April 3, 2013

And This Month's Interviewee Is...

The main objective of my blog is to inspire and be inspired.  I love searching and finding inspiration in the simplest of things, in places unexpected and then writing stories about them provoking a chain reaction of inspiration, self-awareness, love, acceptance, spiritual awakening and empowerment!   Sometimes those stories can be our very own, that is why I also love sharing my personal stories, experiences, triumphs, challenges, tears and laughter in hope to touching and enriching someone's life for the better.

I believe that something magical and miraculous happens when we share our light with others.  It just may very well brighten someone's darkness.  I love the way spiritual activist and author Marianne Williamson puts it better.  She states that "as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.  As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."  It is through this personal belief that my monthly feature of 'And This Month's Interviewee is'....was birthed!  My goal is to feature every month an interview in hopes that the underlying story, behind the words and pictures, touches and enriches someone's life for the better.  We are not alone people, we all flow simultaneously in the mysterious magical energy of life!

Without further ado this month's sparkling, bright & talented interviewee is...
What is your name & age?  Stephanie Bass, age 32. But I act more like my shoe size.  It's a 10.

Are you married? Children?  Married just in July 2012.  But I had been with my partner for 8 years before that.  I'm not much of a romantic, so I never saw the point in getting married.  But D did, and so he bugged and bugged for years.  I finally told him last summer that he had a brief window in which I would marry him, so he set most of it up.  He's a romantic. 
Where did you grow up?  I grew up in between Hamilton, Canada and Mount Olive, North Carolina (and there was a brief time in Cincinnati.)  All my family (except my great aunt on my mom's side) is in NC, and we still go down at Christmas.  I still consider Mt. Olive "home" though.

What is the extent of your family? Parents? Any siblings?  I have my mom, my daddy, and my brother Steve.

As a little girl, what did you dream/aspire to be?  I was a nerdy little girl with lots of skin problems.  My doctors were my heroes because they helped get rid of embarrassing and painful skin diseases that I had to live with.  And so, for the longest time, I wanted to be a dermatologist.  That or a spy.  And my mom would say, "You never told me that you wanted to be a spy?"  And I would respond, "Exactly."

What were you like when you were a kid?  Nerdy.  I liked to learn.  Still do actually.  That's why I read so much. I was also a mouthy, out-spoken and highly principled kid.  An old school friend emailed me a few years ago to tell me about how grateful she was for my outspokenness.  I had thwarted a bully from bugging her with my words.  When I was a kid, being so outspoken seemed like more of a curse than a blessing, but now I'm grateful that I had that ability.  And those morals. 
What was your favorite toy, game or pass-time as a child?  I liked to paint and draw.  I had sketch books, and my parents got me some pastels one year at Christmas.  My mom still has that sketchbook.  My favorite thing to draw: whales.  (For some reason.) 

How would you describe your childhood memories?  My childhood memories were not the most positive.  My family life was fine, but I didn't have many friends.  Probably on account of my outspokenness.  And racism.  Being the only biracial kid in school was tough.
Ever had an imaginary friend as a child?  If yes, please tell a little about it.  I did not have an imaginary friend.  I liked reading (when I learned) and drawing and make-believe but it was always about other people's lives. (Paging Dr. Freud.)  I think that because I didn't really have any friends until I got to high school, I didn't really know what I was missing.  So I never felt the need to make one up.  D had an imaginary friend though.  He had it for years.  Apparently one day, his mom asked him where his friend was, and he said, "I won.  He's dead."  Apparently, his imaginary friend was his nemesis in some epic battle.  And that is my favorite story about imaginary friends.

Did you enjoy your high school years?  I did.  I started studying really interesting things, and met adults that were interested in nurturing my talents.  I was weird.  I was talented.  And I went to a tough inner city high school, so I became strong for it.  

Did your dream/aspiration as a child changed in high school?  If yes, how so?  I became more interested in the arts and in literature and especially history in high school.  I studied French aggressively; and loved writing and lit classes.  I became less interested in sciences and become a doctor.  I thought I would become a lawyer-- but that changed by the time I got to university.  I did more music and drama (I had a talent for it; we never knew about my talent and love of music because my parents could never afford lessons.  I learned through school, and it took off from there.)  I think the more I learned, then more scattered my aspirations became.
How different was it for you growing up as a child in Canada compared to growing up in Mount Olive, NC?  The South is a lot different than Canada, and I don't just mean the weather! (OK, bad joke...) Culturally, Hamilton is very different than Mount Olive.  As a kid, I was mostly obsessed with the fact that people didn't look like me, and I had to wear shoes all the time.  In retrospect, there were many differences: moving from the country to the city; from warmth to cold; moving from a predominately black neighborhood to a white one. 

