I am so bad at coming up with original questions. My thanks to Jocelyn Geboy who writes an Unquiet Chicagoan for coming up with compelling and interesting answers. I had a lot of fun with this and I hope it comes through in the interview.
PO: You write a lot and frankly about battling mental disease. I write quite a bit about my numerous health problems, do you ever wonder if you are too honest? How do you find balance?
JG: Yes and no. If I’m going to write about them *at all,* then I don’t think I’m too honest. I feel like that’s the only way to be — upfront, transparent, #realtalk kind of stuff. Otherwise, what’s the point? I’m talking about being manic-depressive — what’s the point of being shy at that point? I’m admitting something that most people find weird or freaky or something you should keep secret. I have a MENTAL ILLNESS, for heaven’s sake. Shhhhhh! The whole point of talking about it is to get it into the light, and the only way to get it into the light is to go all out — “our secrets keep us sick,” you know?
However … there have been plenty of times when writing about it — I’ve had another confessional/diary blog for ten years, The Smussyolay — that I’ve wondered, “Am I screwing myself out of jobs? Potential life partners? Friendships? Opportunities that I can’t even think of right now?” And I go back and forth and freak out — “Be reasonable, Jocelyn. This is the internet and people Google and you’re setting yourself up here.” And then I’m like, “But this is part of who I am and if people aren’t going to be okay with it, then … fuck ’em.” Clearly, I must be in a “fuck ’em” stage, because the blog I pitched was about me advocating for people with mental illness/addiction and my experience with it.
PO: I feel like everyone has sort of interesting story about how they decided to write for ChicagoNow. So this is my way of asking you.
JG: I don’t know if it’s all that interesting. I think I originally pitched The Smussyolay a long time ago and didn’t get accepted or something and then out of nowhere I started getting the daily informational emails that all Chicago Now bloggers get and I was confused — I didn’t have a Chicago Now blog. I sort of let them go by for a little bit and didn’t really pay attention to them. Then I emailed Jimmy Greenfield and let him know he had the wrong address, and they stopped. Then I thought, “Hey, why not get specific and give this another go?” Not too exciting.
PO: Besides mental health what are other sources that serve as your muse?
JG: Being an egomaniac who just wants to talk about all the crazy shit that I see and encounter every day. Pop culture. Injustice. Shit I see on Twitter and Facebook. Feminism. Music — I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about my current obsession with the Avett Brothers, for instance. The CTA, food, making goofy YouTube videos, stupid reality TV shows like MasterChef and The Amazing Race. Anything that makes me nostalgic, which is anything, given I was being nostalgic when I was 8.
PO: Do you feel a sense of responsibility when writing your blog? If so, does it change how you write?
JG: Hmmm. I don’t know. Kind of. I feel like I have a responsibility to try and get facts straight or information right — which is why I often end up in Wikiholes (TM — I’m trademarking that, bitches!) when I think of something that I want more information on or need to know something more about or something. Which year did this happen? Who was married to whom? How do you spell the word I can never remember which is the little things you pass around on a plate before dinner (hors d’oeuvres — STILL had to look it up. AGAIN.)? It’s also why I end up with lots of footnotes.
I also want to be a voice to speak for someone with manic-depression and someone recovering from addiction with alcohol and drugs — share my experience with that — but I also want to make it clear that it’s *my* experience — your mileage may vary. Lots of people have different experiences. And there’s the final point of — hey, I’m not a therapist, I’m not a doctor, I’m not a pharmacist. You should probably get your own. I understand that I am not in a position to be telling anyone what to do or advising them about their own specifics. So, I guess I feel a sense of responsibility to make that clear.
What I *do know* however, is that people hear honesty and when people have actually been through something, so I hope if someone is struggling, that my words help.
PO: What is your favorite miniature thing?
JG:I’m probably going to just break all the rules with these questions, like I do sometimes. Favorite is always such a hard word for me. As a Pisces and a general neurotic and manic-depressive, I just have THE hardest time with binary decisions, although it’s weird, because I don’t have a problem going to a black-or-white state of mind in. a. heartbeat. As per usual, I digress.
Favorite mini thing — I love the mini glass bottles of ketchup/mustard that come with fancy-dancy room service at nice hotels. I love mini versions of adult animals — that is to say, not baby animals like kittens and puppies (I DO love them, but that’s not what I’m talking about), but mini horses and mini donkeys and such. I don’t know. The Thorne miniature rooms at the Art Institute are KILLER.
PO: What is the most challenging thing for you as a writer or otherwise or both?
JG: Consistently writing. I’m always having ideas. I wish I could just have a laptop with me all the time and a way to instantly talk it/write it out. I think that’s what kills me — not being able to instantly execute blog posts when they come to me. Sometimes, I get 3/4ths of one written in my head, and it just never makes it to the page. Sucks. I have plenty of content, it’s just about executing it. Part ADD, part depression, part just shitty ass follow-through. Write a blog post? Nah, I’ll dick around on Facebook or watch some TV. Sigh.
PO: If you could recreate one famous painting using macaroni as your paint which would you choose?
JG: I don’t know. I don’t know that many famous paintings. So, if I can color the macaroni and chop it into little pieces, I’ll just go obvious and say “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.”
PO: Most people are asked which person alive a dead they most want to meet, I am asking who are you. Doing your best to avoid?
JG: This is so bizarre. I’m unsure how to answer this question. Hitler? Justin Bieber? A random who will go unnamed, because I’m trying to avoid them? The Insane Clown Posse and any/all Juggalos? Ann Coulter? People who don’t shit IN the toilet in public bathrooms? Drunk drivers? Slow-ass, huge shopping bag toting, completely unaware tourists on Michigan Avenue? Creepers on the el? Creepers in general? Strangers who repeatedly say my name during the course of a conversation, hoping to ingratiate themselves with me? Terrible tippers?
PO: How do you handle negative comments on your blog are you passive or do you come at them guns a blazing?
JG: Neither. I’d rather try and engage someone in conversation. See where they’re coming from and talk or debate. I love a great back and forth, as long as someone’s not being totally dickish OR they obviously are super one-minded-slash-spewing super obvious talking points from a particular point of view (i.e., they are not to be swayed EVER). I hear people talking about deleting comments, banning people, etc. I’ll tell you this — it’s going to take a LOT for me to do any of that. No censorship.
PO: If you could possess one skill and no one in the world could have that skill what would it be?
JG: Again, I feel like I’m not playing nice, but I’m a rule breaker, I guess. I don’t think I’d want a skill that no one else could have. I’d want to fly — but I’d want flying buddies! I really want to learn how to play guitar, but I wouldn’t want everyone else not to be able to. Ditto singing really well. Ditto knowing how to cook. So magic power — flying. Always, always, flying. Know how to carry a tune a little, but want more in-depth knowledge and awesomeness there. And don’t really know how to cook and definitely don’t know how to play guitar. Will take any of those skills at any time, but don’t need exclusivity.
PO: Pick one of your blogs and in one sentence write that blog again.
Through TV marathons and multiple naps,depression is sneaky and steals time away without me realizing that it’s even there.
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