Sunday, February 14, 2010

The Great Interview Experiment: Element 22 - Titanium

I'm about to astound you do something I've never done in the history of Why? What Have You Heard?. In the ... 3 years or so this blog has existed, I've never interviewed anybody. (Because who am I anyway, right?) Anyway. Neil Kramer, known to many as the (a name that kinda reminds me of those creepy post-apocalyptic sci-fi thrillers) has been running something he calls for the last couple of years. The GIE (as it's known to those who know) is a series of interviews of bloggers by bloggers for bloggers and operates under the premise that . In a nutshell, Neil explains the process this way:

"The interviews are random. You may be paired with a Nobel Laureate or an insane person ... and it doesn’t matter.
Here’s how it will work...
The first commenter will interview me.
The second commenter will interview the first commenter.
The third commenter will interview the second commenter.
And so on."
I got involved with it when a recent acquaintance, emailed me saying she'd already commented and done her interview and would I please be the next comment because she so wanted to be interviewed by me... well actually I don't know why. But after spending -- literally -- an hour or two picking random posts on two of her blogs to read, I came up with a half dozen questions (it's quality. not quantity, yeah?) and posed them with the understanding that she might plead the 5th to some (or all) and if she did, I'd replace them with boring other ones. It's worth noting that she didn't flinch at any of them. I guess I'm not surprised considering I'm interviewing someone scheduled to climb Citlalt├ępetl, the third highest mountain in North America, in November of this year. I'm not gonna get deep into the introductions though, because you can read all that on her blogs and . And if you're nice to her, you might even get invited to her other blog, which I won't name here.

So. In no particular order other than the order in which they occurred to me...

1. In your post wherein you list 37 (and counting) random fun and fascinating factoids about Ti, #33. reads:
"Places I’ve come to fear the most: Churches, Closets, Dark empty houses... and Supermarkets"(??!) Okay, I can see the first three, but that last one... there's gotta be a story there.

Bottom line: I don’t like crowds of people. In any form. Humans in large groups tend to become less than intelligent, shoving the shopping carts of their opinions on to the ankles of others and blocking the aisles of communication with the sedentary sludge of unstirred thought. In all fairness, I don’t like any building where the exits are fail-secure or frozen shut. It’s Alaska, man. We could have our own subsection in "People of Walmart" - a solid one-third of our inhabitants are packing heat (concealed, or otherwise) and trying to effect a fashion statement that declares their prowess at field-dressing a moose in the back of a minivan.

2. You quote Emerson quite a bit in various places on your blogs. Besides Ralph and yourself, who else do you find eminently quotable?

"All of ‘em, doncha know? (wink, wink)." Sorry, that had to be said. Again. Wipe the horrified look off your face - that’s so unattractive.

Okay, for real? The most quotable person I know is Chef Jeff. For example, last night I hear an enormous noise and come bounding out into the living room - prepared for the worst. He’s sitting there, looking sheepish... "I was cleaning the Nalgene bottle* and it went off"... Yeah, it went off alright - luckily, my daughter is wearing my full-face kayak helmet. You see what I mean?

*For those who didn't know (that would include me, yes) Nalgene makes water bottles and water cooler containers. How you get one of those to "go off" I'm still working out.

3. Maybe you don't want to answer this one, and if you don't I'll leave it out. Or maybe you don't mind answering it, but would prefer not to have it published. If that's the case, I'll leave it out. But anyway. Your childhood was, to understate it, a lot different from most. And yet you maintain what appears to be a great relationship with your mom, and took your in part from your dad. What was the turning point, or was there one? Was your relationship with your parents always good and just set within a rough context? Or was there a reconciliation at some point that allowed that relationship to take root and grow?

My mom is an amazing person. At twenty years old and seven months pregnant with me, she traveled the gravel version of what is known today as the ALCAN Highway, arriving at last, with my dad, at the cow barn-in-a-canyon that would be their new home. I was born in the attic of that barn, the first of their five children. My mom is tiny. At barely five feet tall and maybe a hundred pounds if she’s holding her Bible, she is soft-spoken, gracious and fierce. Her life was exceedingly difficult and much the same as that of a frontierswoman of 150 years ago; still, she took time to listen. To care. To nurture. She knew how to leave yesterday behind, with all the good and bad contained in it, and move with strength into each new day - forgiving as she went. It’s the single most important lesson she taught me, without ever saying a word.

Needless to say, I am much more like my father. As a child, I feared and worshiped him- he was the physical apparition of the god he preached about. He was also a capable farmer, mechanic, logger, artist, craftsman, architect and builder. Because of my gender and the insane demands on his time, my time at his side was limited. Because I thought he was invincible, I did not understand why he had no say, no voice, when the vote was cast and the elders decided to send me away from my family, from the only life I had ever known. He was out-voted.

I’ll never forget that morning. I had just come in from the barn, from helping a milk cow through a long and painful delivery. For hours, wrestling her calf this way and that, desperately fighting against the clock, I used every skill I had to coax the creature into the world. When dawn broke, I was covered head to toe in nameless muck - cradling an exhausted mother and her fragile newborn, having stitched things back together as best I could for both. I trudged home in through the cold spring morning, soaked to the skin and empty. My dad was sitting on the bottom stair, head in his hands. He too had fought a long battle through the night - and lost. He was sobbing. I knew without words that he could not protect me, had advocated for me in vain.

