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

Words of Women 20 Questions: Claire M.

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Inspired 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)

This week’s questionnaire comes from a friend I’ve had since my college days. Claire has always inspired me with her fantastic humor and brilliant writing. I mean, she is a rad journalist, published NPR-ien (is that a thing? now it is), and she won a year’s supply of La Croix water. The woman is amazing.

When did you last die?

What a starting question! But it made me think about how I view my life and transformations within it. I’ve gone through many phases and chapters where not only life circumstances change, but my personality dramatically shifts. When those different versions of myself  change, it could be looked at as one version dying and a new one emerging. And with that in mind, I’d say I’m in the middle of one of those major shifts, so I guess I’m dying right now 🙂

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The paycheck and health insurance on the other end of the commute. Otherwise I’d be laying around listening to podcasts all day.

What became of your childhood dreams?

They became my adult dreams. I always wanted to be a writer, which I do now.

What sets you apart from everyone else?

My wit.

What is missing from your life?

Contentedness. I desperately want to be in a place where I’m living in a place where I want to be in long term, and in personal and professional situations where I see myself in years down the road.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?

Of course! There’s creativity and beauty in everything. I hope there are accountants who look at a spreadsheet and see it as a masterpiece, just like a potter would walk away from the kiln feeling.

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

My family is a group of very different thinkers. Our interests, world views and opinions are all very different. While that can be hard to relate to, it’s taught me the importance of listening to those different from you. It’s taught me that ignorance is dangerous, because if we refuse to be near and even love people with dramatically different views than ours, we’ll never understand our world.

What have you given up?

Making decisions because it will “look” like the right choice, the fun choice, the most “Instagrammable” choice

What do you do with your money?

Travel! I live modestly in my day to day life so I can regularly take weekend trips and vacations to visit friends and explore new places.

What household task gives you the most trouble?

Cleaning surfaces.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

Grocery shopping, being in the woods, laughing with a girlfriend.

What would you like to receive for your birthday? 

A weekend away in a cabin where I could cook, read and relax.

Cite three living artists whom you love.

Anne Lamotte (writer), Phoebe Robinson (comedian), Viola Davis (actress)

What do you stick up for?

Listening to others, even if you don’t want to.

What are you capable of refusing?

Power.

What is the most fragile part of your body?

My mind.

What has love made you capable of doing?

Recognizing my own flaws and shortcomings, and making efforts to change.

What do other people reproach you for? 

Making snap judgments.

What does art do for you? Write your epitaph.

Art reminds me of the beauty and joy that exists in all of us and in the world.

Epitaph: She always bought lemonade from kids.

In what form would you like to return?

A 9-year-old girl, who has all of the unabashed confidence, resilience, and joy that most grown women long to get back.

Thanks so much, Claire! Come visit Hamburg!

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

Words of Women 20 Questions: Lena S.

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Inspired 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)

This week, I have a fantastic questionnaire from Lena S., a coworker-turned-friend. Lena is never without a smile, has a great laugh, and is a super rad human all-around. Let’s get to it!

When did you last die?

This is the first question but I left it unanswered till the end. And still don’t know what to say. Maybe I am not spiritual enough to form an adequate response.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

The prospect of a good day ahead. I’ve realized that it’s on me to either plan at least one thing I can get excited about or get excited about one thing I have planned. Both work.

What became of your childhood dreams?

I’m very bad at remembering specific things from my childhood. Like when I read memories and people write about something that happened when they were five in vivid detail, I just can’t help thinking they can’t possibly remember that! I’m haven’t ever been someone who sets hard goals… more “whatever happens, I’ll be okay with”

What sets you apart from everyone else?

Maybe my willingness to change my opinion when presented with convincing arguments. Also I’ve never been someone to hold a grudge.

What is missing from your life?

Meditation! I am convinced it would help my mental well-being a lot but have yet to make the time to integrate it into my life. I’ve already downloaded the Headspace app. So we’ll see.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?

