Consume or Create?

“The Principle of Priority states (a) you must know the difference between what is urgent and what is important, and (b) you must do what’s important first.” Steven Pressfield: The War of Art (this is essential reading).

How much of your time is spent on the consumption of others’ creativity?

I have noticed for a while that I am so inspired by the beautiful creations and visions of others, that I spend the majority of my time watching or reading or being immersed in THEIR worlds instead of creating my own.

I don’t think this is a rare phenomenon. In fact, I think almost everyone is like this. And I want to be the opposite.

I want the majority of my time to be creating. I want to be a CREATOR. And not just for the sake of ME. I want to create community and connections and growth and beauty so that there is a boom of magnificence. If we all create and support one another in our visions, we are going to be much happier people.

Here’s the thing – I don’t want to stop enjoying the work of other people, obviously. I just don’t want to have it take up the bulk of my time. And this is difficult since I am a person interested in so, so many things. This is why I wrote out my ultimate purposes – this helps me focus when I get sucked in by other little interests that don’t serve me long-term.

I think you likely know your ultimate purposes, and when you do, and you keep this in the forefront of your mind, you can decide what is actually worth your time and what is not.

There are also so many amazing people out there to be inspired by and gain knowledge and guidance from – so many – so how do you choose? Well, you need to choose or you are going to be sucked up too much in other peoples’ worlds and never be in your own enough, in your own space where you create your OWN world to share with others. You may be the inspiration or leader that someone else needs to look up to in order for them to come out of THEIR shell.

And so, I look at all the people who interest me and inspire me, and I realize that I need to choose who I REALLY want to learn from. Who speaks to me on a soul level?

Who is just frivolous fun (which is fine, if that’s what speaks to your soul), and who do I feel I really mesh with, who would totally understand me like a soul sister or a soul brother? Who I understand, even if I don’t know them (yet)? Those are my people. Those are the people who I want to support most, who I want to learn from, and those are the people that I want to spend my precious time on, because the rest is for ME, my world, my family, my causes, my friends, my most cherished activities.

The search for endless inspiration is a distraction from doing our own work. We don’t believe in ourselves enough to go ahead with it – we seek the constant guidance of others instead of letting what is inside us come out naturally, without any coaxing at all. We just have to sit down, work, and let it manifest on its own.

Everything that you CHOOSE should be aligned with your highest purposes in some way. Even if you have a day job – make sure it aligns SOMEHOW with your deepest and most intense desires, because then your life will always satisfy you, or at least the majority of the time.

