Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Leah Winkler Asks Mary Hamilton Some Hardcore Questions

Hi! I'm new member Leah Nanako Winkler who interviewed fellow new member Mary Hamilton. Isn't she pretty?


LEAH
How do you feel when you write?

MARY
Highly caffeinated and scared.

LEAH
Have you ever failed anything?

MARY
Of course. In the third grade i wanted to be a boy. Not just any boy. I wanted to be Huck Finn. So for a week i sported a straw hat and a pipe, and went around without a shirt on. My cousin and I tried unsuccessfully to fashion a raft out of some styrofoam cubes and logs. Then the neighborhood boys came over. They didn't believe i was huck finn. So, to prove it to them (my logic here gets a little fuzzy) I went and peed in a bush. Needless to say this didn't work out too well for me. Neighborhood boys can be cruel. I'd definitely call my attempt to be Huck Finn an overall failure. I also used to want to catch for the new york yankees, but i was too afraid of the ball.
LEAH
What do you consider your best and worst qualities as a human being?

MARY
Wow! Okay. My worst quality as a human being...I sort of compulsively lie? But not about anything too important. and not to anyone I know or like. I guess it's more that I subconsciously and compulsively alter details about day to day life to strangers. Maybe that is my best quality too. I try to keep things interesting and not stay married to reality. But it can be fairly problematic I think.

LEAH
Who do you look up to?

MARY
My grandfather, my husband and Harpo Marx. not necessarily in that order.

LEAH
What was the last thing you bought?

MARY
A cup of coffee.

LEAH
What was your first play about and do you think it was a good play?

MARY
My first play was called "the pirate and the bunnies..." or maybe "the pirates and a bunny..." or maybe just "pirate and bunny." I was six. It was definitely not a good play. That said, many of its larger themes (desire; betrayal; the questionable morality of slaughtering small forest creatures) carry into my writing today.

LEAH
What was the last life-changing experience you've had?

MARY
Giving birth to my daughter.

LEAH
Describe your hometown to me.

MARY
My hometown was on the beach in new jersey. So, in the summer, lots of wealthy Italian undergrads (think the cast of Jersey Shore, but less muscular and self-reflexive) in bikinis doing shots on the boardwalk. In the winter: quiet, calm, and smelling vaguely of salt and dead fish. Apart from the summer tourism the town was not all that exceptional, I don't think. There were the kids who lived in "the hills." These kids had designer backpacks and drove BMW's to high school. then there were the rest of us, whose parents didn't commute to Manhattan. We were literally separated by railroad tracks. The railroad tracks ran behind my house. Every year in elementary school they showed a film about playing chicken on the tracks. These two kids are standing there in the middle of a track, holding hands, and a second before a train runs them over they dive onto the parallel track. They lie there together, breathless with excitement over their near death experience. If it were an 80's movie they'd start to make out. then another train comes from the opposite direction and runs them over. They actually show them being carried off in body bags at the end of the movie. Which needless to say sent us all straight out to play on the tracks. I have a lot of memories there actually.

LEAH
What excites you about theater?

MARY
Its endless possibility for change.

LEAH
Describe a typical day in Mary Hamilton land.

MARY
Okay...well...on weekdays: my phone alarm goes off at 4:30. I hit snooze. I get up at 4:36 or 4:42...or sometimes 4:48. I make a pot of coffee. I brush my teeth. If there is time, I write. My daughter wakes at 5 or 5:30. I change her diaper. I put on her shoes. At 6 I carry her around the corner where we help a volatile six year old get ready for school. The six year old watches sesame street and eats frozen eggo waffles. She will not eat them cooked. Only frozen. My daughter and I play with her toys. We walk the six year old to school at 8:30. We walk home. My husband takes my daughter while I ride my bike to the coffee house down the street to write. I return home at 11:45. My husband goes to work. I read "the very hungry caterpillar" ten or eleven times to my daughter until she falls asleep. On an ideal day I write for 2 more hours. On a less than ideal day I am distracted by searching the internet for better jobs or re-reading "the very hungry catepillar" to myself in spanish ("la oruga muy hambrienta"). My daughter wakes up from her nap. I prepare her lunch. i chase her around and attempt to feed her. I clean up all, or most, or some, of the food that has fallen from her mouth and scattered around the house. We read "the very hungry caterpillar" or maybe "the little blue truck" or "mr brown can moo, can you?" A few more times. Sometimes we go to the park. Sometimes other mothers are there with their babies and sometimes I bond with the other mothers about teething and the consistency of our children's feces. We return home. I pack a bag with goldfish, diapers, two bottles of milk and "the very hungry caterpillar." We get on the bus, where strangers give me advice on child rearing. I pretend I speak Spanish. I tell them that on Tuesday, the very hungry caterpillar ate two plums, but he was still hungry. We get off the subway and walk half a mile to St. Anne's elementary school where we pick up two pre-teenagers and take them to the park for soccer practice. We play on the astro turf at the park. I try to teach my daughter not to eat cigarette butts. Soccer practice ends. I argue with the pre-teenagers about whether to take the bus or the subway. They prefer the bus. Less homeless people, they say. I prefer the subway. Less advice on child rearing. sometimes they win. Sometimes I do. I take them to piano lessons and Hebrew School and guitar and tae kwon do. We go home. I put my daughter to bed. Depending on the day I: write; go to a play; watch a movie; go to rehearsal; come to a youngblood meeting! Fall asleep in my clothes. There might be a glass of whiskey or 2 in there somewhere...repeat. On weekends: I write a lot. and we go to the park. Sometimes a play. That's mostly what I do on weekends. oh and we've been watching the wonder years obsessively now that it is on Netflix. It's amazing. It's like nostalgia porn.

1 comment:

plink said...

Great interview! Mary, I like this life you live.