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Gill's Place - Q&A meme - or more about me
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Q&A meme - or more about me
Questions from hamsterwoman - and my answers, natch.

1) This is maybe a long and overly personal question, so feel free not to
answer, but as the mother of an 11-year-old girl, I'm very curious, if
you'd be willing to share your experience: How would you say your
relationship with your daughters has changed as they grew from children
to teenagers to adult women?

No family relationships are perfect, but I have been very lucky with my girls. I've moved, inevitably, from being the perfect, all-knowing mother to someone they nag and advise, but I think we've weathered the storms very smoothly. There was a period when F found me so embarrassing that she chose to go to a different school, not the place where I taught, whose Junior School she attended. In her early teens she found religion, big time, and I worried a lot, as she mixed wit some fairly devout fundamentalists, but she's worked her way through a lot of issues and theology now and has a solid but not unquestioning faith. R stayed at my school - I ended up teaching the poor kid for two out of three of her A Levels in her last year of school. I did my best to stay away from her in her first few years at the senior school, to give her space, but inevitably ended up teaching quite a few of her friends. I had a pretty severe emotional breakdown during her penultimate year of school, the effects of which continued until after she'd left, and she was hurt by it, unavoidably. It didn't help that her great talents are in my own field - she is a much better actress than I am, but we share theatrical passions. Now it means I can offer advice and a critique from a position of knowledge - and she is astoundingly prepared to ask for it and accept it!

I think the key was always keeping open channels of discussion, always trying to listen and be as fair as possible. (Except when they bickered. OMG was that annoying!) I didn't always succeed, of course. I tried to make sure we shared some interests - Buffy was family time for years, starting when R was 8 and sat on my lap to avoid the worst monsters. We are all passionate about reading, too, and fought to get first access to the latest Harry Potter, for example.

I think it helped when they were in their teens that I knew so many teenagers, so had a good idea of what might be coming. That didn't make me any less annoying as a mother at times, though, I'm sure. If fothen comments below, pay attention - she knows. ;-)

2) You're learning Italian -- I'm curious why you picked that language.
And, as a bonus question, whether there are other languages that you
speak, and how you came to learn them.

I've always wanted to learn more Indo-European languages. I did French, Spanish and Latin at school and have managed to maintain a reasonable working knowledge of French to this day. It helps that France is actually slightly closer to us than Scotland, and we've been there, or through there, virtually every year since the late 80s. I did Anglo-Saxon at university - it was compulsory - and managed to pick up a smattering of German - only enough to but a stamp or order food, but I haven't really needed more.

I love the sound of Italian, and found I could make sense of a lot of it, even before I started to learn. It made sense to start learning formally, and it was one of the things I started when emotionally I was really struggling, and one of the very few things I could find any pleasure in at my lowest ebb.

The lest few years , since the girls decided they had better things to do than go on holiday with the crumblies, my husband and I have taken two-week holidays in different parts of Italy - which has both enhanced my language skills and made me more eager to keep on learning.

3) What are your favorite Discworld books?

I'm very fond of Wyrd Sisters, because of the Shakespeare references as well as the witches - Granny Weatherwax is superb. I also really enjoyed Monstrous Regimen and the joy of socks. I love Sam Vimes - who wouldn't? - but I also really enjoy the earlier, more satirical books. Basically, if it's by Sir Terry, I buy it.

4) What is your favorite memory from your time teaching?

Over 34 years? Too many to count. That moment when a child "gets it" - I remember a pair of huge blue eyes looking into mine and saying "Oh, Miss, wasn't Shakespeare clever?" The time a class I taught - and had ranted to about how dreadful Enid Blyton's books were - gave me a present, of a "Build your own Blyton book kit", a collection of key phrases and clichés found in all her books. Those kids were twelve!

Above all I remember the plays - the two occasions I directed Much Ado About Nothing, in two different schools, but equally lovely casts. My version of Under Milk Wood, dodgy Welsh accents and all, Iolanthe, The Mikado, My Fair Lady, the junior plays full of melodrama and comedy, possibly best of all the schools version of Les Miserables. I felt so close to the casts, on a real high of euphoria watching them gain confidence and just knock it out to the audience.

