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Questions from the very talented

1 – What was it like growing up with your mother?It was never boring. At first, it was just us, and she used to make my clothes out of scraps of her own. When I was five, she married a man I now both hate and pity. He was abusive, the classic result of /being/ an abused child, and, in retrospect, I can see his horrible childhood in every action he ever took. Still, my mother made sure I was safe, and loved, and mostly happy. One Christmas she stayed up til dawn for weeks, sewing clothing for an entire wedding party of Barbie dolls (and, I'm told, cursing at the tiny darts), so that they'd be all in position under the tree. Another year, when 'stuff with your name on it' was really popular, I had sweatshirts, rulers, a wall-hanger for storing office supplies, all personalized with my name, and, something you might have seen in my house, a carved block of wood forming my name. She worked, of course, so I was a latchkey kid before the media coined the phrase “latchkey kid,” and one of our daily rituals was the Afternoon Phone Call, during which I'd check in so she knew I'd made it back from school, and she'd give me her ETA. When she was working retail, and there wasn't enough money for food, she'd skip meals so I wouldn't have to, something I never knew til a conversation with my aunt, just last year, and something my mother does NOT know I know (kudos if you figured out that sentence).

She managed to make every birthday, holiday, start of school, amazingly successful. She never missed a school performance, and, despite working full time, never failed to bake cupcakes or create a costume in ten minutes. When the open auditions for the orphans for the 1982 movie of Annie hit Denver, she spent hours helping me learn to sing “Tomorrow,” and took off three days of work because parents had to be there. When, on the third day of callbacks, I was cut because I'd never had formal voice lessons before, and had sung myself hoarse (because ten-year-olds with no training really should NOT belt) she took me out for ice cream, and we talked about boys.

As I got older, our relationship changed, of course. We started sharing tastes in reading material, and often she'd come home looking forward to the new issue of only to find her eleven-year-old already reading it. Our trips to the library would be intense, with each of us coming home with tote-bags overflowing. And on weekends, we went ice-skating together.

When we moved to California, and I moved toward being a teenager, we started to fight more, but I suppose that's really typical, but still, it was never boring. When she married Ira and I suddenly, after 12 years of being an only child had a stepbrother, who was just a year ahead of me in school, she made sure I still got my solo summers in New Jersey – I needed the space. And arguements at are house were never about name-calling but more like, “Mom! He made a sexist comment!”

We went to “ban the bomb” rallies and pro-choice marches all during my teen years, and she still never missed a school performance. When I was cast in I Remember Mama in another town, she drove me back and forth to rehearsals every night, after working a full day. When we moved to Mariposa, she'd break me out of school for shopping trips because we both hated the atmosphere there so much. When we moved to Fresno, and I started high school, I had less time, and so did she, but when, the same year, she went back to college to finish her degree, I helped edit her papers, and made her snacks on class nights. One of the proudest moments in my life was watching my mother get her degree, because no one has ever worked harder for such a thing.

It is true, that we had screaming fights, but they never lasted, and Ira was more affected by them than either of us. Neither of us holds grudges, we yell, we let it out, and it's over. It's true, that I hurt her deeply when I finally eloped, but we worked through it, and now, we're both finally old enough and past all the teen shit, and we can be friends, although, sometimes, I still feel seven when she's around.

2 – If you could get the answer to any one question in the world, what would that question be? What will rates be like tomorrow?

3 – Describe your perfect relxation spot. I do my best thinking and best writing from bed, so mental relaxation takes place there. I love being surrounded by soft, cool, cotton sheets, and propped by a gazillion fluffy pillows, with a mug of spearmint tea on the bedside table, and my dogs flanking me, while I noodle on my laptop or get lost in a good book. Even as a child, I did most of my homework sitting on my bed, not at my desk, and in college, my best paper ever was written while sitting cross-legged on the oriental rug in a friends room, while watching Dirty Dancing for the gazillionth time. Physical relaxation, though, requires water. Last week I bought a water hammock. It's a metal frame encased in an inflatable tube, with a web stretched across it, and an inflatable pillow section, and when you lie on it, you're suspended just enough so that you're half way in the water, but not completely covered, and it's like lying in a cradle, or on a ship, with the gentle motion of the water rocking you into bliss. When it's too cold for that, I relax in the bathtub, with lots of hot water and bubbles, and sometimes a book or a glass of wine. Or I go to the beach and just commune with the waves. But, either way, I'm totally a water baby.

4 – Who can take the sunlight, sprinkle it with dew, cover it with chocolate and a miracle or two?The candy man. The candy man can. The candy man can, 'cause he mixes it with love and makes the world taste good. … I'm going to have that song running circles in my head for the rest of the day now. Curse you! :)

5 – What's your favorite joke?I'm not really joke-oriented. I prefer irony, whimsy, sarcasm, to out and out jokes, but I used to collect lightbulb jokes, and one of my favorites is:
-How many Californians does it take to screw in a lightbulb?
-Dude! You don't screw in a lightbulb. You screw in a hot tub!

