Name the four people—living or dead—you would like most to invite to a dinner party at your house. What would you cook?
I’m going to name eight. First things first: My Dad, my Aunt Kate, my Grandmother, and my friend Ken. They’ve all passed on and I miss them terribly and I’d cook anything they wanted if I could just sit around a table with them for just one more hour. Now, in more social and literary terms: Mark Twain, Albert Einstein, Mother Teresa, and the lady I met today sitting on a bench. She had an awesome smile, a lilting accent, a great spirit – and a story to tell that I haven’t heard yet. What would I cook? Outside it would be wintry-gray with snow flurries and a howling wind, the kind of weather that knits strangers together rather quickly. We would gather around an old, wooden table in a well-worn kitchen with a wood-burning fireplace and warm ourselves with homemade soup and fresh baked bread and feast on the conversation.
Are you a cat person or a dog person?
I’m both. Love cats. Love dogs. Feel having both creates a balanced environment. Generally, you have to own the cat (or vice-versa) to appreciate it fully. On the other hand, I can fall in love with a dozen dogs a day walking through the park. Have one old tabbycat and one very, very, BIG DOG
Of the seven deadly sins (pride, envy, gluttony, lust, anger, greed and sloth) which one is the hardest for you to resist?
Gluttony –hands down. Only that’s the problem with gluttony, you can’t put your hands down because you want just a few more of those peas and one more piece of cornbread and just sliver of that peanut butter cake. Southern socialization is about eating and storytelling. At every occasion and at the same time.
What is your favorite book of all time?
You’re kidding right? There is no choosing. I worked in a bookstore for a little while and ended up owing more money on payday than I made. And during Y2K I was stockpiling books, not beans, because I thought the entire world going off grid was a great time to catch up on some reading.
Coffee or tea?
I grew up in a house with a perpetual coffee pot so as much as I long to answer tea, and I truly love tea, the truth is – I’m a coffee girl. Shower or bath? Shower. Very Hot Water. Baths on Vacations. Actually, taking a bath would be a vacation.
What do you consider your first real piece of writing
A poem I wrote in 6th grade about a cat. My teacher read it and called me to her desk and questioned my writing ‘process’ because she believed that I was guilty of plagiarizing. I still have the poem. Now I find it juvenile and told my husband that her thinking it was copied was ridiculous. (Great man that he is, he disagreed.) I think kids in 6th grade these days are much more worldly and mature and exposed. I think they’re writing novels in their spare time.
What is your favorite memory?
There are too many special moments in my life to choose a favorite. But I’ll give you a slice of my life where time stood still and etched all that filled the memory of that moment in my heart forever: On Saturday afternoon Daddy, sister and me went down to the water to fish. We were in Daddy’s boat but not really too far out in the water. So there we were, the three of us, sitting on the boat with our red corks floating on the surface of the water. The cicadas were calling out every time the wind blew, dying down when it stilled, then calling out again. My mother was rocking the baby up on the front porch of the house which is a short distance up a little hill, singing a lullaby as she rocked.
I couldn’t hear the words she was singing but I could hear the melody. The lullaby and the summer and the cicadas and me pulling my line up out of the water and Daddy saying, “It’s just the wind, it’s not a bite,” and me slowly lowering that line back into the water where the sun was glistening on the surface, casting reflective stars as far as you could see. There was this rip in time, as if every element of this planetary existence had fallen into perfect order and had paused long enough to let me drink in the very essence of this life.
Who is your oldest friend?
Do you mean oldest? Or longest sustained friendship? My oldest friend is Libba Hammond that lives in a retirement home and shows me how to celebrate being alive every day. My longest running sidekick is my cousin Deb. She is as different from me as the moon is from the sun and has gotten me into so much trouble you just would not believe it. All of it was her idea and her fault. I swear it was.
What do you consider the absolute most important question to ask someone when you want to find out their deepest and most heartfelt identity?
Who do you love?
(Excerpt from 13 Questions/Harper San Francisco)