Citizen of the Month

the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

Tag: The Great Interview Experiment

The Great Interview Experiment Returns

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We’ve all seen interviews on blog posts.  The Great Interview Experiment (GIE) is different.   It is a celebration of blogging and a challenge to those who talk about community in abstract terms.   How often do we acknowledge the existence of the larger community, including those who are different?

Two years ago, when I first started this project, my view of blogging was more idealistic than it is today.   The GIE motto was “Everyone is Somebody,” and was a response to the hierarchies that were undermining the democratic nature of this modern form of personal expression.   Didn’t we all have unique stories to tell online, not just a select few?   Over time, as I began to focus more on “quality” writing, I became a snootier individual. everyone who opens a blogger account instantly tranforms into a Shakespeare.   Some just have more talent or a bigger personality.   This does not contradict the fundamental truth about the blogosphere.   We are all binary numbers zooming along the internet tubes, side by side, sharing the same home.   We are all individuals, pioneers in this new medium, expressing ourselves in a way unheard of in the previous generation.

So, like Don Quixote, I remain a sucker for unrealistic, impossible dreams.   In my mind, I visualize a permanent interview site where Dooce would interview a clueless newbie, a liberal would interview a conservative, and a religious fundamentalist would interview a feminist lesbian.   It wouldn’t matter if you liked or agreed with other person.  We would still be neighbors, in a Mister Rogers sense.

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 will send you an email confirming who you should interview, along with his contact information.

Contact that person and say hello.

Read that person’s blog.

Come up with five to ten creative questions and email it to him.

When you receive the answers back, post the interview on your own blog, introducing your readers to a new blogger.

Email me to say that the post is up so I can add you to the list.

Answer the questions you receive from the next commenter, your interviewer, and email it back.

Try to keep this entire process under two weeks from when you first sign up.

If you don’t hear back from your interviewee or interviewer within that time period, contact me and we’ll find you someone new.  Just remember, this is not a professional operation.  I’m just some guy doing this in my underwear.  So, be patient.

GIE was conceived mostly for personal blogggers.   I have the right to reject any blog that is too extreme or too commercial.

Wouldn’t it be cool, if for one day, we really did believe that everyone really did have an important story to tell online?

Here are the bloggers who participated last year.  Feel free to sign up again.

Enjoy!

The Great Interview Experiment – Six Months Later

Six month ago, I was annoyed with the blogosphere.  Bloggers were talking about their blogrolls.  Who was on it.   Who was not on it.   Who was cool?   Who was being followed?   Some were busy promoting themselves or campaigning for meaningless blog awards.   I started blogging to get away from that sort of crap.   If I wanted to write in a competitive environment, I would write a book, a magazine article, or a screenplay — and get PAID for it.

Blogging was supposed to be something different.

To steal an idea from the recent BlogHer conference in San Francisco, the RADICAL part of blogging is that anyone can do it.  Blogging was not supposed to be for the winners of the world, but for every other nutcase who wanted to express himself, for every frustrated writer too lazy to write a book.   A place where I could write about anything, and no one could shut me up.   That is as revolutionary as Guttenberg’s Bible.

The Great Interview Experiment” was a simple idea.  One person would interview the next person in the comments, creating a chain.  The connections would be random.  A-list bloggers would be interviewed by a newbie who could hardly string two sentences together.  This would strip us all of any hierarchy.  We would be celebrating the medium and our common bond — blogging about our personal lives.   In the personal blogging world, we are all interesting, all worthy of being interviewed.  The experiment did not require any conference panels of blogging “rockstars,” private parties sponsored by websites isolating all the “top” blogs from the run-of-the-mill ones, or closing keynote speeches by bloggers that everyone has known for years.

This was the other side of blogging.  The one where everyone is on an equal playing field, and it didn’t matter who you knew, how many comments you had, or even how well you wrote.  And NO corporate sponsors.

Although the interviews have slowed to a drizzle, there are still new people doing it.  As for the rest of you…

Some have closed their blogs.  Some have changed the urls.  Some switched interview partners.  A good many of you never got interviewed or copped out on doing your interview.   I knew you would forget if I didn’t kvetch about it to you like a nagging mother!

If you still want to be interviewed, sign up HERE.  If you never got hold of your interviewer the first time, and you still want to be interviewed, just email me and I’ll find you a new blogger

I really appreciate everyone who has so far participated.  And there have been a lot!  I would be lying if I said I read every one of your interviews.  You’re all interesting, but not THAT INTERESTING.  I hope the experiment has helped you realize how much you have to offer in your own “brand” of storytelling and experience.

As I mentioned, six month have passed since the start of the “Great Interview Experiment.” Do I still feel the same idealistic way about the blogosphere? Somewhat. I’m idealistic, but I also understand human nature. I don’t believe most of us truly believe that “everyone is interesting,” Or maybe that’s not the point. We tend to want to interact with others who can “help” us. We want “rockstars” to emulate and “losers” to avoid. We feel the need to segregate and isolate, to box things into clear-cut packages like “mommyblogging” and “Alltop (Does anyone really “love this site” who isn’t also ON the site? Reminds me of Amway)” so we can better handle the chaos of the blogging world… as well as make friends and connections, attract attention, build our egos, and earn some money.

