Interview with one of Gut Feelings co-founders.

1. Do you actively do anything to keep your brain healthy, and if so what? Reading, travelling, constantly asking questions, being on my own.

2. What or who mentally stimulates your growth the most? Travelling and adventures. I think I’ve grown the most by seeing the world and realising what it is that I love and what it is I want to avoid. Also being with people who get me fired up to think, reading passages in books that make me want to be a better person and a better writer.

3. If you could add or take away anything from your brain what would it be? The part that makes me overthink every small thing I’ve said. The part that makes me get shy and stumble over my words and also the part that lets me put people on pedastools when they don’t deserve to be there.

Frontal Lobe

4. Are you more emotion or reason based when making decisions? Emotion based. I feel like it’s very rare I make a decision that is based purely on reason.  Most of my decisions in the past have been attached to a very frantic energy which is difficult to sustain. Somebody recently told me that you know when a decision is the right one because it’s free from that, it comes from a place of ease and calm, just like an easy breath. I’m slowly learning to make decisions that come from that place, that don’t require a whole lot of energy.

5. In what situations have you learned the most about yourself? Every time I have had my heart broken or anytime I’ve, in turn, hurt somebody.

6.Do you think you have to learn good judgement? (Are people inherently self destructive?) I think you learn it from experience. I think once you learn what feels right and what feels wrong, it becomes instinctual. And yeah, I think people have the capability of being self-destructive forever by ignoring their own truth. I know so many people who can’t see themselves clearly or are too scared to or don’t know how to and in turn they are just driving themselves into the ground. I hate seeing it.

7. Do you have any daily or annual rituals? Are they personal to you or your family or are they related to your culture or religion? Lately, I’ve been getting out of bed before the sun comes up. I leave the house almost instantly. Sometimes I don’t know where I’m going and I just dawdle outside my front door for a while but I always go somewhere and I always have coffee. I have rituals that are fairly new ones – stretching, reading every day, being in nature every day. I flail without daily rituals.

8. Can you speak any other languages, and if so why that language? A bit of French because of school. A bit of Greek because I’m half greek.

9. If you could live inside of a book, which one would it be? The Tales of Huckleberry Finn. I want to be running around on the banks of the Mississippi.

15. Are there particular books you find yourself buying for or lending to people close to you? Fightin The Big Motherfucking Sad by Adam Gnade. The Things they Carried by Tim O’Brien, American Gods by Neil Gaiman. I occasionally lend people my Black Sparrow Press copies of Bukowski or John Fante books and freak out until I get them back. I’m not good at lending books. If I do, I turn down the pages where all my favourite bits are and hope whoever I give it to, notices.

10. Is it more important for you to speak or to be heard? It is more important to be heard if what your saying is considered and conscious. I’m increasingly becoming aware of situations where that doesn’t happen and it makes me tired. I want to be heard when I have something to say. I am practising speaking less when it isn’t nessesary.

11. Do you think a time exists that is easiest to create? For instance, do you strike the muse or does the muse strike you? I think both. When the muse strikes me, it’s an overwhelming, all consuming affair that shoots through my body and out through my hands. When I strike it it’s more methodical and down to routine and repetition. A balance of the two is good.  For me, the mornings are my good time. Everything is possible in the mornings. But I can only be creative until about 2pm and then I am a useless bit of jelly with no original or stirring thoughts.

12. Do you have an emotional state that you find it easier to create in? I used to think the easy thing was sadness but it’s not. Longing helps. When I am craving the things I love but that can also be distracting. If I can feel everything all at once but still maintain a clear head to be able to think about it all from a calm vantage point, then that would be perfect.

13. Are there certain elements that you employ to set up the perfect mental space for creating? For example: Music/food/smells/locations I could sit at the top of Forest Lawn in Glendale and write all day. I could smell Palo Santo and want to write through the haze of it. I could listen to Rake by Townes Van Zandt or Lights of Cheyenne by James McMurty and want to write something beautiful. I definetly know the things that are going to do something to my insides.

14. Do you think you have to have an elevated ego to be an artist? Yes. Because no matter your reasons for doing what your doing, feeling validted through your work feels really fucking good and feeling like your shouting into a void feels really fucking bad. Assuming we are saying things that are important enough to take notice of, even if its with the purpose of helping somebody else, surely that is ego?

Parietal Lobe

16. What smells do you most associate with your childhood? My mums Clarins suncream, Coal Tar Paste that I used to have to rub on my skin, fresh peas from a bucket while my grandpa popped them from their pods, the kitchen of my grandmas house in Cyprus that smelled of orange cloves and cinnamon.

17. If you had to only live on five ingredients for the rest of the life what would they be? Avocado, Chives, Eggs, Chicken, Figs

18. Do you have spiritual needs and if so how do you nourish them? Big time. I nourish them by travelling. By being in nature, hiking, getting lost in the woods, seeing mountains, sunlight. Things that remind me why I’m here and how simple happiness can be.

