The Great Interview Experiment

A beautiful thing is slowly taking over the web. Neil at Citizen of the Month created The Great Interview Experiment. Here's how it goes: I signed up to join, which means that I interviewed the person who joined before me, and was then interviewed by the person who joined after me. You should join too, because it's a nifty way to meet new people and discover new blogs. Plus, I could read your interviews and satisfy my innate curiosity about the workings of your minds.

Kristabella interviewed mePay her a visit!...

K: I’m a huge Beatles fan. There was a class on the group and their music that I took in college at Arizona State. I have quite the obsession with the Fab 4. What was it like seeing the Beatles in concert?

SKW: At the time, it was the greatest thing to have ever happened to me (I was 15), but all of the screaming pissed me off. Growing up in a house full of musicians, I thought that a concert like that was supposed to be heard, not screamed at. But then, as I’ve said many times, I never wanted to marry a Beatle, I wanted to BE a Beatle. They were so tiny on that little stage covering 2nd base at Dodger Stadium and the sound system was crap, but it was the Beatles. Really THEM out there. It still remains a peak experience for me all these years later.

K: I was also a musician growing up. I played the alto sax for eight years. Do you ever wish your music career had taken a different path?

SKW: Sure. I wish I was a retired rock star right now, sitting back in a big old house in the English countryside, counting my money and receiving awards for my contributions to the world of music! Going into classical music wasn’t something I foresaw, even in my wildest dreams, but as John Lennon said, “Life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” When I was a teenager no one told me that I could get a degree in music. College was not an option for me back in the days when only parents with savings accounts could afford to send their kids. If I’d known about music degrees, and if I’d had all the education opportunities that kids have now, I would have gone to college to study music. I think that would have changed everything. If I have a regret, it’s that.

K: As a writer, how to you feel about television today and the onslaught of reality shows?

SKW: Forget the lack of writing that reality shows require, what disturbs me most about them is that I fear we’re getting our cues about how to treat peopleand ourselvesfrom these cesspools. Most of them are mean-spirited and narcissistic in the worst possible ways, appealing only to the lowest common denominator. They’re not about entertainment, but about voyeurism, and don’t we just love looking at a car accident as we drive past! From a writer’s point of view, I think the only really good television right now is on PBS.

K: What was it like moving around so much as a kid? Did you enjoy living in different places growing up?

SKW: A lot of people with my experience say that they hated moving so much, but I can’t. I really liked the new horizons that moving gave me. I liked getting new bedrooms and new vistas out of my bedroom window. What was hard was always being the “new kid”that first day of school over and over again. That tore me up. Most people don’t know that I’m really a very shy person, but because we moved so much I had to learn to act like I wasn’t in order to keep from curling into a fetus ball under my desk at every new school.

K: You had your first child at 18 and ended up losing your child’s father two weeks later. How hard was that to deal with?

SKW: At first I didn’t deal with it. I had a clinical nervous breakdown and was out of it for the first 9 months of my son’s life. I wasn’t hospitalized or anything like that, but without the help of my parents I wouldn’t have made it through. There was, naturally, a tremendous sense of guilt on my part that I couldn’t deal with until 15 months later when his older brother told me that he’d rescued him on two other occasions long before we ever met. That alone was the best medicine I could receive. It was then that I finally let myself off the hook and crawled out of the depression. But as hard as it was on me initially, it has been hardest, long-term, on my son, who never knew his father, how gentle and poetic, and yes, tortured, he was. His suicide left a permanent hole in our son’s life. That has been hardest for me to forgive.

K: What is your favorite part of San Francisco?

SKW: I haven’t been there in so many years (except to drive through on my way to someplace else), it’s hard for me to say. Living in San Francisco in the late Sixties and looking back on that experience hasn’t left me very clear about the city itself; I was too busy busking for my dinner and trying to survive the street life! My favorite part of San Francisco at the time was the spirit of the place and all of us envisioning a better way to live.

K: If you could live anywhere, where would it be and why?

SKW: I think everyone knows the answer to this one! Vienna, Austria, hands down. When I first went to Vienna in the spring of 1994, I felt like I’d come home. It has my energy; I don’t know how else to say it. It’s a city built on music and the Viennese adore their musicians. There, you’ll never hear the cold-hearted, materialistic American exhortation, “Get a real job!” If you’re a musician people treat you like gold, respect you, and do everything they can to make you feel welcome.

K: If you had to do it all over again, how much of your life would you change and how much would you keep the same?

SKW: That’s hard to say, because life is a chain of events, each dependent upon the other. Changing one thing would change everything that follows it. I would not have gone to Haight-Ashbury, I would have enrolled in college instead. I would not have made all of the relationship mistakes, I would have waited for Nettl. That’s about it, really, but the things I might change if I could worked together to make me the person I am today, so really, going to college when I was 18 instead of 35 is about the only thing I’d change.

K: What is the wildest thing you’ve ever done?

SKW: I think hitch-hiking up and down the California coastline in search of songs to write during the late Sixties and early Seventies was the stupidest and all of the partying I did in the mid-Eighties was the most dangerous, but I’m not sure I’d call either of them the wildest. Actually, I’m not sure how to define the word. Does wildest mean the craziest, the stupidest, the most dangerous, or merely something completely out of character? Going to live in New York City with only $32 in my pocket was pretty wild. Also, sequestering myself in a 12x15 room for a full year teaching myself to compose classical music was pretty wild, and moving to Oklahoma to be with my twin soul was wild. I don’t know. I can’t decide.

K: What made you start blogging?

SKW: Because I’d kept handwritten journals since 1977, blogging was the next logical step in my ongoing self-analysis. Too, I’m a communicator and I love people, and blogging gives me all of the human connections that private journaling doesn’t. When I first saw the word “blog” I was looking for web graphics for a website that I had. I liked the idea that a blog wasn’t static like a site, that there was interaction with people and that ideas could be exchanged. I love blogging; I hope that it doesn’t fade out and disappear, that it's not a fad. One of my greatest fears is that the people I enjoy knowing through our blogs will one day get tired of it, and stop writing.

K: Do you have any off-limit topics on your blog?

SKW: Not really. I try to stay away from politics and religion because there are so many blogs out there dedicated to that (yawn!). I think that discussing our kids and their lives in any real detail is out. I almost didn’t answer the question about the suicide, not because I don’t want to discuss it, but because that’s my son's experience as well as mine, and I respect his privacy.

K: If you could talk to one person from your past that you’ve lost contact with, who would you talk to and what would you say?

SKW: Omitting Maestro Salazar, who died, the only person I can think of who’s living would be Jacki. We haven’t really spoken for eight years. Nothing bad, just life and miles. We talked on the phone briefly around Christmas, but that doesn’t really count. If I could spend a day with her I’d tell her that I miss her profoundly and that I wish she could compartmentalize her life a little better to include her friends. I’d tell her that I’m afraid that we’ll never see each other ever again and that her beautiful sunshine smile always brightened my life.