I started to interview Chloe Caldwell in April of this year. Instead of questions I mostly sent emails and facebook messages like these:
April 26th, 2012
Just to keep you updated, I got sidetracked this past weekend. Will have questions to you soon.
May 26th, 2012
I’ll get some more questions to you soon. I was in Philadelphia this week for the LDM so I wasn’t able to get to it.
June 15th, 2012
I promise I haven’t forgotten about our interview. Will get some more questions to you this next week. I’m setting a deadline for myself.
I hope Chloe Caldwell doesn’t hate me for taking so long and having a nervous breakdown instead of getting my shit together and finishing up our interview. So now without further adieu…
PART ONE: THE PART OF THE INTERVIEW WHERE I CONFRONT CHLOE CALDWELL ABOUT THE SECRET NATURE OF BOO RADLEY
What do like/dislike about being interviewed? What’s the worst/best question that someone has asked you during an interview? Note: Feel free to include my question you didn’t answer about Boo Radley being a pedophile. I think he’s a pedophile.
Every time I do an interview there’s a few different layers. At first I’m stupidly excited about it, but then when I actually get the questions I’m mad I have to do something, like homework, and I RESIST IT. Then I usually get excited again. Or at least drink a bunch of coffee on an empty stomach right when I wake up and try to get a nice buzz going.
As for this Boo Radley being a pedophile thing, well, it’s fucking with my head. My mom like, raised me on that book. I was terrified of Boo Radley, which is why I don’t want to think about your question. TERRIFIED. It was kind of a running joke in my house. Like, if the door shut from the wind or we heard a creak in the house, my mom would be like “It’s Book Radley” or “It’s the boogie man” so to me, Book Radley was the boogie man. Even though I know Boo is the sweetest of sweethearts.
You have a list of fears in your essay “My Heart Was Still Beating.” Are these still the same things you fear today? Do you think we ever understand what truly scares us? What would you add to this list of fears today?
Yeah, those are still my fears. Dogs, death, rape, kidnapping. I would add horses to that list now, and Boo Radley.
I don’t know if we ever understand our fears. They can surprise you. Like, I never thought I was afraid of heights, but last year I went indoor rock-climbing and almost had a panic attack. There’s physical fear and there’s emotional fear, though, you know?
What do you think about this quote? “Alternative music sucks. Blows dead dogs. I hate alternative music. I hate alternative people. They can all kiss my ass. Let’s go have a big steak and fuck without a rubber…” -James Osterberg
I think it’s hilarious, makes me want to have sex and then go eat a steak. Because that’s the order I do things.
PART II: THE PART OF THE INTERVIEW WHERE I ASKED A QUESTION ABOUT YOGA AND THEN CHLOE ANSWERED A QUESTION ABOUT YOGA AND THEN I DECIDED TO DELETE THE QUESTION ABOUT YOGA.
Insert deleted question here.____________________________________
Insert deleted answer here.______________________________________
Now imagine the three weeks it took me to come up with this gimmicky idea.
SO THEREFORE, PART III: FIST FIGHTS AND HATING THAT GIRL WHO SHOPS AT AMERICAN EAGLE
Have you ever been in a fist fight? If yes, tell us about it. If no, what is the closest you’ve ever come to a physical altercation?
Never been in a fist fight. When I drank more than I do now I liked to challenge people to arm wrestles. But I guess that’s not the same thing. In high school my friends and I would get really drunk at parties and beat each other up a bit, wrestle, and lots of punching. Seriously. We were really into bruises. We’d go back to school on Monday and show off our bruises. Once my friend Hannah was like, “I’m so sick of Ashlee shopping at American Eagle. Let’s beat the shit out of her.” The worst physical altercation I’ve had was in eighth grade–a boy threw a snow ball at me and I got a decent black-eye. It was devastating because it was the day before the night of the first real party in our grade.
Were you ever picked on at school? Tell us about it. Did you ever pick on anybody?
I wasn’t picked on, at least not to my face. I definitely picked on people with some of my friends. I had this one best friend for a period of time and she was really mean. She was jealous of this other girl, so if we didn’t like the shirt the other girl was wearing, we’d make a plot and be like “Let’s tell her it’s a really nice shirt and to wear it more often.” I thought that shit was pretty cruel but I went along with it when I was twelve. Not proud of myself.
Okay, actually in middle school the boys called me “ghost” sometimes, because of my pale skin. Like I’d be walking down the hall at school and they’d yell, “Ghost!” They fucked me up so badly that I started going tanning. I still use lotion that creates a tan because of those assholes!
“It’s easier to show a scar than a pimple.” Is this statement true? Is this true of writers who write about themselves?
I can’t speak for other writers. Every one is so unique and particular to their work. I don’t even know about myself anymore. I just write what comes when it comes. Pretty damn sure I show a lot of acne. I’m working on an essay now called “Heroin and Acne” and how they were both my obsessions for a while.
What’s the best thing about people?