I’m guilty of all of these myself. After a while, you being to want something more out of blogging than just using it as self-therapy. But sometimes, I like to me to remember what excited me about blogging in the first place. It was after my fourth or fifth post — and some guy in Ohio came onto my blog and commented on my lame post about the TV show, “24.” It didn’t really matter what he said.

“This is the coolest thing in the world.” I thought after reading his comment. “Some crazy guy actually gives a shit about what I said. I’m like Andy Rooney on 60 Minutes and I just got my first letter!”

After that, I was hooked on blogging.

I WAS IMPORTANT.

Here is an incomplete — and very inaccurate — list of everyone who has signed up during this time period, whether they did their interview or not. 

(I moved the list back to the original post since it was so long)

The links to the completed posts are here

P.S. — Do you think it is a good idea to get this interview experiment off of my blog and move it to a separate site?  If everyone would agree, we could also collect all the interviews and put them on this separate site so it is easier to read through them?  Then, I can plaster the site with corporate advertising and make a bundle off of you!

The Hip Club and the Coffee Shop

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I noticed a few people on Twitter chatting about a site called Alltop. It is a clever idea. One opinionated, well-connected entrepreneur collects all the most buzz-worthy blogs in each category — Moms, Religion, Gadgets, etc., and creates a definitive list, a starting-off point for what people “should read.” Not only does this create a buzz among bloggers, it instantly makes this individual into a cultural arbiter. Since the final say comes from the creator of the list himself, bloggers are now desperately clamoring and wooing this person to be included on the list, since having their name included “means” that they matter. And why exactly is one mommyblogger listed and another is not? I think mommybloggers should get together and refuse to be listed if EVERYONE isn’t included. Doesn’t anyone question authority anymore?

Sure, there is a place for this in the blogosphere, just as there is in the real world. I imagine there is no better feeling for some than getting entry into a hip club while others stand outside in the rain. Alltop appeals to this type of blogger. I’m not immune to this. I’m sure I’ll get a buzz when I’m included in the “Most Flirtatious Bloggers” category. Part of the fun is getting “in,” so you can feel that you are different than the masses. Who doesn’t like being a VIP? Us and Them. It’s human nature!

Unfortunately, I’m a Queens boy at heart. I grew up in coffee shops and diners, where I would talk with my friends for hours while eating tuna fish sandwichs, linzer tarts, and drinking coffee. I like that diners and coffee shops have a diverse mix of crowds — from homeless people using their last quarters to high-powered attorneys grabbing a quick lunch, a cross-section of the city, sitting side-by-side. I’m a sucker for this populist stuff. In fact, I just watched this great documentary on Pete Seeger on PBS, crying when he sang his union songs. Now that’s poetry.

I think of my blog less as a hip club, more of an online coffee shop. I sit by the computer with my cup of coffee and talk about “stuff” with whomever showed up. I go so far as to even think about my “blog crush of the day” as a representative of the waitress working that night. That’s why I usually I pick a blogger with a nice rack who I can imagine bending down low while serving me the french fries.

The Great Interview Experiment is pure “coffee shop.” There is an open seat at the counter. Whoever comes in, takes a seat, and is stuck interviewing/being interviewed by whomever was before/is next. There are no reservations needed. Most of all, I have nothing to gain from it.

I want to give a special thanks to so many of the “popular” bloggers who are participating in the interview experiment. You are bloggers who, despite the ability to get past the velvet ropes online, still chose to take some time hanging in the coffee shop with the mailmen and construction workers of the blogosphere. As for those who are ass-kissing to get on that Alltop list, but weren’t interested in being interviewed because “you don’t want to be interviewed by some “D-lister,” it’s cool, but the coffee is better here — and so are the women.

Will We Reach 300 Interviews?

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I hate to make this blog ALL Interviews ALL the time, especially when I just put up such a fabulous post of passive-aggressive spam poetry, but I have been getting quite a few questions via email about the Great Interview Experiment.  I was going to just email everyone involved, but I figured just writing a post was easier.  So, let me make just one last public announcement.  Don’t think of this as a real post, but as a informational one.   (hey, it’s like my first ad!)   I’d like to keep the blog focused on the usual nonsense.   Sophia, my Talking Penis, my mother, my therapist, and the other usual blog characters are getting jealous.

That said, I hope you’re getting to read some of the interviews.   If I forget to add you to the “completed” list, just tell me.  I have a feeling that the one person getting the most out of this is … ME.  I love being introduced to new people and learning more about old friends.   I even emailed a few of you telling her how much closer I felt to you after learning more about your life.  I’ve been “blogging” with some of you for the longest time, and was always too shy to ask you about basic biographical stuff!   Now, I have someone else doing the dirty work.

