Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Skinny Dip with Eileen Beha

Mad MenWhat TV show can’t you turn off?

I watch very lit­tle TV; I will almost always choose to read a good book instead. How­ev­er, I do admit that I’ve not missed a sin­gle episode of Mad Men since the series pre­miered in 2007 or Down­ton Abbey, which will end after its sixth sea­son this win­ter. Late­ly, I’ve got­ten into this strange habit of watch­ing old episodes of Mur­der, She Wrote on Net­flix. Mind can­dy. I’m inspired by the main char­ac­ter, a retired-teacher-turned-mys­tery author named Jes­si­ca Fletch­er, peer­ing through her over­sized, horn-rimmed glass­es, typ­ing her man­u­scripts on an old Roy­al type­writer. (A few months ago, I bought a new pair of eye­glass­es that are strik­ing­ly sim­i­lar to hers, I just now real­ized.)

In what Olympic sport would you like to win a gold medal?

I would like to win a gold medal as a mem­ber of the U. S. Olympic women’s soc­cer team. All of our children—one son and three daughters—played soc­cer, so I have attend­ed innu­mer­able soc­cer games in my life. I real­ly do love the sport and wish that I could have played in a league when I was grow­ing up. Watch­ing a soc­cer game is very much like the process of plot­ting a sto­ry, where every action on the field—pass, kick, shot, or header—is sig­nif­i­cant and con­tributes to the final out­come.

What 3 children’s book authors or illus­tra­tors or edi­tors would you like to invite to din­ner?

White Paterson CurtisI would invite children’s book authors E. B. White, Kather­ine Pater­son, and Christo­pher Paul Cur­tis to my fan­ta­sy din­ner. White’s Charlotte’s Web and Stu­art Lit­tle; Paterson’s The Great Gilly Hop­kins and Jacob I Have Loved; and Curtis’s The Wat­sons Go to Birm­ing­ham and Bud, Not Bud­dy are books I use as mod­els of qual­i­ty, sub­stance, voice, and style when I write books for young read­ers. We would meet at Gramer­cy Tav­ern, my favorite restau­rant in New York City, or in front of the fire­place in my liv­ing room in Min­neapo­lis dur­ing a win­ter snow­storm. I’d serve home­made split pea soup, fresh­ly-baked whole wheat bread, and pump­kin pie with whipped cream, made from scratch. I wouldn’t say much, I’d just sit back and lis­ten.

What ani­mal are you most like?

Since my hus­band, Ralph, knows me bet­ter than any­one else in the world, I asked him, “What ani­mal am I most like? Say the first thing that comes into your mind.” He answered, “A black bear.” Of course, I pressed for his rea­sons. Appar­ent­ly I’m affa­ble but not Hel­lo-Kit­ty-cute and remind him of Eva Bear, one of his favorite stuffed toys. My image of that par­tic­u­lar mam­mal is one of a moth­er bear rais­ing a den-full of ram­bunc­tious cubs, which I’ve expe­ri­enced as a moth­er, step­moth­er, teacher, and school admin­is­tra­tor.

What is your proud­est career moment?

National Blue Ribbon School of ExcellenceMy proud­est career moment hap­pened in the mid-1990’s when St. Antho­ny Mid­dle School, where I served as build­ing prin­ci­pal, was select­ed as a Nation­al Blue Rib­bon School of Excel­lence. I had the hon­or and priv­i­lege, along with rep­re­sen­ta­tive mem­bers of my out­stand­ing staff, of attend­ing a recep­tion at the White House, host­ed by Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, Vice-Pres­i­dent Al Gore, and U. S. Depart­ment of Edu­ca­tion Sec­re­tary Richard W. Riley. A once-in-a-life­time oppor­tu­ni­ty.

What is your favorite line from a book?

My favorite line from a book is: “Life is dif­fi­cult.” This three-word sen­tence is the first line of The Road Less Trav­eled by M. Scott Peck. For the past cou­ple of years, a con­fi­dante has been teach­ing me the grace and peace that comes with “rad­i­cal accep­tance” of this not-so-sim­ple truth. 


2 Responses to Skinny Dip with Eileen Beha

  1. David LaRochelle January 7, 2016 at 7:03 pm #

    The answer to your last ques­tion makes me want to reread “The Road Less Trav­eled” again, one of the most pow­er­ful books I have read. And con­grat­u­la­tions on lead­ing your mid­dle school to such a great accom­plish­ment, Eileeen!

  2. Pat Bauer January 8, 2016 at 8:58 pm #

    You’re a great role mod­el for me, Eileen! We’ve trav­eled sim­i­lar paths through the edu­ca­tion world and I hope that I can accom­plish some of my writ­ing goals after I retire in the not-too-dis­tant future. Thanks for being an inspi­ra­tion!

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