An Interview with an Average American . . . Me

An Interview with an Average American . . . Me

Recently, one of my interviewees asked if she could interview me for her blog. She wanted to know about my life and what prompted me to begin this project.

That gave me the idea to interview myself for this blog as my American interviewee. After all, I am asking people around the world to share their thoughts with the world. Why not let them know a little more about me.

About Me

I am from Illinois. I was born in Chicago, raised in Glenview. My father was born in New York. He was the only child of immigrants. His father was Prussian, his mother Hungarian. The majority of my mother’s ancestors came to America from Ireland during the potato famine years.

During WWII, Mom came to Chicago to work as a secretary for the War Department. Following the war, she worked for Wilding Studios as a script girl. Meanwhile, Dad, a Navy photographer, had come to Glenview Naval Air Station in the final years of the war to teach Navy photography. My parents met when Wilding Studios and the Navy collaborated on a film project.

I consider myself to be an average, middle class American. I work from home as a writer. My husband is an architect. We have a blended family with a combined total of five children. They are all grown. We also have a dog named Rexi.

Rexi

Rexi

I write this blog because I’m curious about the world and its people.

Please look out a window in your home and describe what you see. 

The damp leaves of a sycamore tree, wet after a thunderstorm. The houses on my street were built in the 1920s and 1930s. I love the diversity of the architecture. It is a quiet street whose sidewalks swell in the morning and afternoon when parents are taking their children to the grade school down the block. Often I see my dear friend, Jenny, sitting in her front yard across the street, reading a book.

From My Office Window

From My Office Window

What is your favorite season?

My backyard

My backyard

Autumn. Illinois is most beautiful in the fall because the humidity lifts, the leaves turn color, and the air is crisp. I love smelling the scent of wood fires coming from fire pits and fireplaces. This is my favorite time of year to go walking along the river that runs through my town. It is a very popular place for runners, walkers, and cyclists.

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What myth or stereotype about your culture would you like to set straight?

The myth that we don’t have traditions or histories that we respect like other countries do.

I am a composite. An amalgamation of cultures from around the world. The product of my ancestors’ journeys and struggles to find a better life. Because I am American I am an anomaly. I don’t belong to an  American ethnicity or race. The land I live upon was acquired — or rather taken — from the Native American people who lived here long before my ancestors arrived from Ireland, Scotland, Prussia, Hungary, England, France, Netherlands, and Wales.

Americans are immigrants, whether our ancestors came over on the Mayflower or a slave ship.

This is our history, our tradition.

What does your country do well? 

Uphold the rights of the individual. Nurture and encourage creative thought.

What do you wish it did better?

Worked together to end the polarization of our government. Stemmed the visceral rise of fear, hatred, racism, and violence that has erupted recently.

If I came to your house for dinner, what would you serve me?

It would be something on the grill. A steak, chicken, or fish from one of the local small markets that raise them without hormones or additives. The vegetables would come from our local farmers market. My husband and I love Greek tomato salads made with locally grown tomatoes, cucumbers, feta cheese, Greek olives, and fresh oregano. For desert, I would make a fresh berry pie and homemade ice cream.

What brings you joy?

Spending time with family and friends. At my house I have a hidden garden. It’s very small. We call it the secret garden. This is where I have had wonderful, silly, and serious conversations with my daughter, son, husband, and our friends. Just wine, candles, and the company of those I love.

What frightens you? 

The rabid hatred exhibited by intolerant people.

Who or what inspires you?

The beauty found in any work of art. The music of Olafur Arnalds and Mario Vinuela. The photography in the film Out of Africa. Any book by Willa Cather. A painting by my friend, Jaime Foster.

Also Iceland. There is a calm and serenity there I have found nowhere else.

Is there a famous American you admire?

There are many. But if I had to narrow it down to one, it would be President Barack Obama.

He has had grace under fire, exhibited remarkable restraint, and shown the kind of statesmanship I want in my leader. He is articulate and intelligent. He is funny. Classy. When there is a tragedy in this country, I know he will be the voice of reason. He hasn’t done everything right or accomplished all he set out to do. But I admire the man, his heart, and his intentions.

I already miss him terribly. I am so proud to call him my president.

What do you want the world to know about America?

I can’t speak for all Americans, but I can tell you that the Americans I know:

— are embarrassed, sickened, and tired of the ugliness of the current presidential campaign

— abhor violence

— want some form of gun control

— are welcoming to other cultures

— believe our strength is in our compassion and understanding, not only the stealth and weaponry of our military

— are passionate about protecting the environment

— are repulsed by the superficial model of wealth and celebrity that is often projected about us.

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