5) Other than Spike, who are some of your Buffy favorites? (And no
worries about spoiling me with your answer -- feel free to be as spoilery
as the question warrants.)

Giles is one of my favourites, undoubtedly - he's really easy on the eye, but also interesting as a character - not just Mr Exposition Man, which he could have been, but conflicted and fallible as much as the others, sometimes making atrociously wrong calls as well as saving the day. Joyce, Buffy's mother, is another favourite - she gets it badly wrong sometimes, but she has a real identity of her own. And the end of her story just blows you away. Drusilla is fascinating, even if her accent is bizarre. And a couple of the characters who transfer to Angel develop so much depth, so many layers, it hurts to watch. I pretty much love them all, except for one very annoying bit character in S7 who sounds nothing like the Brit she is supposed to be. My heart is given to Spike and Buffy, though.

Nasty Mr Gove has abandoned his stupid E Bac Certificate, a return to the late 40s if ever I saw one. I do enjoy seeing the Nasty Party ministers being humiliated, especially when they do it to themselves.

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velvetwhip From: velvetwhip Date: February 8th, 2013 12:30 am (UTC) (Link)
Your post brings back fond memories of my theatre days. Thanks for that!


Edited at 2013-02-08 12:30 am (UTC)
gillo From: gillo Date: February 8th, 2013 11:46 am (UTC) (Link)
Theatre is one of my abiding passions.
zanthinegirl From: zanthinegirl Date: February 8th, 2013 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
except for one very annoying bit character in S7 who sounds nothing like the Brit she is supposed to be

Molly, right? The potential? LOL! I can certainly sympathize with that. They should have had her do different accent IMO. That one was pretty bad!

I was surprised how much more I found myself sympathizing with Giles (and Joyce and Jenny) on my last (this fall) rewatch of Buffy. Of course I was in my 20s/ early 30s when it was airing, and these days I'm much closer in age to the grown ups!
gillo From: gillo Date: February 8th, 2013 11:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Who else? She makes Dick Van Dyke sound authentic!

I was in my 40s when it started, so I think I could always see it a bit from their POV, even when Joyce lost it at the end of S2. And Tony Head is easy on the eyes.
curiouswombat From: curiouswombat Date: February 8th, 2013 05:32 pm (UTC) (Link)
Nasty Mr Gove has abandoned his stupid E Bac Certificate,

Laugh? I laughed so much I nearly cried.
gillo From: gillo Date: February 8th, 2013 06:23 pm (UTC) (Link)
He still wants all of the things to be changed at once or sooner. But even Ofqual is saying he's a silly, silly man.
curiouswombat From: curiouswombat Date: February 8th, 2013 06:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
Whereas he still thinks he's the messiah...
gillo From: gillo Date: February 8th, 2013 08:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
And we all know he's a very naughty boy.
hamsterwoman From: hamsterwoman Date: February 9th, 2013 08:11 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh, I didn't realize your daughters attended the school you were teaching in -- that makes it even trickier! (My mother was a teacher when I was young, but at a different school, so we never overlapped.)

Thank you for sharing your experience!

One of the great joys as my two have gotten older (they're 9.5 and almost 12 now) is sharing fandoms with them. They didn't get into Harry Potter until all the books and movies were out (silly them), but they've outstripped me on Percy Jackson, and we read The Hunger Games books pretty much together, and watched Avatar: the Last Airbender last year (both of us for the first time) -- it's been very neat.

think it helped when they were in their teens that I knew so many teenagers, so had a good idea of what might be coming

This is a really good point... hm!

Jealous of you getting to (having to) learn Anglo-Saxon! I always wanted to take a class in college, but ran out of time.

I learned Italian because I loved the sound, too -- it's such a beautiful language! And not surprised that you could understand a lot of it thanks to the French you already speak -- my husband speaks French fluently, and he can understand probably 80-90% of Italian, either spoken or written, it seems. It's really neat how grammatically similar the languages are, too.