Seek  long-term gratification instead of short-term entertainment so you feel warm and accomplished, instead of hollow and anxious. I think so many of our addictions and neuroses could be cured just by simply expressing ourselves without fear and without caution. Instead, we must simply become vessels for our muses – to speak to the rest of humanity through our words, images, and actions.

~~~

Image above from Vali Myers personal journals.

Being Realistic – No Thanks

Image by Kylli Sparre

“Be Realistic.”

Is there anything worse for a creative person to hear?

A wild vixen, or a blitzkrieg dynamo does not want to know your opinion. They want you to say “Fuck yeah!” and pump them up (or just shut up).

You know all those people who you admire, idolize, admire? Why? Cuz they’re realistic and normal day-to-day humans who just settle and go for the easy way out? Nah, you really respect their tenacity and ability to dig deep and follow the path they know will make them happy.

Telling artistic or adventurous people to be realistic can be extremely damaging, especially if they are very young. Creative types are SENSITIVE and, unless they have an iron will, may be affected at a deep level, which might not even register. I am one of these people. My nerve and confidence were vandalized as a teenager, with lingering comments floating in my subconscious ever since.

Young people are the most susceptible, too, because youth is the time when confidence is most cultivated. Even as an adult, when we are more inclined to worry about things like money, if your confidence is limited, the chances of following your dreams are likely going to be crushed by that anvil of doubt. You probably won’t go for it.

It’s scarier not to.

Think about all the people you really think are The Shit. Are they realists, or did they take risks? They said “Fuck you!” to everyone who might try and talk them out of their wild fantasies.

People who chase dreams and do what they want are just as human as you. The difference is that they actually keep going, despite people who might try and tell them they’re not realistic or that they are crazy.

CRAZY IS NECESSARY.

Can you imagine these situations?

“Hey JK Rowling! Just stay on welfare, no one makes money on fantasy books about wizards.”

“Hey Bethany Hamilton! No one can surf with one arm, just go work in an office or something.”

“HEY, Kurt Cobain, punk is dead, sit down.”

I could come up with a million of these, very famous or not. I know people personally who do what they want and make a living because they are determined. They aren’t rich – who said anything about rich? This is nothing to do with money. Everyone seems to equate realism with making money – you know, I am at a point where I would rather be living in my car or in a tent and living on potatoes and dandelions, doing what I want, than to be “realistic” and working in an office or bagging groceries.

The wild ones are the ones who make the world change. They are the ones who touch your hearts. They are the ones make the songs you listen to when you’re in love or in despair. They’re the ones who make the movies you watch to lift yourself up. They’re the ones who write the books that make you want to be a better person. They’re the ones who create the beautiful images that make your throat burn and your eyes water.

Why the FUCK would you want them to be realistic?!

The likely scenario is that the ones who are saying such things are jealous, or wish they had the balls to do it themselves. Why wouldn’t you want someone else to fucking try? The best people to look up to and to emulate are the people who are true to themselves and who don’t give a shit if people agree or not – they know who they are and what to do. That is a rare trait, and enviable. It doesn’t matter if they’re into painting, music, writing, or being an astronaut, they should all be supported to do what they’re passionate about.

What is reality anyway? Reality is what is happening, right now. Right now my reality is sitting on the couch with wet hair writing this because I am pissed someone told me to be realistic, someone 13 years younger than me who knows nothing about my life, someone who insinuated I do not use my head but only follow my heart. I do BOTH. Being realistic only means to be in the moment of what you are doing. I don’t know what is going to be my reality in several years. I don’t care. I care about now. I care about doing things I love to do. I care about myself, not what other people think, and so should you. If you have dependents, fine, but you can still make some income while doing what you love. You can give certain shit up that you don’t need. You don’t need to starve, there are WAYS.

I’d rather be hungry and happy than full and miserable.