If you forget who you are supposed to interview, I keep on updating the list.  I know a few of you have to drop out because of time constraints (or giving birth!).  Please email me (at neilochka at yahoo) or just contact the other two people in your interview “chain.”   If you are stuck without an interviewer or interviewee, or if they haven’t gotten back to you within a week, email me and I’ll give you new partners.  If there are some of you who would like to INTERVIEW someone, but not be interviewed yourself, please email me or comment, because we will probably need a few pitch-hitters.  Remember, I can just keep the interview process going, so you can always join up at some future time.

I hope everyone is having fun, and feeling like you are part of a community (even if it is a community of self-obsessed ego-maniacal nudniks who love themselves too much)

To join the Great Interview Experiment, sign up in the comments of the original post, not here.  Thanks.

Thoughts on the Interviews

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How do I feel about the response to the Great Interview Experiment? 

Overwhelmed!  I had no idea there would be so many people!  I think we’re up to 200 interviews going on already, and I’m sure there will be more.  Just add your name in the comments here.

It’s sort of ironic.  Here, I wrote a post about how everyone is all equal and interesting, and I get to win all the LINKS!   Suckers!

This morning, Sophia woke me up and said, “There are 200 comments.  Now is the best time for you to put up advertising!”

“Are you nuts?”  I asked.  “I’d look like a total asshole.  Like I’d set this whole up to profit from it.”

“That’s what you are SUPPOSED to do!”

She just doesn’t understand.  I’m an idealist.  Or a wimp that needs to bring this fear up in therapy.  So far, it has been cool meeting some new bloggers and getting to know old friends better, but in reality, it is more work on my part than fun.   It reminds me of the times you have a bunch of friends over for a dinner party, and everyone is having a great time, except you — because you’re serving the little hot dog appetizers on a platter and washing the dishes.   I’m trying my best to keep everything updated.

I’m also finally feeling sympathy for bigshot blogger like Dooce.   How the hell do you read so many blogs coming your way at one time?  And how many “Heather”s and “Kathy”s are there in this world?!    Please don’t think of me as rude if I don’t come to read your interview immediately.  Besides, most of you new people, particularly the mommybloggers, will abandon me soon anyway — after they read some of my NSFW posts.  That’s why you always have to be loyal to your real blog friends, the ones who don’t leave even when they you write about shtupping your female therapist.  They’re your real friends. 

And shtupping is Yiddish.  Look it up.

Back to the Great Interview Experiment.  I’m constantly updating the lists of those who want to be interviewed/interview AND the final interviews.   If I screw up in some way, just email me.  I’m not perfect.  Remember, I’m just a guy sitting at home in my underwear.  (by the way, it’s been two years since I’ve asked — are tighty-whiteys still “out?”)  I still have my blog posts to write.  And I still need time to flirt with some of my regular blog friends on Facebook and Twitter.  And to write this brilliant screenplay that is stalled.  And  to watch American Idol with Sophia.  I’m a busy man!

I know some of your interviewers/interviewees are going to wimp out and never ask your questions, etc.   If you have been stuck with one of these lazy-ass motherf***ers, I say, give him five days to redeem himself and respond to you email, and if he doesn’t, just send me an email, and I’ll move you between a prettier pair of bloggers.  I’m also thinking of deleting any blog from the list that has no other purpose other than to sell things.  Those blogs are so boring to me, I start to fall asleep just thinking about them.  If you are one of these bloggers, please do the entire community a service and intersperse some fun stuff in between selling those humidifiers!  A blog should be interesting!

Again, if anyone has any suggestions, please tell me.  I think it is important to give a message to the Old Media that personal bloggers have a role to play in society — and culture.  Elitists will always want to make “real” published writers sound superior (rather than different) to those online, as evidenced by this snarky attack on bloggers in this week’s New York Review of Books (via Time Goes By). 

Fight the power!

The Great Interview Experiment — My Interview with V-Grrrl

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photo by Di Mackey 

I’ve so impressed with all the interviews.  I’ve read all of them.  Some of you have a harder time than others.  It must be difficult to ask the right questions of someone you only met online that day!  I was very lucky to get V-Grrrl as my person to interview.   I’ve been reading her blog for quite a while.  I knew I could ask her anything.  My only regret was that I couldn’t ask her the questions face-to-face.  Someday!

V-Grrrl’s profile:  An American expatriate in Belgium (although not for long!), I’m caught between two kids, two continents, two cultures, and my opening and closing acts.  Here I am stuck in the middle with you. 

My interview with V-Grrrl of V-Grrrl in the Middle:  

Neil:  I’ve been reading your blog for a long time, and I recently went back to read you first posts.  Your blog started out more an exploration of being an expat — an American in Belgium.  More recently, your writing has become personal, even emotional, and less focused on your surroundings.  Was this a creative choice form or has something happened in your life during this past year to change something in you?
 
