1) In such a skeptical (at best, derisive at worst) environment (a left wing liberal arts college), how do you maintain your faith?
Hmm. Various factors recently have prompted me to start thinking about what my faith actually is. I think a lot about my political beliefs, but not a whole lot about my religious beliefs or lack thereof, largely because what i believe about political issues comes up in “real life” whereas what i believe about religious issues rarely comes up.
It’s actually easier to maintain a Christian faith than it is to maintain whatever we would describe my political beliefs as. There are a lot of Christians, Catholics even, who are very radically leftist in their politics, and i certainly respect a lot of them. People have enough decency (usually) not to bash religious belief in general or any religion in particular, at least not in a classroom setting, but people bash the current administration without qualm. But i’m digressing.
So back to the original question. How do i maintain my faith? Because i think i’m right. No seriously. As i talked about earlier, i have difficulty with my religious beliefs because i don’t know if i’m right, if they’re right. I can maintain my political beliefs (even if i rarely talk about them) because they come from research and are grounded in values and ways of looking at the world that i believe in.
This was a really good question and i hope this was something of a satisfactory answer.
2) What do you love about reading?
Being transported into another world.
3) If you could re-read a book, as though reading it for the first time, which would you pick?
Hmm. The details of what i read (and even what i watch, though to a much lesser extent) tend to blur as time progresses, so i have reread books having only a vague idea of what would come next, though things felt familiar and often as the book progressed i remembered more. But i’ve reread books not remembering how they ended at all. A lot of the books i do reread (and there are few enough of those) i do so in part because i enjoy the familiarity, and obviously reading it for the first time doesn’t give me that.
I think Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. I love that story, but there’s something special about living it without knowing everything that’s going to happen.
4) If you could live during any period of time, when would you choose to live?
I’m tempted to say the present, because i’m a huge fan of things like indoor plumbing and the Internet. The 1960s or 1970s are tempting because it could be really exhilarating doing so much visible, physical activism for stuff you so passionately know is right (though at the time i would probably be problematizing the ends and means of the civil rights and gay liberation movements just as much as i problematize stuff now, except i don’t know if an environment would have existed which would have created that personality in me), but then again it was really scary and i really like already having a lot of the rights and freedoms i have as a queer person today. So honestly, i can’t think of an era that i would want to live in over this era.
5) Which character from fiction (television, film, literature) would you chose to be (male or female, human or not), and why?
Death, in the Sandman series, because she’s cute and kind and wise; she has seen everything but she’s not brought down by it; she has a necessary function to perform; she has a wonderful (though sometimes painful) relationship with her brother, and an interesting family. But mostly because she has so much experience and wisdom and has maintained happiness even with all the horrible things she has seen.
1. What was your most difficult decision to date?
Hmm. I really haven’t had to make too many difficult decisions (largely because i tend to take the easy way out). I think probably the most difficult thing i’ve done yet was to come out to my parents (well, to my mom, and then i had her tell my dad). I knew they would be fine with it, but i’m really bad with anything resembling confrontation, so one night i sat with her for hours before finally telling her.
2. What's your LEAST favorite food? (other than meat, I mean.)
*smiles* The funny thing is that i loved meat before i became a vegetarian. And i didn’t like most vegetables. My parents were skeptical, as well they should have been. I’ve developed a taste for many vegetables, though (as well as learning that i basically live on carbohydrates) and continue to be quite healthy.
So yeah, my least favorite food. Beets, i think. I’m not sure i can eat them without gagging. Though i’m sure at some point i will eat something and find it absolutely horrendous and think of this question.
3. What do you find to be the most frustrating misconception people have about who you are?
That i’m heterosexual. I thought about this for a long time, trying to come up with something else, but i thing that really is my honest best answer.
The “shady men assume i’m available” aggravation is obviously something every woman (and even gay men who frequent clubs and stuff) experiences and i’m not even never interested in guys. Better example. In the girl-girl marketplace, i don’t register. I’m not sure quite how to articulate this but i guess the easiest way is just to reverse it: Imagine being a heterosexual woman and having every guy, including those you’re interested in, just assume from the get-go that you’re a lesbian. And on a less shallow note, because i’m not read as queer, when people are discussing queer issues (think: dinner table at school, classroom, etc.) it’s comparable to being a person of color who passes as white in a discussion of racial issues.
