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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Great Interview Experiment

If you haven't yet heard of Neil Kramer's Great Interview Experiment where have you been?  Under a rock?  The premise is that all bloggers are compelling and deserve to be interviewed.  I couldn't agree more.  If you dig deep enough, everyone has a story to tell.  Bloggers just do the digging for you.  

All you have to do is leave a comment here and you will be assigned to be interviewed by the commenter right before you and you will in turn interview the commenter that follows you.  So go over to Citizen of the Month and sign up.  But read this first.  Then go sign up.  

I was assigned to interview Katie from Overflowing Brain.  To say she has a lot going on in her brain would be an understatement.  I truly enjoyed reading Katie's blog and getting to know her.  Not only is she frank and honest about her health issues, but the more upbeat parts of her life as well.  Just check out her posts about her recent wedding and I guarantee you will find her delightful and funny.  My questions here just scratch the surface of all that she writes about, so I highly recommend adding Overflowing Brain to your feeder of choice. 

So without further ado, here is my interview with Katie.  Enjoy.

Why did you start your blog?

A few years prior to starting my blog I joined an online community that's more focused on health issues (because, did you know, I have some of those? I didn't think so).  After a few years there it became apparent that I had an interest in writing about things other than just doctors appointments and health concerns, but that just wasn't the right forum for it.

So I switched over to blogger and now weave what I find to be funny in with the health stuff.  I love to write and I find myself absolutely hilarious, so it's a great place to deal with both of those things.

What have you learned/gained from blogging?

Hmm, as of last weekend when I changed my template I learned what a huge pain the ass it is to try to deal with HTML code, but that's probably not what you meant.

Honestly, blogging is like free therapy to me.  I get to air out my problems, concerns, and life experiences with other people, some of whom have been there before, others who haven't.  It's been really helpful to me in dealing with big things that I otherwise would've kept bottled inside until I would take them out on my (now) husband.  I was able to share my fears, triumphs, big fat failures and much more.  I'd like to think that I've sharpened my comedy skills too.  My husband would disagree with that.

Is there anything that annoys you about blogging?

One word: trolls.

I will never understand the mindset of someone who reads a blog voluntarily and then signs on as an anonymous reader to leave a snarky comment.  It's inevitably on that one blog post where you need help and support the most and it just makes me crazy.  Which is evident in the fact that I cannot just leave it alone.  I once said I wasn't going to dignify their comments with a response and well, I'm a liar.  I take the bait every single time and blast back.  It annoys me that people find that an acceptable thing to do to someone else or that they get their jollies from it.  I just wish there was a more creative way to say that if you don't like my blog, stop reading it!  It seem so logical to me, and yet, time and time again, the same thing happens.

You have a lot of experience with doctors and now you are married to a med student!  What are the top 3 qualities you think make a great doctor?

What makes you think I have a lot of experience with doctors?  Is it that I have 4 appointments with them in the next week and a half?  Um yea, so I've kept the New Orleans medical community in business for the past 2 years.  I like to support my city, what can I say?

Okay, but seriously, the top 3 qualities:
1) Listening- not just not being quiet, but genuinely listening to a patient's concerns and then addressing them.  So many doctors sit quietly while you talk but then don't actually hear a single syllable you've just said in your exasperation with your health.
2) Honesty- my favorite question to ask a doctor is, if it was you or your child, what would you do?  This is because so much of the time in my health problems, the decisions have been left up to me.  Having a doctor be completely honest with me about what they would do is immeasurably helpful.  But also just honesty about what's going on.  If you suspect something serious, tell me.   I'm going to find out eventually and I am a professional worrier.  Let me do what I do best.
3) Personability- this is decidedly less important than the other 2, but I don't want to go to a doctor who I feel doesn't like me.  If I'm going to talk to you about my brain, or my nether regions, or my boobs, I want to feel like you care, but aren't judging me.  Engage me in conversation and don't roll your eyes or look away.  And if you're working with kids (I don't have any, but I'm pretty sure I was one once), engage them at their level.  Don't try to be their best friend, but make the doctor fun and less totally scary for them.

Looking back, are you glad you decided to have brain surgery?  What was your biggest fear before the surgery?

With very few exceptions, I've never regretted the decision.  It was an incredibly difficult decision, but I found a great surgeon who sat through not one, not two, but three appointments just to answer my questions until I felt completely informed about my options and what the surgery would be like.  I'm having some head difficulties now, but even still, that surgery, at the very least, bought me 8 months of peace from headaches.  And that has been completely amazing.  It's given me a second chance at a lot of things and allowed me to return to the person I was once before head pain began ruling my everyday life.  I'm hoping that this latest jag of headaches is just going to disappear magically.  Yes, I'm totally delusional.