V-Grrrl:  It wasn’t a creative choice as much as it was an evolution. When I first became an expat, the changes in my life were all encompassing, and I was focused on dissecting and analyzing everything that was different. After a while, Belgium became home and life felt more ordinary. Being an expat became a smaller part of my identity and less a topic of my writing.
 
Another reason my writing has become more personal is that over time, I’ve become more comfortable in sharing my emotions and my life on my blog. It makes for more powerful writing. I try to keep my posts authentic, even if it means revealing things I’m not proud of. That takes courage and was stressful at first, but then as the gap between my “public persona” and my private self narrowed, I felt better. It’s been liberating to share the good, the bad, and the ugly with my readers, to share my humanity with them.
 
Finally, I think midlife is an introspective time. So much is going on in my life right now as my marriage matures, my kids grow up, and I take stock of my choices and the relationships I have. For me, it’s a time of reckoning, and the emotion of that comes through in my writing.
 
Neil:  You are moving as I write this.  Are you moving back to America for good?  Why are you moving?  What will you miss most about Belgium?  The pissing boy fountain?  What will you miss the least?  Are you nervous about the move?  Or happy about the change?
 
V-Grrrl:  Our plan was always to stay in Belgium for three years, though we did consider staying longer. There are practical considerations driving our decision to return now, things related to my husband’s career and also the children’s education. I love Europe but want my children to launch into the world from America. As a “trailing spouse,” I haven’t had a work visa or permit or an opportunity to get one here. I’m not ready to retire yet–another reason to head home to America.
 
Will we stay in America for good? I hope not. My husband and I talk about coming back to Europe as soon as we launch the kids into the world, and I definitely plan to come back and visit friends and family.
 
What will I miss most about Belgium? My friends, E’s Belgian family, the beautiful architecure, the way it’s green year round, the enormous number of parks, and the Belgian sky, which is moody and dramatic. Believe it or not, despite the prevalence of gray skies and horizontal rain, I like the climate here. I have fantasies about moving to the Pacific Northwest now that I’ve lived in Belgium.
 
What will I miss least? The howling wind and the crazy drivers.

As for being nervous about the move, yes I am. When you become an expat, you dwell in a space between your native country and your new country. Expats call that “the third culture.” I know I’ll never feel fully at home in America again, even though it’s “home.” The surface of my life looks unchanged but I feel profoundly different. How do I settle this “new person” into my old life? Where does she fit?

Neil:  How has living in Europe changed you?

V-Grrrl:  When you leave your country behind, you truly start over. Life is stripped of its social infrastructure, family ties, community and cultural touchpoints, EVERYTHING. I shed all my “labels” and everyone’s expectations. It was terrifying and liberating at the same time. Disconcerting and grounding. For the first time ever, I devoted significant portions of my time to my personal writing and creative pursuits, including art. Living and traveling in Europe, surrounded by people from different cultures and backgrounds, has been amazing and wonderful and so enriching. Living in a country where I don’t speak the language, where “new” experiences are a daily occurrence, has given me confidence in my ability to handle myself.

Neil:  I didn’t know much about your artistic talent until all of a sudden, you started posting your artwork more frequently.  Were you always creating artwork and just being shy about showing it, or is this scrapbooking, etc. a new endeavor?  Where would you like to take it?
 
V-Grrrl:  I never took art in high school, but in my last year of university, I took studio art, art history, photography, and a beginning graphic design class. I absolutely loved all four classes and regretted that I was graduating and couldn’t pursue more art studies.  My dilemma since then has been that I’ve felt like an artist without a medium. I have a good eye for art and a creative sensibility but lack traditional art skills like painting and sketching.  I’ve always gone to galleries and museums and bought art, and I enrolled my children in private art lessons, but I never did anything artistic or crafty until I moved to Belgium. My friend Sherry introduced me to rubber stamping and cardmaking, crafts I never thought I’d like but came to love. I had a growing interest in mixed media art, in collage.  Last August, one of my readers sent me a book on art journaling, and that inspired me to claim myself as a mixed media artist and head in a new direction. I began an art journal and started posting my pages. As for where I want to head with it–well I want to advance my skills and use of media. I want to continue to art journal and maybe grow into making pieces for display.

Neil:  Can I get personal for a second.  I’ve always pictured you as a classy woman, interested in raising her children with strong morals.  So, I was surprised at first that, of all my readers, you seemed to always enjoy my sex gags.  After a while I began to notice that your writing is very sensual itself, not overtly sexual, but filled with sights and sounds.  Are you aware of these two parts of your personality — the upscale expat Christian mother AND the lusty sensualist?  Do these two distinct personalities ever get you in trouble, like checking out the Reverend’s butt?
 
V-Grrrl:  Ah Neil, you know me so well!  I am VERY aware of these two parts of my personality; the dichotomy keeps life interesting. My closest friends appreciate “V the Christian Mum”  and “V the Lusty Sensualist” in equal measure. I can’t say the same for everyone else.
 
