Wednesday, 3 January 2018

second set of twelve questions

The first set gave me triggers that generated about eight thousand words so this is worth doing. I've got next week off of work, almost entirely free of child-entertaining duties, and I'm giving that time over to the fiction project. Two of those days I'm going to Warrnambool to look around and take photographs and generally find words to convey it. I may eat something at Day Kitty once or twice while I'm there, who can say. Not bringing back none for you.

13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
Do I deserve love? Will I be allowed to love?

14. Is there something you've dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven't you done it?
Travel fantasies occupy many of my daydreams. I haven't done them because they are not doable. For instance, I used to imagine sitting on a hill in Ireland and looking across the green earth to the horizon and the wild sky. Dress this fantasy up in some Veedon Fleece / Game of Thrones-type accessories and you get not only a clear insight into the threadbare romanticism, the mills-and-boonish paucity of my inner life, but also an idea of why when I did eventually find myself sitting on a thoroughly fairytale hill in Ireland, in a place where my family lived for hundreds of years and some of them are still living, I didn't recognize the experience as the fulfillment of a lifelong wish. It just felt like one good day among many.

15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
Surviving the transition to parenthood and raising a child who is observably free of my own neuroses.

16. What do you value most in a friendship?
Intelligence, generosity, and openness. There is nothing else.

17. What is your most treasured memory?
Being eight years old in my grandmother's farmhouse kitchen, sitting between the fogged-up window and the big bare wooden table, rubbing my fingernail across the engraving of a Chinese landscape on the battered aluminium teapot and watching her make scones.

18. What is your most terrible memory?
So terrible is it that I will keep it to myself. Let me just say "it's something really terrible". I've shared it verbally with various people and honestly that is not usually a good experience. It sets off a bomb in the relational space of the present moment, and that space is almost always revealed as not robust enough to survive the blast. The bottom drops out. Almost always the response is silence, and I understand this. What is there to be said? I'm left feeling that I've ambushed the other person with something impossibly heavy.

19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
I thought I would write here "stop working" but the scenario I talked about in the last question relates to what it is about this job I have that makes it important to me. This job is about providing a framework for public and private expression and witnessing and acknowledgement of trauma, and much as I don't like some of the outward forms of how that's carried out, I continue to be convinced that fundamentally it is A Good Thing. So if I knew that in one year I would die suddenly I guess I would...go part-time? and spend as much time as possible with the people I love.

20. What does friendship mean to you?
It's very high in my personal hierarchy of needs. It comes immediately after the basic necessities, and because they are more or less assured in my lucky life, it's the thing I feel a conscious need for the most and I'm not sure it's a need that can ever be sated. Sometimes I feel like I might turn into a friend succubus if I don't restrain myself. (I initially wrote "a fried succubus" which might be an exciting thing to turn into). I love and appreciate my superb women friends but I wish I had more men friends. Men are sometimes a bit amateur at friendship but that's part of what makes them interesting to be around. (Hashtag notallmen.)

21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
Well, they matter very much to me. I would say that they don't have the sort of presence in my life that I could describe as a contained "role." They infuse almost everything and the parts they don't infuse are very grey indeed. Yoga is about love, for instance. I will never have anything else to say about that notion, because Elizabeth Gilbert. Enthusiasm, or obsession, for things, such as places, movies, music, books, can carry me a very long way into a solitary state of happiness and satisfaction but sharing my enthusiasm or sharing in someone else's is absolutely about love. That very long and roundabout sentence is a way of talking about why I taught English and thought it was worth doing. Its roundaboutness reflects the complicated and volatile nature of what William Deresiewicz grappled with in an essay that could not be written today, Love on Campus. I was fortunate in that I had some leeway and freedom to work in this space, because I was a woman, teaching mainly work by women, mainly to women. Think about the durable myth that Queen Victoria refused to endorse legislation criminalizing lesbian sex because she would not believe it existed, and you have an idea of the useful invisibility of eros in that particular academic context.

22. is not going to work in this format

23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people's?
coming back to this another time

24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
How do I feel about it, rather than "what is it": it's a relationship that I have held up to the light and repeatedly scrutinized from every angle, and consequently I "feel" analytical about it, as if it's not got all that much to do with me. I know that this is a defensive strategy. I guess I feel like it's an unexploded parcel of some sort. Gosh, that sounds dramatic doesn't it. Maybe it's more like the suitcase on Deal or No Deal.

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