While clicking from one blog to the next I stumbled upon The Great Interview Experiment.

Cliff notes version: The idea was that by being interviewed people are seen as special. So Citizen of the Month started sort of a rolling interview. Each commenter was to be interviewed by the commenter following them. "Not only will this give others a new way to know you, but we will sabotage the idea of an interview only being for “somebody.” Everyone is somebody."

My interviewee was Squeaky Wheel Seeks Grease. As soon as I started reading her blog I saw what the true beauty of this experiment was (at least for me) and that was the interesting pairings of interviewer and interviewee. Odds are I never would have come across Squeaky Wheel Seeks Grease without this experiment. Great thing is, I love her style of writing and I thoroughly enjoy reading her blog. Although I would've thought we'd have nothing in common, while reading her entries I found much I could relate to. And her perspective makes me think about things differently. Thought provoking, that's a good description.

After a short delay of absentmindedness on my part I finally got around to doing my interview.
Introducing Squeaky Wheel Seeks Grease ...

Right now you are in school, where are you from? Be as specific or general as you care to be.

I was born in Jackson, TN, but consider myself as being from "the Memphis area", because I've lived in a suburb outside of Memphis, TN for 20 years of my life (from age 2-18, then again from 20-now). My family's from St. Louis, so I can get away with the nasal Midwestern accent - that's fun. I also have family from Massachusetts. Seeing as how I'm the only person in my immediate or closely-extended family that was born in the South, I'm pretty much the black sheep. Woe is me.

You are going to school for a BA in Psychology? What's after that?

Yep, that I am. I've considered several fields in many years I've been interested in psychology, but the one that stays consistent is teaching. I'd like to be a college professor, preferable in some sort of Social Psychology. Perhaps the psychology of religion? It's still kind of undecided at this point, because I haven't experienced all that there is for me to see in my undergrad, so I'll likely be changing my mind up until I am forced to make it up for grad school. I'd like to get a PhD - preferably with a combined program that has me earning my Masters and PhD within a 5-to-6-year period.

As far as I've read in you blog there has not been an official diagnosis but do you think you have Asperger's syndrome? You must have self diagnosed, what with all the medical journals? Right? And to follow up, what's with the medical journals anyway?

I'll answer the follow-up question first, since it wasn't through the content that I came to a conclusion, but the action of studying them - when I was a kid, we had a book that outlined common diseases and syndromes (mainly those that were caused by fungal, viral, and bacterial infections - no mental disorders yet), and I memorized the illustrations, diagnoses patterns, and the like. My dad noticed this and suggested that I become a doctor. The long story of that that can be condensed into one simple explanation is that while I'm great at recognizing patterns of symptoms and identifying where they're coming from, I hate dissection, and chemistry eludes me completely. Anyway, as I got older, I found myself just perusing magazines, journals, books, and later, websites that were geared toward medical talk. This brings me to Asperger's, in a roundabout way. I never thought I had it until I met with a counselour about another condition entirely - Adult ADD. I had trouble concentrating, had some very odd learning problems that were present growing up, but were only now becoming a problem in college, and while I didn't match all of the symptoms, I figured I was hyper-active as a child, so maybe what I had was just a run-down version of ADD that kind of diluted itself as I got older. In speaking with this counselour, I came to realize some other aspects of myself that I hadn't yet been able to put my finger on before then. The counselour was the one who suggested the Aspergian aspect. I did some research, discussed some of the concerns I had (again, I don't match all of the characteristics, but I match enough to be considered a mild case), and she and I came to the conclusion together that it might be prudent of me to seek the help of the local Autism Solution Center - I've contacted them, but to no avail. When I have time, I'm going to head down there and try to speak with someone about it, and see if there are any opinions for either an official diagnosis, or some sort of alternative. This brings me back full-circle to the follow-up answer: one of the hallmarks of an Aspergian (this phrase was coined by John E. Robison, btw, and I prefer it to the word, "Aspie", which just sounds like another way of calling someone a retard) is that they have a tendency to hyper-focus on one subject, which appears in childhood. Most cases focus on vehicles - trains are an extremely "popular" (or prevalent, as the case may be) focal point for male Aspergians. Statistics are another. I cataloged diseases in my head. Still do, sort of unconsciously, since I don't seek them out as often as I used to, but when I do come across something, somehow when it's brought up later, the information that I've come across appears in my head, ready to be cited.

