#wordsofwomenHH, 20 questions, blog features, march 2017, words from wise women, words of women

Words of Women 20 Questions: Joanna H.

screen-shot-2017-02-01-at-5-08-01-pmInspired by this article from Words of Women, I decided to ask friends to take part in the questionnaire. It’s been so fun reading their answers and I’m excited to share them every Wednesday. If you want to participate, send me an email at aeallen (at) gmail (dot) com.

About the list of 20 questions by Sophie Calle:

Sophie Calle is a French writer, photographer, installation artist, and conceptual artist. Calle’s work is distinguished by its use of arbitrary sets of constraints, and evokes the French literary movement of the 1960s known as Oulipo. Her work frequently depicts human vulnerability, and examines identity and intimacy. She is recognized for her detective-like ability to follow strangers and investigate their private lives. Her photographic work often includes panels of text of her own writing. (Words of Women)

The first questionnaire comes from a long-time instagram friend, Joanna H., a sociology professor in the U.S. who studied situated identity practices. (So cool!)

When did you last die?

I have never and will never die as I am immortal. At least that’s what I tell myself.

The actual answer to this question is that the thing I’ve thought to be “me” has died a few times over my life when my life abruptly and completely changed. The first time I looked at my son something happened in my brain that killed who I had been even thirty seconds before. And I have never been someone who, frankly, thought kids were that great. I still don’t. I love my own kid, but I’m not usually a sappy romantic person. But that moment, when he looked directly into my soul, something happened. I felt it. I died.

There was also the time I experienced soul death while on LSD. Do not recommend.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?


What became of your childhood dreams?

I don’t know if I ever really had “dreams” – I just wanted to know things. I wanted to understand. I suppose I am doing that still. It is an unending task.

What sets you apart from everyone else?

My intelligence. I often feel like I see the world in a completely different way because of it. And to be honest, I don’t know if that is necessarily a good thing. I sometimes wish I could be as stupid as the average person because I would understand them better and they would understand me better.

What is missing from your life?

I am STILL not Beyonce.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?

I think anyone can call themselves an artist, but most of them would be lying. With enough practice, most people can become good at any given skill (even something like painting, music, dance), but I also truly believe in raw talent. Some people are just better at some things than others.

Where do you come from? Do you find your lot an enviable one?

My origins are kind of complicated. I grew up in small towns in central Illinois, surrounded by corn and cows. I was born in a town called Jacksonville, which is near Springfield (the state capital) because my parents went to college in that town. We lived there until I was 10, at which point we moved to Effingham, IL. So in many ways, I lived in small towns surrounded by people who didn’t have many hopes or aspirations beyond getting a high school diploma, maybe a 2 year degree, and then getting a solid blue collar job, starting a family, and settling down in the general areal. On the other hand, my parents both went to college and all four of my grandparents also went to college. My maternal grandmother has a Master’s degree, which for her time was very rare. My maternal grandfather had PhD and was a college professor. So I certainly had that influence as well. I never really fit in with the people I grew up around and got out of there as soon as I possibly could. I know that I am extremely privileged.

What have you given up?

I try not to think about the choices I made as “giving up.” I’ve made choices that have made certain things less possible or probable, but I could always make another decision that would change that calculus.

What do you do with your money?

Spend it on diapers, debt, and bad choices.

What household task gives you the most trouble?

Anything involving spatial relations.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

The smell of my son’s freshly washed head, the taste of IPA, the sound of “99 Problems” played loud in the car with the windows down on an open road, the sight of a well organized Excel spreadsheet, the feeling of freshly washed sheets.

What would you like to receive for your birthday?

A date with my husband.

Cite three living artists whom you love.

Beyonce, Rupi Kaur, Matt Groening.

What do you stick up for?

I try to stick up for people who can’t stick up for themselves. I don’t know if I am wholly successful, but I try.

What are you capable of refusing?

Anything I don’t want. I am incapable of refusing anything I do want. Attachment is the root of all suffering.

What is the most fragile part of your body?

My feet, particularly my toes.

What has love made you capable of doing?

Forgiveness of others. Forgiveness of myself.

Also, scooping poop out of the bathtub.

What do other people reproach you for? 

Talking too much, being what they see as careless, leaving the doors open and lights on.

What does art do for you? Write your epitaph.

Art provides a reflection of life.

“The lyf so short, the craft so long to lerne” - Chaucer

In what form would you like to return?

Something of value.

Ah I loved this! Thanks so much, Joanna! 



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