Interview with Alice Bradley / Finslippy
Alice Bradley, wife to Scott, mother to Henry and walker of Charlie, not only writes, she writes brilliantly. Her blog posts give you such a realistic view of her life that you sometimes laugh, sometimes cry but always are glad you stopped by. (I’m sorry – that rhymed) She’s had her fair share of struggles and is brave enough to write about them blatantly and openly in her blog where someone else might benefit. Alice, whose work has been published in literary journals such as the Berkeley Fiction Review, Fence magazine, and the auspicious Rubber Band Society Gazette, was nominated for a 2006 bloggie for ‘Best Writing of a Weblog.’ It couldn’t have happened to a nicer finslippy.
January 27, 2004
Why do you blog?
You know when you went to parties in high school, and there was always that one girl who was drunk but probably acting more drunk than she was, and she was staggering around spilling drinks on people and announcing anytime anyone would look at her, “Oh my God, I am WASTED!”? That’s me, only on the Internet.
In all seriousness, the reasons keep changing. At first it was to show off how clever I can be. Then it was to see how many interesting things I could say about a life I found fairly boring. And then it was to connect with this incredible community that seemed to arrive out of nowhere. Imagine writing something down and the next day a big group of people ring your doorbell and tell you that they feel exactly the same. That sounds creepy, actually. Thank god they haven’t figured out where I live yet.
What do you talk about?
What my life is right now.
What don’t you talk about? Why?
If I were using pseudonymous I would have a great time mocking the various relatives who drive me up a wall, but I chose to put my name out there, and they read the blog, and as much as they drive me crazy I also love them. So I’m stuck making fun of only me. I feel like I can make fun of my mom, though. I’m not sure why I think that.
Also, I try not to make the blog about Henry as much as it is about my experience of Henry. It’s a fine line, and you could point out posts that are probably about Henry and ask me what in hell I’m talking about, but there’s a line that I sometimes cross in my writing, and then I back away from it. It’s a comfort thing. If I’m talking too much about Henry for a few posts I will move on to something else. Which is tough, because he’s way more interesting than I am.
Worst/best experience regarding something you wrote in your blog or put out on the net?
Let’s start with worst! That would be when I hurt my family with a post I had written about one particularly tough Thanksgiving. I hadn’t written anything overly critical—it was more about my withdrawal from anxiety meds than anything that happened—but the people who commented, while trying to be sympathetic, savaged my family. As a result, they felt attacked.
There have been so many great experiences with things I wrote in the blog; it’s hard to pick one. It’s amazing whenever I write something and get a strong reaction. My post on Henry’s food issues, when I received so much amazing feedback—it felt life-changing. With every comment I could let go a little more of trying to make my kid the perfect eater. All the commenters said I couldn’t possibly read every comment, but I did. I was hanging on every word.
Favorite/worst thing about living where you live?
We are a block away from the Brooklyn Museum, the Brooklyn Botanic
Garden, the library, Prospect Park, and more coffee shops than I could ask for. It’s embarrassing, how much stuff we have here.
The worst thing is the noise, the soot, the lack of space, and the questionable quality of the schools. We’re moving to New Jersey, actually. I still can’t say that without laughing.
If you were president of the US:
I would ask everyone around me what the hell they were thinking, putting me in charge. It’s the last thing I ever want to be. The one time I was the boss of other people I spent the whole time trying to get fired.
What actor would play you in the movie of your life?
Charles Grodin. He’s as weary as I feel, and he looks terrible in a lot of makeup.
I love orange. But I can’t wear it. My life is so hard!
If I could eat spicy tuna rolls every day of my life, I would. If I could follow that up with a cupcake, bring it on!
When you were 10, what did you want to do when you grew up?
A Broadway songstress. And dancer. I think I wanted to be Chita Rivera, actually.
What do you hate?
Overcooked chicken; when I smile at someone I pass on the street and they don’t smile back; when someone passing me on the street smiles and I smile back but they’ve already passed; any type of news show or channel; my bloggy friends getting attacked on other blogs for being too good; brownies that taste like dust; when my lips are chapped and my lip balm has disappeared.
What do you love?
Scott and Henry. My family. My dog Charlie. And cupcakes.
What do you want to tell other bloggers, if anything?
If you think your blog is insignificant, you’re wrong. Every time you write something there’s a chance you’ll make a difference to someone else, or to yourself.
Astounding facts about you:
I have an extra vertebra. I haven’t thrown up since 1978. These two astounding facts are unrelated.
Are you Windows or Mac? Why?
Mac. For Macs are pretty, and I am a girl and enjoy pretty things. If I could put my Mac in a tutu, I would.
How would your husband describe you? How about your parents/son?
My husband would natter on about my various amazing qualities, and he would also say that I’m too hard on myself. Then he would hump a pillow.
My parents would say they love all their children equally, but then my mom would slip you a note that says “But really Alice is our favorite.” And then she’d deny that she wrote it.
My son said to me yesterday, “I wrote a story about you. It goes, ‘I play with Mommy all day. And I love my dear old Mommy. The end.'” So I think he’d pretty much go with that again. He’s nothing if not repetitive.
Would you please tell me about why you first got on antidepressants, why you got off of them and how depression has affected your life?
I had been on antidepressants before, for the usual reasons—anxiety, depression. When I was pregnant with Henry the hormones worked in my favor and I felt amazing. I felt pretty much okay for a while after he was born, but then a few weeks before his second birthday, a car crash happened right in front of us and we were almost hit. It did a number on me—I couldn’t sleep, I couldn’t eat, my heart was racing all the time.
The Effexor was always meant to be short-term. I went off it after a year, as I had planned all along. It’s a great drug if it works for you, and it did work, but if I forgot to take it for even an hour I felt sick, and after a few months I felt sort of sick all the time. It wasn’t worth it. Going off it was extraordinarily difficult, but I’m glad I did.
What are you working on right now?
I’m working on a novel and some essays.
What will you being doing next year?
Well, here’s what I hope: I hope I’ll be finishing my novel; I hope I’m not dead inside because I live in the suburbs; I hope I’ll be happy.
Tell me a secret?
I don’t know how to ride a bike. I was a highly neurotic child who refused to learn. I have never trusted my ability to propel myself through space. It’s a good thing I’m moving somewhere where I’ll have to drive. Dear god…
Your twin kept getting in my way as I researched you on the internet. She is very annoying.
I know, I know. And she’s scooping up all the domain names! I just bought domain alicebradley.org. She may be the network, but I am the organization, baby. I win.
Is this Alice you?
No, that is my other alter ego, the Alice Bradley who was Principal of the Miss Fanny Farmer’s School of Cookery back in the ’30s. I have a few of her books, actually. If you’ve never seen a Depression-era cookbook, I urge you to find one. There are many mock-meats assembled into terrifying molds. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a Mock Veal Gelatin in Celery Sauce.
I actually gathered some friends to make some of those recipes, and wrote an article about it. It lives somewhere on the Internet. I still gag when I think about the Anchovy Cream on Toast Points. It had ketchup in it. Excuse me—I mean “catsup.”
What do you wish I had asked you that I didn’t?
I wish you had asked me, “How could one person be so awesome?”
And in reply I would shrug my shoulders and walk away. And my theme song would play. I’ll have to get back to you about the song.