Today I’m happy to welcome friend, poet, author and blogger Merril Smith. For several years, Merril and I have followed many of the same blogs. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know her. Since she’s the first poet to play along, I was excited to read her answers. Thanks for playing, Merril!
Thank you very much, Jill, for inviting me to play “Would you rather?” I always read these posts with great enthusiasm, and I’m pleased to be on this side of things today. I see the world in many shades rather than simply black and white, and as you’ll see from the way I’ve answered these five questions, I’m not good at answering survey questions because I want to add disclaimers or ask, “but what if?” to every response.
I guess I’m full of contradictions though because I’m also good at taking and writing tests.
Would you rather be able to freeze time or travel in time?
I would never want to live in one moment. Wouldn’t that be boring? I would love to travel in time, but I would only want to be an observer. I wouldn’t want to risk changing any timelines, and I enjoy my comforts: running water, indoor plumbing, coffee, and chocolate. I also wouldn’t want to risk being hanged as a witch because of the things I know. However, I would love to be able to go back to see some of the couples I wrote about in my dissertation/first book, Breaking the Bonds. History is written based on the facts we have—but there is generally little documentation for ordinary people of the eighteenth and early nineteenth-century. Of course, I’d also like to “go behind the scenes” with famous people—Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn, Ben Franklin, and others.
Would you rather always have a healthy heart or always have a healthy brain?
This is a tough one. I don’t want a mental OR physical decline. But it was sad to see my mom not really with it, and I don’t want to be like that. I’d have to say I’d want a healthy brain, and hope that I’d also have a healthy body till my heart stops.
Would you rather speak all languages or be able to speak to all animals?
Hmm. . .if I spoke all languages, wouldn’t that include animal languages, as well as those of alien space creatures? If not, I would still choose to speak all languages. I’m only fluent in English, which is just sad, and makes me feel like the Ugly American. I do my best to communicate with animals, even if I don’t speak their language.
Would you rather live in a museum or a zoo?
So . . . anyone who knows me, knows that I love museums. I love animals, too, but I don’t like to see them in cages (though I know that’s not the standard now). I’d pick a museum with gardens, and I’d probably pick an art museum with a large and varied collection. And if I also have that language skill above, it could be anywhere in the world! I’d certainly have lots of material for ekphrastic poems and stories.
While answering this question, I was reminded of a StoryCorps story of a man who grew up living in a library because his father was the custodian. He could go and read any book after hours. I love this story, and I think living in a museum would be a similar situation.
Or there’s this animated video version: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QNeFhMnP7dA
Would you rather be able to breathe underwater or fly?
Breathing underwater would be a very useful skill, but I would love to see what it’s like to fly. I love watching birds fly, and it looks so easy for them, but it seems incredible, too. Of course, since I have no sense of direction–and I get motion sickness–flying could be a problem.
Merril grew up in the Philadelphia, PA, suburbs and now lives in New Jersey, near Philadelphia. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, Doug, and they have two grown daughters. She taught pre-school for a few years, then went back to school to get a Ph.D. in American history. She’s written and edited many books on history, sexuality, and gender, and she is also a freelance test writer for TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication). She began a blog several years ago, vaguely intending it to be a history blog of some sort, but the poetry muse took hold of her, and the blog has become a mostly poetry blog. Some of her poems and short fiction has been published in Black Bough Poetry, Nightingale and Sparrow, Wellington Street Review, Twist in Time, Vita Brevis, and Ghost City Review. She is working on a poetry collection.
Connect with Merril D. Smith:
Blog: Yesterday and Today https://merrildsmith.wordpress.com/