Wednesday, August 15, 2007

1. GRANDPA That memorable day, the parents, and the sibs

a few weeks ago i bought a digital voice recorder so that i could interview my grandfather. to those who wonder why, i don't have an easy answer. like many $65 life decisions, the seeds for this interview cannot be attributed to a specific circumstance or thought, but rather a strange blend of the two. here are some of the many reasons i asked Grandpa if he'd grant me an interview:

1. veronica mars. in this since-canceled TV show, the protagonist, a high schooler by the name of veronica mars, wanders from episode to episode solving crimes. beth loves veronica mars. she wants to be veronica mars. and every true veronica mars-wanna' be needs the proper equipment to solve her crimes (e.g., a digital voice recorder). and any good boyfriend would do whatever was in his power to fulfill his girl's dreams (e.g., loan her his digital voice recorder so she can solve crimes). moreover, this isn't the first time beth considered a side-life as a PI--apparently she and mari once formed a club to solve mysteries. as far as i know, they haven't uncovered much, but perhaps with the help of my voice recorder....

2. curiosity. in case you haven't noticed, i like to ask people questions. my roommate likes to attribute this trait to my time as an interviewer at northwest research group. my question lust may also be a kind of avoidance technique. that is, while most people love to talk about themselves, i get uncomfortable. thus, my question asking makes everyone more happy. still, i really do think i'm genuinely curious. i like to punch through the shallow and follow conversation threads wherever they may lead. i've often lamented to my mom that i don't live closer to my grandparents so that i could buy them coffee and pester them with questions.

3. ignorance. one day, several months ago, i realized that i didn't know much about my grandparents' past. i've heard a few stories, but i don't have a good picture of who they were before they became grandpa (green), grandma (green), and grandma (david). that just doesn't seem right.

4. gilead and loss. i recently finished marilynne robinson's pulitzer prize winning novel gilead. it's a fictional collection of letters from a dying pastor to his young son. the pastor uses the letters to pass on stories, wisdom, and history that the boy won't grasp until he's older. gilead is at times slow, at times funny, and nearly always poignant.*** and now that i'm older, it got me thinking: "grandpa is sick these days. i don't know God's timing, and i don't know how many opportunities i'll have to learn about his past." and really, my interview (he said yes) wasn't an interview in the strictest sense of the word. it was more of a conversation. it was quality time.

5. history. some protestants think that truth and faith are confined to the words in the bible. i'm right up there with luther, shouting "sola gratia! sola fide! sola scriptura! solus christus! soli deo gloria!" but i also don't think it's right to dismiss the past. our interpretations of the bible are shaped by centuries of tradition, theology, and culture. and like it or not, without this history, the nuts and bolts of our faith would look strikingly different. moreover, there is something amazing about attending a compline service at st. mark's and realizing that i join a long line of Christ's followers, all saying these words, praising this God, staring up through these ancient stone pillars, all looking for the hand of God.

i believe that family provides a similar sense of connection. science says that we are a product of our genes and our environment. in other words, we are our family. and even were i to abandon this post, dash downtown, jump into the aquarium, proclaim myself a fish, and live my life in denial, i believe that some part of my family's tradition, belief, and personality would be embedded in that silly skull of mine. i think this is especially true in the green family. there are 50+ of us, and it is incredible to see how grandpa and grandma green's influence has shaped each generation. somehow, i think it's important to understand and reclaim this connection.

6. the desert remembers my name: on family and writing. in tdrmn, a book i skimmed for imageupdate, kathleen alcala travels across the continent to trace her grandmother's history. she searches dusty libraries, drives forgotten dirt roads, and interviews complete strangers. all i had to do was drive 300 miles.

7. writing. perhaps someday i discover that i'm a writer. on that day i might be happy to have collected information about grandpa's past. maybe it could be the seed of a memoir or novel. i doubt it, but you never know.

8. recording history as it happens. beth works as the mfa coordinator for SPU's MFA in creative writing. although this keeps her rather busy, sometimes she's lucky enough to participate in amazing classroom discussions of faith and writing. when she returns home from these conversations, she often regrets that some of the words and ideas were forever lost. now, with the help of my handy-dandy digital voice recorder, such discussions can be preserved.

well, that may seem like an exhaustive list, but i know that i'm missing one or two important reasons. oh, well. to some degree, my motives are irrelevant. as you can probably tell, grandpa agreed to be interviewed. because of his sickness, grandpa initially warned me that i should keep the interview short, so if my questions seem stumbly, that's partially because i didn't formally prepare anything.

in the end we had a nice long chat (nearly two hours!). depending upon the response i get on this blog, i'll try to serially post the entire interview.

and now, here is the first segment, in which grandpa and i get some of the facts out of the way:
1. GRANDPA That memorable day, the parents, and the sibs

oh, and don't worry, i won't talk quite so much in future posts. i promise!

***elsewhere i say this: "
gilead may initially require an effort--it may seem slow at first--but the narrator is so likeable and so authentic that after a few pages you'll want to know what this thoughtful, well-meaning old codger says next. it's a great book for reading around the fire."


Whitney said...

I'm relieved to see that the 17 point scale is back. It's been too long!

Anonymous said...

Good post. Now your fans are going to demand more!


PS.. does your grandpa want the conversation on your blog?

andrew said...

too bad for them. they're just going to get more of my grandpa.


PS he said that he was fine with me sharing the interview.

PPS postscripts are funny looking. i've always wondered about the proper punctuation of PS. here it is:

Anonymous said...

i want more!