Although I have really only met Christopher Allman in person once, he is someone who I hear about quite often, because many people speak of him, and because he frequently writes about his feelings on his Diaryland page. I have enjoyed reading his writings, as they are heartfelt, funny, and describe a sense of longing for truth and order in the world. To me, he seems like a true artist and a true thinker, someone with a genuine love for knowledge and a desire to do what he feels is right and who is in touch with his emotions, someone who says what he wants to even if it is unpopular, strange, or even embarrassing. He has been a friend to many of my friends, a proactive befriender; as well as an instigator of a lot of healthy and often hilarious controversy, and so I would like to introduce the world to this interesting young fellow. Here he is!
MD: Where did you grow up, and how (if in any way at all) did the things that surround you make you into the person that you are today?
CA: i was born in orem where i lived until i was 11 at which time i moved to elkridge. a very small town of perhaps 2000 thirty minutes south of orem. elkridge is a beautiful city set on a mountain side. i believe my love for the outdoors and small cities developed while living there. i was able to spend much time exploring the hills around my house.
MD: Despite the reservations you have about the Mormon church, it appears from your writings that you attend church pretty frequently. This seems like a good thing, in that I think that even if people don't have complete 100% agreement with the church, that if you can realize the potential benefits of worship with a group of people, you can still really get something out of attending any kind of religious ceremony. This is not a question yet, is it? So, the question is, what do you get out of attending religious meetings in the Mormon church as opposed to religious meetings of other faiths?
CA: yes, i do very much enjoy attending mormon church services... but i don't know if i enjoy them anymore than other church services. i suppose there is the familiarity factor. i feel comfortable in that environment because it is what i have been conditioned for my entire life. i almost always feel the spirit at mormon church but i also feel it very strongly when i attend catholic mass or hindu services which i do on occasion. while in l.a. i attended a Pentecostal church where i also felt the spirit. i enjoy experiencing as much variety of religious devotion as i can. i think the primary reason i attend mormon church regularly these days is because it is what is most easily accessible to me, plus that is where my friends are, who i enjoy worshipping with. two sundays ago i attended an rlds (The Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) service which i enjoyed. they are now referred to as the community of christ and are a sort of universalist church where they accept all variety of beliefs and do not require members to hold to any certain creed. i felt the spirit at their service but it was kind of weird. all the people there were so weird. about 90% of them were over sixty, which was fun, i love getting to interact with people much different than myself. they were all were so nice to me. but i kind of missed being around people more similar to myself.
MD: I notice that you write a lot, sometimes with multiple entries every day. I have lately felt a certain kind of therapy from writing, and having people read my writing. What does writing about the things that you do do for you? How would you consider writing on-line to be different from writing for yourself in a notebook?
CA: yes, you are correct about writing for others being a kind of therapy. it also causes me to articulate myself much more so as to make sure others are able to understand the idea or emotion i am trying to convey. i find that when i write for myself only i tend to be much more hasty and go less in depth since i already understand the idea and don't feel the urgency to ensure i am understood. i also very much enjoy being able to connect with people on an intimate level. writing about things in a public forum allows me the opportunity to discuss things i would not necessarily discuss one on one. perhaps from feeling who i am talking with would not be interested, the subjects do not naturally come up or i do not interact with those people regularly enough. i also enjoy the attention i get from putting myself out publicly. while i feel uncomfortable with real life attention such as a birthday party etc. i enjoy people paying attention to me in an environment where i do not have an obligation to give an immediate response to the attention as i would in real life.
i suppose i also have a natural tendency to share things i learn or ideas i have. i imagine most us probably do. it seems to make good evolutionary sense that we would evolve to have a natural compulsion to share with others things we think are true. that way the community and species as a whole would be much more likely to benefit from the ideas and discoveries of an individual.
MD: What do you hope you are doing ten years from now?
CA: hmmmm. i hope so much i can get my book published. i would love to make a living as writer. i would also like to continue making art and hope i can curate shows with my friends work. i would like to live in a small or medium size house by a lake where i have a big garden and an old english sheep dog. maybe a few sheep whose wool i could spin and use for knitting. i would also like to own and use a loom. i hope to be married and have children. i would also like to start my own church based on the unity of all religion. equality of the sexes. the necessity of science and religion to not contradict. personal connection with god without the need for priesthoods, leaders or rituals. and the avoidance of blindly following scripture or authority.
MD: How have you felt about growing old?
CA: i love growing old. i am constantly feeling how grateful i am for getting older. the wisdom i gain from all my experiences and opportunities. there is no part of my life i would like to go back to. i am excited to continue growing older.