Being “realistic” (in terms of “Get a normal job where you know you’ll make money”) may lead to a different reality than you may expect. Maybe you’ll do something like that and end up so depressed that you become a drug addict and end up in a gutter with a needle in your arm. Who KNOWS? I know that’s a crazy example, but there are no guarantees for ANYTHING, so you might as well do what you like.

You wanna end up dying (inevitable!) and being like “Daaaamn, I shoulda done that, I’m a stupid idiot.” Or do you wanna end up like “YEAH I fucking lived it up – I may have been broke but at least I’m ready to die!”

You get one life. ONE. Why waste it? You don’t get time to waste. There IS no time to waste. Don’t just exist, fuckin’ LIVE IT.

Passion Muses: Vali Myers

The biggest inspiration to me is Vali Myers, a fiery demon angel who covered the world in her goldleaf and fine ink, gypsy dancing and hordes of animals; a fox in human form.

“She was an Amazon. An indomitable creature, a stoic and spartan nomad soul. A primeval, telluric, pagan spirit.”
— Gianni Menichetti on Vali

She was born in the 30s in Australia, later working in factories to save money for dancing lessons. She left for Paris at 19 to pursue a dance career, ending up living on the streets of the Left Bank, a haze of opium and darkness, though she kept living through her drawings, eventually being exiled from France.

“We lived in the streets, in the cafes, like a pack of mongrel dogs. We had our very own codes. Students and people with jobs were kept out. As for the tourists who came around to gawk at “existentialists,” it was all right to con them. We always managed to have rough wine and hash from Algeria. We shared everything.”

She married a gypsy man named Rudi, went back to Paris, then left together to quit opium. They went walkabout through Europe, finding a small little house in the Italian valley of Positano, called Il Porto, and they lived there with a brood of animals, which grew larger every year – dogs and cats and foxes and goats and donkeys and a gaggle of others.

Then came a beautiful Italian boy named Gianni, who Vali took as her lover, she tattooed his forehead and her own face with curlicues and dots, a spirit moustache, and a paw print on Gianni’s third eye. A girl named Caroline lived in a cave nearby.

“She gave me my first tattoo in the first month I lived with her, a five-petaled flower around my navel. I find that a rather beautiful place. And from then on we began to tattoo each other, and a lot. I covered her feet and hands with a blue lace of tattoos. She did my right hand, and I did my left one. For me, that tattooing was my initiation, and a kind of spirit marriage. Indians believe that tattoos stay with you forever, because after death the soul still keeps them.”
— Gianni Menichetti

She lived as a recluse for 40 years, working on her drawings, caring for her menagerie, crawling over cliffs, adoring her pet fox, Foxy, walking to the city for dancing, then coming back in the morning, working on drawings by oil lamp until the sun came up. She would work on pieces for years, the finest ink work, a meditation, almost always including a doppelganger of herself.

❝I just draw – ever since I was a little girl. People always try to label it, but you can’t label this work, it’s original. It’s like asking why do you dance? You do it because you have the spirit inside you… If I didn’t draw I’d go mad. Artists are like shamans – they have that compulsion and nothing can stop them.”

She began selling her art in Europe and New York, moving into the Chelsea Hotel with many other famous artists of the 70s and 80s. But she always returned to her valley, where Gianni awaited, Rudi had become a drunk and taken leave, so it was just Vali and Gianni and the dogs and eels and all their other animal companions.

“When I feel joyous, I dance, and when I don’t, I draw. The feeling to draw is so strong, that if I had to go to prison, I’d see it as an opportunity to sit and create without any distraction.”

Later in her life, she moved back to Melbourne, Gianni staying in Il Porto to care for the animals. She was a spitfire until the end, she died at 72 in 2003.

“Let it all be animal, my life and death, hard and clean like that, anything but human… a lot I care, me with my red heart in the dark earth and my tattooed feet following the animal ways.”

“From the ice and the watery depths, Vali could turn in a moment to fire in her wild imagination. She loved Semiramis, the legendary queen of Assyria, who flung herself on a flaming pyre at the death of her favourite horse. She always yearned to belong to a tribe. She had such a strong instinct for sharing. But, being such an extraordinary individual, I always felt she belonged to a non-existent tribe, or to one that vanished a long time ago. She never belonged to her own time anyway. She would have loved to have lived in the very old pagan days, without man-made gods and just the religion of nature.”
— Gianni Menichetti on Vali

