Goldie Blumenstyk is senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Before moderating a Zócalo/Arizona State University panel titled “Can Digital Learning Dismantle the American Class System?” at the National Center for the Preservation of Democracy in Little Tokyo in downtown Los Angeles, she spoke in the green room about bamboo art work, exercising your car, and just saying yes.
What’s hanging on your living room walls?
A lot of art. Actually, I just looked at it the other day and it turns out there’s a lot of art that has to do with nature—a lot of trees, a lot of flowers. A couple of urban-scapes as well, one representational and the other more abstracted. I was traveling to Asia this year and I picked up this really cool work of bamboo, and the artist put real bamboo leaves on it, kind of a 3-D.
Where were you traveling?
Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos.
Do you have a favorite 20th-century or 21st-century American writer?
I’ve read a few Wallace Stegner novels, so I guess he’s probably up there a little bit. I read more nonfiction these days.
What kind of car do you drive?
A 2003 Toyota Matrix with roughly 50,000 miles. I live in the city; I don’t drive my car that much. I kind of take it out for exercise on the weekends.
On what device do you do most of your reading?
Increasingly I’m reading more on my phone. I still read a lot of magazines on paper. I read newspapers increasingly in digital form—including The Chronicle.
What’s the best advice you ever received? Or advice that stuck with you?
I don’t know if anybody ever gave this to me, but it’s sort of a life lesson: “When in doubt, yes.” Over time it’s just kind of occurred to me. Just go for it, usually.
Was there a teacher or professor who really influenced you?
I’d say my 11th grade English teacher, Mrs. Urquart, who really taught me how to write. I didn’t realize that I didn’t know how to write before then. And a Shakespeare professor in college, Margaret Maurer, at Colgate University—less because of what she taught, because I probably wasn’t such a good Shakespeare student, but more because of her enthusiasm for the subject matter. She’s always been sort of an inspiration for me.
Do you play a musical instrument?
I don’t, but I’m very interested in percussion, even though I’ve never been trained in it. I collect a lot of percussion instruments when I travel.
What profession would you practice in your next life?
Bike tour guide. Europe would be great. All those wine regions that I haven’t yet visited.
What are you reading right now for pleasure?
I’ve got the Bruce Springsteen biography on my phone, in the Kindle form.
Good New Jersey-ite that you are …
Yes! And I just finished Viet Thanh Nguyen’s The Sympathizer, about Vietnam. And I have to confess there’s a book that’s due for book group that I have to read in the next few days, Ford Madox Ford’s The Good Soldier. We have about 40 women coming to this book group on Monday night in Washington. Can I get the book read between now and Monday?