In an anthology i was reading i came across this quote (from Evelyn Torton Beck’s Nice Jewish Girls): “Why is the possibility of ‘passing’ so insistently viewed as a great privilege ... and not understood as a terrible degradation and denial?” A part of my identity which is integral to who i am isn’t seen by the world at large, unless i make them see, and that adds to the frustration because not only am i bad with confrontational type situations, but because i’m not all the way lesbian i can’t just respond to questions about boys with “Actually i like girls” and it feels awkward to say “Oh yeah, and by the way i also like girls.” It’s not something one can comfortably work into conversation almost ever (especially because, again with the heteronormative, people feel like you’re throwing it in their face, etc.).
4. What's your favorite word?
5. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be, and why?
I would make everyone more willing to interrogate information and ideas and acknowledge just how complex everything is, because the dire lack of this leads to much ignorance and stupidity and frustrates me no end.
bonus: What season of Buffy was the most deserving of an Emmy, and why?
Eek. Okay, i’m gonna go with Season 3. Season 2 was really good, but it was still, in some ways, in safe territory as far as writing/acting goes. There was a clear good versus evil thing, though there was definitely wonderfully painfully conflicted Buffy. In Season 3, not only are the characters older, more mature, but there’s a lot more ambiguity. Not only does the Mayor have his two-sided thing going on, but dammit you like the guy. And Faith goes bad, but she also doesn’t feel part of the gang, and the Mayor is like a father figure to her. There’s a lot of ambiguity. The actors get to do some new stuff in episodes like “Band Candy” and “Dopplegangland,” but we get more insight into some of the core characters in episodes like “The Zeppo.” Difficult topics are dealt with well (“Earshot” and “Helpless” being two of the prime examples). There’s a great mix of the incredibly funny and the incredibly painful. The story arc develops with fairly good pacing. I could go on, but i think that’s enough.
1. You're stranded on a desert island. You have a choice -- either be there alone, or have about three random people come along with you. Which do you choose and why?
Hmm. I dislike desert island questions, because i really don’t fancy dying of starvation/exposure. Unless we have supplies and i think having more people means we’re likely to be able to build a raft and get home safely or signal to a rescue vehicle or something, i would say by myself because then i would just die by myself and wouldn’t have to deal with issues of cannibalism and stuff.
2. What is your favorite sensation?
Hmm. I’m gonna go with a warm shower. I feel really really comfortable there and often feel like i could stay there for hours. It’s soothing and i can just get lost in my own thoughts, but i also enjoy being really present in the feeling of the warm water on my skin.
3. If you could have a date with anyone in the world, who would it be and what would you do? (choose a celebrity if you don't fancy picking an actual person. ;) )
Okay, i think about these things way too much. Does having a date mean that said person is then interested in me? Does what we do have consequences? No, no, will not entertain wild fantasies involving people i keep insisting i’m over.
Okay, i’m gonna say Sara Ryan, because the characters in Empress of the World are people i would love to have be my friends, and Sara herself seems really cool. We would have dinner at some lovely vegetarian restaurant and talk about writing and being different and queerness and then wander through Boston, still talking. (Yes i know i’m boring.)
4. Do you have a political issue that you feel most strongly about?
Gay rights. Because my sexuality is such an important part of who i am, having that being recognized and legitimated in the society at large and having it not be a factor in denying me basic rights is really important to me. There are other issues i care about, but that’s the one i keep coming back to. (Oh, and if i have to be more specific, same-sex marriage. I think having our love relationships recognized as legitimate by society at large is an incredibly important step toward having queerness more generally accepted, plus it gives gay couples access to a tremendous amount of benefits.)
5. Describe the best pet ever.
I assume this is asking me to invent what i think would be the best pet ever. I’m not really a pet person. I really like the size and feel of cats, so i think i would go with a cat body. I would want something that wouldn’t have to be trained to go to the bathroom outside (no litter box cleanup for me) and to stay off the countertop. If i can get fantastic i would want it to be able to talk and have intelligent conversation. (I’m having flashes of the ancient wise cats in Sandman here.)
