Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Five Questions

Fellow Taurean Blogger Danielle was doing a thing where she was interviewing other bloggers. She posted five questions for me.

1. What is up with you and Ronald McDonald?

1. In May of 2002, I went to Shanghai, China with my friend Andreas and his then-girlfriend (now wife) Lynn. It was incredible. We saw the hall Mao used to hold Communist Party meetings in. We saw Chinese nationalist Sun Yat-Sen's home. And we met a lot of cool people.

We were walking down a long commercial strip-- picture a three mile long outdoor mall. In the middle of it, in a supposedly Communist country, there sat an old (fiberglass) friend on a bench. I couldn't resist the photo op.

When I did the singles ad that I ended up meeting my wife through, I used that picture; I wanted to make sure that whoever I met had a sense of humor. I think it worked.

She must have a sense of humor. She married me.

2. Your regular readers are well aware of the lengths you go to insure your son's happiness. If you could narrow down to one reason your son brings joy into your life what would it be?

A couple of years ago, I was watching Letterman and he had Johnny Depp on. Depp started talking about his kids, and he said something that stayed with me. I can't remember the exact quote, but it was something to the effect that we have all these anxieties when they're born, and they turn out to be these delightful little people. That captured my experience exactly. I was scared to death when my son was born; I really did not thing I'd make much of a parent. I was a pretty angry person when I was younger, for various reasons. I focused on not being angry when he was around, and making sure that no matter how tired I was, we did things that he found interesting and engaging. My father wasn't around a lot-- he was either working, or trying to unwind from work, so, for instance, I taught myself (and my brothers) how to ride a bike. My kids didn't have to do that. I taught my son-- and my stepdaughter-- how to ride a bike. You make the time for what's important.

My father's expressed regret over how little time he spent with us, and I took that to heart. I read a quote by the actor Kurt Russell, who said that he and Goldie Hawn didn't believe in "quality time;" they believed in lots and lots of time with their kids. I share that belief. They only get one childhood, and you only get one chance to get it right.

To answer your question, he brings me joy because for all the difficulty he's been through-- an ugly custody fight, poverty, his mother's choice to live in a dangerous neighborhood when he was younger-- he's come through beautifully. He's kind, got good values, he's brave (that'll be another post), he's got character, he's intelligent, funny, and he loves baseball and politics just as much as I do. He shows me every day that the sacrifices I made were worth it.

Okay, so that's a lot of reasons. I have trouble bringing it down to one.

3. Name one moment in history that has molded the world in a positive way.

The story of the village of Le Chambon, France.

It was a primarily Huguenot (Protestant) town that kept a collective cultural memory of the murder of thousands of Huguenots in the St. Bartholomew's Day massacre in 1572. Le Chambon was in Vichy France during World War II. The town's minister, Andre Trocme and his wife Magda, convinced the townspeople that if they truly believed in their faith, that they had a responsibility to help Jews who were passing through the town trying to get to the safety of Switzerland. The people of Le Chambon, under the guidance of the Trocmes, set up a system of housing, feeding Jewish refugees, and even schooling the children, then smuggling them to Switzerland-- all right under the nose of the Gestapo. Remarkably, a town of 5,000 people is estimated to have saved 5,000 people.

There were townspeople killed, including a popular young physician. However, historians think that the "Conspiracy of Good" may have reached beyond the town. They've uncovered evidence that one of the German commanders, not an SS guy, spent years serrepticiously helping the people of Chambon in their efforts, at great risk to himself.

There was a book and a documentary:

Book: Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed: The Story of Le Chambon and How Goodness Happened There, by Philip Hallie

Documentary: Weapons of the Spirit, Pierre Sauvage

The documentary was made by Pierre Sauvage, who as a child was taken in and saved by the people of Chambon. There's a remarkable scene in the documentary, in which he talks to an old French peasant couple who took in dozens of people during the war. When asked why they did it, they shrugged and said "What were we to do? They showed up needing our help. We did what anybody else would have done." In otherwords, they did it simply because it was the right thing to do. That is the kind of moral courage that gives me hope. I choose to believe what they did was a defining moment in history.

4. What is the first song you remember hearing other than lullabies?

We always had WLS going on in our house-- it was a rock station then. I remember hearing a song on the radio, and being puzzled by it, and going to ask my mother about it. I asked her how many days there were in a week. She replied "Seven." I told her "That's what I thought. This guy on the radio is singing about "Eight Days a Week." My mother really didn't know how to explain hyperbole to me. The song was, of course, the Beatles' "Eight Days a Week." It must have been around 1966.

5. Being a fellow Taurus would you describe yourself as stubborn or determined?

I'd describe myself as determined. I suspect that my wife, my friends and my family would describe me as stubborn.

I'm also an Ox in the Chinese horoscope-- the Ox shares most of the traits of a Taurus.

I'd love to continue this. Any of you extroverts care to be interviewed? Email me at


Joe said...

Great words of wisdom on question #2! It's really cool to hear you talk about your son.

I had never heard about that town in France. Now it's off to the library.

Valerie said...

Shanghai is on my list of places I want to visit.

And you always write so beautifully about your son. He is so blessed/lucky/fortunate that it's in black and white how much you love him. Does he read your blog?

Cheer34 said...

I'm with bubs. Only for me the bookstore.

I like to read your blogs about your son. Will you post more about your step daughter?

I am married to a Taurus. He is determined, not stubborn. Stubborn reflects an attitude of unyielding even if one is not correct. My husband is not like that. From your bloga I do not get the sense you are that way either.

kim said...

This makes you seem far too important than you are? Do they know that you never put your shoes in the shoe rack?

And yes, he is stubborn.

He get's away with it...because he is a stud.

Foofa said...

Great interview. I didn't know about the town either. I love learning new things about history.

SkylersDad said...

Another wonderful post JY, I am also a fellow Taurus (May 8). I am pretty stubborn, not so determined in most things, very determined in a few.

Splotchy said...

Nice questions 'n answers.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, particularly about your son.

Flannery Alden Jenny Shaw said...

I love what you said about your son...I feel the same way about my kids. Thanks for sharing this!

Kaer Trouz said...

aside from the hot sauce & the lukewarm coffee, you are the only other person on the planet I have heard mention Weapons of the Spirit which is one of the best documentaries ever made.

vikkitikkitavi said...

Huguenots are good people. I am descended. Nice story that I'd never heard before! I'll have to check out the doc.

Beth said...

Thanks for the full story on Le Chambon, France. While I knew the basics, you taught me some great things. I'll have to pick up the book.

And I love you and Shanghai Ronnie.

Danielle said...

Great great. My interviewees really brought themselves to the table. I will post soon spotlighting my favorite answers.

Thanks for playing and have a great weekend.

I have one more interview to conduct before the meme is complete.

Toccata said...

Wow, your answers to the questions were incredible. Although I most certainly should not be surprised because I always find some gems among your different posts.

LOL on Kim's comment!

Unknown said...

You did an excellent job on this interview!