Interview With My Self


By Susan Lachmann


The Two Susans. Photo: Randy Gentry

The Two Susans. Photo: Randy Gentry.

It was a lovely fall EVENING when I met myself at my studio in Johnson City, TN. This was not unlike other Tuesdays on site for program production, save for the fact I’d agreed to interview myself for WNC Woman Magazine. I was a little nervous to tell you the truth, but Ah! So much to say, so little time!


(Note to reader: SR denotes Susan right, SL for Susan left.)


SR: So let’s just jump right in on this, Susan, because I know you have a show to produce and time is valuable! It’s a treat to work with you in studio.


SL: Thanks so much, Susan! It’s totally my pleasure to speak with you. I thought you’d never ask!


SR: Entertaining Women is our topic, and certainly you can speak to this. You have such an amazing range of experience.


SL: Why thank you Susan, I appreciate the acknowledgment as well as the opportunity. Before we get into it here, I do need to clarify: are you talking gerund or adjective?


SR: Hmm. Good question. Brilliant actually. You choose.


SL: Oooh, that’s a tough one! Adjectives are so fabulous, colorful and informative while gerunds are just so… so engaging. And compelling! I’ll take gerunds for 1,000, Susan! So, speaking from a gerund point of view, I’ll say first that entertaining women is central to my core. Standing under the umbrella, so to speak, of living, eating, sleeping and breathing life as an Artist in Education, I find women of all ages to be a fantastic audience. Intuitive, responsive, gracious and: they always bring good food! EVERYTHING is better with refreshments!


SR: True, true. So where did this all begin for you?


SL: Oh, I think Mom could best answer this one, having known me the longest. She relates that, in addition to often bringing home worms and ‘cute little baby frogs,’ it was my routine upon entering a room to pause and announce: “Here I am everybody!” Yes, life as an event with myself as program host started at a very early age. Of course, being Italian—Sicilian to be exact, accounts for (I did tell you that, didn’t I?) a lot. I have a direct genetic link to a ‘let’s all get together, eat good food and sing’ mentality. It’s a gift, really. And fabric; lots of interesting fabric.


Now where was I? Oh, yes gerunds.


Entertaining Women. Personal penchant for and interest in this. OK. FOCUS, Susan, focus.


SR: I hear you saying you have been entertaining since an early age, also that you identify yourself as an Artist in E …


SL: Education. That is correct! Artist in Education. This title came to me via working with arts councils presenting programs in schools. Artist meaning: 1. skilled in the techniques of fine arts, or; 2. anyone who does anything very well, with imagination and a feeling for form, effect, etc.’ and Education as in ‘…the process of training and developing the knowledge, skill, mind, character, etc. by formal schooling, teaching and training.’ The teacher part of me is joyfully engaged in learning for myself as well as learning with others. Kids, teens, young adults, teachers-in-training, elder hostel … all these demographics are full of entertaining endeavors and opportunities. Song-writing, drum circles, communications and collaborations workshops, stage presentations, keynote addresses – all these formats are fun and effective in my work.


Love, love, love stirring up projects and being what I call a ‘positive instigator.’ Actually, I used to say ‘protagonist,’ then realized too many people confused this word with ‘antagonist,’ so I changed to ‘instigator.’ Have you ever noticed how often people get uncomfortable with questions and new ideas?


SR: Yes, I have some experience with th…


SL: …and then there’s all kinds of red tape they use to try close the box you are supposed to stay inside? Questions are pretty powerful; that’s why I like them so much.


SR: Well, now, speaking of questions, here’s an entertaining interview technique I’d like to try with
you Ready? It’s all SHORT ANSWER, Susan.


SL: Short answer? OK….I’ll try.


SR: Ocean or mountains?


SL: Mountains!


SR: Coffee or tea?


SL: Coffee. Definitely. Preferably French Roast.


SR: Book or movie?


SL: Not really a question … so obvious


SR: Boxers or briefs?


SL: Depends who’s wearing them.


SR: Cake or pie?


SL: Actually cookies. I like crunchy, plus they travel well.


SR: Pasta or rice?


SL: That’s a joke, right?


SR: Dog or cat?


SL: Cat – so much more self sufficient.


SR: Congratulations! That was fun! Now I understand you have interviewed many entertaining women over years on air.


SL: So this is the adjective part, correct?


SR: Yes, adjectives. Entertaining as the modifier for the noun “women.”


SL: The answer, of course, is plural. Women On Air is a radio broadcast I host and produce, now in her 25th anniversary year. Though it’s mostly music, I am always on the lookout for interesting women with interesting stories. Lily Tomlin was a hoot! I got Emmy Lou Harris to talk about wearing fishnet stockings … claims she got good legs from her mother. And Lee Smith; she’s so good at laughing at herself! Nikki Giovanni spits nails – very pointed on all topics. Love having students in studio also; some fun formats have been created with them including the Good Goddess Citings, the Hannah and Rachel Show, and an award-winning segment for Earth and Sky Young Producers contest. Also environmentalists, spiritual intuitives, entrepreneurs. The diversity of voices keeps the show very entertaining.


And you know Sandi Tomlin-Sutker will be joining me next month to talk about the magazine, WNC Woman. Such astory! You’re going to love it!


SR: Awesome list. Tell us which interview caused you to have a personal transformation?


SL: Challenging question and I’ll be honest with you, Susan, even though I don’t especially like to admit it. Several years back, I had lined up my first interview with Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls. I mean I hardly slept the night before, I was so excited and anxious about doing a good job. She was great, though, a real pleasure. We talked about so much: early childhood influences, music, social justice works, future projects.


Everything was great till I got to the end and realized I HAD FORGOTTEN TO PUSH “RECORD.” Ever since then, I get another operator to come double check my settings so I don’t lose another interview like that. It was certainly a transforming experience.


SR: Oh my! Some things you learn the hard way, as my mother always


SL: Hey, my mom said that, too! And she always encouraged me to try new ideas. This has had a lot to do with why life is so entertaining, and why I am so entertained by it. I mean, entertaining new ideas leads to plenty of entertainment. You see: gerunds and adjectives PLUS nouns and verbs all serve us entertaining women in myriad ways! Speaking of which, I best get to this week’s show now.


SR: How time flies when we’re entertaining! Thanks, Susan, for sharing a few of your stories and insights with us here. We’ll catch you again on the show.


SL: My pleasure! Stay tuned for more!


Susan Lachmann is an Artist in Education gerunding in Jonesborough, TN where she produces a range of programming including Women On Air weekly radio broadcast, Sound Learning SmartShops for leadership development, and Laughing One Studio for creative arts endeavors. Learn more at

Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker