6.08.2005

Interview II: Robert

Interview questions, a la The Johnnie Walker Interview, from Robert.



Questions for Amy:

They are multi-prong questions I know. But this is lots of fun...

1. Ok, explain the shoes. You have a rather, um, extensive (and, may I add, delightful) collection of shoes. How did it start? What do your shoes mean to you? Do you think you are unusually fond of collecting shoes, or is it a fairly common phenomenon amongst libr'ians?

How did I start wearing shoes? I was too young to remember this accurately.

No, seriously, I have never considered myself a "shoe person." (I have a dear friend who is a "foot person," but that’s a different story.) I just had shoes, you know?, for the purposes for which they were intended. Athletic shoes (I called them "tennis shoes" or "tennies" until I moved from Minn.), 'dress shoes' in the penny-loafer-esque sense, sandals, that sort of thing. Eventually, I had more than one pair of athletic shoes, so that I wouldn't get outdoor stuff all over when I worked out indoors. And then there were my Chuckie T's--Converse Chuck Taylor high tops--that I absolutely had to have in high school. And dress-up shoes to go with a particular dress....

OK, I remember now where the shoes-for-shoes'-sake began. I was in college and had just started receiving the Victoria's Secret catalog. They've got some truly horrible shoes, but every now and then they'll have something that's just fantastic. And I felt a "eureka" moment when I saw these: light tan "Roman sandals" that lace up the ankle and lower calf. There was no good reason whatsoever to have purchased them. I lived in Minn., I rarely wore dresses, and they were too weird to wear with any sort of frequency (the "Oh, God, those again?!" factor is pretty high). But I loved 'em, so I got 'em.

I have 3 pairs of black heels, 1 pair of navy heels, and a brand new (purchased last night, in fact, before I read Robert's questions!) pair of creamy tan heels. 1 pair of black boots. 1 pair of Doc Marten's-like chunky black shoes. 9 pairs of brown sandals (they're all different!) (Including that original pair, and another pair, of lace-up-the-leg sandals.) 1 pair of black sandals. 2 pairs of what we called "boat shoes" in high school: dock-siders, maybe? Whatever. They're Eastland's, so I'm sure someone will complain about my lack of style. 1 pair of what I call my "elf shoes", which are the most amazingly supple suede. 1 pair of black flats that have a pointy (although not extended) toe. 1 pair of black sling-back flats. 2 pairs of New Balance athletic shoes (1 cross-trainer, 1 walking). 2 pairs of Nike court shoes. 1 pair of Nike cross-trainers. Those Chuckie T's, still kickin' even this long after high school. Oooh! 1 pair of Adidas wrestling shoes, the most comfortable shoes on the planet. 2 pairs of black slip-ons, 1 with a 1-inch heel in leather and 1 with a 2-inch heel in microsuede. 1 pair of brown, chunky, functional-but-not-too-ugly leather boots for winter. 1 pair of super ugly blue and leather duck boots.

Hmm. That’s 33. I think there are 37. What could I be forgetting? Oh, 2 pairs of white Keds, 1 stretch and 1 standard canvas. 1 pair tan leather, sort of Harley-type, that 2 friends have offered to kill me to take. And 1 pair of brown heeled sandals.

What do my shoes mean to me? Nothing. They’re shoes. A means, simply, to get from A to B without cutting up my feet. Seriously, I’m happy to have them, but they're not more than shoes to me.

I don't consider myself a "collector" of shoes. I bought a lot of them when I was married and had a reasonably large amount of disposable cash.

2. You get to spend one week on a deserted island with any person you choose (let's stick to people who are still alive, since dead people are no fun on deserted islands). Let's say it is more of an isolated retreat than a shipwreck/survivor scenario, so you would be able to take anything you like with you for the week. Who would you take, what would the two of you do to pass the time, and what would you have for dessert?

I would take my boyfriend, because we rarely have the opportunity to spend very much time together because of our schedules. To pass the time, we would talk--about who we were and what we did as children, about what we want to make of our lives, about people we know in common and about people that each of us know separately, and probably a bit about 'us', too--and watch movies, listen to music and poetry on CD, eat (BLT/turkey club), take lots of pictures, drive (I'm assuming there would be a vehicle handy, and places upon which to drive it), take long naps, walk, and...other things that can go unexplained.

For dessert, there would be a very moist chocolate cake with milk chocolate frosting and crumbled bacon on top. And a pints of Häagen-Dazs in various flavors.

3. Do you believe, in general, that a happy/unhappy childhood has any direct and lasting effect on happiness as an adult? If so, do you believe that it is easy, or even possible, to change one's "happiness destiny".

