05 April 2007

The Interview

So I volunteered, to Mayberry Mom, to be “interviewed”. Here goes!

1. Tell us your best "only in New York" story.

Once upon a time, I had a Ford Fiesta. I got it new in 1980, when I was in college, and we had it until 1997 when it really started to give up the ghost. It lived on the streets of NYC for a long time (note the dents), and it was a wonderful car in the city – tiny (and therefore easy to park) and unassuming looking (and therefore not desirable to steal).

One day in the late 80s, W. (then boyfriend, now husband) told me that the muffler was about to fall off. I merrily drove to work in Brooklyn. On the way home, I offered a lift to a friend who lived in the West Village. To get to the West Village from Brooklyn involved a drive up Hudson Street, which was then still cobblestoned. Sure enough, those bumpy cobblestones knocked the loose muffler off, and it dropped in such a way that it was stabbing into the street – no further forward progress was possible. I got out of the car, looked underneath, and stood up scratching my head. What next?

With that, out of a manhole nearby emerged a ConEd worker. “What seems to be the problem?” “Well, my muffler’s fallen off.” “No problem.” With that, he disappeared into his truck, reappeared with stainless steel baling wire, dove under the car, and wired the muffler in place with his heat-proof gloves. It wasn’t fixed-fixed, but it was enough to get me home. I don’t even remember giving him a tip – but I should have.

2. What is your favorite cookbook?

Tough question. I have rather a lot of cookbooks. My current favorite is one I found via 101 Cookbooks - it’s called “Falling Cloudberries”, by Tessa Kiros. It’s gorgeous, and beautifully written, with lots of context for the recipes, and it’s full of things I want to try.

The runner-up would be nearly anything by Julia Child.

3. What toy of your daughter's do you play with while she's asleep, or otherwise secretly covet?

I haven’t found myself actually PLAYING with any of her toys, but I love Grey Elephant. I can’t remember who gave this elephant to her, but he’s been everywhere, including to California where he spent the night in a fig tree. He’s wearing a dress that my mother made when she was a child in the 40s – wait, maybe that means he’s a girl?

4. How did you choose your child's name (if you can answer without revealing more than you'd like)? What, if any, were the ones that got away -- the boy names, or the ones that your partner vetoed?

We never bothered to discuss boy’s names, because we knew she was a girl - I’d had a CVS. We started some lists, which included things simple (Anne), outré (Elektra), family (Elizabeth), and Shakespearean (Rosalind, Isabella, Portia*, Miranda). As it happens, Miranda kept showing up on the list – three times according to the lists I kept. And so she became Miranda. Curiously, neither of us gave any thought to the Miranda Warning, or to Carmen Miranda – it was all about the Bard.

*We couldn’t call her Portia – people would have thought we’d named her after the car.

5. Describe (or photograph) a piece of art or other treasured object in your home and tell us why it's special.

I gave this painting to W. for Christmas one year. He opened it and said “I almost got you that!” – clearly showing, once again, that we’re on the same wavelength. It’s called “Mama’s Cat Can Do No Wrong”, and it’s by a self-taught artist named Sarah Rakes. I got it in a little Madison Avenue gallery that specializes in folk art and outsider art. The gallery was walking distance from our NYC apartment, so we’d wander in from time to time when we were out for a wander in the neighborhood. The painting’s not as cock-eyed as it looks in the photo – but I couldn’t photograph it head-on because of the glare (maybe if I were a cleverer photographer with a better camera). I love that the cat is sort of demonic looking, and I love the painted frame.

Are you up to being interviewed? Let me know and I'll make up some questions! And thanks, Mayberry Mom, for pushing me off on all these tangents!


Anonymous said...

You know I love to talk about myself!

Kristi Harrison said...

I'm coveting that gray elephant right about now.

Mayberry said...

Very fun - I especially love your NYC moment!

Anonymous said...

My mom has a lot of local art in her house like that. Such a nice ambience.

Julia Child--inexplicably, right after I had my baby, my husband took up French cooking, working his way through Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I wish I had had more help back then, but at least I ate well.

Great interview.