Monday, 17 March 2008

The Great Interview Experiment. Here's Liz, Juan and family.

Liz's Year in Socks, 2007

Neil Kramer, Los Angeles-based freelance writer had a brilliant idea. It's called The Great Interview Experiment.

He's a blogger commited to the ideal of blogging; to its inherent open-ness and democracy. The moment you hit the Publish Post button, you're a writer, a someone, a documented life. Those lives make fascinating interview subjects, as much as any writer's life and outlook does. So he has been matching up bloggers to read each other's work, and interview one another on what they read.

I got lucky. My first interview subject was Liz, a mom from Richmond, Virginia, in the good-ol' US of A. Just about the coolest mom I've ever met.

It took a bit of coaxing to reveal exactly how cool she is. My first question, I admit, was a little blunt. Your life and my life are about as different as it is possible to be. Discuss.

She pulled me up on that one. Liz has sure earned her gay cred. She acted as a social worker in NYC in the late eighties, dealing specifically with AIDS patients. Remember, this was back in the days when no-one knew how HIV was transmitted, or, indeed, what HIV was. To associate with gay men...well, no-one quite knew if it was safe. Liz didn't let this daunt her, and she writes of the warmth she shared with the gay men she came to know. Bravo, Liz.

She also writes that the chaps gave her a very, very gay baby shower when she became pregnant with her first son, Alex, now 16. I can't really imagine what a gay baby shower might have looked like, except the pacifiers would have been interesting. I hope that both Alex and his sister Monica have a brace of gay pretend-uncles who continue to provide them with different perspectives on life.

Speaking of the kids, they have been on a smile moratorium since they became teens, and that kind of irritates their mom. I probed for a family-dynamics explanation of this, and sure enough, Liz confessed up front. She's the "family papparazzi" (should that be papparazza?). She loves to take pictures of her kids whenever they do something that delights her, which is pretty much all the time. The go-slow campaign on the smiles is designed, she thinks, to discourage her guerilla snapshots.

Now, Alex and Monica, listen up. Here's how real celebrities deal with the papparazzi. You surrender yourself for a photo-op every so often, smile for the camera, and then they leave you alone for a while. Try it.

Liz has a racy story about how she fell in love with her husband, Juan. Oh, and she's a master at all the puns on the name Juan, too. So don't try to get Juan up on her.

We discussed how, from time to time, she prepares Elvis-style fried bologna sandwiches for her family. Living in Europe, ironically, one cannot find bologna luncheon meat. Not even in Bologna. I asked if I might not substitute, say, mortadella? I shall never ask that question again. She is an Elvis gourmet purist.

But after her family, her passion is knitting socks. Now, this is obvoiously more than just a hobby for her; she's a real sock savant. Her 2007 output is recorded above, minus those lost in the tragic kittens-in-the-knitting-basket-catastrophe.

Personally, I think that she should turn this into a business. I can see it now. Elizabeth of Richmond. Bespoke Knitter. Quality Undergarments for the Feet. Remember not to underprice yourself, Liz.

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