Yes!

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

I’m from the outskirts of Hamburg, from I a town I think is utterly boring and lacks character. We bought my childhood home and the property it is on from my grandfather. He and my dad then had a feud that spanned decades over the backyard which was resolved last year. So now it’s actually quite nice and spacious there… Alas, it is still in that same town, so I would not consider it enviable. I’m not even sure that was the question, so…

What have you given up?

Time… carefreeness.. and the ability to play The Sims for hours on end without feeling guilty. Which, I guess goes hand in hand with the other two.

What do you do with your money?

Spend it on food, for the most part.

What household task gives you the most trouble?

Dusting! At least it would, if ever remembered to do it.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

Spending a whole day doing whatever I want. This does not happen very often because I work almost every day, but when it does: it’s heaven. I love creating things. I have recently taken up sewing again and signed up for a knitting course at the Volkshochschule, which I’m positively giddy about.

What would you like to receive for your birthday?

A voucher for a massage (not by the hands of the gift-giver, but a professional one!)

Cite three living artists whom you love.

“And in my opinion (until I change it), life is best filled by learning as much as you can about as much as you can, taking pride in whatever you’re doing, having compassion, sharing ideas, running(!), being enthusiastic. And then there’s love, and travel, and wine, and sex, and art, and kids, and giving, and mountain climbing … but you know all that stuff already.” Tim Minchin

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?” 
Mary Oliver

“I want to be around people that do things. I don’t want to be around people anymore that judge or talk about what people do. I want to be around people that dream and support and do things.” Amy Poehler

What do you stick up for?

Everyone’s right to express their opinion and live the life they enjoy living – as long as they don’t deliberately hurt anyone in the process.

What are you capable of refusing?

Help, more often than I should, probably. I also got better at accepting or asking for it though!

What is the most fragile part of your body?

My knees. Everyone in my family has shitty knees and at 27, mine are starting to hurt with every step up or down a flight of stairs.

What has love made you capable of doing?

Accept mannerisms or opinions I don’t understand or agree with.

What do other people reproach you for? 

I tend to make more plans and set more dates with others than I actually have time for and then end up cancelling or combining them. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn’t.

What does art do for you? Write your epitaph.

Give food for thought.. enable me to look at things through the artist’s emotional or cultural lens.

“Life is not about grand gestures but is best lived finding beauty and meaning in the mundane.”

In what form would you like to return?

Bird, I think. Would love to experience what flying feels like.

 

Hear, hear on playing the Sims for hours on end, the Headspace app, and pretty much all Lena said! Amazing, Lena! Thanks so much for taking part!

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

Words of Women 20 Questions: Carina S.

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)

After such great feedback following the last questionnaire, I’m excited to introduce this week’s: Carina S. Carina is another long-time instagram friend who bakes amazing desserts. Carina is a native German, but she answered all her questions in English. Amazing, right?

When did you last die?

I just finished reading A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and that book killed me. The story is so heartbreaking and more tragic than real life could ever be, but at the same time so universally human. I underlined so many paragraphs.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

That’s simple: I have to go to work and catch my train on time. (Not the most poetic reason, I know.)

What became of your childhood dreams?

Not much I’m afraid. I always wanted to be an actress (or a singer, but I’m so bad at karaoke!). My Oscar speech is practically written and rehearsed. But it’s been years since the last time I stood on a stage…

What sets you apart from everyone else?

My curls probably? I am also very good at doing small talk which seems to be something most people struggle with.

What is missing from your life?

Right now: adventure. I’m 23 and work a full-time job. There isn’t enough flexibility in my everyday life to do whatever I want whenever I want it. So no impromptu adventures for me. On the plus side: I do have more money to spend on myself than some other people my age who are still going to university.

Do you think that everyone can be an artist?