I find it endearing that you aspired to be a spy as a little girl (so did I )  What is your thought on why most childhood aspirations or dreams are not realized or pursued?  Just a childhood stage?  Or stigma?  I think as a kid, I didn't know what was involved with any job; I only knew what I saw.  In being a spy, the danger was glamorous and not a real thing to me.  And with being a dermatologist, by the time I got to high school my interests changed to more the arts instead of science.  I think that was the good thing about my aspirations, I didn't feel that I had to keep the same goals.  They could change as I did.
How did you deal with being the only biracial kid in school?  And, if you were to go back to that time taking the knowledge you have now with you, what would you do different?  The biggest pet peeve I had at that time was people asking me if I was adopted.  Not because I thought there was anything wrong with adoption (I'm starting the process now myself) but that the idea of two people of different races having a child was considered unheard of.  That type of racism made it hard to feel like you belong somewhere.  Racism was pervasive in Canada too, but it was quiet and polite and therefore harder to confront and deal with.  So those questions and assumptions became part of my experience.  Looking back with my education, I would have told people that those assumptions are problematic.  Which would have been awesome coming from an 8 year old girl.

Another thing we share in common...painting and drawing!  Any connections as to why your favorite thing to draw is whales?  I don't draw whales so much anymore.  For a time, it was all I drew.  I don't really know why; I think I really liked their shape.  They are unlike any other animal (except maybe a dolphin...) But they were huge and still graceful.  Maybe because I was a little fat kid, that spoke to me.  I took dance and was teased mercilessly by the other kids.  One of my dance teachers actually told me I was too fat to be a dancer.  In whales, I think that I saw something big and beautiful, and tried to remind myself that big can be beautiful.  It's hard to vocalized those types of ideas as a kid.  So, painting and drawing helped. Now I draw whatever I think will help me feel better, or something that I have on my mind.  Usually something abstract.  I like to experiment with materials now.  That probably says something about me too.  I will have to think on it. 
What is remarkable and unique about Stephanie in your opinion?  In your family/friends opinion?  
A friend once commented that I am an eternal optimist.  I've had some difficult times in my life, but every time I try something new, start a new job, I am always excited to see what it will bring.  Although I'm not sure I agree, it is a nice reputation to have.  What is unique about myself?  I would say my ability to "roll with the punches."  I have had some bad luck in the past, but I refuse to be down and out because of it.  It sounds cliché, but I do think that struggles make you stronger.  I also like that I have such sympathy for other people.  I have been told that my sensitivity is a weakness-- but I don't buy it.  I'm not afraid of having feelings, and I like it that way.

What is your passion?  What inspires you?  I like to help people.  Most of the jobs I've had were about helping people.  In the past I have been  a social worker for homeless families; a women's studies instructor at a university; a social worker with former child soldiers in Congo.  Now I teach at an inner city elementary school.  I can't see myself doing anything else either.  When I was a musician, I was inspired by being around other creative types.  And I still am, but I am more inspired by people who use their talents to help others.  That's the person I try to be.   

Tell me about the turning points of your journey from being a full-time musician to a music teacher?  
Being a musician is hard.  The work is steady sometimes, and then absent at others.  It was an exciting part of my life; traveling, and singing for a living, but it was not something I could see me doing for the long term.  The music industry can be superficial and hurtful.  I was told on several occasions that I was "too fat" to be "front-man" material.  How sexist can you get?!  But there were those comments all. the. time.  It really took the shine out of the industry for me.  
I refused to fall into the trap of listening to those comments.  I took my money, went to college.  By the time I finished that, I was interested in other things like teaching.  I still did the music thing on the side around my town, but it wasn't my focus anymore.  I taught  piano, guitar and voice lessons for years while I worked, then I decided that teacher's college would be a good place for me.  Now I teach in a school.  But I've moved from music teacher to French teacher.  I lead after school music activities though.
I loved D's imaginary friend too.  What is it that you like best of D?  D is the most supportive person I have ever had in my life.  I'm a bit wild, and want to try and do all manner of bizarre things.  And he is always there to help me, or help me feel better if my plans backfire.  I once wrote this about him:

