As you may have noticed, we have some fantastic new writers here at Design Mom. I want you to get to know them better, so I’ve asked each one a few questions, starting with Raleigh-Elizabeth. No matter what she writes, I find myself smiling all the way through her words. No surprise: I smiled all the way through to the end of this little interview. (Didn’t we all have a Drew Baldwin?!) I hope you enjoy her even half as much as I do!
Q: If we only knew four things about you, what would they be?
A: I believe cooking for you is tantamount to magic and homemade chicken soup will cure nearly everything. I love to write letters. I always have a book with me. And I love anything with sparkle.
Q: How did you get here?
A: I grew up listening to public radio the way most people breathe. My parents — who were divorced — had it on in their cars, in every room in their houses, and both played it from morning until night. I’m not sure it ever got turned off, actually. It became the soundtrack of my young life, and I dreamed of being able to tell stories the way those reporters did. While my friends fell in love with Disney princesses, I fell in love with foreign correspondent Ann Garrels. I considered Harriet the Spy a how-to manual, and I read everything I could get my hands on, hoping that one day, I’d be able to tell a story as well as she did, too.
It took two masters, a Ph.D., 12 years in New York, and countless interviews (even one in which Chuck Norris called me cute!) before I realized that the stories I wanted to tell had nothing to do with hard news. I want to write about the wonderful things we see in everyday life, the things that make us smile, the things that make us happy to be exactly who we are. And thanks to some people who are great at doing just that, it’s what I get to do every single day. I pinch myself all the time.
Q: Tell us about your life today, right this very minute!
A: After trying to convince myself I do not need a cup of coffee and then being fuzzy for two hours before falling victim to my foamy cappuccino addiction, I manage to start my day with an intense love affair with Google Reader. (I don’t remember what I did before Google Reader.) Every day, I write a letter to my husband (who is an intelligence officer in the United States Marine Corps and, as such, isn’t here all the time.) and then get to work for the day. Sometimes it means spending a lot of time reading, other days it means spending a lot of time writing. Some days it’s even done in sweatpants. It’s always wonderful. Managing the house (and all the military stuff that comes with it) is a full-time job in and of itself, but I try to do one thing for myself every week day: taking time to read, baking a loaf of bread, drawing. I have found that if I take some time for me, it makes the me others get a lot more worth being around.
Q: Three things you love, and three things you don’t love at all!
A: I love Prismacolor markers, everything sparkly, and snooping at people’s coffee mug collections. I’m convinced they tell you everything you need to know about a person. I do not love the color mauve, Jack Kerouac, and professional wrestling.
Q: How do you spend the favorite part of your everyday?
A: Before the sun goes down, I take my two wildebeests (okay, dogs!) for a walk on the beach. We live about five minutes from Topsail Island, and to be this close and not go often strikes me as nearly criminal. There are always lots of families out there playing before dinner, people winding down their day with a fishing pole, and locals out for an evening stroll. My dogs chase after the birds (they’re still confused about how wings work, so they chase the birds straight into the water and proceed to look absolutely baffled that the they got away!), and we all enjoy the walk. I love the pretty pale colors the end of the afternoon brings to the shore and how happy everyone is who’s there. It’s the perfect end to a day.
Q: The last thing you saw online that moved you…
A: Julia Reed wrote a “Guide to the Holy City” for Fetch, and it took all my willpower not to get in the car and drive down Highway 17 to Charleston that minute. I should back up: While Ann Garrels may be my reporting hero, Julia Reed is Queen of Anything Ever in Print. (This kept me in stitches for weeks.) The way she writes makes you feel like you’re sitting with her sipping sweet tea at Doe’s Eat Place in Greenville, Mississippi, like it’s the only place you’ve ever been meant to be. She also makes acquiring taxidermy for a party seem like a completely normal thing to do.
But Julia Reed talking about Charleston? Swoon. If you haven’t been, go. It’s America’s gem. Pat Conroy describes it as a place where everyone is ‘peacock proud of a city so pretty it makes your eyes ache with pleasure,’ and that’s just a statement of fact. It’s everything else — the way you can smell the climbing jasmine that covers the city, the way the light is just different there — and to have one of my favorite writers pen an absolutely accurate guide to my favorite place in America? Well, you can see how the highway is calling.
Q: If you were given one do-over, what moment would you choose to change?
A: I would not have tripped in front of the super-hot Drew Baldwin on my way into 11th grade English on the very first day of school.
Q: Please fill in the blanks: If I weren’t a (blank), I’d probably be (blank).
A: If I weren’t a writer, I would be bored. But maybe a bored Egyptologist.
She’s charming, isn’t she? I’m still smiling, and I imagine I will be for as long as Raleigh-Elizabeth keeps adding her wit and words to Design Mom! You can see all of Raleigh-Elizabeth’s stories here. Enjoy!
P.S. — You’ll be meeting more of my lovely and smart contributors soon!