Are you serious? Maybe when you’re with someone and they make you laugh so hard that when you’re not with them anymore you still think about what they said and you’re like at the dentist or the hairdresser or something and you think about the person and what they said and you try to stifle a laugh but it still pops out. Maybe the fact that they can give each other orgasms. That’s amazing if you think about it. Birth, orgasms, love, laughter.
PART IIIb. THE PART OF THE INTERVIEW WHERE I INCLUDE MORE PATHETIC MESSAGES ABOUT HOW I’M SORRY FOR TAKING SO LONG.
July 20th, 2012
Again, sorry for the long wait. We can pick and choose the ones we want after this.
E-mail response from Chloe Caldwell to Scott McClanahan
Where is this going again–Word Riot? I forget.
Sept 26th, 2012
I’m still working on the interview. Been having a hard time lately.
October 22nd, 2012
Chloe, I promise. I promise I haven’t forgotten about your interview.
PART IV: SKATEBOARDS AND MORE QUESTIONS THAT THE INTERVIEWER NOW REALIZES HAD VERY LITTLE TO DO WITH CHLOE CALDWELL’S BOOK LEGS GET LED ASTRAYED (WHICH WAS THE PURPOSE OF THIS INTERVIEW IN THE FIRST PLACE).
I used to have a skateboard I got for Christmas from the JC Penney catalogue. I put a sticker on it that said, “No Posers!” I was a poser. Why are people so concerned with appearing authentic? I think a number of your essays actually celebrate this “poserdom” or at least admit to it. Am I right?
The word “poser” is funny. In my essay The Legendary Luke, I have a scene where “Luke” calls me a poser. And I guess my brother kinda calls me a poser when I show up in Brooklyn all hipstered out. Sure, you could say I celebrate poserdom. It’s not possible to go through life without trying a bunch of stuff. It doesn’t make you a “poser.” It makes you curious.
Are you using the word ‘lover” in your book without irony? Why do you choose to use the word “lover.”
I use the word lover because he used it, and because I loved him and we made love a lot, and he wasn’t my boyfriend. No irony.
What was one of the things during the editing of the collection with Kevin Sampsell that you disagreed over?
I had a lot of quotes in front of my essays, everywhere from Dr. Seuss to Lidia Yuknavitch. He made me take (most of) them out. He also had to persuade me into putting an apology into the end of the essay “On Snooping”. He had me take out some other sentences I wanted to keep in but he told me “they would embarrass me later.”
My first car was an Oldsmobile too? What type of Oldsmobile did you have? What do you think about now when you remember this car?
Here’s what I remember: It was a Cutlass Sierra. Light blue. My mom’s sixty-something year-old mechanic sold it to us for very cheap. Before that it belonged to his wife. I’d learned to drive on a stick shift station wagon, so this was my first automatic car. I wasn’t used to it and I got a few speeding tickets. I was a careless driver—I’d put on mascara and change my shirt. I turned eighteen when I had that car and my friends and I wanted to drive to Canada during our February school break. My mom told me I couldn’t go and my dad told me I could, so I drove a car of teenagers to Montreal.
After school I’d give my guy friends rides and they smoked cigarettes so I started smoking cigarettes. I ran out of gas early one morning on my way to work at the Gap Outlet and my mom had to meet me on the Mass Pike. I think my brother named it Cecelia. It had a tape deck. I listened to CAKE, Kanye West, and Sublime on tape. I loved that car very much. I was on my way to the dump on April 19th, my mother’s birthday, and I rear ended someone. They didn’t have their blinker on and were making a left turn. I was wearing a T-shirt that said United Colors of Benetton. My mom was on a hike in the woods and later told me she heard the ambulance noises and said a little prayer, not knowing it was me in the accident. Later that night we watched the movie Ray.
PART V! THE END OF THE INTERVIEW WHERE I SPEAK DIRECTLY TO CHLOE AND ONCE AGAIN APOLOGIZE FOR TAKING SO LONG
So, Chloe. I have finally finished the interview and sent it to Word Riot. Kierkegaard said that we buy books because we believe we are buying the time to read them. Perhaps this is why we agree to do interviews as well. I was 33 years old when I started your book. I started it on the day before the birth of my son. I was reading it as I sat beside Sarah’s bedside waiting for him to come. I am no longer 33 years old. Things have changed in my life. I have lost things. I was going to write a fancy introduction where I talked at length about Legs Get Led Astray, but now I find that I am doing something else. I find that I am writing a conclusion, an epilogue instead, and perhaps this is more fitting. I want to tell you this, Chloe. I love to read because it allows me to become a different person. I was 33 years old the summer I read your book, but for a few days I wasn’t 33 years old. I didn’t hear the Scott thoughts anymore. I was a young woman living in Brooklyn. I was looking for books in the Strand. I was getting a tattoo on my back to surprise my boy. I was with Luke and he was with me. He was telling me how he loved me. I was telling him that I loved him. He was telling me the ways we fit together. He was showing me how.