Sunday, January 11, 2009

An Interview with the Manor Lady

("Watching the Flock," by Allan Houser)

Recently, Willow of Life at Willow Manor posted her interview with Steph of The Incurable Insomniac and offered in turn to interview those of her bloggy friends who were game. I volunteered for an interview, and Willow sent me five interview questions, which I answer below. If you would like for me to interview you, please follow the instructions at the end of the post.

1. What is your most marked characteristic? Inquisitiveness -- and I mean that in the generally-interested-and-curious sense, not in the prying-where-I-have-no business sense. I am intellectually curious about a wide range of topics, and when I have a question relating to one of those topics I must know the answer. I simply must. I am a seeker of truth. Questioning, analyzing, and learning are what make me tick.

2. What living person would you most like to meet, and why? I would most like to meet the Dalai Lama. A large part of my curiosity is focused on spiritual matters, and the Dalai Lama seems to me to be the most spiritual, reasonable, understanding, humble, and, well, inquisitive, of all those who are labeled "spiritual leaders" these days. I think that his brand of inquisitiveness is much purer than my own, though; by that I mean that ego and a propensity to judge others harshly do not appear to enter into his calculations, as they unfortunately sometimes do with mine. I can think of no one with whom I could have a more interesting and enjoyable spiritual discussion than with the Dalai Lama, and I also am curious about what it feels like to be in the same space with him. My guess is that he exudes a peaceful calm and an unshakable strength all at once, and I would love to find out if that hunch is correct (there's that inquisitive thing again)!

3. Apart from your loved ones, what is your most treasured possession? The sculpture that I use in my profile photo, which appears in a larger version at the top of this post. I had never heard of Allan Houser, who was an Apache Indian and famous sculptor, before I accompanied J when he went on a business trip to Santa Fe last year (our best trip together so far). However, when I walked into the Allan Houser Gallery in downtown Santa Fe and saw the distinctive style of the sculptures displayed there, I instantly realized that I had previously seen Houser's work in art museums in DC and NYC. I was drawn to "Watching the Flock" immediately -- the shepherd looked so wise and peaceful and content, and his dog looked just like my dog Amos -- but it was waaaaay outside my price range. The only sculpture I could reasonably afford was an abstract sculpture of an owl that fit very neatly inside the palm of my hand, but even that was pushing the budget. I left the gallery empty-handed, but I couldn't stop thinking about what I had seen there. The day before we returned home, I convinced J to go back to the gallery, at which point I fully intended to purchase the owl. But that serene shepherd and his dog kept calling my name. J could see that I was getting weak. So could the saleslady, who offered a reduced price that was still far more than I "should" have had any business spending. At that point, J, who is know for his parsimony, looked at me and said, "If you actually buy that, I will not sit beside you on the plane on the way home." But I thought to myself, and eventually said aloud, "This is art, this piece is asking me to give it a home (it has one of my dogs in it, for heaven's sake!), and if I don't do just that I know in my bones that I will regret it for a long time to come." So, I bought the shepherd and his dog, and J nearly shocked the life out of me when he decided to buy the owl in a show of art-appreciating solidarity. Watching the Flock therefore is an important, symbolic possession to me for many reasons. I have never once regretted the splurge.

4. What is your motto? Generally speaking, I find life far too complicated to be summed up in a motto-esque kind of way, so consequently I have never had a personal motto. When it comes to mottos more generally, the only one that's ever really moved me much is the motto of the Moravian Church in which I was raised -- "In essentials, unity; in non-essentials, liberty; and in all things, love." I like this motto because it encapsulates what I believe to be a sound philosophy not only for approaching religion but also for approaching life more generally. Seems to me that the world would be a better place if more people put that kind of philosophy into practice.

5. Before blogging, what, if any, was your main mode of personal expression? The work in progress known as my house. I've spent many an hour choosing paint colors, painting, renovating the bathrooms and kitchen (or more accurately overseeing renovations done by others pursuant to my specifications), choosing and placing furniture, and finding the perfect spot for each of the various works of art that has chosen me over the years. When J moved in, I got to integrate the possessions of two people with very different taste, which was challenging but fun. Although I've always loved to write, almost all of my writing prior to blogging was job-related. I wrote new regulations, amended existing regulations, drafted Federal Register notices for all those amendments, and wrote lots of legal memoranda. Although I enjoyed most of this writing, I thought of it as more of an expression of my analytical side rather than my creative side. Blogging has been a real blessing to me, because it has given me a creative outlet that involves using my beloved written word. For that, I must thank my dear friend over at The Gold Puppy for convincing me to venture into the blogosphere. I know it took a while. I'm so glad that you were persistent!

In conclusion, many thanks to Willow for sending me these questions. It has been a pleasure to answer them. Now, if any of you out there would like for me to interview you, just follow these instructions (remembering to send me your e-mail address if I don't already have it or if it is not listed on your Blogger profile page), and I will be happy to oblige:

1. Leave me a comment saying, "Interview me."

2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. (I get to pick the

3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions.

4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview
someone else in the same post.

5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask
them five questions.


Barbara said...

OK, I'm game. Interview me!

I especially liked the story of your Blog avatar. I've seldom regretted purchasing something I couldn't afford which called out to me. Life's too short to pass everything by!

willow said...

I absolutely loved your story of "Watching the Flock"! I've often wondered about it being your avatar.

Thank you for the interview, my bloggy friend. I've added your blog link to my post. :)

Reya Mellicker said...

I'm glad I encouraged you, too. Great interview, both answers and questions. Helped me get to know you a bit better - thank you!

Very cool.

SJW said...

Thanks for this Adrianne.
Always interesting to hear more about what makes people tick.

I'd like to be one of your 5 interviewees.


AryaShaya said...

Dear Adrianne,
I wonder if it's valid till this date but im so curious to be interviewed by you.
so then my email add is