Interview with KJ from .Options for a Better World
I found Kj through Quiet commotion. I was trying to see who else read wine and words words. At the time I was very new to the blogging thing so after finding Kj’s blog the first time it took me about two months to find it again. I am so very grateful that I did…Kj has a kind soul, and a loving heart. At a time when I needed desperately to hear kind words she offered without being asked and said just the right things.
Tell us about the gigantic manor you lived in before your more modest palace came into your life.
That is a story. My friend Debbi moved from Rochester New York to work for me because she was unsure about her marriage. She and her kids moved in with my daughter and me and we had the best time as single women merging our families and sharing dinners. Then she reconciled with her husband and she and he called me one day and said ‘you have to see this house.’ It was a Victorian duplex: three floors and fourteen rooms on each side. It had housed college students for years and was in pretty dumpy shape. My kitchen had three refrigerators and five doorways in it, and the high end pocket doors were used as dart boards. But the bones were good: high ceilings and elegant windows and too many bedrooms to count. We bought the house together and for several years lived beside one another, still merging our families and sharing dinners. It was still wonderful except that Debbi’s husband Jim was a jerk. In time we were all stuck with one mortgage and bad feelings. In order to sell my half and move on, Jim and Debbi had to agree to turning our one house into two condos and they wouldn't. I tried to sell my side and by now it was a grand and funky house, and I got an offer. But when the buyers met Debbi and Jim, they backed out. The next day the couple called me and said, ‘We love the house, we like you, but we couldn’t live next to them, so how about we offer to buy their side and we will be your neighbors instead of them?” So that's what happened!! I lived there for twenty years and when we sold, we made enough money to feel like millionaires for a gleeful six months.
How did you get into writing?
I wrote a paper on the catholic church and abortion in the twelve grade and got an A. That started it. I’ve always loved journaling and writing poems on napkins, but six years ago I signed up for a weekend writers’ retreat and for the first time I wrote with other people and for the first time I read aloud what I had written. Of the twelve of us five were songwriters. We still meet at least one weekend a year and sometimes two. The group leader is Nerissa Nields who with her sister is the Nields, a fantastic folk group. Nerissa calls her workshops “Writing It Up in the Garden” and stresses that seedlings need sunlight and nourishment. So all the feedback is positive. She teaches the “weeding and pruning’ of work in progress as well, but I’ve stuck with my original group. We call ourselves the Big Yellow because that is the color of Nerissa’s house.
Tell me the hardest thing you have gone through in your life that you are willing to share with the multitude of readers (all 6 of us) ;-)
You know how time really does dim if not heal? Surely my Father’s death and the breakup of my marriage and the betrayal of my first ‘true love’ many years ago should top this list, but the truth is my heart failed to bounce about four years ago, from a horrible break-apart with a woman I had met blogging. Despite distance and differences and loyalties to our partners and families, we loved one another and over two plus years of intensity and exhilaration, we could not land in some safe place. She has blamed and vilified me and has been very public about that. I keep wishing I could volley back in that way, but that part is not what I wish to remember.
Ok now what about the best.
I am a Mother to a daughter and I know I would unquestionably throw myself in front of a train for her, no questions asked. That is the best.
You are very good at inspiring feelings of wellbeing in others… is that natural, or cultivated?
First, thank you. That is a dear compliment. Honestly Chris, I think this quality is natural but I do work at it. I probably became a Counselor to begin with because I have a genuine respect and interest in people and it is not phony or forced. I’ve learned to listen and I love being able to put words to feelings that are so human and understandable to all of us, whatever our backgrounds. I tend to be an optimist anyway and I am a baseball fan because you can strike out two out of three times and still be an all-star.
What is your favorite book?
Anne of Green Gables (my world in elementary school)
The Mists of Avalon(freed me from Catholic guilt and introduced me to the bonafide Goddess)
Snowflower and theSecret Fan (I love the idea of ‘sames’, women who as young children are paired up by their families to care for and help one another for life)
Who is your favorite author?
I really don’t know. Lately I am (re)reading
because his sentences are so short and direct and he doesn’t rely on big vocabulary words. My own vocabulary is limited so I’m trying to learn from him. He wrote the best short story ever: “Baby shoes for sale. Never worn.”
Who do you respect most in the world…this could be a person in your life, or that you know; it doesn’t have to be a famous person.
My Mother, she is ninety six and can’t remember anything after thirty seconds but she is intact and vibrant in the moment and she is strong and kind and funny. She was a good and present Mother but we didn’t speak for almost nine years because she would not accept my sexual orientation. It is a miracle that we overcame that. It happened because my Father finally had enough. I would take my daughter to see her grandparents on holidays and leave before the family gathering because my partner was not welcomed. One morning my Father’s little tears fell into the Thanksgiving turkey he was carving and he said, “Your Mother’s going to talk to you. This has gone on long enough.” So sure enough, when my Mother walked me to the door she said, “I had a dream that I might be wrong. I asked a priest if it was alright and he said yes. So....what’s the least I can do?”
Hahaha, “Coffee,” I said. So my parents and my partner JB and I had coffee one morning at their house. Then Easter dinner and then everything was okay again. It is a miracle of a story with a miracle of a happy ending.
Tell us about your book.
It is a quick read love story called
“The Light Stays On.”
I wrote it mostly on one of two couches over a year's time and it conveys what i consider the easiest and hardest about loving someone. At the time I wanted to know that choosing love and accepting passion, even when painful to someone else, raises all boats. I still believe that.
How hard was it for you to come out?
I had my first lesbian relationship while separated from my husband. I was thirty and building a name for myself in my work. I never felt shame or guilt about it, but at the time it was not prudent or acceptable so I was like so many others: semi-closeted for several years. Plus my little daughter begged me not to embarrass her. I think her greatest fear was that my picture would appear on the front page of the Boston Globe. But that was a long time ago. Her first year in college, she and her friends openly welcomed me and my partner, who was in her life from the third grade on. We are a family in every sense. My Irish masculine son-in-law told me he hopes his marriage is as good as mine.
Now you ask yourself 2 questions that you always wanted to be asked in an interview, and then answer them.
1. Why do you like Chris so much?
Mr. Wander has a raw honesty and a natural talent for telling his tales. He writes his poetry using short powerful words and images that cut to the chase. Plus for some reason I'm just very fond of him and I have been from the beginning. I'm super glad he's part of my blogging community. And speaking of blogging, the whole experience is precious to me.
2. What is your favorite joke?
There are three kinds of people in the world: those who can count and those who can't.
there is a button on my sidebar to order my book through paypal. that way i sign it before it ships out. it's also available through amazon and barnes and noble.com