Does it create problems for me? ALL the time. I have to watch how I present myself because not everyone is accepting of my “warped” sensibilities. My husband doesn’t appreciate sexual humor, innuendo, or comments AT ALL, and it’s a rough spot between us. Must.Bite.My.Tongue.
 
Once someone accusingly said, “Doesn’t the fact that you’re a wife and mother mean anything to you?” The question was meant as a reproach for the “inappropriate” nature of some of my comments. All I could think was, “Hmmm, being a wife involves a lot of sex and I became a mother as a result of that. So where are the great chasms separating marriage, motherhood, and sex?”

I have a great sense of humor; I laugh often and laugh loudly. Sex is a very funny business–I can’t stop myself from being a bit “naughty” (as Di likes to say).
 
For the record though: I never check out clergy butts, OK? My clergy read this blog, and I just want to make it clear, I’m NOT that kind of grrrl. I am, however, the kind of grrrl who hears the Christmas carol Silent Night and thinks, “This will be the LAST silent night of Mary’s life. She’s got a boy child now. She and Jesus will both be crying in the morning. Wah! Wah! Wah!”

Neil:  Is there something that you brought in Europe that is very precious to you that you are shipping very carefully home?
 
V-Grrrl:  I bought fifteen pieces of framed art and some pottery from Italy, Holland, and Poland.  My favorite? A small piece of Modigliani pottery I bought in Rome. I wanted to hand carry it in my suitcase because I didn’t want to ship it and be separated from it for eight weeks. I practically kissed it goodbye.

Neil:  Did you stop working full time when you had your kids?  I know you worked as a journalist.  What are your plans now as the kids get older?  Are you secretly writing a steamy novel?
 
V-Grrrl:  I have worked as a news reporter, but right before I had children, I was working as an editor for a small publishing firm. After my son was born, I began working part-time from home as a public relations writer and strategist.  It was an ideal situation. I worked for an agency on a project-by-project basis for various corporate clients. I wrote Web copy, marketing materials, advertising sections, white papers, and articles. I did a lot of ghostwriting for executives.
 
I have a mass communications degree,  and I think I’m well suited for PR work. I plan to return to it in the U.S. I’m also considering pursuing some freelance writing gigs. Not a fiction grrrl. No steamy novels in me, but I do like to write poetry and essays.

Neil:  You met your husband at 17?  Did you get married early?
 
V-Grrrl:  I had one serious boyfriend before I met my husband the summer between my junior and senior years of high school. He was a college senior, five years older than me–attentive, romantic, warm, sexy, considerate. He just kept getting better the longer we dated. I was engaged at 18, and I married E when I was barely 20, during spring break of my second year of college.
 
I have regrets about some of the choices I made in my 20s, but I don’t regret marrying him. We’ve made a good life together for almost 26 years now. Sure, there are times when we question whether we’re meant to stay together; we have different temperaments and sensibilities but we’ve persevered.

Neil:  Through your blog, I met Di (at least virtually).  She takes such wonderful photos of you.  How do you know her?
 
V-Grrrl:  Di is from New Zealand and lives in Belgium. I began blogging about the same time she did and we read each other casually for about a year. In the fall of 2006, she sent me an e-mail and told me she was going to launch a photography business and was trying to build a portfolio–would my family mind being photographed? I’d seen her work on her blog and jumped at the opportunity to “model” for her.
 
I met Di for the first time during that photography session, and I offered to use my PR experience to create a marketing plan and help her with her Web site. Our friendship grew out of that collaboration, and we’re very close now. There’s an intensity to our bond that I cherish. Our affection for each other shows in her photographs of me–I’m always smiling and have a certain radiance. She brings out the best in me while accepting the wobbly bits. : )

Neil:  Where does most of your family live — like aunts, uncles, etc.?  Have you missed having a close extended family while out of the country?
 
V-Grrrl:  Most of my extended family is based in NY but my siblings are scattered down the East Coast from Maine to Georgia. I rarely see my extended family, and even when I lived in the States, I often went years without seeing some of my siblings. My parents died 16 years ago, so we don’t have a central place to gather or parents holding us together anymore. Most of my nieces and nephews are grown now, and I have more than a dozen great nieces and nephews. Even though we all get along fine, my family is not that close, so living overseas hasn’t been that big an issue for us.

Neil:  Who are your kids like the most?  You?  Your husband?  No one?
 
V-Grrrl:  My children bear little physical resemblance to me. I have brown eyes and curly dark hair and my kids are very fair, blue-eyed blondes with straight hair like their dad. Thankfully, neither of them got my nose! My son’s hands are exactly my hands, and he has some of my temperament–a bit of melancholy with a sly sense of humor. He has his father’s mechanical intuition and shares my love of science. My daughter got the best of both me and my husband in both her aptitudes and character. She’s got the prime DNA in the family.