~~~

I feel such a strong connection to this woman – even our art style is similar. Her adoration of animals is parallel to my own, the way she lived in seclusion in nature with a sexy young man as her lover, her wild, barefooted dancing ways, her gypsy style, her tattoos and passion for living, her wanderlust, her disgust at typical life, that a regular job would be like a suicide, that she always longed for a tribe – so many things in common with her that how could I not be inspired and feel a kinship?

I re-read her biography when I went away on my trip, to be renewed by the way she lived, to remind me of how I had lost my damn way, how I had been swayed by bullshit, and to be brave, so brave, and only focus on what is really important to me, my lusts and passions and to never hold myself back, to rejoice in wild ways, for that is who I am, my soul is burning, as hers was, and I tattooed my love of her on my arm, to remind me: LIVE, damnit, so that when you die, you feel satiated.

This reminds me of me and my dog, so much.

“I’ve had 72 absolutely flaming years. It (the illness) doesn’t bother me at all, because, you know love, when you’ve lived like I have, you’ve done it all. I put all my effort into living; any dope can drop dead. I’m in the hospital now, and I guess I’ll kick the bucket here. Every beetle does it, every bird, everybody. You come into the world and then you go.”

~~~

More about Vali:

Vali Myers Art Gallery Trust

Witch of Positano tumblr

Gianni Menichetti

A more in-depth post of Vali

Vali Myers: A Memoir by Gianni.

Night Flower: The Life & Art of Vali Myers

Films about Vali

How to Know You Love Life

– You want to record everything in words and pictures, endlessly
– you scream lovingly when you see your friends
– you dance whenever there is a moment to do so
– you immerse yourself deeply into all written words
– you get sad that there is not enough time to read everything
– you wish for immortality
– you give copious amounts of kisses to whoever you deem worthy
– you dress with zest
– no moments of your days are wasted, even the restful ones are purposeful
– dying doesn’t seem like an option
– you eat the foods that sustain your vitality, the ones with life still in them
– you think for yourself and eschew most media
– every moment is an opportunity for creative expression
– you never emulate, you just extract inspiration
– the library is your second home
– people cannot keep up with you
– your brain is firing all synapses
– sex is a jungle of limbs and hair, fire and lips

– trees are meant for climbing, snow is meant for sliding, rain is meant for showering, caves are meant for kissing, forests are made for running, art is meant for devouring, fruit is meant for inhaling, breath is made for laughing, animals are meant for hugging, sun is meant for frolicking, youth is meant for deviancy, elder years are meant for rebellion, school is meant for revolution, travel is meant for drinking in all aspects of living

– you stand proud and rock your body, whatever your size
– you’re an artist
– you run into the ocean whenever you can
– you only eat plants because you respect that animals want to live, too
– you worship yourself instead of a deity
– you engage all your senses at all times
– sleep is a sacred activity
– you prefer experiences to material things
– your thoughts stay positive, despite negative influences
– love is your purpose for living
– you get intoxicated by flowers
– you get high on the scent of the woods
– you say yes way more often than no
– you say no when it feels right
– you don’t put up with anyone’s bullshit
– you show your loved ones you cherish them
– you’re grateful for everything you have
– you choose the high dive

– you run instead of walk, you fight instead of run, you love instead of fight

– seeing music live makes you swoon
– you have parties on rooftops
– wasting time is a criminal offense
– nothing can stop you
– skinny dipping is mandatory
– people call you brash, brazen, wild, zany, fabulous, a dynamo
– your hair is always blowing in the wind
– every moment presents itself as a lesson or a gift
– failure is a myth, there are only set-backs
– you scoff at death
– sharing your life with animals is an honor
– giving birth is the most powerful thing you can do
– your money goes towards experiences and traipsing the globe
– customs people know you by name

– you always choose “dare”

– swimming pools are always open, despite fences
– your symbol is an ankh
– you tell people you love that you love them, constantly
– you can freestyle compliments with great flow and emotion
– your vocabulary is vast and rampant
– people are enraptured with your stories
– you’re constantly told to write a book
– you swim in fountains
– you dance on tables
– you sleep during class because you’ve been too busy living
– you bounce energy back and forth with everyone
– all of your friends are just as playful as you are, because that’s who you attract to yourself
– you don’t give a shit how you look when you dance
– you always chase “first times”
– you have car picnics in the winter
– the beauty everywhere makes your heart palpitate
– grand vistas give you exploding heart syndrome
– you imagine a soundtrack playing at all times because your life would make an epic movie
– you are fascinated by everything
– boredom is a foreign concept
– you have a cause you vigilantly fight for
– you are a fidget because you have pent up energy
– you have to be utterly exhausted in order to sleep (but you usually are exhausted because you never stop moving)
– motorcycles are preferable to bicycles, but bicycles are preferable to cars (unless those cars are convertibles and going awesomely fast).
– people know you’re a supernova with one glace
– you feel like a teenager even if you’re in menopause
– you love being with people, but you adore time on your own just as much, if not more
– you transcend death

~~

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Lightbeams: Abigail Geraldine

Lightbeams is the first of an ongoing series of interviews with people who live unconventional lifestyles.

Abigail Geraldine