I packed my few things into a suitcase and he drove me - empty and godforsaken - to the backside of nowhere. I was a child of the 1800’s. I questioned everything, but I had been taught to believe. I stopped believing in my dad that day. Years and years came and went, until I had a daughter of my own. Until I was the one sobbing on the doorstep. Until I came to forgive him and myself, for all these things that come and go. By then, he and mom had long since moved away and started a new life. A good life. With my siblings, in a beautiful and warm State where it rarely snows. He started from scratch, with nothing; he built a business, a home and a world where my little sisters grew up with choices. That is redemption. That is change you can believe in. And it made me angrier than ever. I was left behind in frozen Icebox, a ruined marriage and with shards of ‘beliefs’ to keep me warm at night.

I’d like to say that reconciliation is beautiful - it is cataclysmic, it is subtle, it is anything but beautiful. For dad and me, it came on the wings of our separate, individual and complete mental breakdowns. Years apart, these nearly claimed our lives - mine and his. Out of the long night’s struggle, understanding and compassion was born. We share a name and a legacy, my parents and I: strength of conviction, abiding faith, tenacious hope and a capacity for unconditional love.

4. You learned a fair amount of Latin in your youth. Do you remember any of it? (And why?) And do you ever translate things into Latin just because they sound so much cooler that way?

I learned the Christian bible in Latin, Greek and Hebrew as a child - part of the comprehensive religious education I undertook in order to understand what travesty the translators had done to in order to render the almighty KJV. The things I remember from childhood come and go, memories washed like bits of glass until the edges are smooth and touchable. I enjoy Latin, far beyond that context, though; reading it far better than I speak it. My favorite phrase is inscribed, in part, on the wedding band I gave Jeff:

"Nunc fluens facit tempus, nunc stans facit aeternitatum." - Boethius, De Consolatione, chap. 5,6

Which translates as, "The now that passes produces time, the now that remains produces eternity."

To answer your question - not so much. Something either strikes me in its original language, or in English - I usually only translate things back into English to explain myself to others.

5. Back to your list for a moment (because it makes this an easy process) you don't care about followers, don't care about adoration, but crave acceptance. Define the difference as you see it.

I care about individual humans, and very passionately. We disgrace ourselves and lose our humanity when we become part of mob, a following-for-the-sake-of-following, a universal conformity; conversely, we become idiots when we make a pact with a thousand others to be different for the sake of being "unique". Each one of us has a story to tell, a myriad of flaws and cracks that shine brilliantly in sunlight. I am dedicated to unleashing sunlight, one life at a time. If we treat writing like a mass casualty incident, we are left triaging the resulting mayhem- and scarcely lending any aid beyond the multi-colored toe tags of empty, forgettable comments.

If something I say or write makes a difference, raises a question, gives cause to ponder and puzzle or grimace and laugh - then I’ve connected the dots somehow. Acceptance is not necessarily agreement, it is just acknowledging that something IS. Respectful disagreement opens dialogue. Mindless assent is mediocrity at its finest. Meaningful interaction inspires me, motivates me, intrigues me - and I believe that it all starts with acceptance.

6. Bonus question (or replacement for #3): What's Rule Numbah One in the World According to Ti?

Keep yer sandwich in the baggie.

(This needs no explanation for every soldier, medic, LEO, plumber, logger, roofer out there... for everyone else: sometimes you get your hands really dirty with stuff that can’t be washed off. Learn to deal with it, and fer godsake keep it off your food.)

So there you have it folks. If you want to know more, you'll have to go to the . Or, rather, the . And I suggest that you do.
Stumble Upon Toolbar


Enchanted Oak said...

I woke up at 4:45 a.m. and am groggy. This was a fascinating interview with an interesting woman. Not ready to comment. Coffee hasn't helped the neurotransmitters much. Why was she sent away, and to whom? The question remaining after the interview. Hm. Have another cuppa coffee. Come back later.

Anonymous said...

Mojo... Wow. That was longer than I'd remembered- I guess I talk a lot. Beautifully formatted, thoughtfully rendered. And there isn't a single other person I would have rather had interview me. That's why. So there. :)

Mama Zen said...

Wow. Thank you both.

SandyCarlson said...

Cool thing.

Daryl said...

Extremely long but well worth the read .. cool idea

PattiKen said...

Wow. Just, wow. As anyone who knows me will attest, I am seldom rendered speechless. But all I can say is... wow.

Thanks to you both. Now, I've gotta go do some thinking.

Brian Miller said...

wow. thanks both of you. so great to learn even more about titanium...the story about your dad...enough said. wow.

Mighty Hunter said...

Mojo: Thanks for posting this. Absolutely fascinating.

Ti: Wow. You're more complex and nuanced than a Byzantine mosaic. And yet, like the first draught of water to a man almost dead from thirst, I want to know more.

Susan said...

Wow. Intense, real, and fascinating. That was a fantastic interview. This will not be leaving me for some time to come. Titanium is incredible.

Mrsupole said...

Very interesting, leaves many questions about Ti, and I will have to ask her sometime.

Thank you for asking her such great and interesting quesitons. She seems to have many levels.

God bless.