We’re All Imperfect Gems (& Other Cliches)

This project overwhelms me sometimes. What has started out as an innocent idea and drive to share musicians’ stories has opened up multiple proverbial cans of worms that I’m not sure I was ready to clean up. I’ve sort of been catapulted headfirst into a full-blown existential crisis. I don’t necessarily regret how I’ve started; my friends and acquaintances are like the perfect diving board for me to jump into this idea – the low, less riskier one. The one that provides a certain level of confidence that I’ll be able to breathe again, not that insurmountable beast that plunges you so deep that you find yourself gasping for air on your way back to the surface. While it’s fitting and comfortable to have started with the people I know, or sort of know, or souls with which I share a loose connection, this bastard of a process is teaching me a few things. One, that Sintia (my friend / editor / life model / sharer of wine) is a wise old owl (we’re the same age, which I keep having to repeat to myself).

She told me I should be careful interviewing friends. She was right, and usually is (damn you, Sintia. Damn all the Romanians).

The thing about interviewing friends is the trust is already there. I have no set of interview questions because I just want people to talk, and there’s a profundity to what people choose to discuss of their own accord. With people I know, I can put a general time limit on a discussion (usually 90 minutes, give or take a half hour), and the beating around the bush is minimal. Because like attracts like, the type of people I’m interviewing, for the most part, will lay it all out before me and tell it like it is, no holds barred, and that’s the type of connection I crave (don’t we all?). I think everyone should interact this way. Small talk bores me. Get to the point. I’ve been faulted for this in the past; I guess this quality scares people sometimes. I got slammed by a few anonymous students in one of my last course evaluations because I was “too honest, too fast, and too hard.”

Well, the truth hurts, people. Confrontation used to be my nemesis. Now it’s my dear aunt. I can thank my father, a retail manager, for my unflinching ability to just face people and talk to them (juxtapose this with a mortally crippling stage anxiety, and when you’re done laughing, maybe I’ll write an entirely different book on this).

The problem arises when deciding what to share. Each interview is like a mini therapy session, for some more so than others. I hit “record” and tell them to smile, they’re on candid camera. We muse and cry, remember and yearn, pontificate and surmise, and when it’s all over, I sift through the rubble for the gems, but they aren’t always pretty, nor are they what people necessarily want shared, despite the fact that they “defaulted” to the very things that make them them.

Yes, the gems are what they are. They don’t have glorious titles, or ideal upbringings, or fame, or fortune, and they are always imperfect. We are all chipped in some way, so why hide it?

Why hide it?

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