" D supports my schemes.  Every once and a while, I have these "get rich quick" and "carpe diem" schemes.  Haphazard plans to make money, or try something unreasonable.  I wanted to start playing shows every weekend, that way I wouldn't have to work in a conventional office job (that I was terrible at).  So that year for my birthday, D bought me a new amp for my guitar.  I wanted a piano, so D found a used one, and made arrangements for it to be moved.  I wanted to become and exterminator knowing full well that I was allergic to Pyrethren.  D went and bought Benedryl and calamine lotion.  I wanted to learn how to skateboard, roller derby, hang glide, get a weird piercing, new tattoo etc... D would just roll his eyes and make preparations to help me feel better when these schemes did or didn't work out.  He's the one that is prepared for the fallout of living with me." 
Stephanie, I remember reading a post you wrote a while back about your marriage being illegal at one point. Very interesting.  May you please elaborate for my readers?  That post was about what I like to call the "Chik-fil-A fiasco."  A chain restaurant in the South (where I grew up) issued a public statement against same-sex marriage.  This is an issue that I feel very passionately about.  I have many friends who live in loving, same-sex relationships, and I don't feel that I honor them as my friends and family if I stay quiet about people wanting to infringe on their civil rights. In American history, many marriages were deemed illegal, one example is the marriage of people of different races.  A little over 40 years ago, it would have been illegal for me to have married D because I am a different race than he is.  In my photo, I was referring to how ideals and laws about marriage change; and that the laws surrounding this issue are not much different from the laws that outlawed inter-racial marriages.  In short, love is love; and not really the government's business.
What is Bassability all about?  What inspired it?  Good question... I guess Bassability is a lifestyle blog.  I have to call it that since it doesn't really fit into one category.  It grew out of a way to stay connected to my friends as we spread out and it became increasingly difficult to stay in touch.  It grew because I have a quirky personality, and I wanted to unleash that onto the world. 

It is difficult for me to pin down the one niche that my blog covers.  The niche is "me," I guess.  and if people are interested in reading about that, that's awesome.  I am a bit of a "blog voyeur," in that I like to read about other people's lives too; it's like a living biography.  I think it is so neat that I get to connect with people that I consider my friends, even though I have never met them.  So maybe, my blog is a way of connecting to a bunch of high-tech "pen-pals?"  On the other hand, I've always been a show-off, so maybe Bassability is a way of showing off my abilities on a larger scale?  It is probably a little of column A, and column B, so you have been warned. 

Tell me a little about your music. What songs do you like to sing?  I am a huge jazz and blues music lover.  It is what I love to sing.  Lately I've been getting into more folk-sounding music, but there is still a large influence by jazz, gospel and old-timey blues.  My first album was recorded with only acoustic instruments, no electric instruments at all; as sort of an homage to that older sound.   I will sing anything, as long as it suits my mood.  Or it is fun.   I usually get paid to sing soul music, which I love to belt out, and people enjoy hearing.  For myself, I like to play softer music, which is a side of my singing many people don't often get to hear.   So the song I've sent to you is a soft one.  It's one of my favorites from the opera Porgy and Bess by Gershwin.  It's a jazz standard called "Summertime."
Wow!  You have a beautiful, sexy voice!  You are definitely a Jill-of-all-trades. Okay, here is the bonus question I ask all my interviewees: If we lived in a world where money was non-existent and all our commodities and personal necessities were provided to live a healthy and happy life, how would you spend the rest of your living days?  Teaching kids and playing music.  It's pretty much the life I have now, only there would be less stress and I would do so well with less stress.

Stephanie, thank you so very much for letting me poke your heart, soul and mind. And for opening your heart and giving us a glimpse of your world who you are.  You are an amazing, loving, strong woman.  Keep up the good work with your inner-city elementary school students, I am sure you are an inspiration to them and many.  You are to me.  I admire YOU!  Best wishes to you and D.  

If you were inspired by Stephanie and would like to say hello, visit her blog Bassability.



  1. Replies
    1. Hola Becky!
      Thanks! Nice to hear from you.

      ~SimplyyMayra :)

  2. Wow I loved this interview!

    Justina @ http://justinawho.blogspot.com/

    1. Hola Justina!
      Thank you darrrling! Every month there is an new one.

      ~SimplyyMayra :)


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