Neil:  I notice you like poetry.  Is there one poet that really speaks to you?
 
V-Grrrl:  It changes based on where I am in life and in spirit. I used to be devoted to Emily Dickinson, but lately Mark Strand and Billy Collins have been speaking to me.

Neil:  Next week is your birthday.  You recently wrote a beautiful post about the passing time.  Your son even shaved for the first time.  I know that time seems to be speeding up for me as I get older.  Do you feel the same?
 
V-Grrrl:  My sister was diagnosed with cancer when I was 16 and she died young. I’ve always been very aware of the transient quality of my life. I live with a clock ticking in the background, and it gives me a certain intensity and point of view. I have to be sure that the things I spend time on matter to me and that the people I love know that I love them. I have low tolerance for BS. I like to savor my experiences. I’m all about process and less about product. I can’t stand to rush around or stuff my schedule full of activities. I don’t confuse being busy with living a meaningful life.  I refuse to sacrifice my time to the American idea of productivity.  

Neil:  Are you taking cholesterol medicine yet?  For me, getting old is when you have to think before you eat a slice of pizza.
 
V-Grrrl:  I was a vegetarian, distance runner, and vitamin popper in my 20s, and health conscious through my 30s. I always exercised and did the right thing. Around the time I turned 40, I developed an idiopathic cardiac problem. God has such a sense of humor. Last time it was checked, my cholesterol was only 155, my blood pressure was that of a 14-year-old, and yet my life includes regular visits to a cardiologist and daily medication. Sometimes my heart fatigues me, and I have to plop on the sofa. It’s humbling.

Neil:  Are you a good cook?  What does everyone ooh and aah over when you make it?

V-Grrrl:  I wouldn’t call myself a “good cook” because I reserve that label for people who put far more time and effort into cooking than I do. When I bake, I bake from scratch, and I like to make soups. Di thinks everything I cook for her is fabulous. My husband always thanks for me for preparing meals. My kids? They’re not so impressed and complain a lot. I hate preparing food for my family. I guess that makes me a bad mother.

Neil:  You say that you sometimes get prone to depression.  I notice a lot of bloggers have this problem.  Do you think writers/artists are more prone to depression than more “normal” folk?  What snaps you out of your moods?
 
V-Grrrl:  I’ve dealt with episodes of depression since I was a teenager. As I aged, the episodes got longer, the remission shorter, and the recovery from them was less than complete. I was losing ground.  I was encouraged by a friend to get medical treatment about five years ago and it changed my life. Really, it saved my life.
 
While I do think artists/writers are more sensitive to life than others, I don’t think they’re necessarily more prone to depression; they just express their angst more openly.
 
What snaps me out of it? Well at this stage in my life, I need medication keep my depression under control. Music helps me shift moods, and getting outdoors and taking long walks lift my spirits. The love of family and friends keeps me plugging along through the dark moments, and anyone who makes me laugh out loud is part of my depression cure.

Neil:  and lastly… I just had to ask this — If I asked for a photo of you in a bathing suit, would you send it to me? 

V-Grrrl:  If Di took the photo, I just might, not because I look great in a bathing suit but because I accept the body I have now better than the one that used to rock a bikini. Watch the mail, Neil. You never know what it will bring. : )

The Blogger Interviews (The Great Interview Experiment)

Here are the links to most of the interviews done in 2008 for the Great Interview Experiment.

To join up in 2009, add your name to this list.

Ascender interviews Pam of Nerd’s Eye View

Pam of Nerd’s Eye View interviews McKay

V-Grrrl interviews Finn of A Life Less Ordinary (also here)

Madame Diva interviews Penelope

Jennifer of Open Book interviews Tiddlywink

Gorillabuns interviews Sizzle (also here)

Kathleen interviews Nathan

Nathan interviews Margalit

Chantel interviews the Watkins Lady

Watkins Lady interviews LvGurl

Geeky Tai-Tai interviews Tatiana

Cookiebitch interviews Melanie of “Not Just Nouns and Verbs”

Whoorl interviews ByJane

Abigail interviews Mrs. Mogul

Sizzle interviews Madame Diva

Walking Punchline interviews Marriage-101 (also here)

Rosa interviews Julia from “Not Graceful Enough”

Natalie interviews Fringes (also here)

Karen Sugarpants interviews Karl

Fringes interviews Helena

Jill of “Glossyveneer” interviews Gorillabuns (also here)

Neilochka interviews V-Grrrl (and here)

Dave of “Dave’s Beer” interviews Black Belt Mama

Julia interviews Bec of “Out of My Tree”

Seven interviews Schmutzie

Otir interviews Cookiebitch

Kerflop interviews Merry Mishaps

Caron interviews Glossyveneer

Sarah interviews Chantel

Elisabeth interviews Otir

Marriage 101 interviews Seven

Helena interviews Ali of Cheaper Than Therapy

Penelope interviews Lisa

Finn interviews Caron

Karl interviews Sarah

Ingrid interviews Blackbird (also here)