Where in Italy have you gone? When we were emigrating to the US, my family spent a month in a little beach suburb of Rome, while documents were being sorted out and such, which was wonderful, and I've wanted to go back to Italy ever since. But, while I got to enjoy Mar Tirreno for a month, which was heaven to an 11-year-old, I never got to see any of the actual cities except for Rome, which is something we must make up for one of these years.

You're I think the second person I know to list Monstrous Regiment among your top favorites, which makes me happy, because I really liked the book and was sad to learn many Discworld fans seem to have something against it. (Well, it also helps that I love the Polly Oliver trope, so.)

a present, of a "Build your own Blyton book kit", a collection of key phrases and clichés found in all her books. Those kids were twelve!

Oh, that's both impressive and sweet!

Giles has been steadily climbing through the ranks of my favorite characters and is probably currently (mid-S3) the favorite, for all the reasons you mention -- I love his fallibility and his relationship with Buffy and her friends. And I've been liking Joyce, too, for the same sorts of reasons; I'm sure I would have noticed her much less if I'd watched the show before I had kids myself, but it's really great to have a mother-of-hero character and explore her feelings too, and not just have her be an oblivious obstacle to world-saving (which I felt she was kind of getting to be in the earlier seasons) or convenient victim.
gillo From: gillo Date: February 10th, 2013 06:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
Both girls went to the Junior School, which is next-door but entirely separate. The younger stayed on all the way to 18, but the older girl moved on to a girls' school in Warwick. R, the younger, is a talented actress, so I ended up directing her in a fair number of plays before I actually taught her.

Sharing fandoms is fun, though they never persuaded me to watch Charmed. They roll their eyes a bit now when I talk about Buffy. We are all committed Dr Who watchers, though.

We first went to Urbino, back before the Euro was introduced. Then a place up in the mountains between Bologna and Firenze. A couple of years after that we stayed very close to Vinci, in Tuscany. Dave and I have stayed near Lake Garda, in Rome and Venice and in more recent years in Piemonte, Piacenza and, last summer, Umbria. I've never been south of Rome, though it's on my wish-list. Are you Italian by origin, then?

Anglo-Saxon wasn't much fun to learn - we had a very dull tutor - but I've found it surprisingly useful in teaching English. I feel a much greater affinity with the Romance languages, though, I confess.

Giles is great, though he has a dark side. Joyce is a mother I can really relate to, especially when she loses her temper. Her attack on Spike with the fire axe is just awesome - and so are those moments when she becomes friendly with him. I'm looking forward to reading more of your adventures in Buffy-watching, I must say.
hamsterwoman From: hamsterwoman Date: February 10th, 2013 11:14 pm (UTC) (Link)
Are you Italian by origin, then?

Nope, not even a little, though I look the part, and when I was studying Italian in high school, the little old Italian ladies we would encounter when we went to cultural events would always think I was.

The immigration-by-way-of-Italy was a bureaucratic oddity: we were coming from the USSR, which would only allow emigration to Israel at the time (for those of Jewish descent, of course). My father had close family in the US, so that's where we were actually going, but we had to leave under the pretense of going to Israel. That immigration happened by way of Vienna, so we first went there, had an interview where we announced our intent to go to the US instead, and were then sent to Rome to wait for permission to enter the US. Why Vienna and why Rome I have no idea, but that's how it worked at the time. It did allow me to fall in love with a city (Vienna) and a language (Italian, of course), as well as spend two weeks in one neat country and a month in another, so I really can't complain.

Her attack on Spike with the fire axe is just awesome - and so are those moments when she becomes friendly with him

Yes, their first meeting was very memorable! And their awkward bonding the next couple of times they met, especially in "Lover's Walk" was very funny. I'm looking forward to seeing more of their interaction!

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In which I ramble about life, the universe, the Buffyverse, the world of my work, my family, my friends and my sometimes overheated imagination...
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