I saw this meme for the first time on Guilty with an Explanation. I’m glad I found it there because I knew Heartinsanfranciso would come up with amazing interview questions for me. Here are her questions and my answers. If you want to play, the rules follow my answers.
1. You are finally coming to the end of a long, difficult period that has forced you to be stronger than you ever thought you could be. What changes would you like to implement in your life in the next year?
I love this question. I believe that, along with the strength I’ve gained in this journey, I also carry around a considerable dose of defensiveness. In the coming year I would like to be more intentional about recognizing and eliminating the defenses that have served me well in terms of keeping me out of harms way, but also stand in the way of me moving forward and being open to the possibilities that are ahead. I have baggage. That is no surprise to anyone and it certainly isn’t a shocker for me. I know exactly where my walls are, what generalizations I’ve carried over from my experiences and what things I am still very angry about and reactive to. I know it’s time to grow beyond these things. Here’s an example of what I mean.
Black women are the fastest growing group of individuals infected with HIV in this country. A significant contributing factor to this reality is the high percentage of black men in committed relationships with these women who also sleep with men in reckless ways and in turn infect their faithful partners. They live double lives “on the down low”. Suffice it to say, though I am not HIV positive, that this phenomenon hits very, very close to home for me. As a result I am very distrusting, skeptical and cynical and perhaps a little (or a lot) judgmental about this behavior and prejudiced to new people I meet. Just tonight my sister-in-law told me that a mutual male friend of ours, in a conversation about sexuality, remarked, “Well, we know Lexi thinks all black men are gay.” ‘All’ is inaccurate. I do think that there are way too many who are and don’t feel they can be themselves openly in a community that is very judgmental and bigoted about homosexuality. People don’t really talk about this much, but the vast majority of black families are super-intolerant around this issue. The consequences are killing us. I’m burned in this area. It’s hard for me to deal with this issue. It’s hard for me to believe that someone is who he says he is. I know this. I hope to get better about this. I’ve grown from my declaration that I’ll never date a black man ever again. But I will proceed with caution. I hope to learn to be just that, cautious, and not closed or prejudiced.
I also still maintain a very defensive posture towards the Church and Christianity. As much as I am still diligent about sorting out my beliefs, things that remind me of that time in my life strike a bitter chord in me. My reactions are not pretty. Even if I decide to completely abandon the faith I’ve known my entire life, I hope to learn to be tolerant of those who hold it as their own. I hope to learn to not be offended by them. I hope to learn to separate the people from my experiences and my choices. As much as I hope to be allowed to believe what I choose and be who I choose, I want to be able to afford others the same space and choices.
I have a lot of work to do in both of these areas, but I am serious about wanting to change. I am not happy with being on the defensive all the time. I’m often annoyed with my own cynicism. I’m working hard towards these ends.
2. What would be your ideal job? Tell me where you would live, and what your favorite aspects of the work would be.
This is a hard question for me because I don’t believe I conceive of a job in the way most people do. We live in a culture that prefers for people to be defined by what they “do” or what they “have”. I see a job merely as a means to finance my enjoyment of the things I really care about. So with that said, I don’t have an ideal profession. My ideal job would be one that allows me tremendous flexibility in my schedule (I would want to be able to work from midnight to 4am and noon to 4pm, for example), fulfillment, and enough money to put a modest roof over my head that I’d visit occasionally while I’d travel, study, dance, and meet interesting people to my heart’s content. I don’t want to do just one thing. I want to try my hand at everything that captures my interest and move on to the next thing when I’m done with the last. Fat chance, huh?
3. Which characteristics inherited from your mother and father do you value most?
I have my mother’s laugh and assertiveness to protect and defend those she loves. Complete strangers to me have heard me laugh and known right away that I am my mother’s daughter. I love to laugh and I don’t hold back. It’s good for the soul. I can find something to laugh at in most situations and so can she. Is this sometimes inappropriate? Of course, but that makes things even more funny. There are certain situations in which I know I can’t be near her or make eye contact with her because we’ll both lose it. In that respect I have inherited her incontinence too, but that part’s not so valued.
