Trifecta of Chris

One of my favorite bloggers, Chris over at afreeman initiated another round of peer interviewing. I am usually the official unjoiner of anything like this but I know from reading and commenting on his site, he attracts a very thoughtful, intelligent crowd and my curiosity was piqued. I was interviewed by Christine/Flutter of Flutter Dark and Divine. I was acquainted with Flutter before having meandered over there after she got a favorable review here. I was instantly hooked on the honesty and clear voice that radiates throughout her writing. A lot of people blog to work through things and make progress toward figuring out their stuff and the steps toward being fully who they are. Flutter is a woman who lets you walk those steps with her and it is humbling to be allowed a window into her mind. She asked some really thoughtful questions and here are my answers. Text Color

When you think of the reasons that you started to blog, what is the most important? What is the least?

When I started blogging last year, my youngest daughter was nearly six months old and I was in the throes of postpartum depression. Months of sleep deprivation and being overwhelmed with three kids, a business and a hubs to take care of, left me feeling woefully inadequate and completely over my head. After a few weeks of frequent crying, self-loathing and general disinterest in well, anything, I went to my doctor.

In spite of my initial embarrassment over what I felt was a personal weakness, I knew walking around like a pod person, a shell of my formerly fun self(yes this is where my moniker stems from) wasn't good for anyone. I quietly went on an antidepressant telling no one except my husband. I had some fear that I might do something weird and needed at least one person to know I was on the crazy pills.

There's a stigma in my family about needing help, for not being able to do things on your own. I felt better on the meds immediately but I still felt like something was wrong with me that I needed medication to handle my life. I wasn't embarrassed enough to go off them because rather than feel like some supercharged happy schmappy supermom, I finally felt like myself again and I wasn't willing to give that up, no matter how weak I felt about needing it.

I hadn't been involved with the blogging community at all, wasn't even really aware of it. Still, I love the internet as a resource and when I went looking for information on depression after childbirth, I found all these women speaking honestly about the reality of being a mother in today's world. The delicate balancing of all of the things expected of us, the futility of the goal of womanhood to do all this stuff and then strive to make it look effortless. I was hooked immediately. I think that's why so many moms blog, the relative anonymity, the shield of the computer screen allows women to strip down the facade of perfection and share openly with a lot of support and minimal judgement.

Ok, so the the short answer to the question, the most important reason I started blogging? My sanity and relating to other women on a deeper level. The least important? I love writing and blogging allows me to keep that muscle flexed. I also get feedback on the writing which is nice. It feels really good to know that certain things you have written have moved people, inspired them to be more gentle on themselves, made them laugh. This is a great side benefit to blogging and it's motivated me to write more and set and work toward personal writing goals. So it's important but definitely secondary to having a forum and outlet that keeps me feeling good.

What writers inspire you?

I write mostly humorous personal essays so writers who do this very well inspire me. My favorite is David Sedaris. In fact one of my most treasured gifts was when my husband took me to a David Sedaris reading for my Christmas present. We both laughed so hard that our bellies ached all night. He's just so good at what he does and though his family is unique in their own way, he captures the milieu of the American family like no one else. I like other writers in this category like Cynthia Heimel, Erma Bombeck, Robert Fulghum, Augusten Burroughs, even Dave Eggers . I am attracted to people who use humor to deal with the difficulties of life. I am inspired by writers who are able to turn sometimes painful things into funny stories. I think this comedy/tragedy speaks of the resilience of people. I am a voracious reader and love schloads of books and authors but these guys inspire me because it's what I aspire to.

If you were to teach a course in comparative religions, your faith being one point of view and one more religion being a counterpoint, how would that class look?

This is a hard one. I am a spiritual but not religious agnostic. Agnosticism is defined as:

the philosophical view that the truth value of certain claims —particularly metaphysical claims regarding theology, afterlife or the existence of deities, ghosts, or even ultimate reality — is unknown or, depending on the form of agnosticism, inherently impossible to prove or disprove. It is often put forth as a middle ground between theism and atheism.
My counterpoint would be atheism because I abhor people who claim to have a monopoly on truth. For an agnostic anyone who believes they hold the ultimate truth is questionable. I am not a huge fan of most organized religion in part because they tend to be exclusionary and the same applies to atheism. I am a follower of science and the provable, testable. And yet, I can't look at the beauty and organization around me and not think that there is something greater than me, some force of creation that is well beyond my capability to even imagine. That's why it slays me when people view god as this big mean father-figure in the heavens looking down on us judging what we do. I just don't think it works that way. I don't think we know or will ever know and that is perfectly ok with me.