If you want me to interview you–post a comment that simply says, 'Interview me.' I'll respond with questions for you to take back to your own journal and answer as a post. Of course, they'll be different for each person since this is an interview and not a general survey. At the bottom of your post, after answering the Interviewer's questions, you ask if anyone wants to be interviewed. So it becomes your turn– in the comments, you ask them any questions you have for them to take back to their journals and answer. And so it becomes the circle.


I'm late getting involved with this interview thing, as most of my writing time was sucked up by computer issues at work. Anyway, the fabulous asked me some questions:

1. What is your earliest childhood memory?
I have a dim memory from the age of one or two, looking out the back door of my grandparents house at their dog, Misty, who died pretty soon after that. I remember bits and pieces of other things from when I was three or four – my grandfather making me organize a 'lumber yard' with Tinker Toys before actually building anything with them, the smell of Aunt Gladys's perfume when she hugged me, the way Aunt Molly's Chanel No. 5 perfume is tied up with the smell of rice pudding, my grandmother waving a wooden spoon and calling whichever mischievous child was around a 'miserable wretch' before resorting to much more colorful phrases in Italian, and making snow-angels on the beach at Sandy Hook. (To this day, I still LOVE the beach in winter.)

2. What was your favorite outfit you owned when you were in junior high school?You seriously want me to recall the fashions of the early eighties…in public? :) When I started jr. high school the unofficial uniform of my peers was Izod shirts and Guess jeans and topsiders. My mother had been to fashion design school, and had made all my clothes until I was about nine, and was opposed to buying things with trendy labels, so when she actually bought me the above, those were my favorite for a while, but I've never really been a follower of trends. At about the same time, she was prepping for eye surgery and having serious allergy issues, so she was driving to Berkeley from Modesto once a week, and, of course, there would be shopping. On one such trip she brought me back a denim jumpsuit with zippers and pink and black piping (this was before my Pink Trauma), and I loved that, and wore it till it fell apart, and then the last favorite item was a pair of turquoise overalls. I've always loved overalls.

3. Have you ever dumped a man to date someone else?Not exactly. Very shortly before my friendship with Fuzzy turned romantic I'd been heavily flirting with a guy, but I ended everything when I found out he was married. (Yes, we slept together first, yes, I was pretty stupid.)

4. What's the best present anyone ever gave you? My sense of style? :) I don't know. Most of the really cool tangible things that I own are either leftovers from my grandmother's house, or from when my parents moved to Mexico and we 'inherited' some of their furniture. So if you mean tangible, well, my wedding band belonged to my great grandmother. It's very thin rose-gold (which means it's not quite so shiny and has a pinkish hue) with a platinum inset that holds three microscopic diamond chips, and there are sheaves of wheat (for fertility) etched on the sides. My grandmother told the story: After their house in Hoboken burned down, my great-grandparents moved their family to the summer house in Atlantic Highlands, NJ, which didn't have heat. The first Christmas they lived there, my great-grandmother, Virgelia (“Delia”) called each of her children to her, and gave them a gift of money, and pointed out, “You've all suffered in this house that wasn't meant to be lived in year-round, and you've worked hard in the restaurant (my great-grandfather owned the food concessions for Fort Hancock) so this is yours, but if you put it all together, it would be enough to install a real furnace in the house.” Totally cheesey Hallmark Hall of Fame story, you know? The next year, the kids all got together and helped their father buy a new wedding band, to replace the plain gold band. When Delia died, my grandmother, who was her favorite, inherited both bands, because her older daughter was already married. The ring was passed down from her to my mother, when my mother married the first time, and from my mother to me, in truth, although, it was presented to us in October 1995, when we came home to have a committment ceremony in California after eloping in South Dakota in March. My grandmother, in one of her last lucid moments before she went into a care home, presented us with the ring (her engagement ring had been a Christmas present the year before and that's another story), and it was all very touching and sweet.

5. What is your favorite holiday and why?Halloween. There's no angst, and no stress, just happy haunted fun. As a child, I had homemade costumes courtesy of Mom every year – Pocahontas, when I was five, Laura Ingalls when I was six (our school required that Halloween costumes worn to school be characters from books), Batgirl when I was seven, with satin bat ears, etc, etc. I have no idea what happened to all of those costumes, but I suspect they were handed down to younger cousins who never fully appreciated them. Once we no longer lived in apartments, and once my mother was no longer working retail, Halloween became more fun, with ghosts on fishwire that would come up behind kids at the door, and recorded music and TONS of carved pumpkins. The one thing, in fact, that truly made this house feel like home, is that my mother came to be here for my first Halloween.

If you want me to interview you–post a comment that simply says, 'Interview me.' I'll respond with questions for you to take back to your own journal and answer as a post. Of course, they'll be different for each person since this is an interview and not a general survey. At the bottom of your post, after answering the Interviewer's questions, you ask if anyone wants to be interviewed. So it becomes your turn– in the comments, you ask them any questions you have for them to take back to their journals and answer. And so it becomes the circle.