Pronounced OCD regarding certain things, this tendency to catalog, emotional "oddness" (expounded below), difficulty focusing, slight dyslexia, and asocial tendencies all point to Asperger's.

On a personal note, I'm actually relieved that, through speaking to an actual licensed counselour, the possibility of any sort of sociopathic tendencies has been ruled out - I can't feel complex emotions (any negative emotion is "frustration", any positive emotion is "happiness", and then there's just flat-out "sadness"), and there are situations where other people are carrying on, and I'm wondering what all the fuss is about. This is called "flat effect", and because of the deficit of information I'd come across with Asperger's growing up (it wasn't even recognized in this country until 1994), this sort of emotional "lack" is most closely associated with disorders like psycho- and sociopathy, paranoid schizophrenia, and the like. The fact that I do have a sense of empathy saves me from those diagnoses, but still presents a problem in terms of WHY I have this emotional disconnect. Asperger's presents a possible answer. This characteristic was actually the first thing that tipped off my counselour that I may have a form of autism. I'm grateful to have been working with someone who was as willing to actually research and pay as close attention as she did.

I love the pictures of your hair, but I wonder, why blue? (Pictures of the blue here)

It's bright, it's fun...why not? Also, blue and orange are complementary colors. My other choice was green, but I don't want to look like a walking Christmas tree.

You have many creative outlets photography, painting, singing. If you could only do one, which and why?

Singing, because you don't need any equipment other than your vocal cords.

How long have you been singing opera? Did you take lessons to learn? How did you get into singing opera to begin with?

I've been singing, as my mom likes to say, before I could talk. I started both at 7 months of age, mimicking things. I don't ever remember NOT speaking in complete sentences, though I'm sure it must have happened. Anyway, my family always got a kick out of teaching me songs, and it came out that I had a knack for it. I participated in a musical (Hansel and Gretel) when I was 8, joined a youth chorus when I was 12, and took lessons for a year with a woman my dad would later date. When I was 14, I was passed over for re-admission in the chorus because growing pains and a voice change made me gawky-looking and an alto, which never sounds good in a group of kids. After that, I concentrated on band (French horn), finding out that I had a knack for that. I got into college in 2001/02, and started taking voice lessons again. I re-discovered my love and talent for singing, but dropped out of school for 4 years due to stupid things that I'm not going to go into right now. In 2005, I was working for a company as a receptionist, and a friend of mine that I liked to go to karaoke with suggested that we go to the auditions for Opera Memphis that were happening in April. She decided against it at the last minute, because she was going to be moving to go to law school, and didn't want to make a commitment like that without being able to back it up, so I went alone. I made it in as a mezzo (using material that I'd learned that morning at work - "No Good Deed" from Wicked - how's that for prodigal?), and proceeded to be cast in "Samson and Dalilah" as a chorus member. I've been in several operas since then, and have earned kind of a reputation for being one of the best younger singers they have. I took a couple of semesters of lessons at my current school, but I'm taking a hiatus from it in order to focus more on my studies - those lessons helped me to refine my technique, particularly in a higher range, and I can now proudly say that I can sing any part from lyric soprano to baritone.

I am very curious about the nature vs. nature aspect of political issues. And you have very strong political opinions. Are they like your family's or are you a black sheep so to speak?

My mom's an atheist both politically and religiously - meaning she doesn't believe in looking up to anyone to do anything for you in any way. I have to say, though, that given her situation (she's been forced by circumstance to depend on government assistance in some form), she definitely leans more toward Democrat. My dad's a "lesser of two evils" voter, but leans Democrat because of his hippie-ish country upbringing (odd as that sounds, it makes sense, but I can't go into that here). I used to be somewhat of a liberal, until I realized that whatever "help thy neighbor" and "save the poor people" plans that the politicians came up with, they involved taking more of my money in the form of taxation - and seeing as how I was one of those "poor people" who needed help, I thought about it and realized that I would much rather pay my own way (personal responsibility) for my health care and my own well-being (financially and otherwise) than depend on the government to decide where they want my money to go. I'm also pissy about the fact that whatever social security and medicare benefits I'm paying in, I'm NEVER going to see the benefits of. Sorry, but there are plenty of independent organizations out there that would be willing to help the less-fortunate, and that ARE helping. I'd be more than happy to donate to them, even, if something like 30% of my income wasn't taken out to benefit everyone but me. It sounds selfish, but if you think about it, I think a lot of us would be a lot better off without compulsory income taxation. To answer your question more directly, I'm the black sheep in my immediate family. My middle sister is liberal. My oldest sister is indifferent. I believe in self-defense, and my concealed-carry permit should be arriving in the mail any day now, while the rest of my family is mostly either scared or uneducated about guns and gun use. To be fair, my stepmother has been the only real dissenter to my "gunny" lifestyle, but my dad rolls his eyes every time it's brought up.

