Sunday, December 2nd, 2012
“I had a college professor that I loved. I hung on her every word, and she told me that I used too many words.”
December’s Member of the Month, Elizabeth Kalman, aka Believe, is known as much for her words online as she is for her wears offline. Kalman, a piano teacher, wife, and mother of two budding wordsmiths from Virginia Beach, VA, is the creator of the “Believe Hats” that now adorn so many SMITH member heads (including editor Larry Smith’s, pictured here). She’s sewn some fifty hats so far, each with the member’s nickname embedded, and shipped them off to people she’s solely met in this community. “The hats have taken on a magical quality that the community is responsible for, not me,” she says. Maybe so, but seeing, as the saying goes, is believing—and Elizabeth Kalman gives this community much to Believe in. She recently took time out from her busy life and put her rarely idle hands on the keyboard once again to answer six questions from SMITH.
Name: Elizabeth Kalman
Town: Virginia Beach, VA
SMITH member since: January, 2011
How did you first hear about SMITH?
I came across the site when I was googling for ideas for New Year’s toasts. One of the firsts toasts that I came to was Contemplative’s, “To inspired beginnings and captivated endings” on the Six-Word Memoir project. I was instantly hooked. I have always loved the idea of keeping a journal, but never actually had the focus/consistency/patience to do so. Six Words filled that void for me. I find the boundary of using limited words inspires my creativity.
When did you start writing and what have been turning points in your creative life?
My life has been one long creative journey. I fell in love with stories very early on. My mama was (and is) a magical storyteller. My bedtime stories were elaborate. There were always the classics, Winnie the Pooh and Wind in the Willows, but then there were the ones that she wrote for me and my brother. They were filled with dragons hiding in hollyhocks and talking snapdragons. I have been playing the piano since I was four years old and teaching since I was sixteen, so I’ve always loved the way lyrics and music work together. Writing came a little later. I had a college professor that I loved. I hung on her every word, and she told me that I used too many words. She was the first person to be interested in my written story. I’m new to the actual writing scene and so far I am most comfortable writing in increments of six.
Your family has also gotten into the six mix. Care to tell us anything about that?
Well, my husband has actually been on six for over a year now. Of course, I was not aware of that. All I knew is that there was this one guy who seemed to be on at random intervals and would generally dedicate a small amount of time to harassing “Believe” among others. To say that he is a practical joker would be an huge understatement. He was actually found out by the resident sixer detective, L2L3. She and I have both agreed to protect his identity, but my fingers were crossed when I promised that.
My oldest daughter was inspired to start a profile when we met Larry Smith at a speaking engagement in Virginia Beach. She writes under the name pipedream. She is a brilliant writer. Her basic English assignments read like poetry. My youngest has recently started her own account, but she has been writing sixes for a while now as she was part of the class that went by the name TheOceanFlora last year. I am on a mission to promote Six-Word Memoir writing in classrooms and I was lucky enough to be able to practice on her class! The six-word concept works so well for high school students. I’m testing the waters with a younger group of writers and I am already amazed at the progress they make with, not only writing in general, but self-expression.
You’ve forged many bonds in the SMITH community and have become famous for your “Believe Hats.” When did you decide to start making hats for fellow Sixers. Who got the first one?
Who got the first hat? Tricky question. The first hats were sent to Wench as a “Welcome to the world, Constantine” present. But the Believe Hats really started a life of their own when I sent one to DynamicDbytheC and her beloved James.
What got you into the hat hobby?
I started making hats a few years back when I was sick. My immune system crashed in a major way. It landed me on my couch for an extended period of time. It was during the summer and my little girls were stuck inside on the couch with me. So we taught ourselves to knit. There is a song by Stephen Sondheim titled “Finishing the Hat” with lyrics that go, “Finishing the hat / How you have to finish the hat / How you watch the rest of the world from the window while you finish the hat.” And that is what we did that summer: we watched the world from a window and finished hats. But we really wanted to do something more. And that is what happened with DynamicD’s hat; I was watching her world from a six-word window and wanting to do more, so I made hats. The hats have taken on a magical quality that the community is responsible for, not me. And there is lots of magic out there. Larry is wearing the fiftieth hat. And I even have a hat of my own, courtesy of NumbrOneAunt!
Finally, Elizabeth Kalman, what’s your Six-Word Memoir for today?
Long on passion, short on time.