Joe interviews Red Red Whine

Margalit interviews Melanie of Artful Kisser

Schmutzie interviews Karen Sugarpants (also here)

Merry Mishaps interviews Katie of The Dilettante Debutante

Blackbird interviews Witchypoo (also here)

Nat interviews Bev

Not Faint Hearted interviews Ash

Lara of Red Red Whine interviews Will

Kirida interviews Ashley

Wendy interviews Walking Punchline

Victoria of The Prophesaur interviews SparkleSunShine (also here)

Tatiana interviews Di of Woman Wandering

Q interviews Samuel

Palinode interviews NotFainthearted

Tiddlewink interviews Sarah of Doodah!

Sarah of Doodah! interviews Kerflop

Witchypoo interviews Miguelina

Will interviews Natalie of Tell Me About It

Miss Britt interviews Kelly (also here)

Noir Betty interviews DaveX of Startling Moniker

Miriam interviews Elisabeth (also here)

Whit interviews Annika

Black Belt Mama interviews Shelley (also here)

Claire interviews Kelly of Ordinary Art

Sarah from In the Rouge interviews The Prophesaur (also here)

Not Fainthearted interviews Ash in Amsterdam

Emily interviews Miss Britt

Ashley of Splendid Sustenance interviews Oleoptene

Robin of Montanamoonshine interviews GB

Kristen interviews Fatboyfat (also here)

FatboyFat interviews Robin from MontanaMoonshine

Janie interviews Kristen

LvGurl interviews Abigail Road

Johnna interviews Michelle of Fabricated Goddess

Kyran interviews Ree of Hotfessional

Commis Chef interviews James from the Ink (also here)

DaveX interviews Maitresse

Shash interviews Whoorl

Rilla interviews Commis Chef (also here)

Andrea inteviews Jenny of Absolute Bananas (also here)

Oleoptene interviews Actorgirl

Kelly interviews Kim of Parachuting with a Net

Melanie interviews HeyJoe

Fabricated Goddess interviews Amber at Crazy Bloggin’ Canuck

Nichole of Esmon interviews Rodger Jacobs of Carver’s Dog

Bryna interviews Shash (and here)

Cog interviews Leahpeah (also here)

Loralle of Looney Tunes interviews Ascender Rises Above

Kristy of She Just Walks Around With It interviews AKA Monty

GB of Tidings of Comfort and Joy interviews Zookeeper

Woman with No Regrets interviews ChildsPlayX2

Curiosity Killer interviews Geeky Tai-Tai

Julie Scott interviews Emily of Something Shiny (also here)

Linsey of Uncouth Heathen interviews Tex in the City

-R- interviews Little Miss Mel (also here)

Talina interviews Janelle of Junk food for the Soul

Mary Pat of My Second Journal interviews Lisa (also here)

Lisa interviews Jeni

Maitresse inteviews PocketCT

Dry Ink interviews Gunfighter

Feral Mom interviews Will

Jen interviews Cog (also here)

Nancypearlwannabe interviews Nichole

Candy interviews herself

Peeved Michelle interviews Fivetoedsloth

Emily interviews Feet Firmly Planted

Di interviews August

Chris in Oxford interviews Courtney of Malfeasance

Danny interviews Arjewtino

Pocket Aces interviews Mary Pat

Hotfessional interviews Barbetti (also here)

Theresa of My Fairbanks Life interviews Jessica Mae Stover

Jenny from Absolutely Bananas interviews Rhi in Pink

Fitena interviews Sarah

Monica interviews Elaine of Just a Reed (also here)

Elaine of Just a Reed interviews Kathleen

Frank interviews Ally

Zookeeper interviews Frank

Red Lotus Mom interviews Frogdancer

Lesley interviews Val

TimeCzar interviews Janie

Nadine interviews Ingrid

Jennifer interviews Fitena

Kristabella interviews S.K. Waller

Leigh Anne interviews Erika of Dry Ink (also here)

Donna interviews Time Czar

Bri interviews Red Lotus Mama

Angela from Sparklie Sunshine interviews Emily

James from The Ink interviews Rachael from Antithete

Theresa from My Fairbanks Life interviews Fringes

Becky interviews Sarah

Artful Kisser interviews Miriam

Kate interviews Robyn from Pocket Aces

Miguelina interviews Jenny of She Likes Purple (also here)

Janelle interviews Talina

Nat interviews The Lost Albatross

Elaine interviews Kathleen of Unsettled

Sara interviews NancyPearlWannabe

Jen of Quarter Life Crisis interviews Sara

RA interviews Jen of Quarter Life Crisis

Whitney Barbetti interviews Laura of What a Life (also here)

Heels interviews Stacy of La Boudoir

Simon interviews Tiffany (also here)

Red Pen Mama interviews Uncouth Heathen

Katherine interviews the Muse

Rob interviews Michelle

Smtwngrl interviews Jacob (also here)

