Monday, February 25, 2008

The Great Interview Experiment

Neil, at Citizen of the Month, has this little experiment going on. His idea is that all people are worthy of an interview. We don't have to be somebody to be somebody. So he has invited bloggers around the world to participate in "The Great Interview Experiment." After reading several fellow bloggers' interviews, I decided to jump on board.

I interviewed Marge, of Marge in Real Life. Her blog is all about self-expression, self-discovery, and self-disclosure. I enjoyed getting to know her through her blog. Here is the interview:

The Great Interview Experiment
Getting To Know Marge of Marge in Real Life
- by Shannon of Letters Falling

I love The Simpsons, both for its entertainment value and as a social critique. Are you a fan? Do you consider yourself a Marge in real life? Is Homer really Homeresque? Or are the pseudonyms just a fun approach to an anonymous blog?

Sometimes the satire of the Simpsons hits entirely too close to our home. I don’t have blue hair and Homer doesn’t spend all his free time in the local bar, Bart’s not nearly so mischievous but we all say “d’oh!” a lot and fight over who has to take out the trash (remember the sanitation commissioner episode?). As the woman of the house, I feel Marge’s pain in being the mostly-ignored voice of reason, constantly picking up after everyone, and trying desperately to project a “normal” family in the face of absurd abnormality. Homer’s ADD and absentmindedness is as close as he comes to being Homeresque although like Marge, I wish sometimes he would be a little more refined in social settings. Every day in our life feels like an episode of satirical proportions.

You mentioned that Homer has read a few posts on your blog. You are very frank about Homer’s weaknesses in many of your posts. Has he seen those posts? If so, how did he react? If not, are you worried he might see them at some point, and how do you think he would react?

One of the wisdoms I’ve come to understand well is that any healthy and worthwhile relationship is based on trust, the basis of which is honesty. He has seen my posts and I have no fear of his reading my blog. At first I was nervous when he showed interest and I warned that if he chose to read my blog, he should do so with a thick skin and a large grain of salt because I hadn’t written about him in a spirit of sparing his feelings. I’ve always said that I don’t read minds, if you have a problem, say so. And to be fair, I’ve encouraged Homer to express (in a blog even) his own experiences in our relationship. Even though he hasn’t chosen to do that, we do talk through all our squabbles eventually. What we have together is a treasure to us both and the growing pains along the way make us stronger.

I love your hamster-in-the-wheel/song-stuck-in-your-head metaphor. If you could only listen to one song for the rest of your life, what would it be? Why?

Just one?! For the rest of my life?! That would be the early death of me. My worst pet peeve (a very furry green one with googly eyes) is redundantly repetitive repetition – especially in music (ex: Eric Clapton’s Laila – pardon me a moment while I go change the station). A catchy chorus is one thing, singing it over and over is enough to send one to the nuthouse. Um, how about this happy little playlist on random mode?

  • I Am The One And Only, Chesney Hawks (incidentally the theme song from the movie Doc Hollywood with Michael J Fox)
  • You’re An Ocean – Old 97’s – I just really like the piano arpeggios
  • Losing My Religion – REM
  • Don’t Stop – Fleetwood Mac
  • Only Happy When It Rains - Garbage
  • Closer To Free – Bodeans
  • Closer To Fine – Indigo Girls
  • Angels Of The Silences – Counting Crows
  • Crazy – Seal

When you take the messages of these songs together they sum up my personality and outlook quite well.

I also share custody of my children with my ex. It sounds like you have a pretty good working relationship with Bart’s dad. How do you do that? I’ve been trying to find peace, but haven’t had much luck. You must have some sort of secret to your success.

Oof, we’ve come a very long way. We’ve always known that no matter how we feel about each other, no pain or unhappiness in our past is more important than our son and like it or not, the natural consequence of having a child together is parenting him, together or not. After we split but before our divorce, we found an amazing counselor. She gave us a funny look when we told her we weren’t there to mend our marriage. We already knew that was over. We were there to mend our relationship so that we could raise an emotionally healthy child together. The real therapy took place in long healing discussions in the therapist’s parking lot after our sessions. I think the biggest key to our success has been to put our romantic past and pain completely and totally behind us. Both of us have taken sincere steps to move on in our lives and truly forgive.

I agree that God and religion are two different things. I also believe that religion can be helpful for some, but damaging for others. It sounds like you had a real awakening about your beliefs in your 20’s. Do you resent being brought up in a religious home? How do you reconcile your religious upbringing with your adult beliefs? Are they connected at all?

Resent is a strong word because I feel no bitterness about my upbringing. My parents truly believed in what they were doing. They sheltered us kids out of love, not because of their religious beliefs. They raised us to fear God and I know that much of my true understanding of the spiritual realm I learned from their actions and personal faith, not from church or Biblical teachings. I do however recognize that my parent’s heavy control had some very undesirable impacts on my ability to develop a sensible world-view. Now when establishing and questioning my beliefs I have learned to take guilt out of the process and add common sense in. Breaking free was a rebellion at its height but became a necessary freedom that I hope to one day see my siblings understand as well.