19. Do you have a place you go to, either physically or mentally, where you feel the most at peace?  Forest Lawn in Glendale. I go there every time I feel strung out from the city. Mentally, I go to my breathe. Sometimes I forget to breathe but my mum has taught me how important it is, not just to stay alive but to stay level.

18. Do you think that people need some form of discomfort to make art? I don’t think you need to be heartbroken or sad or grieving or in great physical pain to make art but I think you have to have known any one of those things, at some point, in your life. I think you generally have to know what one extreme feels like to greatly understand and appreciate the other and I feel like when making art, this is hugely important because you are attempting to communicate with other human beings who feel a whole spectrum of things every day. I don’t think I would be a writer if I never felt heartbreak, longing or sadness. But I also wouldn’t be one if I hadn’t felt elation, euphoria or satisfaction.

20. Are you more motivated by the promise of reward or the threat of punishment? The promise of reward. I’m a teachers pet, a real fucking suck up. I want to be employee of the month every month, I want the end result to be perfect.

21. How much does your conscious/morals come into play when making decisions? I am trying to allow it to take hold of my decisions but sometimes, it feels like as long as I know deep down that something is wrong then it is enough to warrant me doing it anyway. I don’t like this part of myself and I want to change it. I want to feel like a good person and I want people to think that about me too.

22. Do you ever experience your emotions in physical ways? If so, how? When I feel creatively stimulated, when it comes on all at once and from nowhere, I could cry. It feels like electricity is running through my body and I have to shake it out.

23.What is your least favourite physical sensation? Stepping on a snail is the worst possible thing that could happen. Being so full of food that you don’t know how to be alive.

24. What is your favourite physical sensation? Having my head scratched.

Temporal Lobe

23. Do you think a person has to understand art in order to be able to appreciate it? Not at all. One of my favourite genres of writing is crime fiction. Sometimes I’ll get to the end of a Raymond Chandler book and feel certain it is one of my favourite books I’ve ever read but not be able to tell you a single coherent thing about the story line.

24. Do you pick up on/connect more to the lyrics or music in songs? Lyrics. Words is what makes a song great to me first and foremost.

25. What is your earliest memory? About three years old, lying in a blue hammock on top of a warm mountain just before sunset, eating a sausage. In my memory, it is the best sausage I’ve ever eaten.

26. If you got alzheimers or dementia what memory or memories would you be saddest to lose – or – which ones would cause the biggest loss of your personal identity? Summer 2014. I feel like I learnt a whole lot about myself in that summer and the time following it. About what I want and who I am and what is important in this life. And every year on the ranch in Montana, where I face all those things again tenfold. And obviously all the people I love.

27. Do you expect happiness in your life? I know you’re not meant to expect anything to come to you but yeah, I expect to be happy. I expect that the way I’ve chosen to live my life will bring me happiness.

28. Do you feel like falling in love is a spiritual or mental/chemical process? Oh spiritual 70% and chemical 30%. I think a lot of the time its just lust when its mental because I’ve thought I was in love dozens of times but the reeeeal trip is meeting someone who fulfils your wants beyond that. When you look at them and know that they are your person in this world, even if it ends up just being for a short time.

29. What do you think your ex partners would say the hardest thing about loving you was? That I can be an almighty perfectionist and that I can let that ruin a lot of experiences.

Occipital Lobe

30. If you have ever taken psychedelic drugs, did you have any interesting hallucinations on them? Do you feel changed from having taken them?

31. Do you find your mood affected by different colour palettes? Yes. I like Autumn because the colors of it make me feel good. Even thinking about them makes me happy. Oranges and reds and yellows. I like all types of blue because they remind me of my mum and she always makes me feel calm.

32.If you could live in a world where the aesthetic was controlled by a particular visual artist or film director, who would you choose? I’d be quite happy living in a Cameron Crowe movie.

33. What’s the most unbelievable thing you’ve ever seen? The stars and the milky way in the desert. The perseids meteor shower on top of Mt Baldy with Sarah.

35.Would you rather lose your sight or your hearing? The thought of either of these kills me but I would rather lose my hearing. I would hate not seeing autumn or the sea or my babies when I have them. I feel like I wouldn’t be able to write without being able to observe people or see the expressions on their faces.

36. Do you feel like you surround yourself with the people who see you for who you really are? No I don’t but I’m working on it. I have a handful of people who see me and who I want to spend all my days with and then the rest see me how they want to see me or how I used to be. But I feel like I am changing at the speed of sound at the moment so I need to give them a chance to catch up with that. I definetly feel the older I get that having these people around you is one of the most important things in the world. For some reason, all these people live at opposite ends of the world and I don’t get to see them a lot.

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