Matthew of Child’s Play x2 interviews Jake

Jessica Stover interviews Turnbaby

Theresa interviews Danny of Jew Eat Yet

Frogdancer interviews Alunfoto

Fabrcated Goddess interviews Johnna

Deep Muck interviews Alisa

Widget interviews Nancy

Ally interviews Torrie (also here)

Tiffany interviews Beck of Deep Muck Big Rake

Shelley interviews Jane Poe

Five Toed Sloth interviews Heather

Jake Jakob interviews Chris

Jeannette interviews Becca

Jenn interviews Nat

Nat interviews Jenn

Lori interviews Suebob of Red Stapler

Jane interviews Akaky (also here)

Smtwngrl interviews NoRegrets

Jen interviews Claire of TTAT

Carolyn interviews Kerrianne (also here)

The Muse inteviews Angela (also here)

Alisa of A Juicy Life interviews Lesley

Vanessa interviews Widget

Leah interviews Wendy of Of Boys and Books (also here)

Avitable interviews Feral Mom

Shannon interviews Marge of Marge in Real Life (also here)

Marge interviews Molly

Sarah interviews smtwngrl

Erin interviews Clyde

Turnbaby interviews Chris in Oxford (also here)

Mocha Momma interviews Fairly Odd Mother

Jacob interviews Brittany (also here)

Jen from Semantically Driven interviews Kristabella

Sheila interviews Sleepynita

Angela interviews Erin (also here)

Kelly of Ordinary Art interviews Callie (also here)

Molly interviews Sue Katz (also here)

Julie interviews Anno

Theresa interviews Savia

Savia interviews Theresa

MILife interviews Sarah of Pink Cereal and Raspberries

Witchypoo interviews ciboulette

Jeanette interviews Indecisive Peach

Egghead Jr. interviews Dana of MILF in Progress

Dana interviews Jen of Semantically Driven

Michelle interviews Carolyn

Fabricated Goddess interviews CuriosityKiller

Toni interviews Mountainmama

August interviews Christine (also here)

Erin interviews Juliezilla

Sleepynita interviews Mocha Mommy

Fairly Odd Mother interviews Going Like Sixty

Arjewtino interviews Sassy

Michelle interviews Carolyn

Dan interviews Mark Roberts

D interviews Rob

Liz R interviews Toni

Headbang8 interviews Liz R (also here)

Sarah interviews Melina

Tricia interviews Sarah

Wendy interviews Ciboulette

Sarcomical interviews Loralee (also here)

Pam of Nerd’s Eye View interviews Indecisive Peach (also here)

Melina interviews Ragtop Day (also here)

Karen interviews Squeaky Wheel

Butterfly interviews Sappy Chick

Mr. Fabulous interviews himself

Hamster_Grrl interviews Dingo

Sappy Chick interviews The Roaming Southerner

Jackc interviews Z

Jennifer/The Word Cellar interviews Laurel of Sass Attack

Chris interviews the Unreliable Narrator (more here)

Hamster_grrl interviews Sensibly Sassy

Nancy Pearl Wannabe interviews Definitely RA

PMJG interviews Bzzzzgrrrl (also here)

Sassy interviews Kristy (also here)

Rachel interviews Jenny of Zesty Enterprises

Jack interviews Marinka

Backpacking Daddy interviews Redneck Mommy

Fear and Parenting interviews Anissa

Mandy interviews Average Jane

My Mumbling Thoughts interviews Miss Grace

Oh, the Joys interviews Backpacking Dad

Mary Beth interviews San Diego Momma

San Diego Momma interviews Amelia Sprout

Amy interviews Ry of Arts and Dafts

Ry of Arts and Dafts interviews Elisa of Diary of an Unlikely Housewife

A.C. of Thunder and Windchimes interviews Mary Beth

Elisa interviews Sam of My Mumbling Thoughts

Winter interviews Kevin of Always Home and Uncool

Overflowing Brain interviews Fear and Parenting in Las Vegas

Vodkamom interviews Winter

Sherendipity interviews Gin

Forever in School interviews Merie

Mama Ginger Tree interviews Katie from Overflowing Brain

Sheilamia interviews Ali

Ali-Rn Mom interviews T of Send Chocolate

Pretzel interviews Papa of PapaTV

Carmen interviews Charming Bitch

Marinka interviews Shiny

Katy interviews Heather

Heather interviews J

Headless Mom interviews Mary P. Jones

Meg interviews Pretzel

Suzanne interviews Meg of Mad Woman and here

Meg of Mad Woman interviews Katy

Charming Bitch interviews Renee of But Why Mommy

Kerri interviews Carmen

John interviews Manager Mom

Jen interviews Alix

MamaMPJ interviews Maia

Sophie in the Moonlight interviews Jen at 12 Steps Closer

Katy interviews Heather

Sisyphesse interviews Debbie at Real World Martha

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