You really picked up the blogging in January (from 3 posts in December to 59 in January). What was it that caused such an increase in your posting?

My introduction to blogging was on MySpace and I made my first post in August of 2007. It was mainly a way of keeping my friends and family up on the happenings in my life. My posts were usually cheery or funny and pretty much the kind of thing I might put in a newsletter about me. In October the stress in my life reached a peak; I was working very long hours doing my job and a coworkers too, I was trying to cope with my depression since going off meds the previous May, and Homer was sinking deeper and deeper into a depression I couldn’t understand. As my emotional world caved in, the holidays came on and then I was called on to go help my ailing grandmother in Florida. I stopped posting on MySpace mostly because I didn’t have time but also because it wasn’t the kind of thing I knew how to share. I knew that any kind of patronizing advice or sympathy from my friends would make me angry. At the very end of 2007 I had an emotional meltdown that prompted me to step back and assess my forms of release and ask what exactly was I doing to help myself out of my troubles.

Marge In Real Life was sort of my gift to me. It started as a totally anonymous place to vent. Quickly I saw the benefits of uncensored writing and began to post multiple times a day. Soon I realized that I wanted to share my feelings with some that knew me. When I read back through my posts I was startled to realize that I was leading a dual life in some ways and I didn’t like that the honest, open me was the online me. I resolved to bring the two together by opening my private blog to those in my MS friend list. If they were true friends, they would accept me with my shortcomings, frustrations, and depression.

Is your blog cathartic (the emotionally purging definition, not the bowel-purging one) for you? You’ve said writing is like free therapy. In what ways?

So much of the self-torture that takes place in my head is a result of not giving myself permission to do what I need to do. I’ve now given myself permission to release my emotions in my blog – good bad and ugly. I authorized myself to take full creative license without the least concern for what others might think. Don’t ask me why I’d never been able to do that before – fear of self-invented retribution or scorn maybe? Thankfully, it’s been a very cathartic experience for me and as you’ve read, it’s more positive and cheerful than not.

You made a quick reference to being a former runner. What do you miss about running? Is there any chance that you might take it up again?

Many nights I have running dreams. Sometimes when no one is looking I watch Parkour videos on YouTube and fantasize about being so light and free. I’m a very long way from being in good enough shape to run again. Last time I tried it, I had shooting pains through my ankles. I know though that losing weight and embracing athletic endeavors again is a matter of strengthening my resolve and rearranging my priorities. I will run again.

You and Homer love jeeps. The only thing I know about jeeps is that I got stuck behind a highway full of them in Moab one April. I realized then that there are plenty of fanatical jeepers (?) out there. Do you consider yourself a fanatic? What is your favorite jeeping activity? Have you ever turned over one of your jeeps?

One would probably categorize me as a fanatic, though I like to think it’s mostly by reason of association to Homer who is unquestionably a fanatic! My motivation in buying a jeep was to have a vehicle capable of taking me to remote places for unique photographic opportunities. My jeeps have certainly served that purpose and then some. I have many breath-taking photos from the tops of mountains and ancient mining camps.

A little part of me is a tough little tomboy and I like to take on a rough trail with the guys and see their surprise. Yes, I’ve turned jeeps over several times, mostly in my Betty P while tackling stubborn obstacles in Moab, UT. In the most recent incident my cat was sitting in the seat next to me and I thought she’d bolt but she just hooked her claws in and looked at me as if to say, “now what.” Not all of my rollovers have been so fun. A year ago last September I accidentally rolled my Grand Cherokee several times on a dirt road near my home and I feel very grateful to be alive.

I love your taste in Pyrex. I can tell you love color (I recall an orange or red wall behind a fish tank in one of your photos). Describe the most colorful area in your house.

Bright colors have tantalized me since I childhood. In high school I started the Colorful Liberation Front (CLF), a cult group of kids that made colorful little stickers and posted them clandestinely in the blandest places. I really have to write the post about that already.

Visitors to my home are sometimes taken aback by the d├ęcor of my living room. Two of the walls are “Moab” orange, the furniture is modern puzzle-style birch with black upholstery, the curtains (partially finished I’m sad to say) are a matching orange, a wood-burning stove with a vintage Wagoneer grill hanging over it dominates one wall, and antique camera paraphernalia adorn the walls. My home is an eternal work in progress. Soon I also hope to complete a very bright yellow utility room, a blue accent wall behind our big commercial stove in the kitchen, red walls in my son’s room, and retro green curtains to compliment the green and black motif in the master bedroom.

1 comment:

Tiffany said...

Fantastic interview! I love this project for exactly these reasons.