As a kid I tried very hard not to tell my mother if someone did something wrong to me (well, as an adult too). I knew there would be hell to pay if Gerri caught wind of the fact that someone made her baby girl sad or hurt. And while I may not have always stood up for myself the way she does, I am quick to lend my voice to those who can’t find their own.
This wasn’t part of the question, but my mom and I have a very difficult relationship. I really don’t know her all that much as person. I’ve had to learn to be authentic with her in hopes that that would invite her to the same place with me. I still hold out hope. In the meantime I love her where I can and laugh my ass off with her when something’s funny.
My dad is a peacemaker. He wants everyone to get along. I think in some ways I have inherited that from him, but we approach it differently. I seek peace through open honest confrontation of the issues. I believe that most conflict can be resolved. I’m willing to roll up my sleeves and get dirty so that we can come out on the other side. I’ve grown in my ability to do this with him. This question has reminded me that there is so much about my parents that I don’t know. I hope to change that in the coming year as well.
4. What qualities do you look for in a close friend?
I was sitting in a café with a close friend who was in a crisis when I received these questions by email. My Crackberry alerted me right away. I’m such a devoted friend who gives my undivided attention in times of crisis. We were actually discussing how many friends he called before me that didn’t have time for him. We reconnected a few weeks ago at a mutual friend’s father’s funeral. Once we had a chance to sit down and chat a bit we wondered why on earth we let 15 years go by without talking and still living in the same state. That brings me to my answer.
A close friend is one who sees you for who you are, warts and all, and loves you in spite of (because of) them. Close friendship requires honesty, transparency, reciprocity and tons and tons of laughter. A close friend doesn’t think twice about giving you a place to lay your head, a hot meal, a hot shower or a swift kick in the ass if you need them. Close friends don’t think twice about splitting their last 20 bucks with you if you are broke. A close friend can handle your weaknesses, reminds you of your strength and value, and tells you the truth, even when it hurts. A close friend sits up with you until the wee hours of the morning, not so much to re-hash your problems as to just kick it with you so you can get your mind off of it all for a while. They are the people you can know, without a doubt, will be there for you when you need them. Close friends fight well. They aren’t afraid of conflict within the relationship because they know that there is a clear separation between it and the issue at hand. I’ve mentioned over and over again that I have some of the best friends in the world. They have been all of this and so much more to me.
I also believe that you get back the type of friendship you give.
5. Who is your favorite writer, the one who makes you think, “I wish I had written this,” and why is his or her work relevant to you?
This is the hardest question of the 5. I can’t easily tell someone my favorite artists or movies or writers because, one, I am so completely random in my interests and two, because I have some kind of mental block that prevents me from keeping a personality connected to their work. For example, I can tell you a book I love or a song I love or a movie I loved and not have a clue who wrote, sang or starred in it. It leaves me shrugging my shoulders a lot in conversations about movies and music. I just can’t remember artists. I don’t know why that is.
I can tell you that I wish I had written the book Longing to Tell: Black Women’s Stories of Sexuality and Intimacy, by Tricia Rose. I wish I’d had the opportunity to hear the unabridged stories of all of the women she interviewed to write that book and I would have loved to have been a part of giving those women a voice in our society. Just last week a guy asked my why black women are so closed and guarded sexually. I laughed out loud because I know that is a very distorted picture. The truth is that we are silenced about our sexuality very early on. Sex is bad if you aren’t married and your duty if you are. It’s rarely painted as the beautiful part of our humanity that it is. Even if a black woman does enjoy and embrace her sexuality, she most certainly is not supposed to talk about it. I love that this book reconnects our sexuality with our humanity. I love that it covers all of the bases – the joy and the pain. I love that they are real stories of real women. I wish more women talked freely about sexuality.
So there you have it. That was fun. If you want to play please tell me in my comments and make sure I have a way to email the questions to you. My email is in the sidebar (now).
I enjoyed this so much that I’ll answer another round of questions if someone wants to shoot them my way. Here’s how to play:
1. If you would like to participate, leave me a comment saying “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. Update your blog with a post containing your answers to the questions.
4. Include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you ask them five questions.
If you request questions from me, please give me a few days so that I can personalize them.