recently invited anyone who was interested to be interviewed. The idea was that you would receive 5 questions from her and post your answers. Sounded easy enough. But she posed some tough questions that made me think. So here goes:
1. What is your favorite work of art (any medium is fine, and the work can be famous or not)?
My daughter’s love was art. From the time she was old enough to hold a pencil, she was always drawing. Her second love was dance. In high school she took an AP art class. Her project was 12 variations in acrylics of these pointe shoes that had carried her across many a stage. Three of them now hang in my living room, where they remind me of her in so many ways every time I pass by. If you look hard at the left-most picture below, you can see my piano reflected!
2. You often mention your fondness for playing the piano. How did you come to play that instrument?
From my early years, I have fond memories of visiting my grandmother’s house in Minnesota. It was one of those old-fashioned houses with crocheted chair arm covers, which always smelled of the homemade bread that she baked daily. But one of the best parts of my visit was getting to sit at her piano and pick out songs. By the time I was 11, I begged my parents to buy a piano so I could learn to play. I never really thought of any other instrument, although in retrospect something like a flute would have been far more portable. We went to the only piano store in my little town, owned by my kindergarten teacher’s husband, and bought the first piano we looked at. My blond Baldwin Acrosonic served me well, having followed me when I moved north, to be traded in just last year for my grand piano. (The trade-in allowance was just about the same as the price my parents initially paid.) Interestingly enough, my husband had the identical piano in a darker wood in his childhood. Maybe we were star-crossed even back then!
3. What living famous person would you most like to have as a dinner guest, and why?
This is definitely the most difficult question. I considered Jane Goodall, Thich Nhat Hanh, Thomas Friedman, Billy Collins, and quite a few others, including my favorite female rabbi Toby, but she is not yet so famous.
I settled on Michelle Obama. She could bring her husband along. But I am really most interested in talking to her. I would like to talk about how she pursued her career while raising her children. I want to talk about how she pushed her career aside to help her husband realize his dreams. I want to talk about what SHE wants to accomplish while HE is the next U.S. President. I want to talk about what she foresees as her legacy to this country. I want to talk about the evolving role of race in our society. But most of all, I would love to convince her to make a guest visit to read to the children at Freedom Place, the homeless shelter where I volunteer. So what would I serve for dinner? I hadn’t gotten beyond the topics of our conversation yet!
4. How did you meet your husband?
When I first moved to Washington, I did a brief stint at the FBI. It quickly became apparent that I had chosen the wrong job. When they urged us to snoop on our roommates, I realized that I had to get out. I met a wonderful man on my bus who was quite high up in the Commerce Department. He arranged several interviews for me in an effort to help me along my career path. One of those was at the Census Bureau.
I am reminded of what I wore to that interview: a very short blue wool jumper (short enough that my fingertips came blow the hem) and tall red boots. The first face I happened to see was that of a long-haired, mild-mannered guy about my age with a big mustache. (I would later learn that he often worked late because he never got to work on time, even then being a night owl.) His office was in the same section as that of the man who would become my boss, so he could probably hear everything we discussed during the interview. I got the job, and with it a $3,000 raise, for a whopping $9,600 a year salary.
We worked together for at least 18 months, often socializing with the other young people in the office and sharing lots of lunches together at places like Dino’s, The China Sea, and Suitland Restaurant, all of which had cheap mediocre food. One day as we sat at Lum’s, which later became a funeral parlor, he asked to go to an Orioles game, my first professional baseball game. I wasn’t sure if it was really a date or not, so I brought my $5 just in case. That was the beginning of a relationship we kept well hidden for several months. When faced with the possibility of working directly for him, I opted to move to the International Division of the Census Bureau. After a couple of years of spending a lot of time together and reconciling our religious differences, we got married. The rest is history!
5. Of all the places to which you've not yet been, where would you most like to go, and why?
In the mid-70's, I had the chance to work in Chile, giving technical assistance on various censuses. This was an interesting and frightening time of unrest when people often disappeared never to be seen again. Many of the public buildings in Santiago still carried the pock marks of stray bullets. There were armed soldiers on the street corners. Tanks often rumbled through at night after we were all inside in compliance with the 10:00 curfew.
One weekend a friend and I escaped to the lake country south of Santiago, taking a train and then a bus to travel the 500 kilometers. The urban unrest was totally absent in the small lakeside town of Villa Rica, which sat under the watchful eye of a volcano.
People said the country was even more beautiful in the far south in Tierra del Fuego. I never had a chance to find out and have always longed to travel there to see for myself, also going to Patagonia. It’s high up there on our travel priorities, so I think there’s still hope. I have such fond memories of Chile and I would love to share with my husband the places I’ve been, as well as to explore the far south.
That concludes my interview, so now it’s your turn if you want to play this game. Here’s how it works:
1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the questions).
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.