Carolyn Fallert has an MBA from Harvard Business School and an MPA-ID from Harvard Kennedy School. After living in six different cities over twelve years, Carolyn boomeranged back to her hometown, Pittsburgh, PA, in 2020. There she loves dancing with her husband in their living room.
Carolyn's work appeared in Pond 70
Why do you write?
I write because I go a little crazy when I don’t. After a few days without my pen and blank paper, my skin starts to itch. I become irritable like the Wicked Witch of the West on the verge of melting. (Come to think of it, I am terrified of water.) Once I’ve devoured an entire bag of blue corn tortilla chips, picked a fight with my husband about the dust bunnies on the stairs, and reorganized my closet according to color, I know it’s time to put my butt in a chair and start moving a pen across the page. After a few paragraphs, my blood pressure drops, and the world looks peaceful again.
What other creative activities are you involved in?
After fourteen years of training as a ballerina, my dancing career has shrunk to shaking my hips to Maroon 5 straight out of the shower, twirling with my husband in our living room, and breaking it down at weddings. It’s nothing glamorous, but I’ve realized that moving my body to good music is good enough for me. Over the past few years, I’ve picked up sketching. My subject matter is anything from Andy Warhol’s silver clouds to the giant centipede from my dream the night before. I recently decided to learn to play the bass guitar. (I just realized that it’s spelled “bass,” not “base,” so you can see how much progress I’ve made.)
Who is your favorite author and why?
Sy Montgomery. The artful weaving of vivid descriptions, scientific facts, and storytelling in her book, The Soul of an Octopus, captures my limited attention span. Only she could make me imagine an octopus wrapped around my arm and enjoy the experience. Reading her words feels meditative. In some mysterious way, it rewires my brain chemistry – perhaps converting my thoughts to that of an intelligent cephalopod. Her book convinced me to stop eating octopus and most other seafood – a food group I previously enjoyed. I guess good writing can do that to you.
Tell us about the mechanics of how you write.
The pen should be a black ballpoint– ideally with enough ink to last a stream of consciousness without blotting the page. The paper should be the standard 8.5-by-11-inch white printer paper. There should be no electronics in sight – especially not my iPhone. Ideally, the writing surface would be angled so that I avoid developing text neck. Such an arrangement is most accessible at my part-drafting-part-standing-part-normal desk. (It has a double life as a transformer.) The first three pages should be dedicated to a stream of consciousness – frustration about the bleach stains on my new sweater, celebrating my decision to drink water that morning, and convincing myself that I’m exactly where I need to be, doing what I need to be doing. Then, after some time, the good stuff starts to flow. I know I’m doing it right if I feel a little giddy as my pen moves across the page.
Finally, what do you think about Carp, the fish, not our website?
They are great for spanking. Such a conclusion may seem strange, but I’ve had personal experience. Every August when I was a kid, my parents rented a house on Lake Chautauqua in New York. While Dad unloaded the bikes and Mom unpacked all of the Clorox she brought for the week, my sisters and I would bolt to the living room within minutes of arriving. Without fail, three larger-than-life carp-shaped pillows – one for each of my sisters and me – would be waiting for us. (I should clarify that I’m 80% sure they were carp-shaped. I’ve never met a carp in person, but it seemed like a good approximation.) A pillow fight would ensue – complete with screaming, chasing, and, of course, spanking. Because what else would you do with a colossal carp-shaped pillow?