Friday, October 31, 2008

Know Your Blogger: Maggie

Last week, we met Amanda Cobra. The week before, Tom, before that Spamboy, and before that, me. Today it's Maggie, close-to-newly transplanted Dallas resident and blogger extraordinaire at m-pyre. Name (or pseudonym): Maggie Blog address: 1. In what general region of Dallas do you live? Where furniture gleams and beignets steam. 2. Before blogging, what the heck did you do with yourself? What are you doing now? Many and varied activities, including but not limited to: housing policy analysis for Senator John Kerry, writing about urban policy issues in Boston and doing nonfiction book reviews on the side, falling in love with the New Mexico Left while out there for grad school, becoming a capital P Planner and a lowercase a activist, running biweekly community meetings where the same ancient rancheros who yelled at me during the meeting would hug me afterward, teaching planning to undergrads and loving it, sitting on the porch with my m-pyre girls drinking wine, surprising everyone by moving to Dallas for a guy (I mean, who would do that? annoying!), working on TOD projects in Dallas and Tucson, obsessing over election polling and wondering why I'm not a full-time public servant, and always dreaming up what I'll do when I grow up. 3. Two things people don't know about you ... (1) I want to retire in a seaside village and own a bookstore/coffee shop with a kick-ass community garden out back and space for lefty readings and group discussions inside. (2) I have a weird love of working retail. It's always been my fall-back, and I get this strange security from knowing that if I need to, I can always go sell consumer goods and get back to writing. I like doing stock and ringing stuff up. I like the forced social activity of the meet-and-greet and the offer of assistance it implies. Retail brings out my nice NC side, plus it's good for you to stand for eight hours a day. * Wait, there is a weird parallel between #1 and #2. Unplanned. 4. Last five books you read, what you're reading now, and what you'll read next: Most recently: "Revolutionary Road" by Richard Yates. "Eva Luna" by Isabel Allende. "About Alice" by Calvin Trillin. "Ladies and Gentlemen, The Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City" by Jonathan Mahler. "Handling Sin" by Michael Malone. Now: I'm re-reading "Slaves in the Family" by Edward Ball. I loved this book when it was first published, and my recent trip to Charleston inspired me to reread it (Ball traces his family's slave-owning heritage that centered around several Charleston plantations). Next up: We named one of our cats after a Tom Robbins protagonist (Switters, from "Fierce Invalids Home from Hot Climates"), and I've been meaning to read TR's "Skinny Legs and All," so much so that I moved it not just to the bedside table, but to the top of the stack. (Note to book-lovers: Join Goodreads and friend me.) 5. Best piece of advice ever given to you: This isn't exactly advice, but I think so much about two great women in my life, both of whom were grad school professors. They both impressed upon me the idea of relishing conflict in the public sphere, because it's the only place anything interesting can really transpire. Most people are so averse to conflict, and planning in particular is a field where conflict is inherent - it's politics pressing up against space and use and tradition and what's next. I think many times we rush to agree out of fear that disagreeing more fervently will be too uncomfortable for us. But in order to forge something new, we can only dig into the ways we think we're divided. Teresa and Claudia both know how to dig in with grace.