I’ve had this list of questions sitting in my inbox for 5 weeks now. I kept forgetting to move them over and answer them.
1. how did you come into the mormon church? what about their philosophy hits home for you the most?
I joined the church when I was 17, mainly because I liked the depictions of families in the home evening manuals. But I honestly wasn’t ready then, didn’t really understand a whole lot. It took a few years before I was truly converted. My mother, brother, and sister joined the summer before I did, which is how I was exposed to it.
Your second question is a little harder for me to answer. I remember when I was young, and learning that some people believed that when you died, that was the end of your existence. And it troubled me, more than I can possibly express. I remember walking around asking myself, “I am. How can I not be?” I also had always just automatically assumed that when I died and (presumably) went to heaven, I’d be there with my family. It never dawned on me that it would be any different. So I think the concept of the afterlife is one of the precepts that means the most to me. I know I’ll be with my family again. I know that I will continue to be. I’ll continue to grow, and to learn, and there will be no end to my existence. There is more, of course, because everything has great meaning to me, but if I were to pick out one thing that drew me, that would be it.
2. what is about chaucer that fascinates you so? does all medieval literature strike you or is just chaucer?
I do like most medieval literature. I honestly think the reason I first fell in love with Chaucer is because a character in a book I dearly loved was a Chaucerian scholar (Up the Down Staircase, by Bel Kaufman). I liked the character so much that I figured Chaucer had to be cool. And then when I read The Miller’s Tale in high school, I was elated to learn that this great medieval poet thought farting was funny. (Okay, okay, my juvenile sense of humour is obviously coming to the surface here.) I like Chaucer so much because his works span the entire range of humanity, from the dregs to the elite, from the truly noble in mind and spirit to the basest of the base. He’s bawdy and ribald (read the Miller’s Tale) and sublimely pure (“a shiten shepherd cannot lead a snowy flock”). He paints characters so real that if you ever run into them in a grocery store, you’d recognize them right off the bat. He’s just, well, to use V’s word, amazing.
3. how many books can you read in a night? how fast do you actually read? a book an hour?
I can read a ton of books in a night. I’ve been known to go to the library during lunch break, get a bag of books, go home and read them all, and take them back the next day. But it depends on the book. Obviously a more complex book or a longer book takes me longer. Your average YA book I can read in 45 minutes to an hour. The last Harry Potter book took me what, 3 or 3 1/2 hours to read? I’ve always been a fast reader. I remember a teacher in elementary school accusing me of lying when I said I’d finished an in-class reading assignment because I couldn’t answer some obscure question from the text (think Dr. L’s Shakespeare quizzes), but I was telling the truth.
4. i’ve noticed that you don’t wear a ring. is this a personal thing or a mormon thing? or do you wear your ring around your neck?
Not a Mormon thing. I don’t wear my rings because my fingers are too fat. And I don’t want to get them sized up because I’d rather get myself sized down.
5. if you could change one event in your life what would it be?
I’d tell my parents about the adult neighbour who molested me when I was a young teenager. I’d also have told him off, and gone to the police about it, and done anything and everything to stop him from ever doing that to anyone else. And I wouldn’t have let the guilt and shame that resulted from his actions haunt me for 30 years.