Speaking of strong opinions, you are now under "Gun Whackos Posing as Women" here are you happy now?

Yep. However, the suspicion is that this is a "gun-whacko" masquerading as an anti-gunner. Have you read any of the entries? They're ridiculous. There's absolutely no way this is written by someone with those actual opinions. The whole site is satire. Anyway, I do get referrals from that site, so yeah, in terms of the reader-introduction benefits I get, I'm happy.

I know you recently lost a loved pet Chewbacca. So sorry. Now who's left at your place? Who are the two cuties that were formerly in your masthead?

Those two cuties are Chewbacca and Lucy - Lucy's the smaller, less-fluffy one, and she currently resides at my ex-boyfriend's house. He's likely going to be getting her a companion soon, so perhaps there will be more piggy-interaction stories in the future. Chewbacca is buried in his garden next to his frog pond.

I live in a different house, and currently have 3 cats: Dammit, Pooty, and Sophie. My mother named the first two, and a former co-worker named and gave me the last one.

Let's finish this off with a few favorites.
Color

It changes. I like blue, green, and grey. I wear black tee shirts all the time, so I guess you could call that a favorite.

Movie

I don't have one. Every time I see a new movie that I like, it gets added to the list of favorites. I couldn't even begin to type that list out here, so I'll just say that I hate horror movies (I can't stand gore), so any of those would pretty much never be on my list.

TV Show

I don't watch TV. Back when I did, I liked things like "Rescue Me" and "24" and "The Shield" and "Chuck" - the sorts of "this wouldn't happen in real life, but if it DID, it'd be pretty cool, yeah?" sorts of shows. I'm not big on Sci-Fi, but "Battlestar Galactica" was fun. I don't have cable, and I feel really weird sitting down on the couch and just watching TV - it feels like an empty addiction, whereas even when I'm sitting on my ass and surfing the net, at least I'm picking up tidbits of information by reading blogs. Who can fathom how my mind works, really?

Book

Again, don't have one. I like realistic fiction (usually pertaining to someone having some sort of mental illness or family problem), biographies (of people who were royally fucked up, like Judy Garland), and hate Sci-Fi. Chick-lit is fun, in moderation.

Flower

Scent: Gardenia and Plumeria. Presentation: Sunflower and Lily

Animal

I think all rodents are the most adorable and hysterical things on the planet. I like cats, but as I get older, I'm becoming less "attached" to them for some reason (most animals, actually). Not a fan of dogs. I like horses...somehow (probably because I'm not around them all the time) my fascination of them has never wavered.

Time of Day

I'm such a night owl. If I didn't have to get up early for school, I'd go to bed around 3am every morning and not get up until at least 1pm every afternoon. I feel more productive when there's no sunlight coming through the windows. I have no idea why. I like to work alone, so the only theory I can come up with is that without me being able to see the outside world (i.e. the windows are either dark or reflect the environment I'm in), I feel alone, and can get work done more quickly.

And that readers is my entry into the The Great Interview Experiment. It will continue to go on as long as people sign up. Go on, be "somebody" and sign up. Or if you prefer, just check out other interviews.

Coming soon, Part II For the Love of Pete's Interview.

5 comments:

Oooh, I love the answer to flowers. Scent and Presentation. I never would have thought to put it that way, but it's perfect.

March 27, 2008 at 2:06 AM  

Jenn-
That's what I mean about her style and perspective. Things I'd never have thought of, yet, makes perfect sense.

March 27, 2008 at 7:48 AM  

I loved the answer to the flower question as well.

Also, I went to her site and saw KNEE HIGH CONVERSE! OMG SWOON!

March 27, 2008 at 8:54 AM  

Yay! I'm going to link to this in my blog now. :-D

Thanks! It was fun!

March 27, 2008 at 9:17 AM  

Well written article.

November 11, 2008 at 1:42 AM  

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