Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kurt Wildermuth

>> Who: Kurt Wildermuth
Girlfriend: Susan Connor of SUSYJACK*

+ I'm trying to figure out what to do with the rest of my life
   (apart from being with Susan).
+ I like to plan things up to a point and then improvise.
+ My favorite writers are the modernists:
   Kafka, Joyce, Beckett, Woolf, Faulkner, Pinter
. . .
+ Good coffee makes me very, very happy.
+ Photos I've taken, including some great ones of Susy, are posted here.

>> When I met Susy...

Suzy Q and I have been together a little over two years, and we've lived together a little over a year. We met through online dating. I was living in Manhattan, and Susan was living in Boston. Each of us was pretty fed up with meeting people online and not having things work out. One day, Susan's dating profile was highlighted at the personals opening page, and I read it because her photo really appealed to me. I liked Boston, and she traveled to New York frequently, so I wrote and suggested we meet the next time she was in New York. Her profile, particularly the list of things she couldn't live without (such as cool sneakers and possibility), suggested we'd get along. The fact that we're both only children suggested we might even be able to deal with each other's eccentricities, and that has proven to be true! It wouldn't be true for all only children, but we share other vital qualities, such as down-to-earthness and sometimes brutal honesty.

After enjoying our long-distance relationship for a few months, we decided to move in together. I found a two-bedroom apartment that had the major features we'd need to survive as a couple: enough space, places to go, and plenty of light.

1. What would you say are the three most important things that you do to support Susy in her creative endeavors?

“...most important thing I do is listen.”

One of the accomplishments I'm proudest of in my life is having found this place, which was the first apartment I looked at when I knew Susy would be moving to NYC. I pictured us being happy here, and so far life in this apartment has turned out pretty much as I'd pictured it. The second thing I do is most of the household chores. I have the time and energy, I like the physical work because my job involves sitting at a desk and editing text basically nine to five, and I know how much Suze values my efforts to keep body and soul together. The third most important thing I do is listen.

2. Your apartment doubles as Susy's design studio, where most of the SUSYJACK* magic happens. You live in NYC, so I'm assuming that space is a luxury. Could you give us a sense of what it's like living with the stationery designer maven? Please describe what typically happens once you come home from work [apartment door opens]...

“...we negotiate these treacherous waters by figuring out whether I'll accompany her on the nightly trek to the post office or whether I'll get started making dinner.”

I have a fifteen-minute walk to and from work, so I generally come home between 5:30 and 6. On any given day, Suze will have occupied different parts of the apartment and spread her materials here or there. How smoothly her workday has gone generally determines what sorts of little messes she will have left. I take the business of doing business in stride, but she always worries that I'm going to be upset about returning to an apartment in disarray. I'm more upset that she thinks I'm going to be upset!

Very often, we negotiate these treacherous waters by figuring out whether I'll accompany her on the nightly trek to the post office or whether I'll get started making dinner. Sometimes we're so hungry by the time I get home that the post office has to wait.

3. Living with someone who works long and irregular hours can be tough... from missed dinners to not being able to do simple things like relaxing and watching your favorite shows together as often as you'd like... How do you stop the craziness from impacting your relationship? Can you please offer some survival tips for those in similar situations?

Our relationship works so well because we know how to keep ourselves busy, entertained, and out of each other's way. We're a really good match in that each of us needs time alone. I certainly never feel neglected when she's working, but then I seldom feel lonely. Sometimes I can't believe that a person can spend so much time on the computer--I'm older than Suze is and much more old school when it comes to getting out and seeing the brick-and-mortar world rather than doing things online. When we have plans, though, Suze is always available and on time. That means a lot to both of us.

4. What was the strangest thing you've done to support Susy in what she does?

“I bought out the store's entire supply of clothespins...”

To make her studio clips and day-of-the-week clips, Susy needs a steady stream of clothespins, which she procures from a particular chain store. While accompanying a friend to a Brooklyn location of that chain store, I bought out the store's entire supply of clothespins, several cartons' worth, which I then lugged home on the subway in shopping bags. I earned many Good Boyfriend Points that day. About a month ago, I drove Suze to three Long Island locations of that chain store in search of clothespins. When we hit paydirt--at a fourth location, in Queens--I felt like king of the world.

5. What is the easiest and hardest thing about being Susy's other half?

“She might pick love first, but work would be a close second.”

The easiest thing is loving her, because she is so loveable. She has very cute ways, is extremely clever and funny, and genuinely cares about other people. She makes life interesting. The hardest thing might be understanding just how important her work, her achievements, and her creativity are to her. Andy Warhol reportedly said that the most important thing is work, and Suze would probably agree. She might pick love first, but work would be a close second. I like hard work and I like a challenge--that's part of why I'm with her!--but I work mainly to earn free time, so I can pursue my interests, travel, listen to music, take long walks.

6. Finally, please choose one to three of your personal favorites from SUSYJACK*.

I'm always impressed by Susan's ability to bring together inexpensive materials, add her pop-art touches to make them beautiful and thought-provoking and fun, and feel confident that an audience exists for her creations. Maybe the perfect example would be her ringlet jotters, which would have been my favorite of her products until she came up with the surprise-a-sweetie kit. When Suze first showed me the prototype, I wasn't sure I saw the appeal or that potential buyers would see how it was supposed to work. A day or two later, Suze showed me the kit in its package, and I was knocked out by how professional it looked, especially because it had been designed, printed, and assembled right in this apartment. Susy read me the promotional copy she had written for the backing card, and I said, "Don't change a word!" Designers aren't often known for their writing ability, but Suze writes well and quickly, and in a few paragraphs of "manufacturer's instructions" for using the kit, she had made the perfect case for buying this stylish, silly, punk-rock-with-a-heart-of-gold novelty.

Thanks {keeper} Kurt!!


nichole said...

I really enjoyed reading this. Having met Suzy, it's great to meet-albeit virtually-her other half.

Amy said...

OMG Marichelle -- this feature is too cute! I love getting to know the other half of Suzy!

Cindy said...

these features are wonderful! it sounds like it was destiny for the two of them to meet. it's great to see how a partner can be so supportive and the support welcomed. it does take two to tango as they say. i love the 'surprise a sweetie kit'!

P said...

I love Kurtle. I love Susy. I want to put you both in my pocket and pat your heads.

Marichelle, I love you too, but in a different way. In the way that two people who both love pork can love each other. You know what I'm talking about.

modish said...

another "other-half" sweetheart! These guys are just too good.

Unknown said...

This is fantastic! I love her creations! and I am so glad she has found such a great guy!

Marichelle said...

kurtles... heehee. Just wanted to say hello to everyone (woke up with a real bad headache this morning but happy to see all of your comments!)

Thanks again Kurt for being a part of this series! You and Suze are just perfect for each other!

Melissa de la Fuente said...

Okay....I don't know where to start...how sweet and adorable Kurt is, or how I have tears in my eyes from reading his(extremely apt) description of Sus(she IS extremely lovable and cute) or all the many ways in which they compliment each other and Kurt supports her. I just LOVE it and love this feature! YAY KURT!

Anonymous said...

This is such a super cute idea...


Bonbon Oiseau said...

i love this couple!! he is such an evolved person! i wish everyone could find this sort of love...

jennifer said...

love this "other half" feature...really keeps me thinking about and appreciating my other half!

Marichelle said...

hi Jennifer! glad you're enjoying the new column and I agree - I too have been more thankful than usual :)