Sunday, March 01, 2009

Five Questions

As interviewed by cool guy and buddy Vahid:

1. This past year, I visited both Chicago and Seattle for the first time. Though I've only seen a little of each, both seem like grand old cities. What prompted you to move from one to the other, and is there anything you miss from your old hometown that you wish you had in your new hometown?

I actually grew up in suburban Chicago (a bit different), and had been in graduate school in Bloomington, Indiana for five years before moving to Seattle. I made the decision that I wanted to move to someplace completely foreign to me, to have a go at performing, and wanted to be somewhere new where I could make a clean start. I considered Boston, and Minneapolis, and New York, but some friends convinced me to come to Seattle. They had literally thrown a dart at a map after graduating and thought, “Hey, Seattle’s supposed to be a cool city!”. And after moving here, they loved it. They convinced my then-roommate that he should move out here, then worked on me, and finally I caved in, and my roommate and I came out here together. The first time I was ever out here was to look for an apartment, then we drove for six days (right after a blizzard and ice storm) in mid-December across the country. It was hell – the tire on the U-Haul blew out in Idaho Falls, and the driver’s-side window shattered somewhere in Oregon. Luckily I was driving the car, and the dog was sedated.

Chicago is amazing, and I wish I could experience living there as an adult. I’d love to live there now. But it is very Midwestern, which – while a big part of my past and my roots – tends to be more narrow-minded than the West Coast. What I miss is the sense of familiarity, of closeness, of family. Seattle feels a little more distant and disjointed – very few people that I know here are actually FROM here. The sense of history isn’t as common here.

2. Your profile says that you're a classically trained musician. What exactly does that mean? What instrument(s) do you play? If you suddenly discovered you had enough free time in your schedule to learn a new instrument, which one would it be and why?

I started with piano lessons in the fourth grade, then clarinet in the fifth grade. It wasn’t until I was in college that I was actually pushed to be a professional musician, and my professors convinced me that I was good enough. I still don’t believe it – and have proved them wrong by being an accountant.

I’ve also performed as a saxophonist, a flutist, and a bassoonist. “Classically trained” means I studied heavily in “classical” styles, in orchestral and chamber music. But that envelopes many actual periods of music. My biggest and most highly-acclaimed successes have been in Romantic-era pieces (especially the Brahms Sonatas) and in 20th-Century works (notably the Quatour pour la fin du Temps by Olivier Messiaen).

Learn a new instrument? The cello. I'm amazed by string instruments, by what you can do with them, by how physical they are. While every instrument utilizes your entire body to play, the cello just seems to emphasize that. And I love the timbre of it.

3. What is your most vivid childhood memory?

Hmm. That’s a difficult one. There are a lot of compilations – the way my Dad smelled when he walked in the door in the winter and I ran and hugged his legs, with his suit and tie-clip and tweed overcoat. Running through the house with my brothers with Frisbees, pretending they were steering wheels, and making car noises. Sledding at our lake house and having the neighbor’s black lab Zeke jumping all over us, and later crying because he was shot by a nearby farmer. An everyday feeling of homesickness as I walked to school, and crying many mornings on the way because I wanted to stay home. I still get homesick going to work.

4. How did you first get into blogging? What do you enjoy the most about "blog culture"? What do you like the least?

I took some time off after my Dad passed away (I left my current employer – who I work for now – and had a brief stint at a non-profit AIDS agency, which didn’t work out). It was a nice break, but I got bored, and spent a large amount of time reading various blogs, from personal to political, and realized that I really missed writing. Not that I was ever a trained writer, but I always loved creative writing courses, and wanted to do some self-expressing. A blog seemed like a good way to keep a diary of sorts, to express my opinions, to have an outlet that I missed. So, I joined the blogosphere. I never expected to have any kind of following, and was surprised when people started reading and commenting.

I most enjoy the way that a huge variety of people, from different locations and backgrounds, can connect and share. I’ve “met” (virtually) many people who I would have never otherwise known, who are amazing and interesting and in one way or another are my “friends”. Blogging gives you an amazing sense of belonging, of connecting, of sharing. I’ve physically met a few blogging friends, and they’ve all been truly great people that I’m better for knowing.

What do I like the least? I guess that blogging can be so anonymous. People who leave anonymous comments, especially when they are derogatory, are cowards and pathetic. So while blogging can bring people together, it can also reinforce the idea that the internet is not reality, and that you can’t escape the dregs of the earth no matter what your forum.

5. Your fairy godmother appears one morning and informs you that
Seattle is three hours away from getting smited by a minor comet.
You've got to leave immediately. Other than Scott and any pets (if memory serves I believe you have a dog), what five things do you take with you? (Assume your fairy godmother is going to give any friends and family in the area the heads-up to evacuate as well.)

I’m a bit humbled by the fact that it would only take a minor comet to smite my city!

Assuming that Scott and our many pets (yes, we have a dog … and then two more … and cats and birds and fish and turtles and don’t forget Charlie the Chinchilla) would be safe no matter what I choose, and that we’re talking tangible objects here … wow. I don’t know. One thing I’ve learned from moving over the years is that I can let things go. I’d much rather have memories and stories and connections than to have things.

But what would I want to keep? Our framed Domestic Partnership certificate from the City of Seattle. The hand-painted box that my friend Kim gave for Christmas many years ago (I hope to reconnect with her someday). My titanium and koa-wood ring that matches Scott’s, that we bought together in Hawaii (it would be on my hand, but it’s something that would be important for me to have). My parents’ wedding picture that’s in the living room.

I can’t think of a fifth object. If I couldn’t take it all, then all I’d want to keep safe with me is Scott.


A Lewis said...

Wow, I love those childhood strong, so real, even today. And the cello! Very cool.

Dave2 said...

An excellent interview! Thanks so much to Vahid for some great questions... and to you for your thoughtful replies! :-)

Sizzle said...

These really are great questions/answers. I had no idea you were so musical. If I could play any instrument, I'd learn the cello. It's my favorite (after the sax but for some odd reason I don't feel compelled to learn how to play it, just listen to it all the time.)


Iron Fist said...

I think I would like to hear you play some day.

These are all really great answers. Thanks for playing along. :)