An artist, photographer and writer who whisked herself away to New York from Singapore to immerse herself in a creative lifestyle. She lifestreams and shares her work at silentinfinite.com.

Exuberant greetings to you. What’s your name?

Hello! My name is Abigail Geraldine.

What are your most intense passions?

Creating. Exploring new worlds. Communicating. Connecting. Experiencing that I am a part of the living universe. Understanding myself.

How did you cultivate these passions? Did you always have them? How did you discover that you wanted to aim your focus on these particular art forms?

They were always latent, though they expressed themselves differently over the course of my life. I was always creative, but not everybody would have considered me ‘talented’: I’m not a child prodigy. I just really, really love creating. I love how I feel when I create: like I’m connected, irreversibly, to a vast network of life.

The experience of true love and bliss that accompanied my creative moments along with the experience of intense suffering when I was not allowed to be creative is what helped me make the decision to focus on this with all my heart, mind and life.

Do you survive solely on your artistic endeavors? If not, what else do you do to survive?

Right now I’m in the process of working towards letting my work support me full time. You’ve caught me in the very moment where I’m putting everything I’ve got into it once more and hoping everything will finally align after years of trying to figure it out. So yes, I am doing this full-time right now, there’s nothing else I do to survive.

How did you develop your talents? Are you self-taught, or did you learn through typical means?

Both. I took a few semesters of digital filmmaking classes and one semester of photography classes at two different art colleges over a period of 5 years. The most meaningful learning to me has always been self-taught, though. I make the biggest leaps when I decide to self-educate because I know how to nurture my own talent best.

Art school was actually harmful to my creative process – besides being exorbitantly expensive, it was too focused on superficial elements and not enough focus on inner development and sensitivity to beauty, which are the most important things for me as an artist.

What was your life like before you decided to do something different?

It was a nightmare. There were some moments of bliss, but mostly it was a difficult struggle. I had to learn how to help my mind and emotions work for me. I kept finding myself in situations with people who only wanted to hurt and squelch me and in places where I had to compromise my identity and deepest beliefs in order to survive.

Who or what inspired you to move forward with your life instead of just moving within everyone else?

I looked to other artists. I fell completely in love with so much 90s music from America (Pearl Jam, Mark Lanegan, Nine Inch Nails, Tori Amos, Skinny Puppy, Fugazi) and realized that there was a different path, where I could hope to live as a whole person. I wouldn’t have to live a double life anymore. I would be able to live fulfilled, whole and always sharing my creative gifts.

I also discovered spirituality through people like Nisargadatta Maharaj, along with Buddhism, Sufism, Christian mysticism, Theosophy and esoteric thinkers like Gurdjieff and Ouspensky.

It became very clear that there was a whole other side to life expressed in art and spirit that most of society simply ignored.

Did you have to overcome anxiety? How did you push through it to get to where you are?

Yes. I had to overcome severe anxiety and depression – which I think are very sane reactions when one is trapped in a society that does not acknowledge one’s deepest potential or that is actively hostile to one’s natural way of being in the world.

The interesting thing about healing yourself from anxiety and depression is that you learn to let your mind and emotions work for you. I healed myself through learning healthy mental habits, excluding certain types of people from my life and basically learning to truly love myself.

What did you have to give up in order to live the way you do? Was it worth it? What did you get instead?

I’ve had to give up a lot of things I hated anyway, in order to get things I really love, which is wonderful! I’ve traded in an unfulfilling relationship for true love, a country I absolutely hated for one that feels like home, a lack of opportunity for so much hope and possibility.

One thing that was tricky was actually releasing the attachment to any kind of conventional success – but this is also wonderful because I’ve always wanted to have an incredibly unique life anyway.

What sort of opposition did you get from other people?

I’ve had people belittle me, bully me, get me to doubt myself, put down my dreams and project their own unhappiness with life on me. Basically I’ve had people make me feel that there was something gravely wrong with me, simply for thinking and acting in a way that is natural to me.

What sort of support did you get?

I’ve had people accept me unconditionally and offer me true love, with absolutely no strings attached – which has been one of the most beautiful and heartening experiences of my life. I’ve had people unexpectedly come through for me in the most difficult situations. I’ve had people appear out of nowhere, help me out, and disappear again. And sometimes, things have seemed to work out like magic – with no resistance.

Photo by Brainwomb.

What do you consider to be paramount to living a full and unconventional life?

Self-knowledge and self-love.

How would you define unconventional?

An unconventional life to me is one lived in harmony with one’s heart and out of step of the template existence that most people lead which involves grasping at illusions of success that neither truly fulfill or satisfy. An unconventional person devotes her life to self-actualization rather than social approval. She thrives instead of just surviving.

You mention going through a lifetime of incredible personal darkness – what steps did you take to get through it? What are the most important lessons that you learned?

