The “Getting to Know …” posts will be a series of interviews where I introduce you to the many characters I interact with daily. Some of the posts will be about people I work with, or have met in real life, while others will be about fictional characters I’ve created.
The first installment of “Getting to Know..” will be about the person I know better than anyone else in the world … Me. I’ll be conducting an in-depth interview with myself over the next few days, and posting it on here for all to read. Below is Part I of my interview with myself.
Nicole: Welcome, Ms. Carrara. How are you this afternoon?
N. M. Carrara: I’m well, Nicole. Thanks for asking.
N: You’re welcome. Now that we have the formalities out of the way, let’s get straight to the interview. I’ll be asking you a bunch of questions about your life, work, writing, etc… Are you okay with that?
NMC: Obviously, or I wouldn’t be here.
N: Of course. Well … let’s start at the beginning. Where were you born?
NMC: I was born over 3,000 years ago on the planet Venison, a few light-years past Pluto. It’s a lovely planet where people travel around on rainbows. When I turned 2,979 years old I traveled, via rainbow, to Earth so that I could study human culture.
NMC: No, I’m kidding. I was born at a hospital in central New Jersey in 1979, third child of a New Jersey native and a Uruguayan immigrant. The Venison thing was a story I made up when I was nine. We used to play this game as children where we pretended to be aliens from other planets who ended up on Earth and had to save Earth from a black hole. I think we ripped parts of the premise from the movie “The Monster Squad.” Anyway, we made up the names of the planets we were from, and I came up with Venison. I didn’t realize at the time that “venison” is another term for “deer meat.” I thought I’d made up the word. Silly me. Although, my “Venison” isn’t pronounced the same as the actual word “venison.”
N: Interesting. Tell us more about your childhood. What’s the first memory you have?
NMC: My first memories are like pictures in Sepia. I recall doing cartwheels and flips off of the furniture in my house when I was three or four years old. I’m not sure if I remember these things occurring, or if I saw a picture of them and I really just remember the picture.
N: What were you like in school? Were you a good student?
NMC: I was perceived as an underachiever throughout most of my education. All of my teachers thought that I was smart, but just didn’t try hard enough. The truth was that I struggled, a lot, with reading, and it made me hate school. And because I hated school, I didn’t bother putting much effort into my work. It wasn’t until high school that I started getting good grades. Something clicked and I found a way to compensate for my hatred of reading. Once I realized that I actually was as smart as my teachers believed me to be, school became easier. I went to college (because my parents wouldn’t support my acting career unless I graduated college first). I did okay in college. I changed my major from theater (I originally wanted to be an actress), to math (I thought, I’m going to college to have a back-up in case acting doesn’t work out. If I don’t act, I want to teach. And if I teach, I want to teach math). In the end I settled on psychology (figuring out why people act the way they do is the most fascinating thing in the world to me), and maintained a “B” average. In March 2001, about two months before graduation, I was officially diagnosed with a Specific Learning Disability in the area of reading an language skills. Once I discovered that, I understood why I hated reading so much, and why I had such a hard time as a kid. That diagnosis changed my life. I started reading for fun, paying close attention to the types of books, writing styles, genres, etc… that I find interesting. I applied for, and was accepted to, a second tier law school. That was the first time that I actually enjoyed going to school, and I graduated from law school with honors.
N: If you graduated college with a degree in psychology, why go to law school?
NMC: Good question. I went because of my mom. The first thing I ever remember wanting to be was a lawyer. However, that quickly changed to something else once I realized that I hated school. The summer before my senior year of college my mom and I had an argument. I told her that my plan after graduating was to substitute teach, enroll in an 18 month program to get my teaching certificate, then become a teacher and coach cheerleading. She didn’t think that was a good plan. She said my aptitude was in the law and that I should’ve become a lawyer. I told her that would never happen because I didn’t feel like spending several more years in school. I got a job as a substitute teacher in my local school district, and had to change my course schedule around to allow more time to work. An Introduction to the Law class fit into my new schedule, so I signed up for it. The first day the professor told us that law school was only three years long. At that point I’d been going to school for seventeen years, and thought “I can do three more years in my sleep.” That’s the moment I decided to go to law school. And although it’s been a tough road, I’ll never regret that decision. Instead of being a teacher and a cheerleading coach, I’m a lawyer and a cheerleading coach.
N: Is your mom happy with that?
NMC: She’s happy I’m a lawyer. I think she still wishes I’d give up coaching cheerleading.
N: Why do you still coach cheerleading?
NMC: Because it’s the one thing that I know I can do better than most people. Plus, I really like working with young people. I see sports as a way to teach life lessons, such as: teamwork, leadership, perseverance, dedication, discipline, etc. I don’t just teach my athletes how to be cheerleaders, I teach them how to be responsible citizens.
N: We’ve touch on why you went to law school and why you still coach cheerleading. You’re also an aspiring writer. Why venture into writing, especially since you hated reading for so long?
NMC: I spent so much of my life living in my imagination. As a child, most of the games I played involved making up stories. While I struggled with reading, I absolutely loved watching television, movies and plays. I think that’s why I wanted to be an actress when I was in high school. I wanted to be part of the make believe. I used to come up with plot lines for movies I could star in, and then act out scenes in my room. One day, about twelve years ago, I thought of a storyline for an RPG video game. I came up with characters, conflicts, a back-story, dialogue, everything needed to create the story. It swam in the back of my mind for two years, growing in detail. Finally, I decided that the only way to share the story with others was to write it down myself. I’ve been writing ever since.
N: I’ll go into more depth about your various careers in later installments. I just want to ask you a couple fun questions before calling it a day.
NMC: Okay. By the way, I always spell out “okay.” I never write O.K. or ok.
N: Okay. Anyway, now some fun questions. What’s your favorite color?
NMC: Dark green.
N: Mine too.
NMC: I know.
N: If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
N: Canada? You know Canada’s only a seven hour drive from here, right? Why Canada?
NMC: That’s why I want to go. It’s only seven hours away by car, I’ve never been there. Maybe this summer I’ll take a road trip to Toronto or Montreal.
N: What’s your favorite movie?
NMC: I feel like I have to change all of my security question answers now. My favorite movie is Spaceballs.
N: Good movie. Why’s it your favorite?
NMC: It’s a classic. It’s hilarious. Also, I saw it for the first time in a Uruguayan movie theater when I was eight years old. The movie was in English with Spanish subtitles. For every joke you’d hear the ten members of my family laughing, and then four seconds later the rest of the audience would laugh. I didn’t get half of the jokes in the movie (I was only eight), but listening to the echoing laughter was hilarious.
N: Favorite book?
NMC: “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss. At least, it was until I started law school and began reading for fun. Now there are several books that compete for the place of favorite: “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban,” by J. K. Rowling; “The Graveyard Book,” by Neil Gaiman; and “The Unhandsome Prince,” by John Moore, to name a few.
N: Last question for now, if you could have one wish, what would it be?
NMC: To have whatever would make me truly happy. I’m not sure what that even is, but that’s what I would wish for.
N: Thank’s for chatting with me today. Let’s do this again soon and maybe delve deeper into your writing, legal career, or cheerleading life.
NMC: I’d like that. And I’m available whenever you are.