Absolutely! But not everyone can be good at every kind of art. Someone could be a fantastic painter but a terrible writer at the same time. You just have to find out in which way you can express yourself best.

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

I grew up (and still live) in the suburbs of a big city in southern Germany. In my opinion, it is one of the most comfortable and easy ways to live.

What have you given up?

Meat and fish. I decided to be a vegetarian about 6 years ago and I never looked back. The way I cook has changed for the better and the longer I go without eating animals the more absurd eating them seems to me.

What do you do with your money?

Treat myself! I buy exotic food and nice smelling shampoo. But also save something for my future self. (How very responsible of me!)

What household task gives you the most trouble?

All of them? I don’t understand people who like to do housework at all. It may be therapeutic in some ways but it’s just no fun at all.

What are your favorite pleasures? 

There are so many! French macarons, bubble baths, an evening alone at home, freshly washed bed sheets, comfy shoes, a cup of tea…

What would you like to receive for your birthday?

The moment this question pops up, my mind goes completely blank and I can’t remember one thing I want.

Cite three living artists whom you love.

“Making music. Baking cakes. Sewing curtains. These things mean something greater: that we have been known from the very start. Our eye color, our hairline, our jawline, the shape of our big toe, the tone of our voice. These things have been designed from the very beginning. What kind of music we listen to. The sort of skirt that looks good. The baseball cap, the tennis shoe, the orange bandana. We have been made to find these things for ourselves and take them in as ours, like adopted children: habits, hobbies, idiosyncrasies, gestures, moods, tastes, tendencies, worries. They have been put in us for good measure. Perhaps we don’t like what we see: our hips, our loss of hair, our shoe size, our dimples, our knuckles too big, our eating habits, our disposition. We have disclosed these things in secret, likes and dislikes, behind doors with locks, our lonely rooms, our messy desks, our empty hearts, our sudden bursts of energy, our sudden bouts of depression. Don’t worry. Put away your mirrors and your beauty magazines and your books on tape. There is someone right here who knows you more than you do, who is making room on the couch, who is fixing a meal, who is putting on your favorite record, who is listening intently to what you have to say, who is standing there with you, face to face, hand to hand, eye to eye, mouth to mouth. There is no space left uncovered. This is where you belong.“ (Sufjan Stevens)

(I discovered this quote yesterday and I’m obsessed with it. It comforts me somehow.)

”Of course it is happening inside your head, Harry, but why on earth should that mean that it is not real?” (J.K. Rowling)

“You’re considered superficial and silly if you are interested in fashion, but I think you can be substantial and still be interested in frivolity.” (Sofia Coppola)

What do you stick up for?

I like to think that I stick up for myself whenever it’s necessary but I’m not nearly consistent enough to do it every time. It’s something I work on all the time.

What are you capable of refusing?

Many things: alcohol, cigarettes, drugs, a second cup of coffee, bacon, Amazon Prime (I work in publishing: we do hate Amazon a lot ;))…

What is the most fragile part of your body?

My skin. Which is the most annoying thing ever. It breaks out super fast, reddens for no reason at all und I can only wear cotton shirts because it gets irritated to easily.

What has love made you capable of doing?

Self love especially makes me able to push through bad times. And I don’t mean the self love that’s based on taking bubble baths and buying nail polish (which is great too!), but the one where you look at your temporary upset feelings and decide to not act on them and instead go on with your day.

What do other people reproach you for? 

I’m a lazy person, I tend to forget to contact my friends and my humor can be too bitter and sarcastic sometimes. I can be terribly harsh when someone else wants to give me tips on what to do when I haven’t asked them for advice.

What does art do for you? Write your epitaph.

She was fed by art and cake equally.

In what form would you like to return?

As a cat. A big fat cuddly cat. Sleeping most of the time sounds heavenly!

These are my new favorite posts. I love getting to hear all of the wonderful insights my friends have. Thanks so much, Carina! This was wunderbar!

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#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?

Obligation.

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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