Let me introduce you to my friend Christine Quattro. To be perfectly honest, my friendship with Christine is one of the more random friendships I have. We met in college while we were both attending UNT in Denton, Texas. She worked at a local wing restaurant that my roommate and I used to frequent, so occasionally we would small talk while gorging ourselves on BBQ wings. If I remember right, we both spoke sarcasm pretty fluently, so that definitely helped the friendship.
Fast forward to a couple of years later, and Christine hired me to take some graduation photos for her. After that, we continued to keep in touch through social media, and she was even kind enough to recommend that her company hire me to shoot photos for their annual Christmas Party. (something I'm still doing 6 years later!)
Over the years, Christine has been a really encouraging person to me. She's given me great feedback on this blog, oversells my photography skills, and is just a really positive person. She's a fellow dog lover, and is constantly posting awesome photos of her pups on Instagram. I'm excited to feature her on my blog, and am really excited to see what she does in the future.
Meet Christine Quattro.
Q: Summarize your life and who you are in a couple of sentences:
I’ve been a writer my whole life. I’ve been a traveler just as long. I was born in California and now live in New York.
Q: Where are you from, and how has it shaped you?
There is a different feeling in California, compared to anywhere else I’ve ever lived. I’m partial to it because I grew up there, interspersed with stays in Texas, Louisiana, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island. This constant travel and return to California informed my understanding of people, and I’m incredibly grateful. It’s easy to sit at home and think you know what the world is like, it’s another thing to actually go and find out what it’s really like for yourself. I’ve learned that we are all more alike than we are different. I think this continuous travel also helped me create a unique understanding of the word “home”. I’ve found many ways to create it no matter where I live.
Q: What do you do for a living?
I am Director of Marketing for LUMINA Journal, the literary magazine of the graduate writing department at Sarah Lawrence College. I use targeted social media strategies to improve connections to artists and writers, and get the journal’s message out to the community.
Q: If money wasn’t an issue, what would you be doing?
Honestly? I would be doing what I am right now, working in a field I love and alongside people who inspire me. I’m very happy with the life I’ve created for myself.
Outrageously? I would take my dogs everywhere with me, like Kelli Giddish (from Law and Order SVU) does with her dog Frannie. I could see myself enjoying travel and work that much more as a result.
Q: What are some things that inspire/motivate you?
My Nana’s story is something that inspires me everyday. She was a single mother at 19, and worked her way up from bank teller to Vice President (as a woman, in the early 1950s!). When she met my grandfather, and had my mother and my aunt, they moved to something like 48 states and another country to accommodate my grandfather’s air force career. My Nana continued to take college courses in every city that they lived in. It took her almost ten years to finish her undergraduate degree, but she never gave up. My grandparents later divorced and my Nana was a single mother to three children. She still went for, and achieved, her Master’s Degree. She went on to be a teacher, and then a principal, for over forty years. She invited Maya Angelou to read poetry to her students (I’m insanely jealous of those kids). My Nana always dreamed of seeing the Seven Wonders of the World and a couple years ago, she finally accomplished her goal. Her life hasn’t always been easy, and she’s had to make so many sacrifices, but she weathered whatever came her way in order to make her dreams a reality-- she didn’t let anything get in her way. Whenever I encounter a challenge, or think I can’t continue, I close my eyes and remember that the blood of this strong, independent woman is pumping through my veins. I tell myself that if she can accomplish so much, then so can I-- and maybe even more.
Q: What frustrations/struggles do you find yourself dealing with regularly?
Honestly, I find myself frustrated with being frustrated about writing, when that’s all part of the creative process. People talk about things like stamina and perseverance when it comes to writing: a writer’s ability to go on, and on, and on, and on…. Because that is what is actually necessary to be a writer. Not just talent or hard work, but the ability to continue on. Even knowing this, I still sometimes get caught up in the idea that one day, I won’t have to be frustrated, as if that were an actual possibility for any endeavor in life. My professor Jo Ann Beard said something once that I’ve never forgotten (I’m paraphrasing here) :
“If you wanted someone to tell you ‘Okay, now you’re a writer!’ you’re in the wrong field. If that’s what you’re looking for, you should become a doctor, because at the end of those seven years of school they hand you a scalpel and say ‘Okay, you’re a doctor now!’ Writers never get that. We just have to continue on.”
Q: Tell me about a defining moment you’ve had at some point in your life.
I lived to please other people when I was a kid. Growing up I thought that receiving praise for doing exactly what someone else wanted me to do was what life was all about. Then the year I turned eighteen, I lost a cousin (who was more like a brother) to cancer. What I learned in those last few months of his life made me realize that he had lived most of his thirty-something years trying to please other people. His career, his choices, his entire life, was geared towards keeping everyone (except himself) happy. He had a lot of regrets, least of which was all the unlived life he was going to miss. I decided right then and there that I wouldn’t repeat that pattern-- I would not let the course of my life be charted by anyone else. It turned out to be the best lesson I ever learned, and it changed the rest of my life.
Q: What are some of your goals for the next 10 years?
I’d like to do marketing for a place like The Met, or American Museum of Natural History. I’d like to find a place to buy my first house (I love renting a little too much right now). I’d like to spend time in Europe travelling for pleasure, and also business. I’d like to work more with friends like James, because that’s the real dream-- working with people who inspire you to be better, work harder, think of things differently.
Q: Tell me about some of your favorite things and why? (specific art, books, music, activities, etc.)
Yoga because it helps me live a balanced life.
Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar, because every time I come back to it I take away something different.
Our Electric Sun Creatives geometric brass wall hanging, because it reminds me of home wherever we live (it was handmade by the artist, in California).
Drinking morning coffee in bed with the dogs, electronics hidden from sight.
Q: Life motto?
“It takes a lot of hard work to be lucky,” - My Nana
Q: Anything you want to promote or advertise?
My team at LUMINA Journal. We just published LUMINA Online Journal Volume 7, which you can view using the link below. We’ve paired visual art and photography with pieces of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and all hybrids in between. In February 2017, we will be unveiling LUMINA Volume XVI: Borders and Boundaries at the AWP (Association of Writers & Writing Programs) conference held in Washington, D.C.. I’m really proud of our team, because everyone genuinely cares about creating diversity and opportunities for emerging writers as well as established ones. My year with LUMINA has been one of the best I’ve had in a long time.
You can check out LUMINA Journal Volume 7 here.