Monday, February 25, 2008

Citizen of the Month Great Interview Project

I was cruising the net some time ago and came across the Citizen of the Month Great Interview Project. It seemed to have passed, but I left a comment saying I would be interested in participating. The premise is that people are paired up, view each other’s blogs, and then conduct asynchronous interviews.

I didn’t get a response and, frankly, had forgotten about it. Then a couple of days ago, Erin at State I am In wrote me and apologized for not getting back to me! That was cool.

So I just got her questions, and will spend some time prepping questions for her. First, her interview of me …

1. Let's start out this interview with the question that all interviewers should ask: how do you feel about cheese? Cheese carries with it, remarkably, a long history with me.

It was a favorite of my dads. Black wrapper, shaped like a large stick of butter, the unfortunate label of “Coon Brand,” extra-sharp cheddar. I remember when I was 8 or 9 years old. We sat in the living room and I “discovered” that orange slices and cheese were a great combination. He let me think through the conversation that I had made some great discovery. I went to bed that night feeling special.

One of the things that changed my life was in 2000, when I got diverticulitis. An old person’s disease in 41 year old. I wound up leaving my Sigmoid Colon (the bottom 18 inches or so of that run) on a medical waste dump. The rest of me just got re-sectioned and I was basically back to normal save the 12 to 18 months following surgery. I have since been unable to eat feta cheese.

I’ve seen cheese made, and it falls into the category of “Who Thunk This Up?” along with mayonnaise, tofu, and distilled spirits. They are all good in their sphere, I just don’t understand who had so much time on their hands.

2. An aisling is an Irish vision poem (I didn't even need to read your sidebar to find that out!), what inspired you to use this to name your blog? I went to Ireland and visited every area but the Occupied Territories. I had been reading a lot about The Troubles. The country was everything I had hoped it would be. Just beautiful. Food was great, alcohol was better, people were gracious and rugged. I grabbed some words from Gaelic. My dogs are named ceiligh and trean. “Aisling” is just a wonderful concept. I enjoy language. I think etymology is fascinating. It is remarkable to me how much history you can learn just from studying words.

3. You've been blogging for several years now. What got you started? Politics. Well, I initially thought having my own space on the net was a cool idea. I was amazed that space was free. So I started to write, but my soap box was all politics. I since broadened my writings. I think as a body of work, if that isn’t too pathetic a statement, that it reflects a lot of how I am, a lot of the turns in my life. I am not comfortable with going back to read.

4. What does blogging mean in your current life? Why do you continue to blog? It’s a vent for me. I get rid of angst. I have some returning readers – some are anonymously from my previous lives, more are people I have never known. I use the blog as a diary sometimes. I also like to surf the net and share interesting sites. I’ve actually learned a lot about myself as I changed formats, wrote out my thoughts. Won’t it be interesting for my grandkids to read 20 years or more of what their grandfather wrote before he lost his mind?

5. You're a Beatles fan. Growing up, we had a Beatles shrine in our house. I walked down the aisle to "All You need is Love," and danced with my dad at my wedding to, "In My Life." What are your top 5 favorite Beatles' songs, and why? Rocky Raccoon. I was 9 when the White Album came out. RR was the first song I sat on the floor and learned every word to. I can still picture learning, and then walking in my grandfather’s fields singing. A simple time.

Two of Us. I have had many partings in my life that were forecasted. Time was allowed to live the relationship knowing it was terminally ill. “You and i have memories / Longer than the road that stretches out ahead.” Those words have echoed through me as I tried to come in for a safe landing.

Across the Universe. John said that he was working too hard to write a song all day. Nothing came. He went to bed and, upon arising, this song was within in its final form – words and music. Lots of folks say it had to be written by George. But I have a lot of Beatles bootleg. No version of George. And for all the years after the breakup, why would songwriting credits remain wrong? When I listen to the song, it is similar to Rocky Raccoon in that it creates a whole new place for me. I think singing something like “Nothing’s gonna change my world” subsumes that my world is perfect as it is … that’s the point of music to me – to rewrite the world in front of you and allow an escape.

The Ballad of John and Yoko. I remember when the 45 came out. Was Old Brown Shoe the flip side? I was following The Beatles closely at the time, and I knew many of the events in the lyrics. But I also thought it was like reading John’s diary. I later enjoyed it for different reasons – I didn’t know at first that it was just John and Paul over the course of one day in the studio. Those two were an amazing combination.

Her Comes the Sun. Another escapist song. I loved the clean guitar, George’s accent on “clear.” I was driving to Philadelphia last year. In the car for over an hour in the local radio market, and then, after teaching for a few hours, for another hour. Some DJ must have quit his job. This song was playing over and over again, and still was hours later. I wonder how he sealed up the booth.

6. Personally, I like Ringo...largely because no one likes Ringo and I like to root for the underdog. Who is your favorite Beatle? I like RIngo. My favorite was John when I was growing up. I thought him a radical, not afraid to speak his mind. I have adopted one comment I heard about him – you may not always like what he says, but you know what he is thinking. I feel that is an honest approach to life. Over the last ten years or so, I have read more about John’s personal life and have come to question many of his choices. I have also listened to a lot of George’s solo music and learned of his life. I have switched allegiances. Smile. But lest you think me odd, I have read a lot about both, listened to a lot of published and unpublished music, but I have “studied” neither. They are musicians. Nothing more. Interesting lives, but not replacements for mine.

7. You sidebar is packed with quotes, links, etc. What should someone new to your blog check out? I think the link to the very first version of alice. I didn’t know it existed, and then I found it in full image format. It is a very cool read, complete with illustrations.

8. What are your favorite blog posts....yours or others? If you check out my labels (Mine Shafts) and select “j” you will get the posts about my daughter. She’s probably the coolest person I have ever met.

9. Finally, what is your six-word bio? Was, am, always be coal trash.


  1. what about "In My Life?"

  2. used to be one of my favorites. john said it was the first song he ever wrote - everything before it didn't count.

    i find myself now looking over my shoulder to recapture lost innocence, lost feelings. "in my life" is a funeral durge.

    not there. not yet. not again.