MD: Does girl trouble make you feel more or less alive?
CA: i guess a little of both, but mostly more alive. romantic emotions are some of the most intense emotions we have. pretty much any strong emotion i enjoy in some way. except for anger. any strong emotion causes me to feel more alive. i think that is part of why we enjoy horror and action movies. the emotions they evoke in us, fear, anxiety are generally negative emotions yet we are purposefully putting ourselves in an environment where we will feel these things. why would anyone do that? my opinion is there is a certain amount of pleasure which comes from any emotion good or bad. so feeling heart break has a certain amount of pleasure to it. i enjoy the intense longing. when i am very depressed i often feel a certain....dryness, an absence of desire for anything and i find that unpleasant. the absence of desire is not in a self actualized, self contained way where you are content with having nothing or with what you already have, but a feeling of nothing seeming pleasant or desirable. i enjoy the feeling of there being something desirable enough for me to yearn for like a girl.
MD: What should a person do when they have said something that they don't mean?
CA: i suppose it would be best to try and clear up the matter as soon as they could. i think we often are dishonest because we want people to like us. but if we are causing them to like us based on a false reality then what good is that? they are not actually liking us at all but a fiction. people are very often afraid of being vulnerable or letting people see their faults and this creates defense mechanisms which place barriers between people, interfering with the love that could take place. i think very often when we put those barriers down and let people see who we truly are rather than people liking us less they like us more because they are able to see us as human, and connect with us emotionally.
MD: Where can a person find spirituality?
CA: so many places. virtually any religious organization contains truth and goodness. i don't know if i have attended a single religious service where i have not felt some amount of what i would consider the holy ghost. also by reading sacred texts. i love the qu'ran. i love the recordings of what was said by krsna, loa tzu and buddha. i like the bible alright but think it is pretty corrupt though, much more so than many people realize. i love gnostic texts, which i believe to be the correct and original form of christianity. i think spirituality can also be found through studying the sciences. my bosom burns strong when i read magazines like scientific american. i believe the holy ghost is a confirmer of truth which these publications contain.
also from observing the world around you. observing the stars , moon, trees, mountains animals, people. trying to understand how they work, what purpose they serve and loving them.
and while i think this knowledge is important, if it does not lead to spiritual living then it is nothing. true spirituality i feel should come first from understanding truth, then by using it in a positive way to help yourself live properly.
MD: The other day I was having a conversation with someone about the Promise Keepers, and someone said that one of the things that they advocate is the notion that a relationship is not just between two people but is also between God. Although the conversation was mostly about making fun of Promise Keepers, I said that I actually kind of agreed with that, and then one of my close friends became very adamant and said that that was absurd, that a relationship should be about two people's love for each other, and that should be enough. How do you feel about this, not just in a relationship, but in the case of marriage (which seems to be what the Promise Keepers are all about)? Specifically, should a marriage (or relationship) be a spiritual as well as emotional/romantic/physical union? What place does God have in love?
CA: i am familiar with the promise keepers. i think that sounds like a good idea to include god in all relationships. i believe god is the source of knowledge and love and so when we are able to connect with that divine source our relationships become strengthened and vitalized.
MD: What are the conditions that make you feel comfortable in life?
CA: i enjoy having a place of my own where i can be alone. i do enjoy being with people but also love so much to have time alone to collect my thoughts, feelings and not feel obligated to others. but i also feel it is important to have the ability to be with others when i wish. being with friends can be so great and give perspective when i become too lost in my own thoughts, sometimes dwelling too much on my own problems.
i enjoy having freedom. i enjoy having the ability to access what i want without having to rely on other people. for example if i am in a city where a car is needed it is nice to have my own car and not have to ask others for a ride. but ideally i like to be in a place where i can walk or bike where ever i wish to go. i enjoy being in natural environments with grass, trees, water, flowers, things that smell good and invigorate the mind and soul. i like having access to books and the internet. i like having access to food. i also like being able to avoid extreme temperatures. i love the winter time but when i don't have a place with a good heater where i can feel warm and safe i can kind of get down. i also love being able to take baths. and drink tea. it is also important for me to have quite moments. when i am in a place where music is always playing i can begin to feel agitated.
MD: How does food play a role in your life? How do you feel about the food you eat?