1. What is your favorite thing about your academic focus? Least favorite?
Favorite: Getting to talk about literature with other people who love it.
Least favorite: The feeling i get that we’re just inventing the meanings we ascribe to literature.
2. What's your favorite book you've ever read? What book do you hate more than any other you've read?
Oh, ye olde favorite book question. I’m gonna say Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time, but i really don’t know.
I haven’t read too many (under a half a dozen) books that i actually hate, and they all have redeeming qualities. I think the one i hate the most is Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises because it seemed to have absolutely no point (We are the Lost Generation. We travel around Europe doing nothing except getting drunk and getting laid.), didn’t have characters i was particularly sympathetic to, and seemed to have no reason for being in the canon other than that it was by one of the famed Lost Generation.
3. What is the closest thing you have to a "security blanket"?
My Winnie the Pooh Bear which i got as an early first birthday present. I can now fall asleep without him, but he goes everywhere with me (this used to be near literal, up to a later age than i’d like to admit to) and i plan to keep him for life.
4. What is one skill/talent you would give yourself if you could? (why that?)
In the realm of the possible? The ability to swim, because i still haven’t really learned how to and i’m not sure if i ever will because whenever my dad tries to teach me to float i get scared because i feel like i’m sinking, so i would give myself that ability.
In the realm of the impossible? The ability to teleport (myself and the stuff on my person). It means i could travel quickly, easily, and at my leisure. I could spy on people because i could teleport to hidden places and just stay hidden; i wouldn’t need to be invisible. I could be with people who needed comforting or go to people i wanted to comfort me.
5. What is one thing you'd like to be able to say about yourself in 10 years?
That i took advantage of all the opportunities i had to the best of my ability.
1. What do you want to be when you grow up? When do you think you'll be "grown up," exactly?
A writer. (Not that i necessarily think that’s what i want to be doing as a career, but it’s still what i DO to a large extent, and i would like to have written enough and be good enough at that i could call myself a writer without guilt/hesitation/qualification).
When i have kids. Not that i actually want to have kids, but it seems like that would be the only thing (short of having my parents die) that would make me really feel like a grownup. Maybe once i have a salaried job and my own apartment i’ll feel like a grown-up.
2. If you had to pick only "three" issues that you could care about for the rest of your life, what would they be? (Yes, I realize that it's vague. My apologies.)
Hmm, how specific can i get on these?
Gay rights. People’s love relationships should be legitimated. Sexuality should not cause anyone’s basic human rights to be infringed upon.
Education. So extremely important.
Libraries. Not sure how much this counts, and i would be tempted to subsume it under Education, but i was talking with offbalance about NYC libraries recently, and this morning Barbara was telling me about how many Binghamton branch libraries have closed and stuff. I adore libraries and think they are incredibly important and valuable.
3. In your opinion, which slash pairing on Buffy and/or Angel has the most basis in canon? Why?
Eek. Makes me wish i were more familiar with seasons 2 and 3 of AtS, because no one really told me about Wes/Gunn until after “Waiting in the Wings.” I almost don’t wanna say Andrew/Warren because the fact that Andrew’s attraction to Warren includes the sexual seems fairly canonical, but then Warren seems canonically very heterosexual, and i’m not sure how much unrequitedness counts as a pairing. Darla/Drusilla seems well based in canon in S2 AtS.
Okay, i’m actually gonna say Riley/Forrest. I haven’t rewatched much of S4, but in what i have rewatched there’s definite sexual tension, and i mean, army/frat housing, secret life you can’t tell anyone about... there’s so much potential there.
4. If you had to see the world in shades of one color for the rest of your life, which color would you pick?
Grey. Because seeing the world in shades of a rainbow color would be way too weird, and i think shades of brown isn’t very nice looking, while shades of grey is fairly attractive.
5. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose to live?
Boston. I love New England -- the seasons, the close proximity of so many wonderful things. I love Boston -- the museums and the stores and the trains, as well as the close proximity of everything.
And ‘cause i’m overshare girl, i give this opportunity for anyone to ask me anything they’d like (and yes you can ask more than one question).