So what would my class be like? I would endeavor to imbibe students with a sense of wonder, an awe of discovery and a comfort with the unknown. I would hope to create an atmosphere where we could question why our brains are hardwired for things like religion. Why we probably constructed religion the way we have, why we anthropomorphise god. I would explore how most of the tenets and parables of religion appear in all of the major religions. I wouldn't need to change student's minds but allow critical thinking and reason to be a part of the discussion.

It's a rainy day, you have the house to yourself and the entire day, what do you do?

As a mom of three, this is one of my ultimate fantasies(besides all my kids saying yes mom for one day and my husband cleaning the house and attending to all of my, uh, needs.) I used to devour books, reading a few a week. Since having kids, I struggle to make time to both read and write. Writing takes precedence and it's easier to put aside and come back to for me. So for my day to myself, I'd pick one of the many unread books awaiting my rainy day and spend all day reading. I'd read in bed, read in a hot bath spiked with lavender and rosemary. I'd read on the chaise lounge out in my garden, I'd read over lunch and a cup of tea. I would, for the first time in a while, finish a book the same day I started it. I did that frequently BC(before children) and it's one of the few things I really miss.

Quick, what's the first word that comes to mind when I say "balls"?

My mother. She has giant ones and though she drives me crazy sometimes and we are very different people philosophically, she has set a good example when it comes to standing up for yourself, requiring more from people, working hard and aspiring to more and never letting other people tell you what you're capable of. I have a slew of great stories relating to this but they are all worthy of their own post.

If we are to come away with one thing from reading your blog, what do you feel is the most important?

I'm all over the board with my blog. Sometimes I'm funny, irreverent, even silly. Other times, I am contemplative, serious and downright morose. I know from reader's comments that different people appreciate and connect with different things. I think I just want people to take something. I've written quite a bit about body image and I hope women can read some of that and be kinder on themselves. I hope that struggling moms can read some of my travails of motherhood and know they are not alone in this difficult but loved job. I hope that people read my political and opinion posts not to agree with me but to allow for the dissemination and discussion of ideas. I think a lot of our political problems have come from people's assent and reticence to vocally dissent when they think their opinion might be unpopular. If people dropping by can take something away period, then that is fair and kind payment for the effort that goes into blogging.

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Gwen said... February 26, 2009 at 7:07 PM  

Your replies are wonderful and insightful, just like your blog. I'll have to check out this David Sedaris fellow. I also enjoy the writing of people who use humor to deal with tragedy and pain. It's something I can completely relate to. I have to laugh to get through half the shit I deal with on a daily basis. That's why when my sister was dying we spent a good majority of our time together laughing. It sounds irreverant, but it's really just about survival. Great post. Thanks for sharing your world. It certainly makes me feel less alone to read your words.

A Free Man said... February 26, 2009 at 8:43 PM  

Really nice work ladies. That thing about not asking for help - our famly has that as well, nearly drove all of us nuts.

And I love David Sedaris!

ddputz said... February 27, 2009 at 5:37 AM  

I love your honesty and your humor, Chris. You make me stop and think about things that I take for granted. Keep writing.

Looking forward to my 1st David Sedaris reading in MKE in April!

Anonymous said... February 27, 2009 at 8:14 AM  

Great interview. I loved your candor when asked about religion . . .

Christine is an amazing person. It'd be cool to have her interview me one day . . .

Anonymous said... February 27, 2009 at 9:33 AM  

I tagged you at well read hostess

Gypsy said... March 3, 2009 at 10:22 AM  

In graduate school, I did a semester project on Sedaris. He's just wonderful. His sister ain't bad, either.

Great answers, Chris. I can't wait to get my questions, although I think my interviewer has gone on hiatus or something.

Arizaphale said... March 21, 2009 at 6:41 PM  

I found a lot of common ground in there Chris, even on the religion question! I didn't know 'formerly fun' referred to your PPD time however. I guess I projected my own life onto it and thought it referred to mothers/grownups in general. :-D
I think you can rest assured that all your readers get something valuable from your blog.

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