CA: i think food is pretty important. there is a definite connection between a person's physical well being with their mental and spiritual. i think it is important to eat healthy. lots of fruits, vegetables and whole grains. i think people should avoid meat. even vegetarians generally get much more protein than is necessary for a healthy diet. but also because all creatures deserve happiness and it is not our place to make use of them however we wish, especially in today's modern culture where there is no need at all for meat eating. although i think it is important to not judge those who do eat meat. i feel very good about the food i eat. i used to donate plasma. during the plasma extraction process a person's blood is filtered. i was informed by the phlebotomist working with my blood that i had the cleanest filter he had ever seen, so i feel my high fiber vegetarian diet treats me well. i have been a vegetarian off and on since i was about thirteen. i have been pretty consistently on since i was twenty but will occasionally eat a hot dog or something, though i have not done that since the summer. my favorite food is thai curry. i also love indian curry and pizza and pasta and avocado sandwiches. veggie burritos
MD: How does sweet food make you feel?
CA: great! i love sweet food! i most love things with peanut butter and chocolate! but i love pretty much all sweets except things with coconut. i have never been able to develop a taste for coconut.
MD: Have you ever had a Hersheys Take 5? If so, tell me how you feel about it.
CA: yes mike i have! i love the hershey's take 5. anything combining sweet and salty is a great combo like ben and jerry's chubby hubby. there was a time when i considered take 5 to be my favorite candy bar. but now i am back to it being the reece's peanut butter cup. mitch hedberg said: "I get the Reece's candy bar, If you read it, there's an apostrophe. The candy bar is his. I didn't know that. Next time your eating a Reece's and some guy named Reece comes up to you and says let me have that. You better give it to him. I'm sorry Reece, I didn't think I would ever run into you."
MD: What do you consider to be the most refreshing beverage on a hot day?
CA: i really love iced tea. green tea or flavored teas. it feels so healthy when i drink it, whereas sodas have a kind of heaviness to them.
MD: What is your favorite thing to eat with quinoa? (I asked this because Chris had written before about quinoa being the perfect food)
CA: well, i have never actually eaten anything with quinoa. i only began growing it recently and have not had the money to purchase any quinoa products... but when i do i will tell you asap!
MD: How does your location affect your mood?
CA: i guess this goes back to the nature nurture issue. studies with twins separated at birth seem to suggest the nature nurture issue is 50/50. both having about a fifty percent impact on ourselves, though this differs depending on what specific thing is being discussed. so as i have grown, i have found many times when i will very much be looking forward to being in a place and am hoping i will then feel different about things, but once i get there i realize i am still me. i still have the same problems and ways of thinking. this being the nature issue. that no matter what environment you are in you are still you. but i also have certainly had times where being in an unpleasant environment begins to bring me down, or where suddenly being in a great averment will lift my spirits. so i guess that is the nurture side. also the company i keep has a big role. when i am with intelligent and enlightened people i feel so good. the conversation is good and allows me to feel more expansive, whereas when i am with unintelligent, mean or close minded people i can get kind of down and feel enclosed.
MD: What do you do when you are feeling nervous in order to feel less nervous?
CA: i like to meditate, pray, walk, do falun gong, knit, stretch, exercise. these all help. oh, also good music.
MD: What is a song that you could listen to over and over and over again?
CA: there is a song by gabriel faure in his requiem suite entitled sanctus. when i listen to this song i think, 'this most closely represents what i imagine heaven to feel like' i have listened to it so so much.
Finally, I offer you a quote from Christopher's MySpace profile. I think it reads like poetry.
"every single step i take gives someone an abortion.
a few days ago i tried to add as a myspace friend this boy i have known about four years. he sent this message in reply: 'why do I want to add your retarded ass? go to hell you moron.' why does this mystery man hate me? i do not know.
yesterday i visited meghan at work. her co-worker told her to get me some new pants for christmas because i wear the same ones every day.
i once found some handwritten lyrics. one of the lines was 'queers can't stop us now'
there is a girl who if i try and contact she goes to the police."
Lately, I have felt the heaviness of a lot of the mistakes I have made in my life, people I have hurt, pursuits I have given up on, things that didn't work out, but then that is coupled with this weird awareness of the fact that I am incredibly lucky to be where I am, to be who I am, to know the people I know. Hearing from people like C.A., a guy who seems to be really trying to make sense of this whole thing, makes me feel a little safer, makes me heart slow down a few beats per minute, and makes me happy to be here, taking in all of the hugeness of life. When he sent me a message saying that he had responded to the interview questions, I just got kind of excited, because I thought "this is going to be good," and it was. Thanks, Christopher, you are a smart freaker!
P.S. The gmailed response to this interview generated the following Google ads:
They're on to us! They know we like peanut butter, relaxation, and some kind of "thickener." They pretty much have me figured out. Whoa. 25 lbs of free peanut butter cups, just for taking a survey? I better go now!
Wednesday, September 26, 2007
Posted by M. H. D. at 5:17 PM