Awful Interview: Kate Sweeney

30 Oct

I learned a lot about my good friend Kate Sweeney whilst awfully interviewing her. Unfortunately   for Kate, she also learned a lot about me.  Here are some things I already knew about Kate: 1. She is splendid. 2. You can sometimes hear her voice on Atlanta’s local NPR affiliate WABE. 3. She is the host of Atlanta’s True Story Reading Series. 4. She’s a damn fine writer. 5. She will be reading with the likes of Michael Nye, Amber Sparks, Caroline Murphy, and Jamie Iredell at the Goat Farm on November 9th.

Kate, you seem like the kind of lady who would have sat at the ‘Cool Kids’ table at lunch in high-school. What was that like? Did you have a totally rad lunchbox?

Nah. My friend had a lunch box with X-Men characters on it before there was an X-Men movie, when it was just…a cartoon, I think? No, wait. A comic. I actually knew that. Sheesh. Anyway,  I think my secret strength has always been the people I know and love because they take me by the hand and lead me into this great wide world, the one with the X-Men and the “Gam Gam Style” dance–the latter of which I just found out about two days ago. We introverts need the extraverts of this world. Otherwise, I know I’d do nothing but wander around thinking about the creepier segments of Free to Be…You and Me, Victorian death customs and the latest episode of The Wire.  (The Wire ended in 2008. But for me, it only just ended a month ago. See?)

I totally understand. Who are your top five extroverts?

Lord. Okay. Completely off the top of my head: Sharon Jones, for sure. Boots Riley from the Coup. My friend Amanda, who’s always introducing people who needed to meet to one another and throwing creative get-togethers–like potlucks where every guest gets a different 1950s cookbook and then has to prepare something from that cookbook. I love her sense of creativity and joie d’vivre. My grandmother was similar. She was a force–all Paris perfume and loud laughter. She had an address book three inches thick. When she was a teenager, she cut her hair short and her father about killed her. Meanwhile, she was sneaking off to NYC to see Count Basie play. That’s four; I’ll leave the fifth open because really, there are too many. Do you consider yourself to be an introvert or an extravert?

My good friends would probably punch or pinch me if I confessed to being anything but extravert. Family moved around often when I was young, so it was a necessity to be able to talk to strangers with relative ease. Honestly, sometimes I’m amazed that I was never kidnapped. Did you ever read the book about the girl on the side of the milk carton? I think it was called “The Face on the Milk Carton.”

Nope. You’ll have to tell me about that one.
That reminds me of book fairs that would come to my elementary school. Did you have those? They’d set up tables in the gym; so I swear, the smell of gym sweat mixed with that of paper and glue still evokes this singular thrill deep in my hindbrain. At that time, these girl-with-a-terminal-illness books were really popular. There was Six Months to Live, Too Young to Die, and I swear, one that was called I Don’t Wanna Die.  God, did we ten-year-olds eat that stuff UP. Passed ‘em around. Rumors of new terminal-illness books flashed through girls in homeroom like wildfire. A year or two later, it was VC Andrews. As we aged and grew more mature,  we were ready to move on: from cancer to incest.

I recall those books clearly, they were the precursor to WebMD. Lurlene McDaniel? I think that was one of the authors. My mom had to take them away from me- I started to become convinced every time a headache came on it was a brain tumor. Did that happen to you?

Wow, no! I was never hypochondriacal, although I got really sick in the sixth grade. It turned out it was mono and I had to stay home from school for weeks. This was fine; as that other wise kid-book of yesteryear said, Sixth Grade Can Really Kill You. True enough for me. While sick, I read two entire cardboard boxes of Archie comics collected by my older sister’s friend over the course of her lifetime. I mean, feverish dozens upon dozens upon dozens. I didn’t even enjoy them by the end. That Veronica.

Have you ever gotten over the brain tumor fear? I don’t even want to think about it. It’s possible I could become a hypochondriac still. It’ s never too late for that kind of thing.

I was over it… then WebMD happened. It took me about a year to ban myself from WebMD- for self-preservation’s sake. I think I’m over it again.
Man, what was Veronica’s DEAL anyway? ugh.

Veronica was mean.  There I was, safely away from the mean gang of girls who’d ruined that school year, and I was reading these little tales about another such girl who keeps getting her way. She was this sort of archetype of the lady who doesn’t like other ladies–which has  always made my internal sensors scream, “Run!”  You know, the one who says, “I don’t have female friends. Other women don’t like me.” First of all, ruling out more than half of humanity–No good. But hating on other women for no reason; that just ain’t the place to be.  We need to avoid flinging one another into the mud when we can–not because we have some a priori thing in common as women, but because, well, that whole history of oppression: that means something, and it’s not over.  Sigh. Why do you hate yourself, Veronica? Of course, milquetoast Betty wasn’t much better.  At any rate, I’ll bet you a lady didn’t write those Archies.

Okay, but what about The Face on the Milk Carton? You cannot just leave your audience hanging.

 I think we should have a two person book club. Our first book should be The Face on the Milk Carton. Then you can experience it, and I can face my childhood fears. What do you think?

Kate: I’m down. I’m not even gonna go online to see what The Face is about. (That translates, in this day and age, as “I am game and open to mystery.”)  I’ll just take you at your word and read it. Our second book will be The Cat Ate My Gymsuit by Paula Danziger.

Deal! I hope, for the cat’s sake, that the gymsuit was washed prior to consumption, but I guess I’ll have to just read and see. Want to do an ad-lib? Give me: 2 adjectives, 2 verbs, and one feeling.

Egregious. Eclectic. Ran Ran Ecstatic.
Oh, and Vouched? I have a final favorite extrovert. It’s you.

Holy cow! I am so honored! Also, I am blushing!
Here are the results of our mad-lib exercise, Kate:

I am so _ecstatic_ for the Vouched & New South Reading on November 9th. So excited, infact,  that I _ran_ for _eclectic_. Michael Nye, Amber Sparks, Caroline Murphy, and Jamie Iredell are all _egregious_. I want to _run_ against them all.

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One Response to “Awful Interview: Kate Sweeney”

  1. Martha Sweeney October 30, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    Sixth grade is hell. But you survived it, Kate. And with a dress made of a pilowcase! ILYM

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