Thursday, March 19, 2009

Women's Month Interviews: Kim Middleton

Next up, my colleague, bon vivant and fellow iPod Toucher, Kim.

How do we know each other?
Through our shared love for literature and new media. And sarcasm.

How would you describe yourself?

As someone who is deeply uncomfortable with this question. I didn’t grow up in an Asian American household without absorbing some fundamental values, the predominant one of which is: talking about yourself equals an embarrassing solipsism. This runs so absolutely counter to what we’re asked to do as academics and writers (self-promotion, confidently listing our skills, attributes, and accomplishments), that I often feel like I’m always doing the wrong one at the wrong time. And that might be the best description of me that I can articulate.

In what part of the world are you located?

I’m located in Albany, NY, the Northeast, the U.S., the northern hemisphere. It could be worse, and I should be grateful, I know, but it would be a lie to say that I don’t yearn, on a daily basis, for the western U.S. or the southwest.

Where can we find you on the web?
You can find me most days on Facebook, that great time suck of the new millennium. You can also find a more thoughtful, lapsed me at Gotta get back to that, sometime soon.

What don't people know about you that they ought to know?
I hope that people don’t know how much work it is for me to be kind to them; my first instinct is almost always to be critical.

What ambitions do you have ahead of you?
Too many! I’d like to write a monograph. I’d like to work with an architect to design my own house. I’d like to be proficient on the acoustic guitar.

What's the best compliment you've ever received?
I like these two: “Kim does not suffer fools gladly” and “you always err on the side of compassion.” Contradictory, no?

What's your best method for coping with stress?
Vigorous exercise. Having said that, I’m defining “best” as “thing that actually works to make me feel better.” Thus, my “best” method is not always the one I employ.

What makes you laugh?

Lots of things, actually. Absurdity, black humor, irony, puns. The Big Lebowski. Pynchon. Margaret Cho. Dr. Horrible.

What makes you cry?

What do you love?
The Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Joni Mitchell’s Blue. Sofia Coppola’s trilogy. Stella McCartney’s designs. Slurpees---preferably cherry.

What do you loathe?
People’s unwillingness to apply a consistent logic to problems, and/or consider a variety of alternatives. The word “no.”

What's sexy?
Li-Young Lee. And also: people who are passionate about what they do and seek out the connections between their own and others’ talents.

What's the best advice you were ever given?
Do the thing that you’re most interested in, and it will all work out.

How should people be spending their money?
If people have extra cash to drop and are looking for original artwork, I’m liking Etsy a lot these days. I love the idea of crafters and artists being able to sell their stuff without having to locate a distributor.

Which woman/women have inspired you?
How much time do you have? A short and eclectic sampling: Alice Waters, Martha Graham, Georgia O’Keefe (all women who have a vision, bring it to fruition, and live incredibly long, productive lives); my former professor, Kathy Ogren, who is a model of formidable intelligence, teaching in and out of the classroom, bravery and life-long learning; my mother, who somehow makes all of the people around her push themselves to be better.

If I gave you a million dollars, what would you do?

Use it as seed money to start a boarding school in New Mexico for junior high and high school students based on alternative education principles (student-teacher contracts, narrative evaluations, edible classrooms). Or buy a studio apartment in San Francisco. I think I could do that for a million dollars. Maybe.

Thank you so much for being part of this celebration: you are fabulous!
As are you, for coming up with this idea!! I’ve so enjoyed reading all of the interviews, and being a part of it!

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