I believe that a happy childhood can have a huge impact on one's level of satisfaction in life as an adult. Parents and other family members who are "a good influence" can set the pattern for making choices that are more likely to result in "happiness." By the same token, an unhappy childhood can certainly lead to a lack of happiness as an adult. I think this shows itself in the things that one pursues to compensate for the unhappiness, e.g. substance use and abuse, "looking for love in all the wrong places," and general avoidance of feeling anything. Self-protection in the form of either excesses or denial of pleasure--or, more sadly, both in the same person.

Is it "easy," or even possible, to change one’s "happiness destiny"? Hell, yes. I don't regard 'happiness' as a thing. It might sound hokey, but it's a state of mind. Even the person who lacks what could be called "necessities" can be happy (and may be more likely to be so). For me, it's a choice. There are inherently negative people. I know lots of them. I'm related to a few of them. Yet, for all my cynicism, I don't think that I'm one of them. I might see--and acknowledge--the dark side of every situation. But that doesn't mean that I live there. It certainly doesn't mean that I want to be there.

Easy? Well, no, not exactly. It can be easy, I think, to decide that greater happiness is necessary. Getting to that point can be murder, if it involves "unlearning" for oneself and training other people to allow for one to be happy. There are people in my life who are quite pissed off that I've done some things, and continue to make changes, for no reason that I can articulate except "to make me happy." Perhaps they just don't like change, but it feels more like they're used to me being sad and unfulfilled, so my efforts to change that have forced them out of their inertial concept of 'what I am.' How annoying!

4. Like some other bloggers you may know, you are currently a tad, shall we say, um, disenchanted with the fairytale romance thing. Have you ever believed in the fairytale? Do you think you will again sometime in the future? And what would YOU tell someone else if you HAD to convince them to believe in it again?

Yes, I have definitely believed in the fairytale idea of romance. Surprise, Robert: I still do.

I don't necessarily think that each person has one true love; experience has taught me (among many other things that I shall not share) that love is, and relationships are, impossible to pin down for such examination. A wise man wrote, "as for love, that depends on two different persons' feelings...." Two variables makes for inherent instability, in my opinion.

That being said, I do believe in happy ridiculousness like "fate" and "destiny" and even "what's meant to be will always find a way." That sort of thing can be annihilated by pessimism or fear--or the inability and/or refusal to forget after one has forgiven, rendering the forgiveness moot--but it is based on truth and faith, anyway, even if it doesn't get the nutrients that it needs to flourish.

What would I tell someone to convince them to believe it in again? Honestly, Robert, my cynicism doesn't allow for something like that. I cannot convince someone to believe in love, any more than I can convince them to have--or dissuade them from!--a faith in a spiritual being. But if I had to do it, I would try to work a variation on "On Being Saved" by Reinhold Niebuhr:

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope. Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith. Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone, therefore we must be saved by love. No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint; therefore we must be saved by the final form of love, which is forgiveness.

Love, whether for one's family or friends or lover[s], is what it's all about. It's the reason for everything.

5. My impressions of your political views are that they are fairly liberal, but not very vocal. Is this accurate? Have you ever considered leaving your country of birth because you were so pissed off at its political or social policies? Or are you the kind of person that would tell those wannabe-Canadian commies to put their comfy-American lifestyles where their mouth is and just leave already dammit!?

I am "fairly liberal," but I do generally keep it to myself. I'm not sure if that's a function of the general reticence of my family of origin, or the greater culture (i.e. Minnesotan-ness) of the place where I grew up, or if it is my educational experience. Maybe it's rooted in the Minnesota things and fully came to be through college and beyond. But the whole idea of it is this: my political views are my belief, faith, hope, theory, policy, role, plan, and business. If there comes a point at which I want to share them, I will. Until then, don't bug me to talk about it, because I'm not going to, and I'm going to tell you to piss off.

Have I ever considered leaving the U.S. because of political or social policies? That's an amazing question! I recently reconnected with someone I knew "in a past life." He basically has done exactly what you proposed in that question. I have not considered it, and I don't think that I have the wherewithal to do it. If Winona is the place that seems like home, and if not Winona then Minn., I can hardly imagine someplace on the other side of the world doing that for me. Frankly, I don't want to leave. And I think that the best way to fix something is from the inside. If it ever gets so bad that I want to leave, I'm going to raise holy hell and perhaps become politically active. (But do not quote me on that.)

My intense privacy about politics has a corollary: I don't really care what anyone else does, politically. Wanna go to Canada because you [not Robert-you, but anyone] are tired of U.S. policy? Bye; send me a postcard. Wanna join the national party, either one or the other (or a third!), that’s fine with me. Don't expect me to join you. In fact, don't expect anything from me. That'll keep you the most satisfied with our interactions.

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