Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Me me me me meme

My friend Lisa participated in an interview meme a few days ago in which she was interviewed by another blogger, and then gave others the chance to be interviewed by her. It seemed like a fun and interesting exercise, so naturally I threw my hat into the ring. The rules for participating are at the end of the post.

Here are Lisa's questions for me.

1. Would you change anything about the way you grew up? What do you think was the best thing about growing up overseas? How about the hardest thing?

For the uninitiated, the way I grew up was moving around (mostly) overseas, changing locations and schools every few years or so. My parents were both foreign service officers, and because of the various assignments they had, I was born in Cyprus, lived there until I was 2; lived in Venezuela from age 2 to 6 (preschool through 1st grade); East Lansing, Michigan for a year (2nd grade); McLean, Virginia from age 7 to 10 (3rd through 5th grades); Israel from age 10 to 14 (6th through 9th grades); Mclean for a year and a half (10th and half of 11th grades), and then India for the rest of high school (where I met Lisa).

I wouldn't change anything about the way I grew up, for so many reasons. First, I don't think there's any educational substitute for seeing the world by living in so many different places. It's great to visit different countries, but visiting places like India and Israel cannot compare to the full cultural and political immersion that comes from living and going to school in those countries. And living somewhere gives you the chance to really see so many more things than you can see sightseeing for a week or 10 days. In addition to the experience of living and going to school in an Indian neighborhood, and all that that entails -- shopping in local shops, partying with my friends at local clubs, eating somosas from the little kiosk on the street corner, having prom at a swanky Indian hotel -- I've stayed on teak houseboats in northern India, vacationed at the beach on both the west and east coasts of India, trekked on camels in India and Egypt (both on school trips), skipped school to hang out at the Taj Mahal for a day, seen 3 or 4 different cities in south India, meandered through the Old City of Jerusalem on more afternoons than I can count, stayed on a kibbutz near the Sea of Galilee, snorkelled in southern Israel, hung out in Bethlehem and Tel Aviv and Haifa and Ashkelon, and on and on. From India we visited Sri Lanka and Thailand. From Israel we visited Egypt and Jordan. From Cyprus my parents took me to Beirut when I was 6 weeks old. From Venezuela my parents took my on trips through the mountains of South America. From El Salvador we saw Guatemala. I also learned the languages -- Greek was my first language, and I learned Spanish in Venezuela and Hebrew in Israel. So I would say that seeing the world in a way most people never do was the best thing about growing up the way I did.

Second, the constant change -- new schools, new neighborhoods, new friends, new sights and smells, every few years -- made me incredibly adaptable, I think. Nothing fazes me. I am really good at rolling with the punches and figuring out how to deal with just about anything.

Third, in addition to the educational value of the life experiences themselves, we happened to live in countries where the available diplomatic schools were outstanding. My brothers weren't always so lucky -- I was already in college when my folks were stationed to El Salvador, and the American school there really wasn't very good. But the schools I went to in Venezuela and Israel and India were top-notch.

The hardest thing about moving around so much was leaving good friends so often, and having to start over and be the new kid so many times. And as a result, I don't have geographic roots, really. There's no one place I can go back to where all of my old high school friends live, where every location is imbued with memories from different points of my life. But on the other hand, I have friends all over the world, and with the internet and things like Facebook, I'm in touch with more of them than I ever would have imagined.

2. Imagine yourself on the Oprah show. What are you famous for? What is she interviewing you about?

Oprah is interviewing me as part of my book tour for a new self-help book I've written. It's called "What Do You Want?", and it's a dispute resolution guide for people having difficulties with relationships, be they personal or professional. After years of helping friends and families cut through the bullshit, particularly power struggles and resentments, that come from interpersonal disputes, I've decided to make my fortune by boiling my advice down to a simple premise: ask yourself, "what do I want from this person and what am I willing to live with? Do I love them? Do I want to stay with them? What are my deal-breakers?" Based upon the answers to those questions, the book provides guidance on how to work through the disputes, come up with compromises, and learn how to peacefully coexist without either side taking their proverbial pound of flesh.

The book is a best-seller. I have donated some of the proceeds to charitable causes supporting education in developing countries, and with the rest Jason and I divide our time between the mountains of Colorado and the surf of Costa Rica.

3. Do you see the world more in black and white or shades of grey? Has this changed with age?

I absolutely see the world in shades of grey. This tendency has become more pronounced with age, and also probably as a result of being a lawyer -- I'm constitutionally incapable of seeing only one side to (most) situations. Black and white is certainly easier, but shades of grey are more reflective of reality, and I'm a big believer in accepting reality as a way of dealing successfully with life.

4. How has having a child changed your view of the world? Has it changed how you see yourself in the world?

I'm probably in the minority on this one, but having a child hasn't changed my view of the world. I still think the world is basically a cruel and difficult place (or rather, the people in it make it that way -- left alone, the world is beautiful). I see myself as pretty insignificant in the world, and having a child probably exacerbates that sense. I have extraordinary influence over the world that my child experiences right now, but as he gets older, I will have less and less control over the things in his life that will make him happy or sad or frustrated. I will help him the best I can, but the truth is, he will succeed or fail on his own, he will suffer disappointment and heartbreak and frustration that I cannot alleviate, and he will experience joys and triumphs that I will have little to do with.

5. If you had to choose a flavor of ice cream that most fits your personality, what kind do you think you would be? Feel free to make one up if necessary.

Dark chocolate and coffee soft-serve swirled together, dipped in a hard dark chocolate outer shell. I've got lots of flavor, I can be a bit of a tough nut to crack, but I'm a softie on the inside.

If you’d like to play along, just follow these instructions:

1. Leave me a comment saying, “Interview me.”
2. I will respond by emailing you five questions. I get to pick the questions.
3. You will update your blog with the answers to the questions. Be sure you link back to the original post.
4. You will include this explanation and an offer to interview someone else in the same post.
5. When others comment asking to be interviewed, you will ask them five questions.


  1. Thank you for playing! I loved reading all of these answers, but particularly about your views on growing up the way we did. And I think your approach with Zeke is so very realistic. I do wonder how it's going to feel.

  2. I think I need your "What Do You Want" book, so if you could write that, that would be super.

    I've been MIA from the *moosie* blog but have moved it over to

  3. hey wendy, interview me...i've been feeling a bit dry lately and need a little jumpstarts. also, if you were an ice cream, i would eat you. mmmmmmmmm good.