I first noticed Claudia Anderson through the slats of my crib. Eyes like mine, hair my color, a better nose – not quite so flattened against her face as mine, but she was unmistakably a product of my giants. We’ve shared a love of folk music, musical theater, the sound a piano or an acoustic guitar makes when in good hands… She has a brand new CD available on the web – it’s called In Dreams I Can Fly. She wrote the words and music and plays the guitar and the piano – quite an accomplishment from where I’m sittin’! Here’s Claudia Anderson:
Your favorite specific experience of winter – a particular day, event, or moment…
Claudia: I’m not a fan of winter, unless it’s a winter spent in a warm, sunny climate. I’d like to be able to point to a day while I was living in Los Angeles when I had a particular experience of winter where I didn’t really experience what midwesterner’s think of as winter per se, all of the months seemed the same. I actually really liked that. One of my favorite moments of winter was a night in 1974, my first year of teaching in Ohio, when I heard on the radio that Edgewood City Schools would have a snow day the following day. It had been snowing all night, and I was really hoping for a snow day. Teaching was a struggle that first year, and I felt giddy with joy when I heard I had a day free of the critical, bored faces of the high school choir. I called my boyfriend Bill, and he came over. We went outside and made snow angels at four in the morning. We threw snowballs and fell on the ground laughing. It was beautiful..
Is there a character in literature – a book, a play, a poem – whose journey you would like to experience?
Claudia: All of my favorite stories involve some sort of triumph over adversity, so I would not like to experience their journeys. I read books and see plays so that I can experience journeys without having to actually be there. If I could pick a story to live, it would involve a traveling, learning adventure, like Eat, Pray Love, where I had endless amounts of money to travel from place to place and learn new things. I’d want to have some companionship along the way—someone who would appear at dinner sometimes and sit on the plane or the rickshaw with me. I’d want to experience enlightenment, like Shirley MacLaine did. I’d like to write a book called Life Began at 60. It would be irreverent and funny and full of wisdom.
Tell me about a neighbor growing up whom you particularly enjoyed.
Claudia: My best friend in high school, Chris Gollmar, was my neighbor. I learned about the rewards of friendship with her. We moved at least every five years when I was growing up, so neighbors were temporary until I reached age 12, when I was more interested in school than neighbors.
Must the path to success involve struggle?
Claudia: I don’t know what you mean by success. Whenever I feel ambitious, there seems to be a lot of struggle. When I allow things to take a lot of time, and don’t identify anything as being in the way, then there doesn’t seem to be much struggle. On the other hand, getting something finished always feels like a bit of a challenge. I think anything worthwhile is a challenge, but not necessarily a struggle.
What is your first thought when you look out your window and discover that it’s raining?
Claudia: Depends on whether or not I have to drive somewhere. Depends on whether or not I’ve seen the sun recently. Depends on whether or not the temperature is warm or cold.
Have you ever been completely misunderstood? Tell me about it….
Claudia: I think when someone seeks to understand me, they usually do. Sometimes it is not in someone’s best interests to understand me, and then they convince themselves that they don’t. Fear can get in the way of understanding. It makes people stop listening.
Have you witnessed what you would call an act of heroism? What was it?
Claudia: I remember being in New York City for the first time in 1981, when a man was attempting to steal a parked car. Suddenly, the owner of the car appeared, shouting “that’s my car.” A crowd of people immediately surrounded the car, and one man pinned the thief’s arm in the driver’s side door. Another person called the police. It was exhilarating because the hero was not one person—it was “the people.”
Your favorite sandwich- how is it made?
Claudia: The bread has to be thick, sprouted grain or some sort of wonderful homemade bread, buttered with real butter. Inside the sandwich would be hummus, thin slices of cucumber, thin-sliced tomatoes and avocado.
The sound of what musical instrument relaxes you? Any particular piece of music that involves that instrument that you listen to when you wish to relieve stress?
Claudia: The musician is more important than the instrument, but if I must choose an instrument it is probably cello. I listen to vocal music most of all.
If, today, you could be at your own high school graduation and you had the opportunity to give yourself some advice – what would it be?
Claudia: I’d ask her what she was all about; I’d listen to her and support her. I’d tell her that no one is really interested in judging her except herself..
Visit Claudia at www.claudiaanderson.net