20 Questions With Ina Shry

1. How old is your child (ren)?

My baby girl is two and my son is four and a half.

2. Where do you live and what would you say you like most and least about it?

I live in gaslight Clifton, Ohio. It’s right downhill from the University of Cincinnati. I love the diversity of people and ideas, it feels progressive but respectful- we push each other forward in ways, but never fail to ask where we’ve come from. There’s an easy natural interest in who a person is that I think comes from being in the Midwest. You can walk to the library, and pick up lunch or dinner from the business street and you’re sure to pass a familiar face. If it’s the Bistro owner, he’ll ask how you’re doing, and when you mention there’s something to move this weekend, he’ll remind you that he has a truck if you need one. I find that people here care. But being in a city has it’s drawbacks- pollution being my number one. You can kind of forget about driving in and out of it with your windows down. More gathering places and greenspace for children to utilize would make raising a family here so much simpler. Also our idea of mass transit would give big city visitors a real good laugh (or cry if you’re actually dependent upon it) so thank goodness for Uber!

3. What is one movie you never tire of watching?

I think like most of us, my viewing world has been dominated by television streaming. So I can’t even think of one.

4. What about music, top five favorite albums?

Oh gosh, I may lose my audience here… to be honest, something Dave Matthews would be at the top of my list. I find him very poetic, religious, curious… I have the best memories of my brothers learning to play all of his music simultaneously on two guitars- one playing lead and one playing rhythm… for that alone, the music will always be highly romanticized to me. Otherwise I’m all over the place; french rap, vintage opera records (Souzay), blues like Mississippi John Hurt, Animal Collective, Ryan Adams, Tony Mottola, Erykah Badu. Local is so underrated; YouTube In Your Bedroom by The Cincinnati Suds. I’ve always wanted to make a family video with it when my children bedhop… totally translates from my dive-bar college days to parenthood. Doesn’t answer anything, does it?

5. What is your perfect idea of a full day alone?

Walking around the house naked. Tea. Setting up my easel at the window, and nearly finishing a painting in one swoop. Listening to music loudly. Vegetable sushi from my favorite place in the fridge. Thrift shopping. End it with an evening walk to meet my babies and my man at the schoolyard to throw around the basketball for a bit.

6. How about a date night out?

Flight to New York City. Coffee is a definite to begin near campus. My love ushering me around the city through subway. Dinner a whim, on a patio outside. White Russians before a nighttime Roosevelt Island Tram. Me in his nook.

7. What do you find most attractive in men?

Sensibility & character.

8. What do you find most endearing in women?

Heartfelt honesty. The good, the bad, the ugly.

9. When is the last time you cried?

In the car two weekends ago, feeling very hopeless that there was no coaxing one child, nonsensically challenging EVERYTHING, to eat the food he requested before allowing him to play on the playground while the other child desperately shouts SLIDE!

10. As for writing – you seem quite prolific – has it always been a passion of yours?

I am restlessly creative. And while I’d been told by just about every English teacher and professor I’ve studied under that I should find an audience for my writing, the readership never revealed itself until I stumbled upon the beautiful stories on The Ma Books. I felt perhaps this was a community I could find a way to give to. What I find missing online about our collective experience as mothers is really offering up the hard stuff and how we work through it, which is a void I hope my writing can fill gracefully. I contribute here because I think The Ma Books has an unparalleled balance of our joys, struggles, pain, and beauty. I encourage anyone reading this that has something picking at their brain to share that they are invaluable to us as a whole- let’s keep this gathering place full of stories and history.

11. Who would you name as a few of your favorite writers?

Rilke, Robert James Waller, Wendell Berry, George Ella Lyon, Anne Lamott, Kent Nerburn (Letters to My Son), and the Zen Monks and Haiku Poets of Japan (if only I could be this concise in my writing!)

12. Last book you read?

The Complete Short Stories of Evelyn Waugh, a random used library booksale purchase

13. How about wardrobe? Your personal “go to” uniform consists most regularly of what?

I shop 90% of my wardrobe vintage. I’m a bit of an old soul with some wear so it’s fitting. I like to dress all kinds of ways and experiment but my go-to is probably along the lines of French Vogue; stripes, classic, cotton or silk, element of tailoring, element of embellishment.

14. Describe to us 21 year old Ina

Never before had alcohol. Testing rules and relationships. Open. Beautiful. I took great care of myself and I wish I could do that now: strength yoga every morning, clean eating, jogging every evening. I woke up and called a sibling before the workday. Happy, but lonely. I’m definitely like one of those rare animals that mate for life, and I was missing that part of my whole picture. He would come one year later.

15.  Describe to us Ina today, who is sitting down to answer these questions. What’s been the highlight or low point of her day so far?

Life is simple. Breakfast. The park. Kisses. And so many I love you’s. The highlight was walking down the street to the pizza shop with my son. It’s where my husband and I were both working when we met so there are a lot of great memories in that place. Equipped with a big window to watch the dough spinning, cute college boys throw handfuls of flour at the glass that always erupts into a chorus of giggling children on the opposite side. The heat is finally lifting here and my son dressed in jeans for the first time in who knows how long- so long I was surprised they still fit him. He said, “Mom, I need my boots too, I don’t want to slip in the snow,” – that’s how long! I love how his mind works. It’s probably easier for me to find the language for the hard stuff- it’s why most pieces I write are riddled with foul words. Walking to the pizza parlor with my son on a cool evening reminiscing about the first time we went sledding… there are no words for that- I surrender blissfully to those moments every day and live them.

