem, Wild Geese, is one of those life-changing poems that once you read, you'll repeat to yourself over and over again.

6. You went to college after high school and have now gone back to school, what did you originally study and what are you studying now? What made you decide to go back? Do you wish you would have waited to go originally?

I originally studied writing. My degree is in "Professional Writing," which includes media and creative writing. I got into creative writing in high school and chose it as my major in college because I knew I could do well without much effort. Bad reason. I obviously still write quite a bit, but I don't enjoy writing professionally. Now I'm studying zoology and geology and hopefully paleontology, which is sort of a marriage of the other two. I think my writing degree will help me out if I end up in an academic setting, doing research. I learned to write and wrote successful grants and I can write a pretty decent research paper. However, I really do wish I'd waited to go to college. I wasn't ready when I first went...I didn't understand how much of my life my career was going to consume and I didn't have the self confidence to really go for my dream. After working in an office for two years, I can see that I'm not going to be happy doing this. I need to learn and be engaged. I didn't necessarily waste the first four years of college, but I didn't get out of them what I could have. And now, I can't get much financial aid for this second degree. The government is great about giving away money for degree #1, but not degree #2, which doesn't help me much because my parents were also okay with giving up some money for degree #1, but not degree #2.

7. Assuming money were no object, if you could go anywhere, were would you go and why? Who would you want to travel with?

Oh! This is a fun question! I have three places I'd go. And I'd take AJ with me to all three. First I'd go to Curacao. I've always wanted to go to an island and AJ has been there and says it's the most amazing place he's ever been. I love the sun and water and warm weather and I hear the islanders speak a billion languages and are really relaxed and friendly.

Second, I'd go to Yoho National Park in Canada. It's got the most amazing lakes and mountains and it's home to the Burgess Shale, which is houses some of the most perfect specimens of Cambrian animals. I just finished reading a book about the Burgess Shale, so I'd love to see Walcott's Quarry and some of the specimens.

Third, I'd go to Italy. I went there in 2005 and had the most amazing time. I really want to go because I want AJ to see a European country. Other than Curacao and Canada, he's never left the US. I would love to show him Florence and Rome and Venice. I think everyone should have the experience of visiting another place, another culture. It's life-changing.

8. As a fellow cat mom I was so sad to hear about your sick kitty, how is E.C. doing?

EC is doing okay. She's still lethargic and she's still only eating out of my hand, but she is up and about much more frequently and she has even been sitting on my lap, which is something she hasn't done since she got sick. She's taking a steroid and it seems to be helping a lot. I think, though, that this cancer is getting the best of her and that she probably won't ever bounce back fully. But she's still got a lot of life in her and we're going to enjoy her and make her comfortable as much as possible.

9. Finally, describe a perfect day. What would you do, who would you be with?

A perfect day would be one where I'd feel totally content with whatever it is I'd be doing. I think it'd be like this one day, not too long ago. I got up and AJ and I walked to the coffee shop and got coffee. We sat outside and chatted until a friend called. We met her and her boyfriend in the park and lazed about until we got hungry. Then we went to the food co-op and got some fresh fruit and cheeses and crackers and beers/sodas. We drove to the beach (the one I talked about in the fifth question) and had a picnic and then went swimming and relaxed on the sand. Eventually, when we were a bit sun-scorched, we drove back to our friend's house and ate a bit more and played horseshoes in the yard. AJ and I left a while later and went home. I read on the porch for while and then we got in bed, with the cats, and watched Battlestar Gallactica for the rest of the night. It was an un-planned, see-what-happens day. It was awesome.

Thanks A.C. Now I know who to direct all of Bunny's dinosaur questions too.


for a different kind of girl said...

Great interview! I've enjoyed getting to read A.C.'s blog, and wow, I so get that sense of feeling guilty when you think you should be out there writing something for it!

Now, I need to figure out how to get one of those perfect days!

Maggie said...

Awesome interview. I'd never read ACs blog before but I'll be a regular reader from now on.

Isn't this a great experiment? I just posted my interview of Katy and sent in my answers too

Anonymous said...

Awesome interview.The blog is fantastic and it sort of changes the whole attitude of people towards the Goodwill image