known about by many people : the country is famous for its natural beauty | a famous star.
~ THE OXFORD AMERICAN DICTIONARY
Everyone is somebody.
~ NEIL KRAMER
Hello, my name is Gillian, and I’m a blogger. When did that happen? At some point, I decided that the thoughts in my head were worth putting out there, to see if anyone else had the same thoughts. In a classic Seinfeldian way, my blog is about Nothing. Which, of course, is Everything. But somebody read it. And commented. I had an audience. And all of a sudden, I was blogging.
Writing for a nearly-live audience is a practiced skill, for sure. I’ve gotten better as I’ve gone along, but I still have a long way to go. Neilochka’s Great Interview Experiment fatefully managed to pair me up with a blogger nearing the retirement of her blogdom. I could learn a few things from Sarah. For one, how to ask questions without sounding like I’m interrogating, rather than interviewing, my subject. But rewriting them after the fact wouldn’t be fair to my readers, or to Sarah, who had to take them on as a full-frontal assault. So here goes:
When did you start your blog?
I started my first blog right after I moved to France in 2003. It no longer exists because I didn’t realize I was completely erasing it when I switched over to my current blog in 2005. Originally I started blogging to stay in touch with family and friends and share my experience living in France. Eventually that expanded to sharing my knitting, my photography, and my everyday life.
How long does it take you to write a post?
I think a good quality post takes some time to write. Since I’ve basically stopped blogging over the last few months I have thrown up a few random posts here and there that only take about 10 minutes to write. When I used to invest time into my blog it could definitely take up to an hour with photos and links. Sometimes I would walk away and revisit a post again later in the day.
Where do you get your ideas?
In the beginning most of my ideas come from what I saw around me and as my blog evolved I was also inspired by other blogs that I read and online communities that I participated in. I think that is one of the things I am struggling with right now – lack of quality ideas. I don’t like just throwing something up there and what I have going on in my life right now doesn’t feel interesting enough to share with the internet.
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
At my blogging peak I would hear pretty regularly from my readers. Usually it pertained to a knitting project or some aspect of life in France or in response to something I wrote. I never dared to be very controversial on blog (another reason I think I would like to stop blogging) so I didn’t receive any hate mail. At this point the majority of my readers are my friends so usually they just leave some happy, sweet comment to make me feel good about posting.
What do you think makes a good story?
Good stories are what keep me reading blogs and hesitating on giving up mine. Right now I’m enjoying stories that make me laugh out loud or transport me to another world/culture or inspire me. I’m not good at writing stories, at least not yet but I feel so lucky to be able to read some incredible tales on the internet everyday. I’m also an avid reader off-line. I am definitely drawn to Russian, Asian, and Middle Eastern authors at the moment because they give me that mind voyage that I am seeking right now.
What other hobbies do you have?
I knit, read, listen to music, cook, play with my son, hike, explore Paris… ya know, fairly typical things.
What is an average day’s schedule for you?
I’m usually waking up to the sound of “Mama” around 7 am but after I bring Felix to bed, we lounge until 7:30 or 7:45. If I don’t have to work we are fairly mellow in the morning until 9:00 when my son goes off to the daycare. If I do have to work, I take off around 8:30 to catch my train. My work day lasts from 9:00 to 4:45. I teach 3rd through 5th graders English as a Foreign Language. Non-work days involve cleaning, cooking, homework, class prep, and eventually picking up Felix at daycare. Evenings are all pretty much the same: bath, dinner, and bedtime for Felix by 8:00 and then down time for me. I usually do homework, read, or get lost on the internet until 11 pm.
All in all, I don’t have an average day because my schedule changes often!
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
I have always wanted to be a teacher. All of my life. I remember that as early as 5 years old I was plopping my brother down in front of a chalkboard and using my dad’s old lesson books to ‘teach’ my brother. I’ve never strayed from that path.
What do you think your son, Felix, wants to be?
Wow! Well, he can be whatever he wants to be but at the moment here are the things he is obsessed with: Drums, bass, and guitar. TGVs and trains. His doll and pushing a stroller. Bob Marley. Dancing.
So, this could create a very interesting and dynamic person. A train conductor father who plays drums in funk-reggae band.
What was the biggest hurdle of your move to France?
The language. I did not speak a word of French before I came here so I am totally proud of the progress I have made. I still have a ways to go but I think I am doing pretty well in this area.
What is the most difficult thing about living there?
Being so far away from mountains! I love mountains! I was a backpacking guide before I came here and now I go hiking very rarely. This subject makes me pretty sad but we are working our way towards buying a house in the Alps. It may not happen anytime soon but it will happen someday!
What is the most wonderful thing?
There are a lot of things I love about living here, it is hard to point to one! The desserts are ranked pretty high for me but I think simply the proximity of France to other parts of Europe. It feels like there are so many possibilities! And France itself is a beautiful and diverse country to explore.
Do you ever dream in French?
Yes! I have dreamt in French a few times but not in a long time. When I am really actively working on French my head is much more occupied. At the moment I’m not thinking at all about my French so instead I am dreaming about my students and lesson plans.
How did you meet your husband?
Tibo is Franco-American so he would spend all of his summers with his American family in the States. His grandfather lived in Maine and during the summer he would send Tibo to a small summer camp called Tanglewood. He loved it there and spent 8 summers both as a camper and eventually as a counselor. Fast forward to 2003, when I was completing one of my many summers as a backpacking and canoeing guide at this very same camp. Tibo decided that he wanted to relive his childhood memories and came back to Tanglewood after a 10 year break to volunteer at the camp for a week. He was assigned to me and we worked together. The connection was pretty instantaneous and we basically spent the whole week together. A few weeks later we met up again in New York for one more intense week before he headed back to Paris. 3 months later I arrived in Paris.
What three things might I find under your bed?
Well our bed is a loft so you can find lots of things under our bed! The vacuum cleaner. All of Felix’s clothes. A lots and lots of dust.