My biggest fear?  Hard to say.  I know that I don't tolerate anesthesia or painkillers very well, so I was (rightly) afraid of the first day post-op, which involved much gagging and dry heaving (pretty!).  But I guess I was also just afraid of what anyone would be afraid of in brain surgery. Pain, infection and most of all, that it wouldn't work.

I love the story of how you met your husband. Would you say it was love at first sight?

Yes and no.  It was more love at first 2 hour conversation.  The first moment I saw him was one of extremely great pain and embarrassment.  Hi, nice to meet you, I'm the girl who didn't move when the giant guy came running at me because somehow I found it more important to guard a fake flag.  Needless to say, it was not one of my finest moments (and yet oddly, not even on the top 10 stupidest things I've done).  But, after several people helped me get off the middle of the football field and I stopped screaming/bawling like a baby and sat down to converse with Slappy, I knew there was something there.  He was charming and funny and exactly the kind of nice guy I'd been waiting to meet.

What was the best part of your recent wedding?

Good question!  My wedding was by far the best day of my life.  It was everything I wanted and more.   I was immeasurably happy the whole time and if I could do it again, I wouldn't change a thing.   I really couldn't stop smiling the entire day.   The photographer asked me to not smile for a few pictures and I only lasted like a frame and a half before I was smiling again.  It was just so wonderful to share my love of my husband with our family and friends.  And how often does your husband split his pants open in the middle of the dance floor?  Not often enough, I say.

Was there any family drama or did everyone behave?

Ha. Haha.  Family drama is pretty much a requirement around here.  For the most part, everyone was on their best behavior, but since you asked... My MIL (who does not like me very much) refused to remove her sunglasses for about half of the pictures from the wedding. Everytime I look at those particular pictures I want to strangle her.

I also (foolishly) gave her the authority to decorate our table signs with ONE string of Mardi Gras beads after several months of her nagging that "it's not a party without Mardi Gras beads."  And much to my surprise (not!) there were extra beads ALL over the cake table.  I sent my mom on a reconnaissance mission to clean the beads off the table.  It's not about the beads.  It's about controlling the crazy.

Oh, and the last dance song was one that my MIL hated.  It was going to be our first dance song before she deemed it "the worst song she'd ever heard."  So it was our last dance song instead.  And I perhaps derived a great deal of pleasure from watching her stomp back to her seat instead of dancing through the last dance. (Victory!)

Did you change your last name? Why or why not?

Not officially yet, but that's only because there was a typo on our marriage license.  Somehow I didn't notice that my first name was misspelled until my mom pointed it out the morning of the wedding.   So we're waiting for the correction to be processed and then I'll get down to business getting it changed over.

I don't have any great attachment to my maiden name.  I have a sister and 4 step-sisters so our last name isn't sticking around.  That, and Slappy is my family now and I want everyone to know it.

What does your husband think of your blog?

Ha.  He vacillates between not giving a crap and being moderately annoyed by my obsession with the internet.   I think he'd be happier if I hadn't joined twitter and stopped being able to sit still for more than 10 minutes without having to see if anyone tweeted anything interesting.  It's bad.  From the start he's been firm about not starting a discussion about the blog unless it's really important.  He wants me to feel like I can post anything I want to without having to check with him first.  He's very supportive as long as I don't spend all our "us" time on the computer.  Which is something I'm working on.

Are there any topics that are off limits on your blog?

Anything that reveals the true identity of my husband.  Because he's applying for his residency this year, he needs his name and face to not be tied to anything that doesn't reflect really well on him.  And not that the blog doesn't, but um, I'm pretty sure that residency programs don't want to hear about his flatulence or tendency to cheat in contests.  Aside from all things Slappy related, there are very few limits.   I won't name the school I work at or any specific details about it because I hope to keep both my job and blog, but that's really it.  I've been using a little more profanity than usual (which is fairly unlike me), but I attribute it entirely to watching both seasons of Dexter in a week and a half and I'm working on it.

Everyone jokes about the lonely life of a doctor's wife, but you seem to be realistic about it and OK with what lies ahead for you guys. Would you say that's true?

To a certain extent yes.  I knew from the day I began dating Slappy that he was going to be a doctor and I made a choice early on that I would stand by him no matter what.  I try to support him in whatever he does and I want him to achieve all of his wildest dreams, regardless of how many years of residency and how many different fellowships they require.  I got a good reality check his first week on his latest rotation when I didn't see him for 3 straight days and it was admittedly a lot more difficult than I'd anticipated.  I think it'll be a struggle, but at the same time, I also require a lot of alone time to maintain my sanity.  I'm not glad he works crazy hours or looking forward to him being gone all the time, but I guess I'm one of those (crazy) people who feels equipped to handle it.  Check back with me in a year, I'm sure I'll be singing a whole new tune when he's on call at the hospital every 3rd night.