I focused on what I wanted to create, summoned the courage to deal with my shadow (really this was a necessity and still is an ongoing process), and relentlessly created positive energy (through thought, feeling and action) in the direction of where I wanted to go.

I took practical steps too: I made damn sure that I moved out of my country of origin to a new place where I would be free to express myself and grow creatively and intellectually.

I learned that paying attention to your consciousness truly changes your experience of reality and in very big ways. When you can take steps to ensure that this moment is fully and truly lived, experienced and appreciated, there is a very real result in physical reality. When you choose to become love, it can’t help but shine through you, transforming your experience of life.

Do you have a personal mantra?

Actually I don’t! 🙂

What gets you through periods of inertia?

Inertia is something I have to deal with a lot now, because I’m going through a major life change and I constantly feel the fear of stepping into the unknown. Here’s what I do to release it:

I focus on being intensely  present – just breathing and sometimes listening to music. Inspiration often follows.

I immerse myself in the creative process and enjoy it thoroughly.

I lead myself to remember how good love feels, and how incredible it feels to share it. This often leads to action, because love reaches outward.

I fantasize about the potential we have as human beings to create new realities through art and science. I think about how much of the universe we have yet to discover, and how each generation does the work of reaching just a little further…

I know you are attuned to the positive – do you think it is important to be positive at all times, or should we embrace a darker part of ourselves, too?

We should absolutely discover our shadow and understand how it relates to the parts of ourselves that are easier to deal with. I’m not so much attuned to the positive as I am to the constructive and creative. Creation often implies destruction of some sort within the process. When destruction is in service of the creative process however, it is ultimately creative/regenerative. So, I try to see things beyond the binary of positive/negative, which isn’t always easy! 🙂

Does health play a roll in your life at all? How important do you think health is in order to really live the best possible life? What healthy habits do you have?

When I was depressed, I changed my diet to include more raw food as well as organic produce (where possible) and was amazed at how it affected my mood. I think health is really important and it’s definitely something I have been hoping to focus on more. I cook quite a lot, buy organic as much as possible and try to make sure I have some raw component to my diet.

Photo by Morrissey Photo.

Describe your typical daily lifestyle.

Right now I have no typical day. I’m still adjusting to a major life change and this will probably become clearer in the next few weeks. Suffice to say, I create as much as I can every day 🙂

How would you advise someone who wanted to break free of a regular life and become what they truly dream? Please give concrete examples as well as some possibly wild ideas.

Pay attention to your dreams – both the kind you have at night as well as the fantasies you have about what your life could be. In contemporary society, too many of us are naturally disconnected from our desires after a lifetime of socialization. We must rediscover our fundamental desires to understand what will really fulfill us on a deep level.

Release the need to have a conventional life in any way – if you’re clinging to conventional success, the transition is going to be that much more painful. Love your unique path.

Have no guilt about giving yourself space and unconditional love. Take as much time as you need. Realize that transformation can’t be rushed or forced.

Realize that you are loved infinitely and that you are infinite love. Tap into that through poetry, music, dance or whatever suits your fancy. Remember that you are loved exactly as you are.

Be present. Breathe deep.

Jettison negative people, beliefs and circumstances from your life regularly.

Change your physical/social environment. For me, moving far away from the culture I grew up in – from Singapore to New York City – helped me expand my idea of what was possible in this world. It helped me let go of any absolute ideas I had of morality. I realized that there is no absolute right or wrong. There is only what works for you and what does not. This made me realize how precious free will is and that all of us have full freedom of choice.

How much does reading affect your life? Any must-read books you suggest to everyone? How about blogs?

Oh yes. I read a ton, though less these days.

Books: Rob Brezsny’s ‘Pronoia’, Daniel Pinchbeck’s ‘2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl’, The Essential Rumi (trans. Coleman Barks), Morihei Ueshiba’s ‘The Art of Peace’, Rebecca Solnit’s ‘Hope in the Dark’, Carolyn Elliott’s ‘Awesome Your Life’.
.

Blogs: I love yours!

Also:
Awesome Your Life: http://www.awesomeyourlife.com
Parallax: http://www.parallaxweekly.com
Jessica Mullen: http://www.jessicamullen.com
Coilhouse: http://www.coilhouse.net
Roots of She: http://www.rootsofshe.com
Evolutionary Landscapes: http://evolutionarylandscapes.net/
Live Lightly: http://ilivelightly.com/
Deapologize: http://deapologize.wordpress.com/
Cynosure: http://s.rvxn.org
BellyHeartSoul: http://www.bellyheartsoul.com/
Cosmic Outlaw: http://www.cosmicoutlaw.com/
Biorequiem: http://www.biorequiem.com/
DestroyX: http://destroyx.com/

Do you have a muse or someone in particular you admire (can be more than one).

Refer to the blogs above! 🙂

Any other words of wisdom?

Love feels really good. True love feels like the reason we are alive.

~~

Thanks Abigail!

Do you live a creative, unconventional, or free lifestyle? Please email me (or comment below) and tell me about yourself and I may interview you, too!