16. How about motherhood – what would you say has been the most unexpected thing about it?

That the experience of mothering each child could be so vastly different. By the second I saw that every precious person has all their gifts and challenges that need tending and guidance from the start- right from birth. Learning how to best serve each one, it can be like: wait a minute, I thought I figured out an approach to that- but it doesn’t always work both ways. It’s impossible to have a blanketed approach to anything in my house. What we lack in structure we make up for in charisma.

17. Most rewarding?

I feel so beyond blessed to help my children through their challenges every day. To be there. Do I always feel like I am capable? When I am tired: not really, but children are luckily very forgiving.

18. Let’s talk social media. You seem fairly private online. How would you say you view apps like Instagram?

I’ve never really felt connected to social media in a genuine way, so I choose to abstain. Instagram specific, there’s no eagle-eye view on my day that’s all that aesthetically pleasing to offer. I’m in the throws of toddlerhood, and if I could somehow manage to keep the floor clean of various cereal types, stray stocks, and other surprises like cream-cheese-side down bagels out of my way, I think I’d keep that moment to myself. I will however, clean my entire bathroom if a friend is coming over for lunch or dinner. Scrubbing shit seems about as practical an application of everyday beauty I can relate to. I don’t know if I could convey that type of introspection over Instagram; it probably wouldn’t go over very well. “The toilet is ready. I care about you deeply,” and tag my guest. Those who can’t do, bleach?

I don’t find that I have much to report to the public on the daily or even weekly, which isn’t to say that those who are able to express themselves through this application aren’t completely fascinating to me. Some bloggers have predominantly moved to Instagram and if their profile is public I’ll peep in because I miss their words. I indulge on Ma Books IG to see what readers think, if I’m connecting, and how I can improve. That’s about it. I value my privacy. I usually don’t use names in my writing because I honor others’ privacy- even if the writing suffers. I’m not a person in search of or suited for fame- I don’t find much glory in it and personally could stand to learn to be a little more humble. Maybe at the end of this post when it says “Find Ina HERE.” it could be a Google Map link to my city. Surely, if you saw me walking around my neighborhood you’d see I’m just me, and I’m pretty fine about it, and whoever you are, I’m pretty fine about you too. But I have to know you to invite you into my house. xx

19. Have you ever been to the ballet?

The Nutcracker at Christmastime. My husband won some raffle at work with various prizes, and chose me. I loved it for that reason alone.

20. What is one question you would love to ask fellow Ma Books writer Luana Holloway?

In what ways do you feel that your culture has supported your role as a mother and where is there room for improvement?

Bonus Question:

You are stranded on an exotic deserted island (but only temporarily) and have to pick three celebrities (dead or alive) to take along. Who do you choose and why?

The Dalai Lama. He’s a man who has in all practicality given up his religion to be the world voice of ethics & emotional awareness, and is diligent about their worldwide incorporation into mainstream education. Self-sacrifice has been longstanding the mainstay for the religious of us to show their love of humanity and its hope, though I wish it didn’t consistently have to come to that. I would like to hand him back all he holds sacred and true, however briefly he could keep it for himself again. Fred Rogers I would love to be there. He’s taught me so much how to be a caring person and a better parent. I would love to meet him, thank him, and pick his brain for more creative ideas to carry out. Angelina Jolie. Some see suffering and think: run. Others see suffering, get right in it and think: there is important work to be done here. She is an exquisite expression of assiduity, and I would like to meet her, befriend her; support her.

2 Responses

  • Well, I experience a little cultural ambiguity because I was born in Italy but have lived much of my life in Australia. I identify strongly as Italian, mostly because of the strength of my upbringing. Family is so supported in Italian culture, Family is the centre of life. If I’m honest I feel that work is the centre of life in Australia. The standard of living here is very very high and so is the cost of living. Being able to afford to stay at home and raise your children is a luxury, but childcare is often more than the average daily wage so there is a lack of options for women who want to work & also for those that want to stay home. It’s a shame, I think so many mothers experience a real identity crisis as a result. I’ve been able to strike a balance purely because I have a great family network, but I’m lucky & it took me nearly three years to establish. I wish all mothers were more supported here, if not by family then by government, society, each other. I don’t really feel that I was entirely supported by society when I was a stay at home home mother, nor did I feel supported when I started to work a little.

    • Thank you for satisfying my curiosity, Luana. I can understand your sentiments completely about the work/stay at home challenge and I see strong similarities here in the states. Part-time is not a completely accepted position of employment with corporations that could pay a good salary in order to make an edge above what it would cost for childcare. Transitioning is difficult and yes, somewhat of a loss of identity is the manifestation of this juggling act. Work is King here too, though speaking with women of generations before my own, I find peace and acceptance of my role as a stay-at-home mom- it becomes more apparent motherhood has many seasons, and the time to ‘do it all’ is more reflected in what looks like a marathon and less like a sprint… though the mad dash for cash pulls much weight over here, and to put that on delay is like a sin in the eyes of society.
      I love that you have strength in background from your roots… I see you take on the family leadership of an Italian mama, coming in fierce and passionately with your writing. And I LIVE for that story about your grandmother. <3 Those girls of yours are lucky.


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