You grew up in California and are now a resident of New Orleans.  What was the adjustment like?

It was actually a lot easier than I anticipated.  I had a horrible time acclimating to college life (a whole 2 hours from home) and spent the entire first year wanting to run home, so I was apprehensive about the move.  But after spending a year doing the long-distance relationship thing with Slappy, I was ready to move.  And I have loved it here from day one and have hardly looked back since.  I'd love to get back to California someday to be closer to my family, but I'm also really enjoying the chance to live somewhere totally foreign to me.

What's the best part about living in New Orleans and what is the worst?

The food here is amazing. It's better than anyone describes.  The people are also, for the most part, absolutely lovely.  People ask you how you're doing here in a way that indicates that they actually want to know, they're not just asking to be polite.   My neighbors will engage me in hours of conversation and I feel a great sense of community here.  And did I mention the food?

The worst is probably the bugs and the weather.  We have a small cockroach problem.  Well, actually, small would be the wrong word.  They're huge and they fly.  And we have to get our house sprayed every few months when they overcome the previous spray and start invading our personal space.  There's almost not a single day goes by that I don't encounter a live or dead cockroach somewhere in my house.  Envy me.   And the weather.  It would be an overstatement to say that there are even 2 seasons here.  It's either warm and humid/rainy or cool and humid/rainy.  And I'm from California, so my expectations for separate seasons are low, but I would love to have a break from the lightning every few weeks.

What's the one thing in your life that you are most proud of?

Tough question.  I'm pretty proud of my marriage because we didn't have the easiest time getting to where we are today.  A full year of long-distance relationshipping and our share of complications, but it has been so incredibly worth it.  I also happen to be an excellent mother to my cat.  I'm not especially proud of the fact that she weighs 15 pounds.

Who are your two favorite bloggers?

No way can I narrow it down.  I have a number of friends I've met through my blog and I love reading their blogs because I know them and I feel like I can relate.  On the other hand, I have a list about 20 blogs long that I try to read through regularly not including those real world friends.  I couldn't narrow it down to 2 if you paid me.  Well, maybe I could. Send me a check and I'll try again.

Have you ever posted something and then regretted it?

Until recently my answer would be no.  But then last week my husband suggested I post a contest about stupid things he says and well, in case you're wondering, the post magically disappeared.  It just ended up being a little too weird.   It does happen pretty often that I'll post something and be like, "oh my God, I am a comical genius" only to have like no one think it's funny.   Story of my life.

Has being a teacher made you more or less excited to become a parent someday? Or perhaps just more sure of what kind of parent you want to be?

Teaching has made me much more afraid to ever be the parent of a teenager.  I only deal with them for a few hours a day and I want to kill them, I can't imagine having them live in my house.  No, but really, it has given me great perspective on how parents really shape their kids.  Parent teacher conferences are often the most helpful tool in understanding students because those parents are such a huge part of their kids framework.   I never want to be a parent who makes excuses for my kids, I don't want to enable them to be lazy, but I do want to instill in them a passion for learning and an understanding of the importance of hard work.  I've always wanted to be a mom so I don't think that teaching has increased that desire, but it has surely shed some light on how I want to go about it.

I know you have some opinions about baby names. Have you and Slappy discussed names and do you have a favorite?

We have discussed some names, but he's unwilling to commit to any, except Talula does the Hula from Hawaii.  That one is a lock for our first child, regardless of gender.

Having a gaggle of sisters, I've claimed a few for the future, but none that I'm willing to disclose right now.  And also, we happen to be horribly indecisive, so there's a good chance that our kids will be called Baby girl/boy McSlapperson for the first days.  Or weeks.  Or years.

Does it annoy you that everyone starts asking about babies right after you get married?

Nope.  It annoys me when people won't take my answer of "in a few years" and let. it. go.  I'm not going to have kids because you think I should.  I'm going to have them because my father wants to be a grandparent so much that I feel guilty for not procreating already.  I mean, because I love kids.  Right.  That's it.

If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?

I studied abroad for a semester in Athens, Greece and I would LOVE to go back.   I know it's odd to want to go somewhere you've already been, but I had the time of my life there and would love to share that with Slappy.  I'd also really like to see Italy and parts of Africa.

Lastly, Coke or Pepsi?

Either, as long as it's diet.  And has rum in it.


Overflowing Brain said...

Thanks again so much for interviewing me! I had a great time!

Jenny, the Bloggess said...

"And has rum in it"


Jennifer, Playgroups Are No Place For Children said...

Very cool interview. I'll have to check her out more!